Monday, November 15, 2010

Loving through Obedience

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me;. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and show myself to him."

John 14:21

God loves me unconditionally, I know that for sure. All I have to do is think of what I am like when I am at my very worst. All I have to do is think of the things that I have done that I don't want anyone to know about, those words I’ve spoken in haste that I wish I could eat, and the thoughts I think that I am thankful that no one else can hear. God sees it all and yet He still sent His son to die for my sin. John 12:46 says, "I am come as a light into the world, that whosoever believes on me should not abide in darkness." It is not God's intent for us to live in darkness. He has illuminated and exposed our sin and desires that we confess it and accept His forgiveness. That Kind of love demands a response, but if I am really honest I have to ask myself if I really love God? I claim to, but how do I show it? For awhile I went to the extreme and berated myself for my failures thinking that it would prove my love by showing how sorry I am when I sin against God. However the above verse points out just how wrong that perception was. His desire is for me to express my love for Him through my obedience.

As human’s we all have certain things that we interpret as love. Some people like to be touched and some prefer gifts. Some like conversation while others appreciate acts of service. Still others cherish being told, " I love you." I could spend all day talking to my child, but if she needs hugs to feel loved and I don't hug her she will not know I love her. Well, God in His grace and in His goodness has told us if we want to show Him our love that we should obey His commandments. Obedience is God's language of love! God loves it when we talk to Him, worship Him, learn His Word, and serve Him by serving others. But in 1 Corinthians 13 it is clear that without love none of those things matter. If the intent of my heart is not to obey Him all of those other things don't really matter -- they are empty works. So what does it mean to obey Him? There are so many commands, but today I will touch only on a few.

First, Ephesians 6:1-2 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. Honor thy father and mother…," One way to love God is to obey your parents and to honor them. He placed you in their lives and He did it with your best interest in mind. He doesn't ask you to honor them if they are perfect or to obey them when we feel like it. I have been very blessed with my kids honoring me. There are times that I have had to correct them and they were teachable. Even at the times I didn't handle everything right, they showed me grace. Parents are learning to parent as they raise kids and it is a godly thing for a child to be willing to learn, respect and forgive their imperfections. They have a tremendous responsibility and will answer to God for how they parent; be sure you let them obey God. Honor is more of an attitude of the heart…the silent treatment, the looks, the stomping don't reflect honor.

Sarah, Abraham's wife, is a beautiful example of how a wife should honor and respect her husband. She honored her husband even though he didn't always protect her…she chose to respect him even when he didn't deserve it and God blessed her for it. I can show God my love by respecting my husband.

Ephesians 4:12 says, "Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, impurity." God gave this command to Timothy who was a very young pastor leading a church. It is applicable to us as well. Paul says that we can be a shining example in the way we act, love, and relate or trust God. It does not matter if we are 15 or 80, we can be an example to those around us. If our church is a healthy church there will be baby Christians 23 can help grow by choosing to live in a way that our actions, love, faith and your purity point them toward deeper relationships with God. In the moral climate of our world, the opportunity to shine bright is enormous when we obey God. Is it always easy? NO WAY! But when it is hard and we have to depend on Him for the motivation and the strength to obey we develop a real and intimate relationship with Him.

I have to ask myself if I really love God, would others know it by my life? Would they know it by how I speak? Would they know it by the way I forgive? Would they know it by the way I treat others? Would they know it by my actions? There is one more consideration that I think is important to me as a woman. I Timothy 2:9a says, "In like manner, also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with Godly fear and sobriety." I believe it is okay to be feminine and stylish and yet dress in a way that would not cause a Christian brother to stumble. We can use our creative abilities in dressing and still reflect the purity of God. Would they know it by the way I dress?

I am so thankful for the New Testament in that Christ took the focus off of the Jewish law and put it on loving Him, others, and ourselves. I can choose to move away from sin any time I am focusing on love by asking myself if the words I am about to speak, the actions I am about to carry out, or the thoughts I am thinking are loving.

Father, I pray that each one of us will come to understand more and more about your love and that we will respond to your love with obedience. May we learn to love you with all of our hearts, minds, and our souls and seek to honor you in everything that we do. You deserve our best efforts, our loyalty, our praise, and most of all our obedience. We love you, help us to obey you in good times and in bad! Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!