Filled with Love

Sometimes you read a verse and ask, “Did God put this in the Bible just for me?” He loves you and wants you to have all that you need to experience far more life every moment of every day. God’s truths apply to a wide variety of situations we encounter. His Word has met human needs for generations. And will continue to do so until Christ returns. He is so good!

I was recently reminded of a verse that contains truth I need during this challenging time:

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. (I Timothy 1:5, NLT)

I like to break multi-faceted truth down into parts and think how each one applies to my life. The first truth I read in this verse is that all believers — including me – should be filled with love. Love toward those who are easy to love and those who are hard to love. Love toward the people who are putting others in danger through their unwise actions. Love toward those who are spreading fear. Love toward those who are selfishly hoarding supplies and food. Love toward those who are inconveniencing us. Love toward those whose perspective is unthinkable to us. Far more life has enough love to share generously with others. Always.

God knows we cannot manufacture this love on our own. He doesn’t even want us to try doing that! Rather than expecting us to resort to fake love, the rest of the verse reveals the source of true love: a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.

First, genuine faith. God is the creator of love and the source from which it flows. When we put our faith in Him, trusting His character and His instruction, we are filled with His love. It is unlike any love we have ever known: unconditional (Romans 8:38-39); complete (Ephesians 3:17-19); self-sacrificing (Romans 5:8); eternal (Psalm 136); generous without reservation (2 Timothy 1:7); unfailing (Psalm 143:8); and more. His love is a gift that enriches our lives and is intended to enrich others’ lives.

…Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34, NIV)

Far more life does not hoard love, it gives it away, in faith, knowing it will remain filled! When we have genuine faith, our source of love is eternal and we can freely love others.

Once we have a relationship with God, we can love because He has made our hearts pure.

Now may God himself, the God of peace, make you pure, belonging only to him. (I Thessalonians 5:23, NCV)

A pure heart belongs only to God. It has chosen God as Savior and Lord. It makes knowing, praising, and following God the priority. It desires to please Him and make Him happy. But we have old habits and thought patterns that sometimes overshadow our pure hearts. Rather than allowing our pure hearts to give love, we fall back into fear, worry, defensiveness, or coldness toward others. Before Christ was in our lives, we were powerless to overcome these patterns. But now we can! Far more life recognizes when we have reverted to old patterns and chooses love. It chooses to view others through the lens of truth and grace, striving to see them — and their actions — as God does.

The third aspect of being filled with love is a clear conscience. Our conscience makes us aware of our sinful actions and motives.

A man’s conscience is the Lord’s searchlight exposing his hidden motives. (Proverbs 20:27, TLB)

When we know we are wrong, our focus moves off God and onto ourselves. Love and sin cannot coexist in pure hearts. So we must choose which we are going to follow. We do not need to wallow in shame and guilt. We do not need to punish ourselves or pay penance. When God forgave us, He knew we would continue to sin; He forgave us anyway. But our genuine faith and pure hearts give us a desire to stop sinning, to keep a clear conscience. Far more life is listening to our conscience and choosing to bring our thoughts and actions in line with what God says is good and right. This is repentance: recognizing we are wrong and choosing to turn from wrong to right. Love flows through our hearts again when we repent. And that love enables us to treat others with compassion and look beyond their actions to the heart behind them. It opens our eyes to see their hurt, fear, and desire to experience love that flows from genuine faith, a pure heart, and a clear conscience.

When we obey the instruction in God’s Word, everyone wins. God is revealed through us and gets glory. Others receive His love. We experience far more life. I can think of many times where this has been proven true in my life: getting up in the night to feed a hungry baby; answering the phone when I felt unsocial but knew a friend was struggling; keeping a commitment when I was tired; spending my “just for me” money on a gift for someone else. In each case, letting a pure heart, clear conscience, and genuine faith fill me with love led to moments of far more life. Fill your day with love and far more life!

