LOVE, MY PERMANENT RESIDENCE

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.” 1 John‬ ‭4:17-18‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Can you imagine it? Can you just let your heart come into the space where we live in God and God lives in us? A place where God truly has the run of the house(our lives), where we allow Him make the day to day decisions of our lives, give Him full control? What a glorious, stress-free, liberated, joyful, joyous, bold,dynamic, and awesome life we would have. All our fears and worries taken away and dealt with by a God that cares about us unconditionally and loves out without measure.

Can we take a minute today and let Him into our lives completely and totally and give Him permission to enter every room of our life and heart, clear it out and take up residence.

GOD IS LOVE!!

VERSE OF THE DAY – THE LOVE OF GOD

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:31-39‬ ‭MSG‬‬

THE GARMENT OF LOVE

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Col 3:13 MSG

5 THINGS TO PRAY FOR YOUR MARRIAGE

Culled from a message by Amelia Rhodes

“It feels like we’ve been here a lot lately,” I said as my husband dropped me off at the airport. “Oh wait. Maybe that’s because we have.”

He chuckled as he helped unload my suitcase from the back of the car. He hefted the suitcase over the curb and leaned over to kiss me goodbye. “Have a great trip. I’ll hold down the fort and see you in a couple days,” he said.

Between his work travel, my work travel, two tween children, and a fixer-upper house, sometimes it feels as though we are more like teammates than husband and wife. In fact, we often will fist bump each other as we pass in the hallway with a “go team,” chant.

Keeping a marriage strong in the midst of shuffling schedules and rigorous responsibilities takes intentional effort and a whole lot of prayer.

We can be cruising along for years, even decades, and suddenly realize we’ve created separate lives and a distance in our relationship that we never intended.

Here are five things to pray for our marriages in the midst of busy and stressful seasons of life.

1. To love each other as Christ loved us.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

Father, your greatest command was to love You and love each other (Matthew 22:36-40). You’ve given marriage as a holy relationship that reflects our relationship with You. Show us how to follow your example and set aside our selfishness and pride and humbly serve each other. Help us to be of one spirit and of one mind and value each other above ourselves, looking out for each other’s interests (Philippians 2:2-4). In the midst of our busy lives, help us take time to love each other deeply from the heart, as you have loved us (Ephesians 5:1-2). May the love we have for each other be an example to the world of how You love them and gave Your life for them.

2. To grow together in Christ.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Father, help us not to just go to church on Sunday, but to recognize that your presence goes with us wherever we go. May we know a deep communion with you every day. May our marriage be a place where we grow together and lean on You in every situation. Help us to grow to be more like You every day, having a unity in Spirit, being patient, humble and gentle with each other, and bearing each other’s burdens with Your love and strength. Fill our marriage with Your peace. When a struggle or strife arises, may our first response be to come to You together for help. Help us make talking about You and Your Word a priority. We ask your Spirit to help us understand Your Word and grow together in our love and service to You.

3. To recognize things causing distance.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Father, life gets so busy and things can creep into our marriage and cause distance. Help us be intentional in spending time together and reveal things that are creating a chasm in our relationship. Protect us from things that will divide us, whether it be time spent online or a recreational activity or a friendship that is taking away from our marriage. Help us know how to remedy the situation and bring a closeness back into our marriage with You at the center.

4. To forgive each other quickly.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

Father, enable us to forgive each other as You have forgiven us. Help us not to hold onto bitterness, keep records of wrong, or allow the enemy any foothold in our relationship. Keep our hearts sensitive to You and each other, and move us to the work of reconciliation quickly. When we are wounded, help us be honest with each other and not fear retaliation. Help us to work through our differences in a way that honors You and strengthens our relationship. Help us grow in humility and recognize when we have wounded each other. Give us Your strength to ask for and give forgiveness.

5. To know when to seek outside help.

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” (Proverbs 19:20)

Father, grant us the humility and wisdom to know when our marriage needs outside help. Provide wise counsel in the form of friends, pastors, and professionals who will guide us back to You and show us how to rebuild trust and unity in a way that honors You. Help us not be afraid of the work of rebuilding our marriage or making it stronger, but instead help us each be humble and gentle and willing to grow and accept counsel.

Whether you pray individually or together as a couple, or with a group of friends who support each other by praying for your marriages, may you know the power and peace that comes from laying your burdens at the Father’s feet.

Amelia Rhodes lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. As a recovering perfectionist who has been freed, by God’s grace, from the grip of perpetual anxiety, Amelia encourages women to discover who they are in Christ and to deepen their relationships with each other. Her latest book is Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community. Learn more about Amelia and her writing at http://www.ameliarhodes.com.

GOD TIME…… ITS NOT ABOUT A CHECKLIST

God Time… It’s Not About a Checklist
by Kat Lee, from Hello Mornings

My four-year-old son, Jackson, was trying to get his straw in the juice pouch when he got lost in the food court crowd. I thought he was right behind me, but when we finally found a table and turned around, we saw he wasn’t there. I figured he couldn’t have gone far. In fact, he was probably near the live performance happening over by the stage. I looked everywhere for his red-and-brown striped shirt and khaki cargo shorts, but I didn’t see him.

As fear started to rise in my throat, I called his name. Surely he was around the food court somewhere. A few minutes went by, and I still couldn’t find him. I walked around, frantically yelling his name louder and louder.

One by one, people came up to me. “Is someone you love lost? How can I help? What is his name? What is he wearing? How old is he?”

Complete strangers were willing to act like fools running around yelling the name of a boy they’d never even met.

Five minutes went by. Ten minutes went by. Fifteen minutes went by.

I felt as though my heart stopped beating. Had someone taken him? How could he have gotten so far away? Was there an accident of some kind? So many fears swirled in my head.

