Love – February 2018 Scripture Memory Challenge

I know! How cliche to choose love as our topic for February, right? But nothing is cliche about God’s love. It destroys all our perceptions of love, drawing us instead to a love that cuts deeper, rushes over us suddenly, wraps us in a protective cocoon and is never failing!

We often hear the phrase to fall in love or we hear that love grew between people, but that’s not the nature of God’s love. Loving is not something God does. Love is who God is. And God cannot help but to be who he is. So, he loves us, period!  We never have to worry about loosing God’s love.

Loving is not something God does. Love is who God is. Click To Tweet

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8

God loved us first. He knows exactly who we are, what we’ve done, what we are going to do, what we think and how often we think it. That doesn’t stop him. He loves us anyway. He didn’t wait for us to know him or repent of our sin, he took the first step, pouring out the love we needed, before we even knew we needed it. I can’t imagine asking someone I love to die for me or for someone else that I love, but God did not hesitate. He sent his son to die for us giving us salvation.

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. Romans 8:38

We may say we love unconditionally, but let’s face it, sometimes, at least in the moment, we have to remind ourselves we love and force our actions into line. We live in a world of changing priorities and shifting allegiance. Nothing stays the same for long. But God’s love stays the course. This verse points out three truths about God’s love:

Though we may disappoint him or even reject him, he won’t take his love away. Nor can we walk away from God’s love.

  1. We may have to experience the consequences  of our actions and we may feel that the discipline we receive through the consequences is a sign that God has withdrawn his love, but that’s just a lie the ruler of this dark world wants us to swallow. God loves those he disciplines (Take a look at Hebrews 12:7.)
  2. The third important truth about God’s love is that absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love.

I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6

What does God ask in return? Well, first and foremost, he wants us to love him in return. In the Old Testament God required sacrifices from his people so that they could be forgiven. Although God took care of that need for a sacrifice once and for all when he sent his Son to be that sacrifice, many of us still have it in our heads that God is asking us to sacrifice in order to earn his love. We think we must give offerings, or do things or make ourselves over in order to purchase his love. God says, that’s not true! What I want is for you to get to know me. And how do we get to know God? It’s just like we get to know each other. We spend time with them. As we spend time with God in prayer, studying his word and praising him, as we do, we get to know him. Those actions, the time spent together, is what God wants.

This is a familiar concept. I really wanted my husband to know me before we married and I wanted to get to know him. So, we spent time together, we talked, we listened and we talked about each other to others. The more time we have spent together, the more we know each other. We’ve been married 15 years, and still we learn things about one another all the time. God’s love is infinitely more complex than either my husband or me, so there are always new things to learn about him as we spend time together.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13: 34-35

And then, God asks us to show that we are changed by his love and that we are full of his spirit, by pouring out our love on others. God says we are to love those who are fellow Christ followers so much that the rest of the world will be able to see that we are his followers without even being told, because they will see our love for each other.

God asks us to show that we are changed by his love and that we are full of his spirit, by pouring out our love on others. Click To Tweet

However, God wants us to be so changed by his love that we don’t just love Christ followers, but that we love even our enemies. Luke 6:27 tells us that he doesn’t just want us to love our enemies from a safe distance, he wants us to love those who hate us by doing good to them. You see, God desires that his love will be so life changing for us that we will become like him. Remember, he didn’t wait on us to love him, he loved us first!

If you have signed up for the challenge check your email to download your printable memory cards for the month of February. If you aren’t signed up for the scripture memory challenge you are missing out on the memory cards and a weekly email with the verse for the week. Why not sign up now?

All verses are quoted from the New Living Bible

linking up at Lyli Dunbar’s Faith on Fire

Who Do I Follow?

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24 NLT

The news in my little corner of the world over the last week has highlighted for me the importance of our choices. We concentrate on the big choices, those we consider for days or months. Those we see as life-changing. But, I’ve come to see that what seems small defines us. That it is the one tiny act of kindness, love or self-sacrifice that changes lives. It is the adding up of all those small, seemingly insignificant choices that make a life.

It is the adding up of all those small, seemingly insignificant choices that make a life. Click To Tweet

I see a line of strangers who, in an instant, joined hands in the ocean to form a literal lifeline for a drowning family in Florida. No time to consider. Just grab a hand and become a nameless, faceless individual in a long line of others who offer life. I was proud of my fellow man, I thought, that is what we should all do, just jump in and save a life. Of course, I would do that. Of course!

Then, in my news feed, the driver who hit a bicycle rider on a road not far from home. In an instant, the driver decided to swerve into a bicycle rider. After hitting the rider he sped away. As I read the comments on Facebook I saw anger and selfishness from dozens of individuals. Many comments could be summed up as “if you are in my way you are in the wrong and you deserve whatever happens for inconveniencing me.” I am shocked! I am saddened. I am convicted. How many times have I considered myself and wish to brush away any roadblock, even if it’s another life?

All those small choices we make are really an indicator of who we are and who we serve. I’m coming to the conclusion that the only real decision we must often make is will I serve God or will I serve myself? Christ reminds us that serving God means to deny ourselves. And that is not our natural reaction in many situations. Christ’s call to take up our cross follow him never lets us do as we please.

All those small choices we make are really an indicator of who we are and who we serve. Click To Tweet

The Tuesday ladies and I were talking about this last night. How it seems easier to serve God by doing the one “Big Thing”. We want to excuse those small, daily, inconvenient choices that are set before us. We read in James 4:17 that it is a sin to know what we ought to do and not do it. And sure, we believe this! After all, it’s written in God’s word. But do our lives reflect that belief?  Ummmm, we all hung our heads a bit. We challenged one another to work harder on this. And so I challenge you now, as you make all those small daily decisions, who will you serve? Will you serve the Lord, or will you serve yourself? Attitudes are not excused any more than actions. When our world revolves around us, it does not revolve around Christ.

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NLT

 

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I’m sharing this week at:

 LyliDunbar

hollygerth.com

Your True Value

My friend Mary diligently collected a certain type of dishes for her table. They could not be found in a store, They had to be sought out and collected from someone who’d owned them previously.  She loved the beautiful blue on white pattern that graced her table. Sometimes, I’m sure that others thought she overpaid to have this prize when she found it. After all, those dishes originally were given away in the grocery store as a reward for groceries purchased. They were not fine china nor were they originally seen as pieces with great value.

We all have our own opinions about the worth of something. But that doesn’t make us right! Is value based on the cost of the creation? The time, materials, and care that went into the creation. In reality, the true test is the price that someone is willing to pay.

It doesn’t matter how others see your value. I was redeemed at great price, although there are days I tend to forget that and sell myself short. You too, were redeemed at great price. No one can take away your value!

 

I’m linked up here today: http://holleygerth.com/

Getting a Do Over

I have been reading the book of Jeremiah, described by a friend as a great book but kind of depressing. I have to say from what I’ve read lately I’m not depressed, I’m relieved! Here’s what I’m learning. Even though God was totally exasperated with his people, he had Jeremiah prophesy for 41 years asking them to repent. That speaks to me of a God who really wants to give us a chance to get our act together and follow him like we should.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a lot of situations in my life were I desperately needed another chance to get it right. I’m a bit hard headed at times and I am totally driven when I’m aiming for a goal. I can miss those warning signs along the way.

In Lamentations 3:23 it says: “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”  (NLT) So, I can start fresh any time I need to. That is pretty amazing! I’d be a fool not to take advantage of this gift.

Are there things right now you wish you could do over? Well, you can!  Just start over right now.