Sisters,
Is your heart filled with love right now?
Have you placed your faith in Christ? If not, what is stopping you? (If you want to talk about this, I am available at farmorelife@gmail.com.)
What old habits and thought patterns are overshadowing your pure heart? Ask God for help to recognize and replace them.
Is your conscience clear? If not, confess your sin to God, repent, and choose what you know is right. If you cannot break sin’s hold, ask for help; some false belief is keeping you in bondage, but you can break free!
Be filled with God’s love — and far more life — today!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

Shine Your Mirror

Far more life requires an understanding of who we are in relationship to God. An unrealistic view of Him or ourselves robs us of the richness He offers. From time to time it is good to stop and reflect on who we are in Christ, how God viewed us before we accepted Christ as our Savior, and what He has promised His children. We can think of it as “shining our spiritual mirror” to remove the impurities — wrong perceptions, false beliefs, faulty thoughts — that have clouded our view. A freshly shined spiritual mirror offers far more life — a clearer image of God and who we are in Christ.

Ephesians is a great “mirror shining” book. The first three chapters remind us of our identity in Christ. The last three chapters tell us how to put that truth into practice. Some friends and I spent last week reading Ephesians, one chapter a day, and sharing our thoughts. We had wonderful virtual fellowship as we shined our mirrors. You can do the same! Recruit some friends to join you on this journey or share your comments here to connect with others pursuing far more life.

Here are the truths about myself and God from those chapters that I want to wholeheartedly embrace and live out:

  • I am one of God’s holy people, a saint. (1:1)
  • I am faithful in Christ Jesus. (1:1)
  • I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (1:2)
  • God chose me! Before the creation of the world, he chose me. (1:4)
  • I am holy and blameless before Him. (1:4)
  • He predestined me for adoption into His family. (1:5)
  • He has freely given me His glorious grace. (1:6)
  • I have been redeemed, my sins forgiven, by Jesus’ blood. (1:7)
  • He lavished the riches of His grace on me. (1:7-8)
  • He shared the mystery of His will with me. (1:9)
  • I am marked with the Holy Spirit; He is a seal — a promise — guaranteeing my inheritance, a deposit on my future. He will stay with me until I am with God in Heaven. (1:11-14)
  • God wants me to know Him. (1:17)
  • I have been called to hope. (1:18)
  • He has a rich inheritance for me. (1:18)
  • He shows incomparably great power to me. (1:19)
  • I am part of the body of Christ, His church. (1:23)
  • I was dead because of my sin, an object of God’s wrath. But God made me alive with Christ! (2:1-5)
  • God raised me up and seated me with Christ in the heavenly realms. (2:6)
  • He will continue showing me grace and kindness through the ages to come. (2:7)
  • I have been given the gift of salvation through God’s grace. (2:8)
  • I am God’s workmanship, His masterpiece. (2:10)
  • I was created to do the good works that God prepared for me in advance. (2:10)
  • I have been brought near to God through Christ’s blood. (2:13)
  • Jesus is my peace, He unites me with others who love Him. (2:14, 16)
  • I am reconciled with God through the cross of Christ. (2:16)
  • I have access to my Father, God, through Christ. (2:18)
  • I used to be an alien and a stranger, but now I am a member of God’s household, His family. (2:19)
  • I am part of a bigger group of Jews and Gentiles who have become a dwelling place for God’s Spirit. (2:22)
  • I can approach God with freedom, boldness, and confidence. (3:12)
  • His Spirit gives me power in my inner being. (3:16)
  • Christ lives in my heart. (3:17)
  • I have power to grasp God’s love, to understand how wide and long and high and deep it is, even though that love surpasses knowledge. (3:17-19)
  • I can be filled completely with God. (3:19)
  • God’s power, which is more than I can ask or imagine, is at work within me. (3:20)

So much rich truth in these chapters! Remembering all those truths would enable us to always walk in far more life with a sparkling clean mirror. But our limited hearts and minds may need time to absorb them one at a time and shine our mirrors bit by bit.

