Friday, April 17, 2015

Three Little Words

“You’ve been a problem since my womb"… Why can’t you be more like your sister?" … "You have fat fingers"… "She’s prettier than you.” 

Words, combined into sentences that contain a few choice terms that seep into your heart and never seem to get lost over the years.

Have you ever been told something that has fashioned the way you perceive yourself for your entire life?  Words have tremendous power to turn the life in a positive or negative way, causing us to change how we think or act.  They can soften a heart or turn it into stone.
Do you think it is possible to change the way people think about themselves by saying three little words?  I do.

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Needles of the Heart 

Batsto Mansion and Batsto Village
In my lifetime, I haven’t received many words of encouragements or compliments (and I’m not fishing for any), so when I do hear certain words I don’t know how to respond to them very well.  Let me take you back in time to share something special with you. 

I was on a double date with another couple from our church to visit historical Batsto Village. My date decided where we would go and all agreed on his choice.  It was a cloudy day in February, but the weather didn’t look threatening so we continued with our plans.  Batso Mansion/Village was a place that had much activity during the American Revolutionary War, and is said to have housed some famous leaders. 

After the tour we went on a picnic near Atsion Lake in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, which was about fifteen miles from Batsto. Our friends remained in the car to dine claiming it was too cold outside. Although it was a little chilly it didn’t prevent us from wandering about the property. We walked, held hands and came to a lovely secluded place to rest and eat our meal.   

Finding a soft area to sit, it didn’t take long for us to get into a conversation mostly about the future.  A few minutes later my date decided to stretch out on the ground. I gave him permission to lay his head on my lap so his hair wouldn’t get full of sand or pine needles. 

He gazed into the overcast sky and talked, and talked and talked. Boy could he talk.  I sat there (really where was I going, right) while he began to share his “true” feelings for me. 
By now I was getting the fidgets and wanted to get up and stretch my own legs. This had gotten way too serious for me; we were just dating. Before I knew it those three little words poured out of his mouth, “I love you.”   

Frankly I didn’t know what to say.  I tried to escape the situation, but he remained put.  A few minutes later the skies opened up and it began to rain.  Now you might think that this would be a good reason to skedaddle, but no, he didn’t move! 

I looked down at his wet face and watched how the rain kept bouncing off his eyes and cheeks.  Still waiting for him to get up I just sat there listening as he continued to talk.  Surely he must have realized I was getting drenched also. Perhaps he was waiting for those three little words to flow out of my mouth like the rain from the heavens, but it never happened. 

Do you know why I didn’t respond like my date had hoped?  I didn’t believe him.  Those words were like needles to the heart, and I’m not referring to the pine needles where we sat. 

Say it with ACT - ion

Hearing the words “I love you” wasn’t a welcome phrase.  In the past everyone that uttered such an emotional statement usually followed it up with an action that was despicable, selfish and ultimately appalling coming from someone who claimed they had deep feelings for me. 

By that time I already had two marriage proposals that I couldn’t take seriously, besides practically every boy I dated told me the same thing.  How could this young man think he loved me when we hadn’t even dated that much?  What was he after and what did he really want from me? 

I continued to date others and he kept sharing his feelings while we were together, over the phone or in a letter.  I repeatedly told him, “Stop it! Don’t say that.  Why and how can you possibly have those feelings.”  Ignoring me, he kept saying those three words even though I didn’t feel the same way. 

Words were put into action and slowly I began to think that maybe this boy has something different than the others.  Action Changes Things!
He showered me with gifts, never took me to McDonald’s but to a real restaurant, and actually had money to pay the bill (don’t even ask …)  This person was willing to take any blame or punishment just to be with me; although I didn’t condone this, it was something to be considered. 

Now I began talking and he listened.  We were friends, best friends who prayed, witnessed, laughed and cried together.  It would take me a long time before I could return that phrase to my “date”.  His words and actions mimicked one another displaying love from every angle.  I finally believed him, and believing allowed me to receive what was available to me all along – love. 

He Did it for Love 

How long did it take you to receive those three little words, “I love you” into your heart?  Maybe you have never heard them before or think you never will.  My friend someone has already spoken those words to you and acted on them. His name is Jesus Christ. 

