Tag Archive for Love

Frustration vs. Love

Have you ever had a day where you are just frustrated with people?

I have. It actually happens more often than I would prefer to admit. I get frustrated. I get frustrated with the online world pretending to be perfect, yet really being prideful, rude, superficial. I get frustrated with people in authority who think rules don’t apply to them. I get frustrated when someones selfishness hurts those I love. But what it really comes down to is that people aren’t my problem.

My frustration is really caused by my own lack of love for others.

That’s my issue.

It isn’t people.

It isn’t the situation.

It is me and my sinfulness.

I’ve found that people probably aren’t going to change.

I’m going to run into people on Facebook that answer a sincere question with a response that says “just Google it” or ask a question just to lash out at others who disagree with them.

I’m going to have to face people in my life that have different priorities for my children than I do.

I’m going to experience changes brought on by others.

But what I’ve found is that while other people aren’t going to change the way they operate, I can. Instead of looking at others in frustration, I can cry out to God for more of Him:

Lord, give me more of you!”

That should be my battle cry.

Not, “Lord, fix them!!!” but “Lord, fix me!”

I need help to love others and walk in love no matter how many people hurt my feelings or came across as harsh. I need help to love others no matter what. Help to be a light that shined His love to the world.

My guess is that I’m not alone in this. You may not be as selfishly frustrated as me, but I think we can all stand a little more Jesus in us.

1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is patient and kind. That it always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. That it doesn’t envy, boast, dishonor others, become easily angered, or self-seeking. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs, but rejoices in the truth.

When we become frustrated with the people around us, it’s our own lack of love that shines through.

We lose our patience. We get easily angered. We stop protecting, trusting, and hoping, and end up dishonoring others. We make that record of wrongs and ultimately become self-seeking. 

Focusing on the bad doesn’t change it, it just makes our day worse.

And we don’t need that.

Likewise, loving more doesn’t make the hurtful and hateful things disappear, it just helps us to look at them differently.

Getting frustrated with others, focusing on the bad, is one of those areas that I thrive in. I let others bring me down. I shift my focus from God to man and it’s a life-long struggle for me.

Instead of leaning on God, I get wrapped up in the world and then it knocks me down. But God helps me get up again.

That reminds me of a song I use to listen to years ago:

“I get knocked down, but I get up again..” – the difference is that now I know that it’s only through God’s help that I can stand. And you can too.

So today, I want to encourage you, when you start to get frustrated by people, ask God to help you love them more.

“…it is by faith you stand firm.”
~ 2 Corinthians 2:9

For this reason…

My favorite prayer in all of Scripture is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus and I’m excited to share it with you today. But before I do, I want to thank you for joining me through this study of prayers in the New Testament. I have enjoyed digging into God’s Word with you.

February was a rough month for Paul and I, between illnesses that reeked havoc on our family and the passing of Paul’s father, I was honestly surprised when someone told me it was March already. I want to send a special thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, and supported us during this time. We are so blessed.

And now, in the words of the apostle Paul:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

~ Ephesians 3:14-21

When I read that prayer, I am overcome with the tremendous importance of love. When Jesus truly dwells in our hearts, we love Him, and that love we have from Him strengthens our faith, which in turn strengthens us.

I love the word picture Paul gives us about being rooted and grounded in love. When we studied the fruit of the Spirit last year, the first fruit we looked at was the fruit of love. It’s like the taproot and everything else stems off of it.

Without love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13).

Can you grasp how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is? It’s a love that surpasses knowledge, and He loves us that much.

When we fail, God loves us.

When we don’t love others, God loves us.

For while we were still sinners, God sent His son to die for us, because He loves us that much.

How great is our God.

I know this is a short lesson, but it’s so powerful. I encourage you to dwell on the love of Christ today. Let it overflow out of you onto those in your life.

And now I want to leave you with another prayer Paul wrote, this one was to the church in Philippi…

“And this is my prayer:
that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

~ Philippians 1:9-11

 

Reflection Questions

  • Are you rooted and grounded in love?
  • What are some of the ways you can show love to others this week?
  • Do you try to love others out of your own strength, or by letting God’s love overflow out of you and onto those around you?

Take it Deeper

  • Read the following Scriptures: Romans 1:16; John 3:16; Romans 5:5-81; Corinthians 4:20-21; Romans 8:37-39; Matthew 22:34-40; Matthew 5:43-48; John 13:34-35; John 15:13; John 14:23-24; Romans 12:9-10
  • Download the PDF Study Guide
  • Join the conversation! Share one or more of your answers to the reflection questions in the comments below.

 

 

Previous posts in this series

Study announcement

What is prayer?

The Lord’s Prayer

The Humble Prayer

A Prayer for Strength

Forgiveness from the Cross

VeggieTales Review & Giveaway

Beauty and the Beet Our family loves all things VeggieTales. It’s an obsession I picked up in middle school and passed on to my children.

Who doesn’t love a wholesome family film and silly songs – right?

Anyway, we got their newest film, “Beauty and the Beet,” in the mail yesterday and watched it right away.

