4 Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; 5 it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs 6 or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! 7 Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what. 8 Love will never become obsolete. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 The Voice
One day during my devotional time I decided to let my Bible fall open and that is where I would read. It fell open to the last page of the concordance. The words “wrong” and “wronged” caught my eye. It took me to scriptures in 1 Corinthians and Proverbs. The gist of the scriptures I read was this:
Isn’t it better to be wronged than to have wronged someone else?
Love covers all wrongs
This gave me pause. I still had quite a few sticking points in my heart with some folks. They felt like rough ragged edges that my feelings would get caught on. It was a place of injury. So I started to pray. I started to ask for the characteristics of love. I asked for patience, kindness. I asked to be able to rejoice in the truth, protect always, trust always, hope always and to always persevere. I asked God to help me let go of all the junk associated with these ragged edges in my heart. I began to realize that I was not the only one injured. I was able to lift others up in prayer too.
Father, show us where the frayed and ragged edges are in our hearts. Make them more smooth from experiencing and practicing Your love.
“1The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:1-3 NIV
The image of John receiving this message from the angel of God is a powerful one. Wow. To see and hear from God like John – that would be incredible.
So what does it take to hear from God this clearly? Be still. I think we also have to know how much God loves us in order to fully trust what we hear. It is critical for us to know how deep and how true He loves us.
We will be tested. We will need to stand firm, stand firm in His life and His love. We will be faced with ugliness. Darkness will be all around us. In those times, the hard times, we need to trust God. Trust His love for us.
Father, help me stand. Help me simply stand firmly next to You. Hold my hand. Never leave me or forsake me. I know You never will because You promised.
“Explore me, O God, and know the real me. Dig deeply and discover who I am. Put me to the test and watch how I handle the strain. Psalm 139:23 The Voice
This is a cry for intimacy. When we share intimate space with someone, we get to know the good, the bad and the ugly (and of course there is a preponderance of beauty as well!). The bottom line is there can be no secrets. Nothing can be hidden. There is no room for it.
I love The Voice version because you can hear the pain in this cry “Dig deeply…Put me to the test…watch how I handle the strain.” So when this happens, we get at the truth of the matter. So here is what was uncovered for me: anxiety, doubt, worry, fear of man, unhealthy connection to people, performance, rejection and fear.
This made me so angry! It was a list I was familiar with. I was so tired of the same list popping up time and time again. After a growl, I asked the Lord to deliver me. I was done with it. I prayed in the Spirit for thirty minutes because I didn’t trust my own heart to get at the ugly stuff that seemed to be hanging around. There was a shift! My heart was lighter. My mind was clearer. I had more energy. It was amazing. I’ve heard testimonies and sermons about praying in the Spirit but this application was even more validating and faith building. Cool. God gives us all the instructions and the tools. We just have to use them.
Lord, thank you for every piece of instruction and tool You have provided. I pray i exercise them all to the fullest!
“24 I tell you the truth: unless a grain of wheat is planted in the ground and dies, it remains a solitary seed. But when it is planted, it produces in death a great harvest. 25 The one who loves this life will lose it, and the one who despises it in this world will have life forevermore.” John 12:24-25 The Voice
This scripture pointed out so clearly why I have to die to myself. The concept is a tough one to embrace. It boils down to what do I really want? Do I really want all the fullness that God has for me? Or am I satisfied with just a taste? His fullness requires the sacrifice of self. This helped me to understand that it’s not about me and my plan. It’s about God and His plan.
As I picture the planting of a seed, I want to be planted. I don’t want to die on the stalk and wither away, useless and wasted. I REALLY want to plant and have a shot at being part of a larger harvest. When I think about all the things in my life that I need to lay down, a few things come to mind like over-planning, over-preparing, and over-performing. These are top of mind. I have had a tendency to charge “over” the path all three ways without seeking God’s direction. Moving ahead instead of following.
Father I repent for that old pattern. I can feel it kick in. I turn to You. I want to walk in Your light. I want to understand Your ways. I want to follow Your lead. Help me relax and just walk with You. Help me keep it simple. Help me to count on You. Thank you for Your love. Thank you for making my heart sing!