In the meantime another mom, busy with her own kids and with plenty on her mind, saw a little boy sitting alone on a bench. He looked scared and alone and was fumbling with the button on his pocket. She put everything she was doing on hold and walked over to him.

“Can I help you?”

She knew what it meant for a mama to lose her baby. She helped him open his shorts pocket, and she called the number on the paper. A few minutes later, I was the happiest, most thankful mom in the world.

Shift Your God-Time Perspective

One of the most important reasons we start every day with Jesus is not that it’s something to check off our Christian to-do list. It’s important because God loves His children unfathomably, even more than I love my son, and He’s asking you and me to help reach them. He doesn’t need us to preach from the rooftops. He just wants us to be willing to come before Him each day and ask, “Is someone you love lost? How can I help?”

Shift 1: It’s Not About a Checklist

Maybe God wants you to reach out to a neighbor today.

Maybe someone in your home or a stranger at the store needs an encouraging word or a smile. Maybe you’ll simply inspire others by the choices you make and the way you live the day. You may never know. But if you take the time to ask Him each morning, you just might get to be the rescuer who leads someone back to their Father who loves them more than life itself.

Maybe the person God wants to rescue is you.

To have you come close each day to hear how He loves you and cares for you. To give you time to lay your burdens at His feet. Maybe you have deep hurts that need to be healed before you can even think about helping others, and daily time with God is the remedy.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that the most powerful thing we can do is build a habit of listening to God each day. To bring Him glory, to remember His goodness, and to steady our hearts before the storms hit, begin the day by studying His Word, praying, and worshipping.

No program, self-help book, course, or video could help you more. No mentor, pastor, or counselor can more effectively heal your hurts than meeting with God each day. Those are all wonderful and needed things, but He must be our foundation. He knows us, understands us, and loves us more than we can comprehend.

He is simply worthy of our time, our energy, and our efforts. We were made to worship Him, and when we have rightly tuned our hearts to His, we can be a part of the symphony He is conducting.

Excerpted with permission from Hello Mornings by Kat Lee, copyright Rachel Lee.

* * *

Your Turn

Before we even get out of bed, we can say hello to God and ask Him to guide and direct our day. We can attune our hearts to him, worship, give thanks, ask, and stop and listen to what He may say. Who can you reach out to today to share Jesus’ love? We’d love to know!

DOUBTSTORMS

The following is excerpted from Chapter 13 of In the Eye of the Storm.

On Sundays I stand before a church with a three-point outline in my hand, thirty minutes on the clock, and a prayer on my lips. I do my best to say something that will convince a stranger that an unseen God still hears.

And I sometimes wonder why so many hearts have to hurt.

Do you ever get doubtstorms? Some of you don’t, I know. I’ve talked to you.

I think you are gifted. You are gifted with faith. You can see the rainbow before the clouds part. If you have this gift, then I won’t say anything you need to hear.

But others of you wonder…

You wonder if it is a blessing or a curse to have a mind that never rests. But you would rather be a cynic than a hypocrite, so you continue to pray with one eye open and wonder:

– about starving children

– about the power of prayer

– about the depths of grace

– about Christians in cancer wards

– about who you are to ask such questions anyway.

Tough questions. Throw-in-the-towel questions. Questions the disciples must have asked in the storm.

The light came for the disciples. A figure came to them walking on the water. It wasn’t what they expected. Perhaps they were looking for angels to descend or heaven to open. Maybe they were listening for a divine proclamation to still the storm. We don’t know what they were looking for. But one thing is for sure, they weren’t looking for

Jesus to come walking on the water.

“‘It’s a ghost,’ they said and cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26).

And since Jesus came in a way they didn’t expect, they almost missed seeing the answer to their prayers.

And unless we look and listen closely, we risk making the same mistake. God’s lights in our dark nights are as numerous as the stars, if only we’ll look for them.

When the disciples saw Jesus in the middle of their stormy night, they called him a ghost. A phantom. A hallucination. To them, the glow was anything but God.

When we see gentle lights on the horizon, we often have the same reaction. We dismiss occasional kindness as apparitions, accidents, or anomalies. Anything but God.

“When Jesus comes,” the disciples in the boat may have thought, “he’ll split the sky. The sea will be calm. The clouds will disperse.”

“When God comes,” we doubters think, “all pain will flee. Life will be tranquil. No questions will remain.”

And because we look for the bonfire, we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper.

From In the Eye of the Storm

Copyright 1991, Max Lucado

OPPORTUNED BUT NOT RELEVANT

After Jephthah died, Ibzan from Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He sent his daughters to marry men outside his clan, and he brought in thirty young women from outside his clan to marry his sons. Ibzan judged Israel for seven years. When he died, he was buried at Bethlehem. After Ibzan died, Elon from the tribe of Zebulun judged Israel for ten years. When he died, he was buried at Aijalon in Zebulun. After Elon died, Abdon son of Hillel, from Pirathon, judged Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. He judged Israel for eight years. When he died, he was buried at Pirathon in Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.”

Judges 12:8-15 NLT

Jephthah , Ibzan, Elon, Abdon all had the same opportunities, they were Judges in Israel in the same period of time in history but they didn’t make the same use of the opportunities given them. Jephthah made a ark in the sands of time, his story is heard and known through the ages, the rest were just present.

David was opportuned and he lay hold on that opportunity and killed giants

Samuel was opportuned and he lay hold of that opportunity and became the mouth piece of God

Paul was opportuned and he lay hold on that opportunity and made in roads to the gentile nations

We all are given opportunities by God in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, places of work, all around us, May we make use of the varied opportunities God has given us to impact our generation for good