letsloveothers

Love one another as Jesus has loved us.

The people who did not die in these plagues still refused to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God. They continued to worship demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood. Idols that can neither see nor hear nor walk!  They did not repent of their murders or their witchcraft or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Revelation 9:20-21

New Living Translation

EARTHLY OR ETERNAL SUCCESS

What’s your definition of success?

Power?

Wealth?

Notoriety?

Knowledge?

Like beauty, success is in the eye of the beholder. My criteria for success may differ from yours, and therein lays the problem. Whenever you attempt to define success according to the wisdom of man, it’s continually subject to change and interpretation. This inconsistency leads to confusion and unfulfilled expectations. Individuals are left in a quandary as to how to conduct their lives. 

King Solomon eventually realized that when temporal success is your ultimate goal in life. It can be fueled by ungodly, evil desires.

Then I saw yet another thing. Envy fuels achievement. All the work and skills people develop come from their desire to be better than their neighbors. Even this is fleeting, like trying to embrace the wind.

As the saying goes: The fool folds his hands to rest and lets his flesh waste away. It is better to have one handful of peace than to have two hands full of hard work and a desire to catch the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4-6

Thankfully, Papa has a single benchmark for success— being Christ-like. A goal that requires…

SPIRITUAL MATURITY

Becoming spiritually mature doesn’t occur through osmosis or overnight. It requires a daily, concerted effort on your part to emulate Christ in both word and deed.

Your love is to be sincere and active, the real thing, without guile and hypocrisy. 

Hate what is evil. Detest all ungodliness. Do not tolerate wickedness. Hold on tightly to what is good. 

Be devoted to one another with authentic brotherly affection, as members of one family. Give preference to one another in honor.

Never lagging behind in diligence. Aglow in the Spirit. Enthusiastically serving the Lord. Constantly rejoicing in hope because of our confidence in Christ. 

Steadfast and patient in distress. Devoted to prayer— continually seeking wisdom, guidance and strength. Contributing to the needs of God’s people. Pursuing the practice of hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you. Who cause you harm or hardship. Bless and do not curse them. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice— sharing others’ joy. Weep with those who weep— sharing others’ grief. 

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, conceited, self-important, exclusive, but associate with humble people. Those with a realistic self-view. Do not overestimate yourself. 

Never repay anyone evil for evil. Take thought for what is right and gracious and proper in the sight of everyone. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 

Beloved, never avenge yourselves but leave the way open for God’s wrath and His judicial righteousness. 

For it is written in Scripture, “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,” says the Lord. 

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. For by doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.” 

SPIRITUAL COURAGE

I love epic movies such as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Braveheart and Elizabeth. Brave men and women engaged in a battle to the death.

Boldly confronting the evil of the day so others are freed from tyranny.

Saying no temporal rewards and yes to sacrificial living.

Your too can be a spiritual hero!

Be strong in the Lord. Draw your strength from Him. Be empowered through your union with Him and in the power of His boundless might. 

Put on the full armor of God. For His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier. So that you may be able to successfully stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, contending only with physical opponents, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly supernatural places. 

Therefore, put on the complete armor of God. So that you will be able to successfully resist and stand your ground in the evil day of danger. Having done everything that the crisis demands, to stand firm in your place. Fully prepared. Immovable. Victorious.  

So stand firm and hold your ground. Having tightened the wide band of truth, personal integrity, moral courage around your waist.

Having put on the breastplate of righteousness— an upright heart.

Having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news.

Above all, lift up the protective shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17

SPIRITUAL COUNSEL

Your first response during times of tribulation as well as prosperity is to seek Papa’s guidance— His Counsel. The Holy Spirit will reveal to you Papa’s will in the situation. However, you can’t have preconceived ideas regarding the solution, or how the Holy Spirit chooses to reveal it to you.

Yes, some of your “whys” won’t be answered this side of eternity. 

Yes, circumstances will come into your life, and those you love that appear to contradict Papa’s faithfulness and love. 

Yes, you may suffer physical and emotional pain. 

BUT

Though we have already tasted the first fruits of the Spirit, we are longing for the total redemption of our bodies that comes when our adoption as children of God is complete. 