Understanding human love is practically impossible and even trying to comprehend why God would love anyone is mind boggling.  Yet, God does love us and He proves His feelings are genuine every day. 

You probably figured out by now that I married that man who never stopped saying he loved me, and he still displays his affection toward me in many ways.  I’m fairly sure you would agree that gifts are always nice, but there are other things that are more rewarding than a bunch of flowers or a night out on the town.  Our married relationship calls for us to do things for one another that we would never do for others.  We reserve certain things for our relationship and hold them close to our heart all because of love.

When Jesus said yes to the Heavenly Father, He showed us that His love for us cannot be matched. 
Why would Jesus agree to die on a cross for sinners?  He did it for love; the love of the Father and the love for us.  Real love requires doing something for the one you love that no one else would do.  Saying I love you is more than words, it’s a call to action. 

If you are in a relationship that is merely words without any backup of selflessness, than true love isn’t in the equation. 

When Will You Believe? 

It took me a long time to believe that I was loved by someone, and even longer to accept the love of Christ.  I heard the words “I love you”, saw the written words and read them, but it took a call of action for me to believe what I was told. 

I had to stop asking the Lord the same question I asked my date, “God, why would you favor me with gracious mercy and want me as Your child?  Why do you love me?”  Instead of questioning what God had told us in His Word, I started believing what He said and did.  

There was never a time when God didn’t love me.  He always has and always will.  The Lord loves me today and every day.
He declared His love and never ceased to proclaim how He feels even when I didn’t say it back to Him. 

However, when I believed Jesus loved me enough to die for me on the cross, I began receiving the favor of God that is reserved only for those who trust in Him.  According to scriptures, when I believed what God had said, that was the point at which I found the Lord.  Believing resulted in my acquiring favor from God. 

“For whosoever (you, me, anyone) finds Me, finds (eternal) life, and shall (will) obtain favor of the LORD.” (Proverbs 8:35 NKJV) 

It’s time for us to stop believing the hurtful things people say to us that have shattered our way of thinking positively about ourselves.  I was asked in an interview to describe myself in three words.  It is easy to flatter oneself and I suppose in some way I did fall into a bit of vanity in that case.  

Although they describe, words aren’t what define us in the heart of God. He doesn’t love us because we’re skinny, good looking or extremely well behaved individuals.  God loves us because it’s what He is, not just what He does.  

This Week’s Challenge:
Show Me ACT-ion Love 

It’s easy to demonstrate love to those who are kind and lovely, but there is no reward in loving the lovely. 
When Christ died for us, He did it while we were still in our sin. In other words, we were stinky, unlovely, selfish and downright walking the road to hell in our iniquity.   

Time after time God shows He still loves us. He willingly forgives despite our ignoring the grace and favor He has shown.  God will never stop saying those three little words, “I love you” even if we fail to repeat it back to Him. 

Our challenge this week will ask us to do as Christ did in demonstrating love regardless if it isn’t reciprocated.  There are plenty of “challenging” people out there that we don’t want to give the time of day based on their behavior or circumstances.  However, those are the ones we need to show that there is something different about us. 

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have
 boldness in the day of judgment; because as He (Christ) is,
         so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17 NKJV)

Until Christ returns, we are to be His ambassadors of love and work together in unity.  People are to see that we are Christians by the way we love through the Spirit of God that dwells in us.   

The Bible says as Christ was in this world, so are we.  That means we are going to say, “God loves you” until they get it.  Not through force, but through our actions that reflect God. 

Tell people about the love God has for them and do something different that will make a difference. Do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do for that “unlovely” person(s); remembering you were once in their unbelieving shoes.  Show the love of God through acts of kindness that they have never witnessed, by being bold and standing out from the rest.  

Until they believe, keep saying those three little words
“God loves you.”

Until next time, find God and obtain His favor.

“I will give favor when you find Me.”
Jesus Christ

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Take a look at The Take Action Bible for ideas.

Maybe you don’t know the Living God that I know, but would like to have this kind of favor in your life also.  Click on the above tab “Tell Me” for more information on becoming a child of the Savior.

Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy.
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Bible Gateway.
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Image:  Hope  Batsto, NJ  Asian Lake in New Jersey  Action Changes Things  Romans 5:8  Note God Loves Me
Disclaimer Notes: Results may vary due to lack of belief.