I attended a conference recently that helped me shine one corner of my spiritual mirror. I was challenged to think of the theme verse in a whole new way:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

To bring this verse to life, we were each given a postcard with an abstract picture on it. Each postcard was unique, with different colors and patterns, just as each person was unique, with different skills, interests, and spiritual gifts. But when we put all the cards together, they created a literal masterpiece, an image of a famous painting. The speaker pointed out that each person who follows Christ — from the first disciples recorded in the gospels to the last saints remaining alive when Christ returns — has a unique role to play in building God’s kingdom. But everyone needs to add their part in order for the masterpiece to be complete. We are each important, but we are also part of God’s bigger and more important masterpiece: fulfilling His purpose and bringing Him the glory He deserves. It was a wonderful reminder to value ourselves as God does, not too highly and not too lowly, and to find the work He has planned for us.

We experience far more life when our mirrors are shined so we can see both our immense value to God and our role in His bigger purpose. Both are required to see ourselves and God clearly. Both are necessary for far more life.

Sisters,
Does your “spiritual mirror” need to be shined? Is it showing God and you accurately?
Read Ephesians 1, 2, and 3 this week — alone or with friends — and list the truths you see about God and yourself. (You are welcome to comment here.)
Which truth do you want to focus on absorbing right now? Spend time reading it in different translations, looking up related verses, memorizing it, working through your doubts about it — whatever you need to do to imprint it clearly in your mind.
Enjoy far more life as you see yourself and God through a cleaner spiritual mirror!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

Far More Thriving

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12, NIV)

What a great verse for this week! As we are surrounded by uncertainty and drastic changes in our lifestyles due to the invasion of the coronavirus, we can put this instruction into practice immediately. These three qualities are crucial to experiencing far more life in the moments of our day and thriving through this season.

Be joyful in hope. We hope for things that we want to happen in the future. But we can choose HOW we wait: impatiently, filled with worry, pessimisticly, even joyfully. It’s easy to be joyful in hope when we anticipate positive events: starting a new adventure, marrying someone we love, or welcoming a baby, for example. But there are other times when we don’t know exactly what is coming and whether it will be good or bad. I used to beg God when big unknowns loomed, “If you just tell me WHEN I’ll know what’s going to happen, then I will be able to wait patiently and joyfully.” Fortunately, God knew my heart better than I did; I would NOT have been satisfied for long with a partial answer! I was impatient in hope. Maybe you are, too. Or anxious in hope. Or fearful in hope. Far more life can be joyful in hope because it knows The One who orchestrates the future. Our hope lies not in the answer, but in the Answerer. We know He is good, and loving, and perfect. So we can wait joyfully, because whatever is coming is something He has approved that will arrive in His perfect timing. It will ultimately be good and allow us to thrive!

He works out everything to fit his plan and purpose. (Ephesians 1:11, NIRV)

Be patient in affliction. Our lives on earth are filled with challenges and difficulty. Sometimes it feels like we have barely escaped one when the next one hits, like waves in the ocean that just keep crashing into us. At other times our troubles continue for a long time, longer than we think we can endure. I once waited 15 months for a diagnosis to a health problem. It was hard to face the symptoms day after day without any understanding of what was happening inside my body. There was nothing I could do to speed up the process; I felt like I was living in limbo, stuck somewhere between my familiar life and some new unknown life. Clinging to God got me through those challenging days, weeks, and months. He helped me be content in doing all I could and waiting patiently for the doctors to figure it out. Far more life can be patient in affliction because it knows The One who sees the end. We can trust God to give us all we need for as long as we need it, regardless of our circumstances. He has promised this and we can be confident that He will keep His word. We can patiently endure the storms, knowing He is in it with us. And He is never caught off-guard or under-prepared. He has an abundant supply of everything we need and shares it with His children generously so we can thrive.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, NIV)

