Only One Thing

Sometimes life — or death — gets our attention. Unexpected happenings and encounters challenge the status quo and reveal what we really believe, think, feel, want, and expect. Many of us have been touched by a death that felt premature, whether the person we lost was in utero, 17, 49, or 87. I find comfort in God’s perspective of our time on earth:

…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16, NIV)

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. (Psalm 116:15, NIV)

Contrary to our feelings, no life is cut short. We each live exactly the number of days God intended for us. No one misses the best days of their life. We treasure certain milestones in this life because they are the only reality we know. But what awaits those who have a love relationship with God through Jesus Christ is immeasurably better than anything we have, do, or experience on earth. Consider this description of what lies ahead:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth” …I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.  (Revelation 21:1-7, NIV)

When we are in Heaven, God will live with us, in visible form. We will be His people forever. He will be our God, our owner, our guardian, our blesser, our protector. We will see, hear, talk to, laugh with, and touch Him. He will gently wipe away our tears and no more will fall. We will never be separated from Him. We will have no reason to mourn, as we will not experience loss or pain. All we have known before will cease to exist. Something new, better and beyond our ability to imagine will become our reality. And nothing will threaten it…ever. Far more life — truly knowing Him and being with Him — will become the only thing we need.

In our limited lives on this earth, we can lose sight of far more life. We can instead focus on to do lists, accomplishments, appearances, and numbers. But it is not what we do in this life that is important. Only our relationship with God through Jesus is important. That is the key that gains us access to Heaven. That is the key to contentment throughout the unexpected and challenging situations we face on earth. That is the foundation of far more life.

The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15, NIV)

Think of the most affectionate name you have for your father or father-figure and the feelings it evokes. According to HELPS Word-Studies, the Greek “Abba” is used as a term of tender endearment by a beloved child. Abba is the man who makes you feel cherished, protected, valued, and safe. Children adore, trust, and enjoy their Abba. This verse describes a relationship where there is no judgement, only unconditional love. It describes two people who enjoy being together, who love one another deeply, who value each other and their time together. This is the relationship God desires with us.

We do not have a business connection with God. He is not our employer who is taking notes for our next performance review. His goal is not that we increase productivity, work overtime, or sacrifice our health. We do not move up the spiritual ladder by proving ourselves to Him.

We also do not improve our status with God by avoiding sin. We do not earn points by going to church or being baptized. We cannot identify Christians based solely on what they do or do not do.

The Bible records a time two sisters, Martha and Mary, were hosting Jesus and his followers. Imagine the work of having 12 or more guests who were unable to call ahead. Guests who had traveled to reach you and would be staying for an undetermined amount of time. They had real needs. Martha was focused on meeting those needs and making their guests comfortable. But her sister Mary chose to sit with the guests and listen to Jesus as he taught them about spiritual matters. When Martha complained about Mary’s inaction, Jesus’ response is surprising to many:

Few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42, NIV)

The only thing we truly need is a relationship with Jesus. The only thing we need to do is connect with Him so we can absorb His heart, words, and desires. All the rest will fall into place if we keep building a relationship with Him. Only one thing is needed for far more life: Jesus.

Sisters,
What unexpected life happening has challenged you?
What do you look forward to about Heaven?
How has God been Abba to you? What barriers do you face in considering Him as Abba?
Do you believe only one thing (Jesus) is needed? How do your thoughts and actions back up your belief?
Thank Jesus for giving you far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso




Rooted and Established

I was reminded this week of the importance of being grounded in love. Not just giving love to others, but accepting love from God. If we do not adequately grasp God’s love for His children, we will not be attracted to far more life. If we have not experienced His love in action, joining His mission will not be more appealing than pursuing our own desires. Without this grounding, we will not understand His love and our passion will be directed at something other than glorifying Him and building His kingdom.

The Apostle Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesus applies to us as well:

…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19, NIV)

Being rooted and established in love. Roots anchor a plant; they hold it in place and absorb the nutrients and moisture needed for health. Once the root system of a plant is established, it begins to grow. Similarly, Christ’s love anchors our faith; He paid for our sins with His own life to offer us holiness and a restored relationship with God. His love enables us to absorb the grace and truth needed for spiritual connection and health. Once we become secure in His love, our faith is established and begins to grow. Far more life is rooted and established in Christ’s love.

I pray that you…may have power. The word translated “power” means “to have strength enough” in the original Greek. Paul is describing a God-given spiritual power that enables His children to do what is humanly impossible. This is the result of being rooted and established in God’s love. Far more life gives us supernatural spiritual power.

Together with all the saints. We are not alone in this pursuit. We are joined by everyone who has a personal relationship with God. As we share God’s love with others and experience His love through them, our spiritual strength and joy increase. Far more life is best lived together.

To grasp. It takes mental and spiritual work to comprehend God’s love. We may have to wrestle with experiences and beliefs that seem contradictory to the promises we read in the Bible. Far more life holds on to the truth it knows while learning about and experiencing Christ in new ways.

