Friday, February 12, 2016

Somebody Loves Me

We finished grocery shopping and were heading to the car with our carts. It’s not that we had tons of items, but that hubby has to lean on one while he walks.   

My husband was a good thirty feet ahead of me with his cart while I trailed behind with another. With a mind of its own, mine of course had the wobbly wheels that continually veered off to the left as I tried to control it.   

As I was focusing on my runaway buggy I heard a conversation transpire between my husband and another lady, but I never saw her. 

“Hey, how ya doing.”  Hubby nodded as the lady walked by.
“I see you let her out.” She shouted, as if I couldn’t hear her. 

“Excuse me! … I’m right here!”  Before I blinked she had passed me and the two of them were laughing. 

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The Big Chill

I pulled my cart up next to the car and began my inquiry about the woman. She was someone from the hospital (I should have known).  Finding out who it was I made tracks back into the store to find Kathy, but like Houdini she disappeared.   

Round two in the parking lot was just as surprising.  Midway to our car someone ran up to us and popped me on the shoulder as if playing tag and I was it.  Turning around quickly it was our young friend that we hadn’t seen since Christmas time.  Looking back on the situation I know it was God causing our paths to cross at that exact moment. 

Our conversation was across the board with topics from relationships to computers and everything in between.  Every time we see this guy we end up spending hours in the parking lot gabbing. 

The sun was setting and it was getting cold.  The only one wearing a coat was my husband.  Finally my friend said he was chilly and walked back to his car to see if he had a jacket in his vehicle.  

“I’m getting cold too.” I said subtly to my hubby hoping he’d get the message and retrieve my coat from our car.  He didn’t, but it was nice to know he was all snuggly warm! (Ignore the underlying sarcasm.) 

After an hour talking, our friend began telling us about a situation he was still struggling with, even though we went through all this with him months ago.  My friend couldn’t accept forgiveness or love for himself.  The thought itself gave me chills, and I don’t mean chill bumps! 

Love Me, Love Me Not 

Somewhere along our journey in life I believe we all go through the “not feeling loved” period.  As the Apostle Paul might say, this is an area that I have to “put under” repeatedly, because it simply isn’t true. 

The feeling of not being loved doesn’t mean we aren’t loved. Although each of us has differing reasons for thinking this way, it’s still an emotion we battle. 

After our friend shared his circumstances, he told us that his plans for the evening included getting drunk so he didn’t have to deal with it.  My husband and I shared scriptures with him regarding how he felt about himself, but it didn’t matter.   

Seeing that we were getting nowhere in persuading him, I felt led to share something extremely personal thinking he could relate his situation to mine in some way.  His response was that the things that happened to me weren’t my fault and of course I could be forgiven.  I said the same thing went for what happened in his life, but he would have no part of it. 

He knew what the Bible said, but felt it didn’t apply to him.  His story included forgiveness for all those that had forsaken him and were causing this turmoil, but it didn’t include himself.  

We kept telling him, “People love you. We love you. God loves you, but you don’t love you!” Over and over he said, “I know, I know … but I can’t.  I don’t deserve to be forgiven or loved by God.” 

Trying to convince him that not accepting the love of God through forgiveness was like putting the Lord back on the cross saying, “Sorry Jesus, it didn’t work for me.” 
When we disregard scripture we crucify Christ over and over.  He made the choice not to believe. (Hebrews 6:6)  

Walking Billboards 

Our friend loves the Lord and one would think he’s practically a walking billboard for Christianity; that’s something we should all strive towards. 

He shares the message of the cross, continually listens to gospel music, is faithful in church, wears Christian clothing or jewelry and even boasts faith based tattoos (which is another matter in itself).   

With all those things under his belt there is still something he’s missed, and he admits it.  My friend isn’t walking with Jesus in his journey, because he doesn’t live what he says he believes by taking Christ at His word concerning love. 

A Loving Choice 

Before we were created God knew that mankind would mess up royally through sin, but that didn’t stop Him from loving us.  As a matter of fact, God even made provisions through Jesus that would allow us to be transformed into His likeness so we could walk the path He set for us. 

“For we are His (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV) 

Look at this same verse using the Amplified translation of the Bible, which clarifies it a little better. 