Be faithful in prayer. A popular movie scenario involves cutting off communication between the main character and their people at the time of crisis. The hero or heroine has to get out of the tough situation on their own. Praise God that is never a real-life situation for His children; nothing can sever our communication with the God who created all and knows all! Prayer enables us to beg for help as well as voice our biggest fears, deepest concerns, and wildest dreams. We never have to watch our words with God; He knows what we are thinking and feeling before we even have a chance to say it, so we will never shock Him. Far more life recognizes the importance of talking through everything with the One who knows us best. Prayer can reveal our hidden motives and illuminate our situation with God’s purifying light. So many times I have resisted prayer. Or started the conversation with God seeking to justify myself yet walked away having overcome my sin, fear, pride or short-sightedness. Telling God what I am thinking and feeling — both the good and bad — is a vital part of our relationship with Him. I admit, my prayers often start as a one-sided monologue. But once my words are spent, my mind becomes calm, my heart opens, and I am ready to yield my perspective and adopt God’s. Sometimes the Holy Spirit brings to mind a Bible verse I have memorized or read, other times song lyrics remind me of His truth, or I may recall a point from my pastor’s message that provides a practical answer. As I am faithful to talk to God through prayer, He is faithful to draw me back to far more life. Always. Regardless of what is happening around me, I can thrive.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  (Ephesians 6:18, NIV)

Joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Faithful in prayer. All bring far more life. They empower us to remain in close fellowship with God, even when we must practice social distancing from others. When far more life fills our hearts and minds, we can thrive in any circumstance!

Sisters,
Are you pulling away from God or drawing closer to Him during this time of change and uncertainty?
What helps you remember and believe that God is your hope?
What helps you patiently trust that God can and will meet all your needs?
What helps you pray faithfully, sharing the good and bad, looking to Him for clarity and course correction?
I am praying that you experience countless moments of far more life this week as you hope, trust, and pray!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso
Photo Credit: Jenjoe Marsh

But God

There are aspects of God’s character that seem contradictory. He is completely loving. And completely righteous. He is forgiving. He cannot tolerate sin. We are made in His image. We are unlike Him in so many ways. He is predictable in some ways and surprising in others. So we have to choose: will we accept all of Him or only the parts we understand? Will we work to understand more or give up and pull away? He promises:

…If you search for him with all your heart, you will find him. (Deuteronomy 4:29, GNT).

God does not intend to hide from His children. While we will never understand Him perfectly in this life, we can grow in reconciling His seemingly contradictory qualities and actions. The better we understand Him, the more we experience far more life.

Here are two examples that give us insight into God’s heart:

Then the Lord passed by in front of him, saying, “The Lord, the Lord God, with loving-pity and loving-favor, slow to anger, filled with loving-kindness and truth, keeping loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving wrong-doing and sin. But He will not let the guilty go without being punished… (Exodus 34:6-7, NLV)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world…But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us made us alive with Christ… (Ephesians 2:1-5, CSB)

Both passages set up a contrast that is linked by “but God”. God is loving, but God punishes sin. We were dead in our sin, but God is rich in mercy and love.

Think of situations where people make a statement then add, “but…”. The next words are often hard to hear. Or surprising. Or seem contradictory. In reality, whatever follows “but” brings clarification or perspective. It is important, even when it is hard to hear.

In the verses above, we like God’s loving side, but are less excited about his punishing side. We like that he shows mercy, but do not like to think of sin making us dead to Him. Far more life accepts both sides of “but God” as equally true and important. It embraces His complexity and seeks to understand the goodness of each characteristic and action. Even those that do not appear good at first glance.

I was curious to see what other “but God” statements are in His Word. I was surprised to find around 60 (number varies by translation). They include:

  • But God remembered
  • But God replied
  • But God made no reply
  • But God listened
  • But God heard
  • But God said
  • But God can tell you
  • Bud God has not allowed
  • But God has seen
  • But God will be with you
  • But God intended
  • But God will come to help you
  • But God was angry
  • But God delivered
  • But God will redeem my soul
  • But God will shoot my enemy
  • But God will shatter my enemy
  • But God is the strength of my heart
  • But God is the judge
  • But God provided
  • But God made
  • Bud God knows your heart
  • But God prevented
  • But God came
  • But God forgives
  • But God revealed
  • But God raised him from the dead
  • But God promised
  • But God turned away
  • But God demonstrates His love
  • But God chose
  • But God made it grow
  • But God will destroy
  • But God composed the church body
  • But God gives
  • But God comforts the downcast
  • But God knows
  • But God is one
  • But God had mercy
  • But God tests our hearts
  • But God gives you his Holy Spirit
  • But God is the builder of everything
  • But God found fault
  • But God disciplines us