“12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:12-13 NIV
As I read these verses, I started to imagine putting each of these characteristics on as if they were articles of clothing. A beautiful gown of compassion with a robe or jacket of kindness over it. Gorgeous custom boots of humility. Dazzling ear rings of gentleness and a necklace of patience. Then my make-up would look flawless with a foundation of forgiveness. I really had to sit with that for a while. It sounded regal and beautiful in such a stately and timeless way. It made me think of all the money I invest in clothes, shoes, the latest face creams and moisturizers. Closets of clothes are all over my house! But God’s garments are timeless, ageless classics. They never go out of style and their beauty never fades.
Lord, help me dress in these beautiful characteristics that reflect You. Help me wear each of them daily and with joy. Thank you for teaching me a new way to dress for success!
“13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14 NIV
Wait for the Lord. What does that mean? I’m learning. I’m learning that to wait for someone, you have to be in close communication. You also have to trust their word. If I don’t ask what their plans are, I might barge ahead with my own plans. I might get in the way of the other person’s plans. It might mean that we miss our connection entirely. Sometimes I forget to pause and check in with God’s plans for me. I barge ahead without hesitation thinking I know best. Occasionally I delude myself into thinking I know a lot more than I do. I waste time and energy worrying about things He has already worked out. So waiting is an art. To wait confidently and gracefully with composure. I still struggle in this area but I am learning! Sometimes I get too wrapped up in my head and don’t rely enough on God’s voice. So I have to go back to square one and get quiet and listen.
Father God, I’m so blessed that You are always there waiting for me. You never leave without me. You never leave me stranded. Thank you Lord!
“20 Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He replied to them by saying, The kingdom of God does not come with signs to be observed or with visible display,21 nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].” Luke 17:20-21 AMP
So the kingdom of God is IN us. As I was reading this passage, it reminded me of a passage that is also in The Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come.” I got caught up reading a lot of commentaries. It occurred to me that I needed to simply be quiet and listen to what God had to say about these passages. Here is what I heard: He is waiting for us all to come into a state of obedience and alignment so that we will not continue to lay fragmented and broken as a body. That when we come together, we will no longer be vulnerable to heresy and apostacy. We will no longer be plagued with malice and strife between ourselves. We will be able to stand together, resolute for our King. And then, His Kingdom will have arrived.
Lord, I pray that Your kingdom come and that Your will be done in my heart and the hearts of all Christians. I pray that we come together as one body. Make us strong in that body so that we can stand together and stand strong, united and operating as one body in Christ, a true reflection of You.
“ 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Colossians 3:12-13 NASB
What does it mean that we are chosen? Well, as God’s chosen ones we are called to a higher standard of behavior. His standard. We have to come to know Him and know His ways. His ways are very different. They are a reflection of His heart: compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient. Forgiving. It’s a beautiful and tall order. So I give thanks. I thank God for the light yoke that He has for us. He never intended us to take the world on by ourselves. I ask Him to show me how to rest in Him. Trust Him. Trust His desires for me. Trust His love for me.
Lord, thank you for Your faithfulness and for Your Presence in my life. Please instill Your heart in mine. Fill me with humility, patience and gentleness in all things.
“Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your Truth and teach me, for Your are God My Savior, and my Hope is in You all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5 NIV
I had been scared about God’s reference to submission from time to time. I thought it was about breaking my spirit. What I have come to understand is that a transition occurs, a surrender, as we come closer to God. Our desires become His desires. Our ways begin to reflect His ways. Our heart begins to reflect His heart. Whether I realized it or not, I had already started to submit. My heart had softened to hear His Word and accept His direction (and sometimes correction!). It turns out not to be scary after all. Anything but. It turns out to be an easier, more peaceful, joyful way to live. Casting all my cares on Him.
I began to pray:
“Father I surrender all things to You: myself, my daughter, my family, my choices, my life, and all that is in it. I trust that You only want what is best. You see all. You know all. You LOVE me. Thank you, Lord.”