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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I Asked the Lord to Teach Me To Love...

As I was praying today I believe the Lord revealed something to me.  It was pretty profound, to me at least. While praying, I told the Lord that I love Him, but I also asked that He teach me to love Him more.  And right then, the Lord really quickened my spirit. 'We 'don't even know how to love Him.' 

As I prayed I realized, we've been taught to love the things of this world. Even though it may have been taught to us unintentionally, it was taught. We know how to be affectionate toward this world.  It comes naturally, because we are in the flesh. We can look at our own lives and see that it's true... But we need to be taught how to love God.

That's when I felt that I heard the Lord say, "Love is surrender."   Pure, simple, easily understood… “Love is surrender.”  Clearly, God was teaching me to love Him. 

I try to show my love to Him in many different ways.  I pray, and try to submit my will to His. I try hard to be a godly example to the people in my life.  I read His Word, sometimes just because I know I need it.  I offer the very best praise I can muster, on a regular basis.  And none of that is bad, but God said, “Love is surrender.”

So, I began thinking about this statement, and it seems so foreign to us.  Because of our teaching, we are programmed to look at everything through the eyes of flesh.  So, we may see love as a completely different thing. We are not taught to surrender. On the contrary, we are taught to stay on guard or to even conquer. 

When you’ve lived a little while, you know that if you don’t guard yourself from others, you will often end up hurting. So when we love, we put conditions on it.  Sometimes, because of our tendency to guard ourselves or even as we try to gain control of situations, or people, we find that we have caused hurt ourselves.  I believe we often, wrongly, carry this ideology into our relationships. If we aren’t careful, we will have walls of protection built up even against our spouse or children.  And certainly we do the same toward our God, but that isn’t what surrender looks like. 

I’m sure you are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  It says, 
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Doesn’t that sound an awfully lot like surrender?

Let’s look at this from another angle: At Calvary, God surrendered to His own creation, in a great display of love.  He didn't conquer us, although He surely could have. He didn’t even guard Himself.  Instead, He ‘offered Himself’ in the person of Jesus Christ. Though He was God, He humbled Himself and offered all that He is, to us. We crucified Him in return.  At that crucifixion, we displayed our 'love' for power more than our love for Him. Yet, He displayed love that we cannot even fathom, through His surrender.

Love is scary.  It can really hurt if it isn’t returned like we are giving it.  Love isn’t always easy. So we hide our hearts and guard our feelings, and sometimes even try to go after things, instead of opening ourselves up to possible hurt. 

If real love is surrender, and I believe that’s what it is.  Then it’s best displayed when we give it fully with no reservations.  I know that’s scary, but ‘perfect love casts out fear’.  When love is perfect, there is no fear of hurt.

God’s  love toward us is perfected.  We can see that by looking at Calvary, where He surrendered to us.  So we need not be afraid to surrender to Him.

In response to my request, "Teach us Lord to love you!"  He simply says, "Love is Surrender."  We say that we love the Lord with all our hearts, but have we really surrendered everything to Him?  Because that’s what love looks like.

If you want to know how much you really love Him, ask yourself this question.  Am I fully surrendered to the Lord?  And, if you want to know how much He loves you, ask yourself; “Did He fully surrender for me?” 

Love, my friend, is surrender. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What are you passionate about?

What are you passionate about?  We all have something that inspires us, motivates us, or stimulates us to action.  And then, we all have things that bore us, makes us lose our motivation or causes us to fall into complacency. But what is it that you are passionate about?

At the beginning of each new year many of us make resolutions.  If you are one who does that, take a look at those resolutions.  The ones you are most passionate about are the only ones you will keep.  The others will be forgotten in a month or so.

The same goes for your commitment to Spiritual things.  Whatever you are most passionate about, is what you will stick with and make a part of your spiritual disciplines. Your passions become the most important things in your life.

Do you love to pray?  If prayer is a passion, you will pray about everything.  You’ll pray for your neighbors, your bank teller, and your drive-thru attendant.  You’ll pray for your job, your city, your kid’s school… if prayer is your passion. You will ask God for direction.  You’ll ask Him for healing. You’ll ask for wisdom, and fulfillment, and peace.  If prayer is your passion, then you will develop an intimate relationship with God in those times of communication with Him.

If we are passionate about worship, we’ll forget about those around us and offer our all to God in praise.  If we are passionate about church attendance, we’ll be there often and on time and we will love our time in His house. If we’re passionate about people, we’ll be loving and caring and people will know that they are important to us. If we’re passionate about family, or ministry, or our community, people will see it.

Whatever you are passionate about will be evident in your lifestyle.  If you’re passionate about God the world will know it. If your passionate about justice, or civil rights, or child safety, the world will know it.  If your passionate about your sin, those around you will know it to, even if you try to hide it. You can’t hide passion.

Sometimes it’s harder for us to label our own ‘passions’, or lack thereof, than it is for others to label us.  Whatever it is that stirs you, moves you, or motivates you, will be clearly seen by those around you. They also easily see our lack of passion. So what are you passionate about?  What is the world seeing when it looks at you?  How would they label you if they were trying to name your passion?

I wonder… What do those around us think are the most important things to us?

In this New Year, why not return to our first-Love, Jesus Christ, and serve Him passionately?? If we do, the world will know it.