Some of these bring a smile to my face. Others remind me of times when I was hurt or confused. But one psalmist declares:

You are good, and you do what is good… (Psalm 119:68, CSB)

God can see the big picture and knows what will bring us far more life and glorify Him. He is trustworthy. Even in our “but God” moments:

  • When God replies, it is good. But when God makes no reply, it is also good.
  • When God comforts, it is good. But when God disciplines, it is also good.
  • When God made, it was good. But when God destroys, it will also be good.

I can think of so many times when I was headed the wrong way and a “but God” encounter got me back on track. I was distraught over a potential miscarriage, but God — through song lyrics quoting His Word — reminded me that He deserves my praise in all circumstances. I was angry with my husband, but God — through our guiding verses from Philippians — prompted me to choose unity and love over pride. I was uncertain how to handle a hard situation, but God — through the counsel of a wise friend — gave me a righteous and loving response. I was weighed down by worry and fear, but God — when I obediently prayed through my anxieties — filled me with peace that passes understanding.

Whatever roadblocks or challenges you are facing today, a “but God” encounter is available to you. If it is not obvious, ask Him to open your heart to recognize and accept it. He never wants you to remain stuck in fear, worry, sin, impatience, harshness, or other places that rob you of far more life. He will faithfully show you the way to far more life and give you “but God” stories to remember and share.

Sisters,
Is it easy or hard for you to accept that God does not contradict Himself, even though we cannot always reconcile aspects of His character?
Which “but God” statements from the list have you experienced?
How have you seen His goodness through a “but God” moment that looked like a roadblock?
Walk in far more life today as you humbly open yourself to accepting and understanding God for who He is, not just who you want Him to be.
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

Glorify God

Our purpose on earth is to be loved and to glorify God.

Last week’s post, Be Loved, talks about the first half of this statement: our purpose of accepting God’s unconditional and sacrificial love. This post will cover our second purpose: to glorify God.

Many people, especially those unfamiliar with God’s character, interpret our call to glorify God in a negative light. To them it seems He is an egomaniac or narcissist who demands our attention and adoration. Perhaps He needs our praise to feel good about Himself. But what if it is good for US to glorify Him? What if He knows glorifying Him will bring us far more life?

According to Vocabulary.com, “To glorify is to praise or honor something or someone to an extreme degree. If you like someone, you might compliment or praise them, but glorifying takes that a step further. When something is glorified, it is praised to the highest degree possible.

Is God worthy of praise and honor to the highest degree possible? Does He deserve more than our compliments? Yes! Far more life willingly and gratefully gives God the glory He deserves. The book of Revelation gives multiple examples of God receiving His due from various created beings:

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. (Revelation 4:11, NIV)

God’s knowledge and power are far superior to ours. He created and sustains all that exists. He is worthy of our glory.

Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed. (Revelation 15:4, NIV)

God alone is holy and righteous. He deserves our glory for being perfect in character and action.

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13, NIV)

Every creature will see God on His throne, and Jesus beside Him, and acknowledge that He deserves all the glory we can give. What a wonderful assembly that will be!

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. (Revelation 21:23, NIV)

God’s glory will light up the Holy City in heaven. I think this will be the purest and brightest light we have ever seen that will perfectly illuminate what we need to see, both physically and spiritually.

Giving God glory does not begin in Heaven; far more life glorifies God today and every day. Biblical writers understood this truth:

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. (Psalm 147:1, ESV)

In this world that is filled with pain, evil, and heartache, it is good to remember God’s character and promises. Glorifying Him gives us hope and perspective. It helps keep our eyes on Him.

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. (Psalm 63:3-5, NIV)

How many love songs and romantic movies claim, “You are the best thing that ever happened to me”? Well, God IS the best thing that ever happened to us! Glorifying God reminds us of His perfect love and provision. That is what we need, what we crave.