“For we are His workmanship (His own masterwork, a work of art), created in Christ Jesus (reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used) for good works, which God prepared (for us) beforehand (taking paths which He set), so that we would walk in them (living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us).” (Ephesians 2:10 AMP) 

When we fail to believe what God has said in His Word, we are making a choice not to believe.  When we don’t believe what scripture says, we are making a choice not to love God.  Pretty scary isn’t it? 

To love God is to believe Him. 

Remember, love isn’t a feeling, but an action.  It is a characteristic of God. As His children, we have that characteristic living inside us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

A way of loving God is to believe Him when He says He loves us unconditionally. That includes all the bad stuff we’ve done in the past or present, and what we may do in the future.  His love never fails and always forgives.  

Rejecting Love 

It’s hard for us to see ourselves in a good light as God does.  We look at our past and see the mistakes, flaws and weaknesses.  No wonder we reject love when it’s presented to us.   

However, that’s not how God sees us.  He sees wonderful children who have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, made whole again, beautiful, redeemed and forgiven.   

Think about these four questions: 

1 – If we don’t accept the love of God, how can we ever tell others about it to carry out His plan?   

2 – Are we loving God with all our heart, mind and soul if we don’t love what He loves (meaning ourselves)?  

3 – How is it possible to carry out Jesus’ command to love one another as I have loved you? (Matthew 22:37-39) The Royal Law in the Bible doesn’t say, “Hate your neighbor like you hate yourself.” (James 2:8) 

4 – How can we journey with Jesus if we don’t believe His love is real?

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow.  Not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  

No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35,36, 38,39 NLT)

It Takes Two – Love Me Back 

In order for any relationship to work those involved have to reach some sort of agreement … that is unless you’re a cat

All the rules go out the window then. If you own a cat you know exactly what I mean. They love God that’s for sure, but have no intention of loving us back! 

Well, maybe that's not entirely true and perhaps judgmental based on the dozens of scratches on my arms!  (Nope … no clue why I added that bit, it just came to me.)

Relationship building holds especially true if we are to journey with Jesus in order to accomplish all God has planned for us. We have to start doing things His way and loving ourselves is part of it. 

To truly be walking with Jesus on our life journey, we have to be in agreement with Him.  The book of Amos in the Old Testament really brings this to the forefront concerning the behavior of a believer.  I really like how this is said. 

“Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction? (Amos 3:3 NLT)

If one person loves and the other one only does so based on the situation, the whole “it takes two” thing is unbalanced.  There is no moving forward along the journey, because someone has forgotten that grace and favor are part of loving others and ourselves.  You can be sure Jesus isn’t the one who forgot, so guess who is left? 

This Week’s Challenge:
Loving the Me God Sees 

I realize that it’s difficult for us to really see ourselves like God sees us. Nonetheless, we have to try.  No, that’s not right … we have to do it. 

For the next week or so people will be sharing special times letting others know how much they are loved by them on Valentine’s Day.  Our challenge this week will also convey that message, but not the way you think. 

The challenge is to believe “somebody loves me, and that somebody is me.”  Besides believing that you are loved by God or anyone else, we need to love the way Jesus does.  Unconditionally love yourself. 

It’s not a sin to love yourself, but is actually a sin not to love what God said was made “good.”  As a child of God, grace and favor allows Jesus to partner with us for the journey.  God hears our prayers and cares because He loves us.   

Don’t be like our friend who is determined to live without loving the way God loves based on the way he feels. God will go on loving him whether he ever comes to that realization or not. 

My husband and I really love you, and care about how you are progressing on your journey with Jesus. It’s our desire that you come to think of yourself as beautifully and wonderfully made by the Master, created for good works and to love the life you’ve been given. 

This week whenever you hear or say “I love you” to someone else, I’d like you to make this statement.  Repeat it over and over until it sinks into your spirit and becomes a part of your thinking: 

Somebody loves me, and that somebody is me! 

“It would be a lonely life if no one ever said I love you, and knowing that God loves us is wonderful.  But it is so good when God loves us through other people.” - Aaron Wilburn

Somebody Loves Me - The Gaither Homecoming

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Until next time, let God favor you with His love! 

“I favor you because I love you.”
Jesus Christ 

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