It was a HIT!

The message in this one was on unconditional love. That’s something all Christian parents try to teach their kids, and I really think this film knocked it out of the park. I’ve never seen it covered so well.

Here’s a little bit more about the film:

This brand-new VeggieTales musical stars Kellie Pickler (American Idol, Dancing With the Stars), who brings her unmistakable voice to the role of Mirabelle, a sweet-potato singer whose family band is on the brink of superstardom.

BEAUTY AND THE BEET blends the irresistible charm of VeggieTales with a heartfelt message about unconditional love. The DVD also includes Mac and Cheese, a giddy new “Silly Songs With Larry” segment in which Larry the Cucumber reveals the surprising and heretofore untold history of his family’s unexpected contributions to Italian cuisine.

BEAUTY AND THE BEET is just the start of the fun in store this fall for VeggieTales fans, because the gang will also star in a brand-new Netflix original series, VeggieTales In the House, which premieres Thanksgiving weekend.

Check out the trailer for “Beauty and the Beet” below: 

Enter to Win

So now that you know all about how awesome this movie is, you HAVE to enter to win a copy for yourself! …okay, you don’t have to, but I know you want to.

Check out all the entry options to win below – only one DVD will be given away, if you don’t win you can order a copy from Amazon, or pick one up at Wal-mart. Whatever way you go, leave a comment and let me know what you think of the film!

The giveaway kicks off October 18th in honor of our youngest son turning 10! 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  

 

 

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Reflecting on Revelation – Halfway Point

We’ve reached the halfway point in our revelation study, and I wanted to take some time to look back over what we’ve seen so far. I’ve actually seen some repeating themes, and I think those are important to note, and I can’t wait to see how they play out in the remaining 3 letters.

With that in mind, let’s look back on the churches we’ve studied so far.

  1. The church in Ephesus was recognized for their faithfulness to Christ and His teachings, but condemned for their lack of love.
  2. Smyrna was faithful to the point of death. They had love, and they were praised for their perseverance.
  3. The Christians in Pergamum had love and perseverance, but they were lacking in truth. They remained faithful to Christ, but not His teachings.
  4. And finally, the church in Thyatira was praised for it’s love, faith, service, and patient endurance, yet they lacked truth. They tolerated false teachings.

Over and over again, Jesus has commented on their love, faith, perseverance, and whether or not they hold to the truth of the gospel or allow false teachings.

Reflecting on Revelation Pt. 1

Love, faith, perseverance, and truth. Those are the highlights of the first four letters.

Which brings me to my reflection.

Do we see those things in our own lives?

Do we keep Christ as our first love? …or do we tend to drift away?

Is our faith in Christ (and Christ alone) enough to sustain us? Do we remain faithful to Him and believe He is in control of all?

Will we persevere when hardships come our way? …or will we cave under pressure?

Will we stand up for the truth of God’s Word, even if it means sacrificing our standing within our church, community or family?

Those are hard questions, but they are the ones I am reflecting on this week.

A less prominent repeating theme I saw in the first four churches, is works. Jesus said He knew the works of the first three churches, and the church in Thyatira was praised for their service. One of the ladies in my Bible study reminded us this week that faith without works is dead (James 2:20). That’s something to remember as well.

Jesus knows your works. What does He know about you?

Do your works stem from love? Prompted by faith? Do they hold to the truth? Do they persevere under hardship? Do they exist at all…

The Church of Ephesus and the Importance of Love

“…I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people…”

~ Ephesians 1:15

Welcome to week 2 of our study through the churches in Revelation. Today, we’ll look at the first church Jesus addressed, the church in Ephesus. Now, this isn’t the first time the church of Ephesus was mentioned in the Bible. It was also mentioned in Acts, 1 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and the book of Ephesians was written specifically to this church.

Let’s start by reading what Jesus had to say to the Ephesians:

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

~ Revelation 2:1-7

If we flip back to the book of Ephesians, we will see that the church of Ephesus was commended for their love. Yet, as I was reading through the letter Paul wrote to them, I got a sense that even in the beginning they were proud of their work for Christ. Paul reminded them that they were chosen by Godsaved by grace, and once Gentiles separated from Christ.

The church in Ephesus worked hard for God. We see it in both the book of Ephesians and again in the words Jesus spoke to them in Revelation. They held to His teaching, stood up for what they believed in, and were basically super Christians. But – and it’s a big but – they weren’t doing it for the right reasons. Jesus said they had left their first love (vs. 4). When you contrast that to Ephesians 1:15, you see a drastic change.

Proverbs 16:2 says, All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” I think that was the root of the Ephesians problem. They were working hard for Christ, doing what they knew was right – but they were doing it for the wrong reasons.

It’s like Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8 (vs 1), We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” They had all the knowledge, but they were lacking in love.

Do you remember what John wrote about love in his first epistle? He said, Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). It doesn’t matter how hard we work for God if we are doing it for the wrong reasons. If it doesn’t stem out of love for Christ, all of our work is meaningless.