But HOW do we glorify God? I heard one person describe it as doing what we were created to do. It is not limited to humans; all of creation glorifies God, too:

Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel. (Isaiah 44:23, NIV)

“I tell you,” [Jesus] replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40, NIV)

Birds glorify God by migrating, building nests, and singing. Oceans glorify God through their ebb and flow. Bees glorify God by pollinating flowers. Stars glorify God by shining their lights. People glorify God by imitating Christ in their thoughts, words, and actions. This will look different from one person to the next since God gave us different strengths, talents, and personalities.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6, NIV)

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (I Peter 2:12, NIV)

Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God… (John 21:19, NIV)

Far more life glorifies God regardless of the circumstances. Everything we do — even how we face death — is an opportunity to glorify God. I pray that, near the end of our time on earth, you and I can say the same thing that Jesus did:

I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. (John 17:4, NIV)

May we find far more life as we glorify God today and every day!

Sisters,
Do you believe that God deserves your glory?
What barriers do you face to willingly and gratefully glorifying Him?
Is it most natural for you to glorify Him through your thoughts, words, or actions? Which is the most challenging?
What truth about Him helps you glorify Him?
Thank God for the opportunity to glorify Him — and experience far more life — today.
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

Be Loved

Our purpose on earth is to be loved and to glorify God.

When a friend shared this statement from her pastor with me, I expected to hear, “Our purpose is to love.” I was surprised to hear “…to be loved.” I usually think my purpose is giving to God rather than receiving from Him. But as I contemplated this statement, I realized far more life is only possible if we accept God’s love, if we allow ourselves to be loved by Him.

What Bible verses support this idea that God’s purpose for us is to be loved by Him? Several!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. (I John 4:9, NIV)

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (I John 4:10, NIV)

We love because he first loved us. (I John 4:19, NIV)

Jesus came to earth to become the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. That is how serious God is about us receiving His love — He sent His Son to die in our place and make a relationship possible! We are the only beings created in His image (Genesis 1:26), which leads me to believe He has a special purpose for us. He wants us to experience His love in all of its richness and wonder.

We can get caught up in trying to earn His love, trying to do enough or be enough to win His favor. But that is not God’s plan for us. In fact, it is impossible. No matter how “good” we are, we will always fall short of his standard: perfection. Yet He wants to shower us with His love, offers to fill us to overflowing, and give His daughters the gift of far more life.

… God is love. (I John 4:8, NIV)

God is the source of love — it is who He is! So, of course, He wants to share His love with us.

But it may be hard for us to accept His love for several reasons. First, we know that we do not deserve it. While we are flawed, He is perfect. In reality, that perfection enables Him to love us unconditionally despite our flaws. It is reassuring to remember He loves us because of His character, not because of ours. In fact,

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (Lamentations 3:22, NIV)

It is also hard to accept His love because we feel obligated to give something back. But what can we possibly give God? I had a friend who would not accept God’s love because she said it was too big; she realized she could never repay Him, so she preferred to say “no, thank you” to His offer of love. Fortunately, God does not expect us to pay for His love, He offers it as a gift:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ …and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8, NIV)

Finally, it is hard to be loved by God because we fear giving up control to Him. Part of us longs to be under His authority and protection, but another part questions His trustworthiness. It feels safer to think we are in charge of our own lives, making the decisions that will lead to the best life possible. But who always knows what is best? Who is wise and never makes a mistake? Who can see the future? God, in His perfect love, wants to free us from fear, worry, and doubt. The better we know Him, the more secure we become in His love and the more we understand and embrace this truth:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:18, NIV)

We find far more life when we embrace our purpose of being loved by God. Early in my Christian life I was so afraid of displeasing God that I was often paralyzed from living for Him. Every night I pored over my day, seeking to remember every sin I had committed; I was desperate to make sure God understood that I did not take His forgiveness for granted. I believed my purpose was to confess my sin and how I was undeserving of God’s love. It was only after I learned the security of God’s love that I could relax and really accept His love. I still did not take His forgiveness for granted, but now I was free not only be loved, but also love Him back. I experienced gratitude rather than fear. I wanted to honor Him with my life, because I recognized it was a precious gift. I discovered that far more life runs toward God and His transforming love.