For we have been saved in this hope and for this future. But hope does not involve what we already have or see. For who goes around hoping for what he already has. But if we wait expectantly for things we have never seen, then we hope with true perseverance and eager anticipation. 

A similar thing happens when we pray. We are weak and do not know how to pray. So the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words. Don’t you know that He who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit’s mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God? 

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future. 

You see, He knew those who would be His one day, and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son. So that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters. As for those He chose beforehand, He called them to a different destiny so that they would experience what it means to be made right with God and share in His glory. Romans 8:23-30

Grow up and stop cowering! You won’t crash and burn as long as the Holy Spirit is the pilot and you His co- pilot.

Today is Good Friday in Christianity. Odd, that on a day when something so barbaric occurred is called Good Friday,

BUT

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8

More than 2000 years ago Jesus was crucified. Graphically revealing sin’s cruelty and evil.

Shouting to all. “Work hard for sin your whole life, and death is your reward!”

YOUR sin…

Whipped His body with a cat o’ nine tails until skin and muscle were torn from His bones. 

Pounded the nails into His hands.

Shoved the crown of thorns down into His skull.

Pulverized His face.

Slowly sucked the breath from His lungs.

Knowing crucifixion would be His destiny here on earth. Jesus still chose to leave His heavenly throne and come to earth to live as a human being.

Why?

So He could redeem Papa’s children from the pit of hell.

Knowing they would desert Him in His time of need. Condemning Him to a death of unspeakable horror. Jesus still chose to lovingly heal and comfort the lost, the forgotten, the hurting.

Jesus chose to use precious oxygen to plead. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”  Luke 23:34

Jesus died alone and separated from His heavenly Father’s presence so none of us ever have to ask.

“My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46 

Thankfully, Jesus’s crucifixion was not the end of this love story! Jesus did not remain on the cross or in the tomb. He overcame death and was resurrected.

It’s Jesus’s resurrection that’s the cornerstone of Christianity. It’s proof of Jesus’s deity and undeniable confirmation of Papa’s great love for His children.

That’s why this day in Christianity was a good day. Now everyone who has eyes will be able to see the truth, and everyone who has ears will be able to hear it. Isaiah 32:3

JESUS IS THE ONLY SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!

The people griped about life in the wilderness. How hard they felt things were for them. These evil complaints came up to the ears of the Eternal One. He was furious about this ingratitude, faithlessness and lack of vision. His anger was kindled, and His fire raged among them and devoured some of the camp’s perimeter. The people of Israel cried out and ran to Moses and begged him to do something! Moses did. He prayed to the Eternal One, and the flames settled down.

Numbers 11:1-2

The Voice

EARTHLY OR ETERNAL REWARDS

Who out there has heard of or experienced a mid-life crisis? 

Questioning the meaning of life.

Questioning the wisdom of the choices you’ve devoted decades to fulfilling.

Questioning why nothing you’ve achieved makes it worth getting out of bed.

Questioning your sense of self and purpose.

Like many, King Soloman questioned the importance of his work— career.

I hated all my work that I labored at under the sun because I must leave it to the man who comes after me. Who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet, he will take over all my work that I labored at skillfully under the sun. This too is futile. 

So I began to give myself over to despair concerning all my work that I had labored at under the sun. When there is a man whose work was done with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and he must give his portion to a man who has not worked for it. This too is futile and a great wrong. For what does a man get with all his work and all his efforts that he labors at under the sun? For all his days are filled with grief, and his occupation is sorrowful. Even at night, his mind does not rest. This too is futile.

There is nothing better for man than to eat, drink and enjoy his work. I have seen that even this is from God’s hand because who can eat, and who can enjoy life apart from Him? For to the man who is pleasing in His sight, He gives wisdom, knowledge and joy, but to the sinner He gives the task of gathering and accumulating in order to give to the one who is pleasing in God’s sight. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind. Ecclesiastes 2:18-26

So many today are hopeless and desperate. To the outside world they appear to have it altogether. In reality a slow, agonizing death haunts their daily existence.

I like many of you were once counted among the terminal. Regardless of what I did, or how hard I tried. Nothing could quiet the emptiness shouting its name. Nothing that is until I had an up close and personal encounter with Papa.

In June of 2000, my husband and I were visiting our oldest daughter in Houston, Texas. She shared with us how the church she was attending was changing her life. Begging us to go to church with her, I reluctantly agreed.

As I walked through the doors love overwhelmed my heart. My heavenly Papa was there with outstretched arms. Lovingly welcoming His prodigal child home.

On that hot, summer day I had an unforgettable encounter with Papa. His presence captivated me. Touching the innermost parts of my being. Gently reassuring me I was safe and loved unconditionally.

Today my heart grieves for anyone who has never experienced the exquisite love that is Jesus.

Unquenchable love. Making a lifelong pursuit of Him irresistible.

Tender love. Healing the scars incurred on the battlefields in the war for my soul.

Empowering love. Gracing me to forgive those individuals who carved those scars on my soul, including me.

Encouraging love. Declaring my best days are yet to come.

Since that summer day my life has dramatically changed. My husband is no longer here to witness my personal transformation. He is with Christ experiencing first hand the majesty of Papa’s love.

As for me, I’ve learned to dance to a different drummer— to march down the road less traveled. 

Refusing to be imprisoned by the narrow mindedness of political correctness and religious dogma.

Pursuing the dreams I long kept buried. 

Thinking less of the distant future and more about living each day with intentionality. Knowing that none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow.

None of this is possible without faith fueled by Papa’s truth.

Truth that declares Papa is a…

God of excellence, not satisfied with the status quo. He is the Rock. His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong. How just and upright He is! Deuteronomy 32:4

God of relationships, family. When the right time arrived. God sent His Son into this world. Born of a woman. Subject to the law. 

To free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately, He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters. 

Because you are now part of God’s family. He sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, and the Spirit calls out, “Abba, Father.” 

You no longer have to live as a slave because you are a child of God. Since you are His child, God guarantees an inheritance is waiting for you. Galatians 4:4-7

God of holiness, discipling His children for their own good. You must submit to correction for the purpose of discipline. God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? Now if you are exempt from correction and without discipline, in which all of God’s children share, then you are illegitimate children and not sons at all. 

Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we submitted and respected them for training us. Shall we not much more willingly submit to the Father of spirits and live by learning from His discipline? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for only a short time as seemed best to them. But He disciplines us for our good so that we may share His holiness. 

For the time being no discipline brings joy but seems sad and painful. Yet, to those who have been trained by it. Afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness— right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose. Hebrews 12:7-11

God of trustworthiness, infallible and eternal. This is He who came through water and blood (His baptism and death), Jesus Christ— not by the water only but by the water and the blood. It is the Holy Spirit who testifies because the Spirit is the truth. He is the essence and origin of truth itself. For there are three witnesses— the Spirit and the water and the blood. These three are in agreement. Their testimony is perfectly consistent. 

If we accept, as we do, the testimony of men. That is, if we are willing to take the sworn statements of fallible humans as evidence, the testimony of God is greater, far more authoritative. 

For this is the testimony of God, that He has testified regarding His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God. Who adheres to, trusts in and relies confidently on Him as Savior has the testimony within himself. He can speak authoritatively about Christ from his own personal experience. The one who does not believe God in this way has made Him out to be a liar because he has not believed in the evidence that God has given regarding His Son. 

The testimony is this. God has given us eternal life. We already possess it. This life is in His Son, resulting in our spiritual completeness and eternal companionship with Him. He who has the Son, by accepting Him as Lord and Savior, has the life that is eternal. He who does not have the Son of God by personal faith does not have the life. 1 John 5:6-12

God of repentance, demanding His children become like His son, Jesus. Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. For through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see, and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.

Christ is also the head of the Church which is His body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So He is first in everything.

For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence. You are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.

You must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. Colossians 1:15-23

I believe Jesus is the greatest love story ever told! A story created by the Papa of all papas. Pursuing wayward children. Welcoming them with outstretched arms when they return home.

This former prodigal has never looked backed since that day she returned home. It was Papa’s incomparable treasure— Jesus that began my transformational journey. 

It is my prayer that if you are a prodigal. Return home! Receive Jesus. A treasure that is precious and worthy of your pursuit.

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