In verse 5 of the letter to the Ephesians, Jesus calls the Ephesians to repent. To remember the love they had at first, or He said He would remove their lampstand. Last week we talked about how lampstands are just stands. They are made to display light. If churches are lampstands meant to display the light of Christ, and God is love, then a church that doesn’t love, isn’t doing a very good job.

The Importance of Love

It’s easy to get caught up in Christian living, and forget the love that started it all.

But that love is huge.

Brennan Manning coined what is known as the Ragamuffin Gospel. He believed that God would only ask us one question when we get to heaven. And that question would be, “Did you believe that I loved you?” Moreover, he believed there were only two responses to that question:

  1. “Yes, Lord. I did believe that and I tried to shape my life around that belief.”
  2. “No, God, I didn’t. Because ______” (you fill in the blank).

Jesus wrote to the church in Ephesus that those who were victorious would be granted the right to eat from the tree of life (Revelation 2:7). Those who love Jesus are the ones who get to spend eternity with Him. God commands us to love one another (John 13:34-35), and Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey His commands (John 14:15).

Love leads to love.

If we love God, we will love others.

Jesus also issued a warning to people who served Him without love. He said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23) That’s pretty serious stuff.

John reiterated that when he wrote, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:7-12)

The bottom line is that love matters. Without love, we are without God.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

Reflection Questions:

Summarize this letter in your own words. What would you say God wanted us to understand from reading it?

Are you motivated by love or do you act more out of habit or knowledge than out of love for Christ?

What is the reward for those who keep Christ as their first love? What does that mean for those who don’t?

 

Take it Further:

 Click here to read the next post in this series

Previous Posts in this Series:

Study Announcement

Week 1:

 

Love Expressed

I’m reading an amazing book by Chris Hodges. It’s called, “Fresh Air” (you can pick up a copy from Amazon.com here). Today’s chapter was called, “God’s Love Language” (chapter 8), and this post is based off of what I learned in that chapter.

– – – – –

I love my God. He’s awesome. However, I haven’t often thought about how I love Him or even how He wants to be loved. There are different kinds of love. There’s love like you love a pair of shoes, love like you love a friend, brotherly love, passionate love that you feel for your spouse. In the Bible, there’s an entire chapter about Agape love. Agape love is an all encompassing love – It goes past friendship to a deep, heart-felt love. Agape love is a love that elevates. It’s true love. And that’s how God wants us to love Him… but how do we express that love?

“We must remember that we don’t worship for our benefit but for God’s.”

 

– Chris Hodges

The Bible tells us a lot about how God wants us to express our love for Him. His love language is one of praise and admiration. He loves it when we praise Him – that’s what makes Him feel loved.

Chris Hodges wrote about David being a man after God’s own heart. When David wrote the Pslams, He wrote them to praise God – He was expressing his love in the way God wanted to hear it. He praised Him through singing, dancing, playing music, shouting, lifting their hands, craving His presence, and living his lives for Him.

This was the man after God’s own heart, his would be a great example to follow. Check out these verses:

Psalm 34:1 (and 52:9) – “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

Psalm 68:4 – “Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.”

Psalm 70:4 – “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!'”

Psalm 16:8 – “I keep my eyes always on the Lord.”

Psalm 71:14 – “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”

Psalm 95:2 – “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”

Psalm 26:3 – “for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.”

Psalm 109:30 – “With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.”

Psalm 111:1 – “Praise the Lord. I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.”

Psalm 115:17-18 –  “It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore.”

Psalm 117 – “Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.”

Psalm 145:10 – “All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you.”

Expressing our love through praise and worship shouldn’t just happen on Sunday mornings, it should be  a way of life.

In Proverbs 8 after recounting how God created the world, Solomon wrote, “Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind” (30-31). Praising God during everyday life was a recurring theme throughout the old testament. But praising God didn’t end when Jesus came, it allowed us to love Him more personally – to draw near to Him(Hebrews 10:19-22). To praise Him as a Savior as well as a Creator. The apostle Paul said to: “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him” (Romans 15:11).

These great men of the Bible really got it. They actively expressed their love for God. I can’t imagine going a day without actively loving my husband. Sometimes I run to give him a hug when he first gets home from work. Other times I sit back and just marvel at how amazing it is that he loves me. But it’s always an active love.

All too often, my love for God doesn’t pour out of me that way. I love Him the way I love my brothers. I really do love them… but that doesn’t mean I think about them every day. I think about them on occasion, and even have pictures of them around my house, but I rarely call them or go visit them. I would be crushed if they ever stopped loving me in return or if anything ever happened to them, but (living three states away) they aren’t an active part of my life. I don’t actively love them.

Obviously we can’t love everyone in our lives with an active love every single day, but God wants to be our number one. He wants us to love Him with all that we are with that active love. He wants us to think about Him constantly, talk to Him about our days. “Pray continually,” the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

God wants us to actively love Him. And His love language is the language of praise. Have you praised Him yet today?

 

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
– Hebrews 13:15