How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. We don’t think of love as having physical measurements, but God’s Word offers us these word pictures to help us understand the enormity of Christ’s love for us:

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. (Psalm 103:11, NIV)

As far as east is from west— that’s how far God has removed our sin from us. (Psalm 103:12, CEB)

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. (Psalm 139:8, NIV)

God’s love for His children is bigger than anything we can imagine or experience. There is no place we can travel that will take us beyond the reach of His love. He has taken our sin as far away from us as possible and filled the space with His love. Even when we feel like God is far away, His love is still with us. Far more life delights in the vastness of God’s love for His children.

To know this love that surpasses knowledge. Human wisdom cannot comprehend God’s love. We cannot prove it with scientific research. We cannot explain it with logic. God’s love must be experienced to be known and understood. His love is an unconditional acceptance of us, despite our sin against Him. It is His protection from what should injure or destroy us. It is His peace and joy during a horrific situation. Far more life does not just know about God’s love, it knows God’s love from personal experience.

That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of Christ. Paul wants God’s love to fill us up so completely that there is no room for anything else. If we could fully grasp God’s love for us — the extent of it and the nature of it — we would gladly push all else out so we could have more of Him. When I read this phrase, I always think of cooking. Especially the times I have added so many ingredients to the measuring cup that it overflowed! Imagine that your heart and mind are so full of God’s character that each situation you face during the day causes His love to spill onto others. Or His patience. Or His joy. Or His forgiveness. Far more life strives to fill itself more and more with Christ by better understanding His love. Then it can express His character — through the Holy Spirit living inside.

Whatever season of life you are in, it is the perfect time to be rooted and established in the love of Christ. Know love, know far more life!

Sisters,
Are you rooted in God’s love — is it a secure anchor in your life?
Are you established in God’s love — are you growing in your faith and Christlikeness?
How have you seen God’s power at work in our heart, mind, and soul?
How does connection with other Christ-followers help you to understand God’s love better?
What besides God’s love is filling you? If you are unsure how to know more of God’s love, ask a trusted spiritual mentor for ideas.
Look for evidence of God’s love today and thank Him for those moments of far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso
Photo credit: Jenjoe Marsh

I Know

I was reading Revelation recently and noticed this verse:

I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. (Revelation 2:13, NIV)

Although we often think of the phrase “I know where you live…” as a threat, it was comforting that Jesus used it to express understanding and compassion. He knew the challenges facing the church in Pergamum and understood the effort and dedication it took for them to remain true to His name. I was reminded that He knows the challenges all His children face and understands the sacrifices we make to faithfully follow Him.

I was curious about other places in Scripture where God or Jesus say “I know”. There are more than I expected…too many to include here! As you read the verses listed below, think about what God knows about you and the impact that truth has on your relationship with Him — how it opens the door to far more life.

Then God said to [Abimelek] in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me.” (Genesis 20:6, NIV)

I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. (Psalm 50:11, NIV)

But I know where you are and when you come and go and how you rage against me. (Isaiah 37:28, NIV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

This is what the Lord says: “That is what you are saying, you leaders in Israel, but I know what is going through your mind.” (Ezekiel 11:5, NIV)

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” (Luke 8:46, NIV)

The Father has sent me here, and I know all about him, for I [Jesus] have come from his presence. (John 7:29, TPT)

…I know [God] and I [Jesus] obey his word. (John 8:55, WE)

I [Jesus] am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. (John 10:14, NIV)

I know that [the Father’s] command leads to eternal life. (John 12:50, NIV)

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. (Revelation 2:2, NIV)

I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. (Revelation 2:19, NIV)

I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. (Revelation 3:1, NIV)

…I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. (Revelation 3:8, NIV)

God wants us to know Him, too. Below are some verses recording what Biblical authors state they know about God. Consider how you have experienced these aspects of His character and how that has given you far more life.

… I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed. (Numbers 22:6, NIV)

I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. (Joshua 2:9, NIV)

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. (Job 19:25, NIV)

I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2, NIV)

I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. (Psalm 135:5, NIV)

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14, NIV)

I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy. (Psalm 140:12, NIV)

I know everything God does endures for all time. Nothing can be added to it; nothing can be taken away from it. We humans can only stand in awe of all God has done. (Ecclesiastes 3:14, VOICE)

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” (John 4:25, NIV)

…One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I see.” (John 9:25, NCV)

I know who I have believed in. I am sure he is able to take care of what I have given him. I can trust him with it until the day he returns as judge. (2 Timothy 1:12, NIRV)

You are known intimately by God. You can know God through His Word and your life experiences as His child. What a wonderful privilege you and I have to pursue far more life in Him!

Sisters,
Do you desire to be known and understood?

How do you feel about God knowing and understanding you? Are there things you think He does not know or understand? Things you do not want Him to know?
What verse from the first list was most meaningful to you and why?
Do you desire to know God better? How are you pursuing this desire?
What verse from the second list was most meaningful to you and why?
Thank God for one thing you know about Him or yourself that allows you to have far more life!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso