Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Whatever, You Gotta Gotta Love!

I went to a youth camp with my oldest daughter several years ago and the theme of the week was, "Whatever, You Gotta Gotta Love!" During that particular time, the saying of the youth was, "Whatever!" So the counselors came up with the slogan to go with it. All week long we went around saying to each other, "Whatever! You Gotta Gotta Love!"

They may not have "got it" at the time, but the adults sure did. It didn't matter what was going on in our lives, whatever it was, we had to love. It's an ancient piece of advice, but one that is living and breathing still today. It came directly from the lips of Jesus:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." ~Matthew 22:37-39

We all go through "junk" in our lives. Some worse than others. Some better than others. But whatever it is that you're going through, even though you would love to hurl the hurts back at those who are hurting you, you must remember that "you gotta gotta love!"

Love has been around since before time. Think about that. God created everything and people because He LOVES! We walk around today beat down because someone told us that we were a mistake, or that we didn't matter, or that we weren't worth anything. But they were wrong! Because you, dear lovelies, were CHOSEN by the Most High God! You are here today because God CHOSE you! He LOVES you! Hard to fathom, isn't it?

It is so beyond my comprehension that God actually picked me. I am here today because God loves! YOU, sweetness are here today because God loves. So why is it so hard for us to love in return? We are human. We have earthly thoughts and desires. And quite frankly, there are some people that are just difficult to love! But whatever, we gotta gotta love them. 

Is it possible to love someone and not like them very much? Yes. I may not like how someone acts, but I love them. Why? Because God said to love them. And since we're being so truthful and transparent here, I love them because while I'm looking right at them thinking, "Man, I just don't like them very much right now," the Holy Spirit is talking to me saying, "But I love them all the time." Owweee!! Okay. Okay, Holy Spirit, I get it. And because You love them, You help me to love them, too. Whatever! I gotta gotta love!

Precious, whatever you're going through right this minute, know one thing for certain: God LOVES you unconditionally. That means no strings attached! THAT is how we are to love others. No strings attached. Don't put stipulations on your love. "If you DO this for me, then I'll love you." NO! You don't have to do anything to earn God's love for you. It's free for you! Jesus paid for it with His life! So you, in return, don't put stipulations on your love for others.

It doesn't mean you have to be friends with the difficult to love. It just means you love them. You may in fact have to keep your distance from some people. But love them anyway. Love them right to the Lord! It can and does happen!

Those snarky, hateful, broken people need love the most. Because they may be hurting the most. You may get hurt along the way. It's more than likely to happen. But Whatever! You gotta gotta love!

Love you!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Narrow Gate

What path are you walking on? Are you on the broad path, the one it seems everyone else is on? Or are you on the narrow path, the difficult one to find, the ancient path? It seems as if nearly everyone is on the broad path, all going the same direction. Very few seem to be finding the narrow path.

I was walking on the treadmill recently and this came to mind. An ancient path. Overgrown with trees, vines, overgrowth so thick it was difficult to make out the path. Why do you suppose the path was overgrown? Why was it so hard to find the gate? Probably because the gate is narrow, hard to see, and the path is difficult to follow. This, dear sisters, is life.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. ~Matthew 7:13-14

It breaks my heart to read that last statement, "and there are few who find it." Why? Why are there few who find that narrow gate? Maybe they do find the gate, but they don't walk through it. Maybe they find that the path is too difficult for them. I used to think that, too.

The world is on its own path. It's broad. It's filled with many enticing things. There are an extreme number of people who are on it. But Jesus says in the above verse that this path, this way leads to destruction. How many people, successful, prominent people, have we read about who have lost their lives to drug overdose? How many people have lost their lives because of violence? How many young people have taken their own lives because of abuse? This is what the wide gate and broad path leads to.

How many people do we read about who have walked through the narrow gate and are on that path? Not many. It's difficult, but not too difficult. It's long. But it can be done. The narrow gate, the difficult path, the ancient paths left to us by those who have gone before us, are still there. Waiting. They're overgrown. They're hard to find. But they aren't out of reach. They aren't out of touch. And you don't have to walk them alone. You have a Guide. One who is waiting for you just beyond the gate. He will lead you. He will guide you. He will help you.

It's not too late to take the narrow gate.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Walking in the Desert

Have you ever felt like you were just walking around in the desert? You may feel alone, tired, thirsty, or that you're just out in the desolate wasteland wandering around with no help in sight? You're not alone. There are many people who know what you're going through, and this isn't new to God. The children of Israel felt the same way... because they actually DID wander in the desert... for forty years!
I'm not saying your wandering will last for forty years. It might feel like that long, but what I am saying is that quite often we find ourselves wandering around wondering how we got in this state.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~James 1:2-4 NIV

God has a plan and a purpose for all of us. He designed our life path especially for each of us individually. No one's path is like another. They may parallel sometimes, but they are never alike. And they are always, always for good and not evil. God's plans are good, you can trust that. So what about the times we find ourselves walking in the desert? How does that happen?

Many times we put ourselves there. Just like the Israelites, we disobey what God has told us to do and it puts us in a state of wandering around in desolation, while we think about what we've done. It's a sort of Divine Timeout. I'm not fond of being put in timeout by God, but while I'm there I try to learn from it and hopefully not repeat what I did to get put there in the first place! But what about when you absolutely know that you've done everything right and you still find yourself walking in the desert?
Lovelies, that is when you know that you have become a very dangerous item to the enemy. When you are in the midst of serving God, doing what He has called you to do, all of a sudden you seem to slip through the hourglass into the desert. With sand being whipped in your face, you find you are walking in the desert of trials. It is then that you must square your shoulders, adjust your Armor, raise your Shield, hold tight to your Sword, and above all, focus more fully on the Lord! 

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the 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 6:14-17

Your situation cannot become a distraction, because you are called and anointed girlfriends. You are chosen by the Most High God. The enemy doesn't like that one bit, and when you start moving forward into your calling, when you realize who you are in Christ, you become a dangerous threat to the enemy. Don't for one minute let your guard down because if you allow one millisecond of distraction into your thinking, that leaves just enough room for the enemy to attack. And believe me, he will.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ~Ephesians 6:11-12

The enemy will use whatever tactic he can to distract you and trip you up. He will even use other people. If he can cause you doubt, worry, hurt your feelings, or even make you wonder, then you've been distracted from your calling and may miss a Divine Appointment.
There are many today who are walking around with sand in their shoes. They are so focused on what they perceive as an offense done to them by someone else that they are causing others to become distracted. It is time for us to shake the sand and dust from our shoes and move on! Count it all joy sisters, that we are in the trials that we are. Because we are all fighting them! But they are spiritual, not physical. Wipe the sand out of your eyes and see. God is calling you out of the desert and into the Promised Land! Will you step out? 

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