Your purpose is to be loved by God and glorify Him. Far more life is waiting for you, wrapped up in God’s love. Let yourself be loved today!

Sisters,
Can you accept your purpose of being loved by God?
What makes it hard for you to accept His love: Thinking you need to earn it? Believing you owe Him? Fear of giving control over to Him?
What Biblical truth helps you accept His love?
Commit today to let Him love you…and show you far more life.
-Shari

Far More Building

Luke chapter 4 describes the encounter Jesus had in the wilderness where Satan tempted Him to sin. Twice Satan starts his offer with the phrase, “If you are the Son of God…” Although Satan probably knew Jesus’ identity and was taunting Him, he voiced a common human concern.

All of us, at some point, have asked the questions, “Is God real?” and “Is Jesus truly God?” Many examples of this are recorded in the Bible, and people of all generations have wrestled with this question. We want proof! Throughout history, once proof is offered, some people believe and become followers of Jesus while others do not. We lay the foundation of far more life when we believe that God IS real and Jesus IS God.

Once we know God, through Jesus, we do not need to keep revisiting those questions; our foundation is secure and we are ready to build a relationship. My friends who are adopted illustrate this. Those who have sought their birth parents needed proof before accepting them. But once that proof was offered and validated, the question “Are you my parent?” was put behind them. There was no need to revisit it time and again. They were free to move forward in building a relationship.

But I know some Christians who miss far more life because they continue to question whether God is real and if Jesus is truly God. Why? Because they have an enemy! Satan knows that if they doubt God — and the reality of their relationship with Him through Jesus — they cannot experience far more life. They cannot share Christ with others. They cannot fulfill the purposes for which God created them. So he strives to cripple them by making them doubt the foundation of their faith.

Others never doubt God’s existence or Jesus’ deity, but they miss far more life because they don’t recognize God’s work. Their experiences leave them with unmet expectations about God’s character and actions. So the words of the Bible do not feel true and they are unsure how to reconcile them with the circumstances of their lives. Their foundation lies empty and their lives lack joy and spiritual fruit. But if we believe God is truthful, then we should also believe the Bible is His written Word. He said it is Truth (John 17:17), so we can take hope from this declaration:

For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment. (Luke 1:37, AMPC)

Far more life rests in the fact that God’s Word is flawless while our interpretation can be flawed. It is a willingness to believe that seemingly irreconcilable circumstances indicate we are missing something, that our perspective is skewed due to incomplete information or sin. I like how The Message explains it:

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. (Matthew 5:8, MSG)

God is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8), so we find far more life when we adopt His perspective and work to understand it. Then we are able to experience all He has promised. And what wonderful experiences those are! Even when our circumstances are challenging, we traverse them with joy and peace because we are confident God is working in and through them for our good and His eternal purposes (Romans 8:28).

Although we are surrounded by change, God knows our need for stability and provides it. His reassurance of what is unchanging gives us something to hold onto during the times we are shaken or struggling. Right after He destroyed the earth by flood due to man’s wickedness, He made this promise:

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Genesis 8:22, NIV)

What a comforting knowledge! Each day the sun rises and each night the moon rises is a reminder of God’s faithfulness and truthfulness. Each change of the season, we are reminded His promises are reliable. Each year crops are planted and harvested, we can have confidence in Him. We can build our life on Him, on His instructions, and find far more life! He stands the test of time. This reminds me of lyrics from a wonderful hymn:

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ love and righteousness…
When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace…
His oath, his covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

(“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by Edward Mote)

Jesus is the best foundation we can choose! Far more life starts with Him, builds on His truth, and changes us to be like Him. The life we build on Him is secure and will last forever. Why would we want to build on anything else?

Sisters,
What proof convinced you that God is real? That Jesus is God?
What tempts you to trust your perspective and experience over what God’s Word says is true?
What reminds you of God’s faithfulness and truthfulness?
What have you built that will last forever?
Praise Him for making our foundation secure and offering far more life for all of our days!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso