February 22, 2018

Love Is A Choice

SHadventlovegraphic

So, I have heard it said that love should not be a choice, and, that if you have to “choose” to love someone then that was not love.  I’ve also heard it said that love is not something you have to work at.  I have heard it said, too, that love is something that when the good feelings are gone, the love is gone.  I’ve heard it said that love is supposed to be all rainbows and sunshine.

I disagree with all these statements.  Here are facts that I know about love:

Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice
but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith,
is always hopeful,
and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I can understand how reading this passage would make one think that love is a feeling. All of those words have some sort of feeling attached to them.

Here’s the deal, though.  Love is—and will always be—an action. Therefore, because love is a verb and requires us to do something—it is a choice.  Love will always be a choice.  You choose to love your coworkers when they annoy you. You choose to love your boyfriend or your spouse, even when you don’t agree. I fear the day our actions are no longer something we choose to do, and are simply things that happen. Until that day, though, you choose. Look at what choosing to love does:

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ
to be holy and without fault in His eyes.
God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family
by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.
This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.
Ephesians 1:4 and 5

In a perfect world, love would be perfect.  Those we love would not hurt us and bad things would not happen.  In a perfect world, love would be all rainbows and sunshine. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world.  Therefore, what God created to be simple and natural and easy, now comes to be through much effort.  We cannot passively love and feel like we are making an impact on those we say we love.  What is passive love?  Are they just words we speak? Say “I love you,” and yet, no evidence is seen of this. We have all heard, that actions speak louder than words.  Love as actions speak louder than love as words.

As John said in 1 John 3:18:

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other;
let us show the truth by our actions.

   *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Lord, may we come to understand and embrace love as an action. Let us show Your love to the world. Worldly love may be fickle and pass with time, but Your love is an everlasting love. Let us strive to show this type of love to all. We as the Church are Your example of how love functions. Christ is Your ultimate example of love. So, let us shine. Let us penetrate the hearts of the world and our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us love. Let us love.  Amen.

Girls with Swords: Chapter 10 Weekly Review – “Sword of Light.”

Welcome to Campground USA

Log Cabins, Nature Trails, Canoes,

Paddle Boats, Bikes, Fishing

Yes, here we are at the campground listening to the birds chirping every morning, as well as sipping coffee, taking walks along the nature trail, and above all, learning so much about our Sword from Lisa Bevere.  No doubt each woman has their own special chapter that might have ministered to them the most.  For me, it was Chapter 10, our current chapter.  So, let’s head on down to the bonfire to see what my 4 girlfriends have to say about it.

Teresa 

“We can’t see the whole picture NOW (the earthbound temporal realm). Because there is more than what meets the eye, “we need the sword of light and discernment”  to see what our eyes are missing in the Big Picture.  (Lisa)

If we do not recognize the Light, the darkness will overtake us and the ones we love.  Paul’s letter to Timothy described the last days as:

People will—-

  • love only themselves and their money 
  • be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful 
  • consider nothing sacred 
  • be unloving and unforgiving
  • will slander others and have no self-control
  • be cruel and hate what is good 
  • betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God
  •  act religious, but will reject the power that could make them godly (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

These are not issues brought about by circumstances of where you live, but about where your HEART is.  Just as Lisa said: 

  • The Word of God is the lamp that lights our paths while it judges our actions as surely as it discerns our hearts.  Without the light of God’s Word, we would all be running around in the dark, afraid of what we cannot see. 
  • Without the insight of God’s Word, it is easy to mistake an enemy for a friend and someone’s past for their future, because the shadow realm distorts our perspective.  But when the light is brought to a situation, you see what is actually before you.

Jennifer 

Satan uses his schemes, plots, and tactics to divide us from God and each other.  Lisa presents three methods of countering Satan’s attacks.

1.  Love – – Biblical love teaches us what true love really is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and Mark 12:31. 

  • “Hate lives in the dark; love lives in the light.”  (Lisa)

2.  Power – – Satan attempts to make us think we are not worthy or good enough by using our past sins against us.  Remember:  “We are descendants of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession”  (1 Peter 2:9). 

  • Our #1 assignment is to be an ambassador for Christ and to let His will be done in our lives.
  • “You are his prized possession, redeemed to proclaim all that He did when He called you out of a life of darkness to live forever in the glory of His light.  That’s the power of your testimony.”  (Lisa)

3.   Sound Mind – – Our thoughts can breed a multitude of negative thoughts.  “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is”  (Romans 12:2).

  • “The Word of God has the power to renew your mind and change it from unsound to sound.” (Lisa)

 Tonya

We are a society that almost automatically labels those around us; we label ourselves just as much. Often times these labels focus on our negative characteristics, what we or others may see wrong on the outside, or on our brokenness. But there is more beyond those labels.

Lisa says:  “Discernment is about knowing what is really going on, so that heroic daughters can turn what others see as a disadvantage into an advantage. The discerning warrior will know how to turn evil around for good.”

God gifted us with discernment so that we could see the good and the bad, so that we could help encourage the good and help us see ourselves and those around us for what He created us to be. 

As the much loved scripture says: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Diane

The following words from Lisa are ones that stuck out the most to me:

  1. Discernment and true intercession have the power to release restrained captives into their destiny.
  2. Throughout His earthly walk, Jesus discerned the work of the Evil One, then interceded by bringing light, truth, and healing into the darkened days of earth.
  3. Discernment realizes when others are blind and then intercedes based on their ignorance rather than on their actions. The cross ended our separation from God, but his intercession didn’t stop there; Jesus not only rose from the grave; he ascended into heaven and is interceding for us.  (Romans. 8:33-34)

(Diane’s testimony sums up ‘Discernment and Prayer’ beautifully)

  • I was once held captive, restrained by Satan’s slithering grasp. I was so blinded by the darkness my life was quickly becoming. 
  •  I cried painful tears every single day.  Every time I cried, I wished someone would see me crying, and then maybe someone would pray for me; I had no strength or words to pray for myself.
  • Then I came across this passage:  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.  (Romans 8:26-27)
  • I then realized that God saw every tear that fell from my eyes, not only did He catch them in His hands, but He also prayed each one away.  In those teary moments, God’s spirit interceded for me. He was the One I was wishing for all along to pray for me – -I just didn’t know it at the time.
  • Because of the dark we find God’s light.
  • Because we have found God’s light, we are able to help others find God’s light.

IntercedeForOthers.jpg

**********   

After Diane spoke, Praise and Worship began.  This is usually the time I reflect on what my friends have just spoken about.  As I said, this chapter really touched my heart.  To be honest, I have never considered myself an intercessor. Oh, I talk to God all day but, sometimes I have this vision of intercession as being on your knees hours at a time.  But, Lisa listed other ways we intercede:  speak up for another as an advocate, speak into a conflict that needs resolution, stand up for the downtrodden and silenced. 

Oh yes – -I am an intercessor!  I get great pleasure doing that!!  I walked back to the cabin in the moonlight and felt the presence of the Lord all around me. 

Let’s Pray: 

Father God, how we thank You for Your Sword of Light.  May we become a discerning daughter, and ready to be a vessel to set free those who are being held captive by the enemy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Girls with Swords: Chapter 10 – “Sword of Light – Overcoming Satan’s Designs” (pgs. 156-159)

Who: Satan

What: His schemes, plots, tactics

When: ALL THE TIME

Where: In your home, in your family, in your neighborhood, in your city, in your state, in our country, in the world. In essence: EVERYWHERE and ANYWHERE he can find a way in.

Why: To divide us from God and each other

How:  The isolation tactics of guilt, judgment, shame, and suspicion (pg. 156)

Reading through the above list may seem daunting and a bit scary to you. In one sense, I hope it is. I say that because if you do not understand the reality of Satan working in this world, you will not prepare yourself. You will not be ready for the battles that will eventually come your way, if they haven’t already. When these battles come, they are a prime opportunity for Satan to try to wiggle his way into your life. But if you know his tactics…if you know his schemes…if you know where he can target your weaknesses…you can better prepare yourself NOW.

Our author presents three methods of countering Satan’s attacks – love, power, and a sound mind.

Love

“Hate lives in the dark; love lives in the light ” (pg. 157).

Biblical love is something that is impossible for us to achieve on our own. Thankfully, we have a Lord who is capable and wants to work through us to show that love to our broken world. He wants us to seek Him. He wants to teach us what true love really is. We get a glimpse of it in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (HCSB)

Taking this one step further, we are not called to just love our spouse or family in this way.

And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these (Mark 12:31 MSG)

The first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second is to love others (some translations say “your neighbor”) as yourself. Humans, generally, are a pretty selfish bunch. We are pretty self-centered and pursue what pleases our own selves to the detriment of others. Jesus is saying in this passage that we are to love everyone around us (no exclusions) as much as we love ourselves.

When we walk in love, in the light, our perspective changes. We are no longer looking for the things someone did to wrong us or the ways in which someone should pay us back. When we walk in light, when we are “Jesus with skin on” to those around us, we defeat Satan’s schemes. He cannot do his dirty work through us when we love every person we come into contact with. The light snuffs out the darkness. Strongholds are broken, relationships are restored, trust is rebuilt, Satan flees, and the Lord rejoices!

But, I must restate again… we cannot do it on our own. We must seek God to learn how to live out this type of love. Study His Word and let Him show you how to love others as yourself. Ask Him for answers and He will give them.

Power

“You are his prized possession, redeemed to proclaim all that he did when he called you out of a life of darkness to live forever in the glory of his light. That’s the power of your testimony” (pg. 158).

The second way we counter Satan’s attacks is by knowing our position with God. Satan tries to divide us from God. He attempts to make us think that we are not worthy or good enough. He uses our past sins against us however he can. But, ladies, we must remember that we are descendants of a ‘chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession’ (1 Peter 2:9). We were called out of darkness to proclaim the glorious riches that we know exist in Jesus Christ our Lord. The power of the Holy Spirit resides within each of us, as believers, to do His work here on earth. We must seek Him and allow that power to work in and through us to effect change in our world. Ultimately, our #1 assignment is to be an ambassador for Christ and to let His Will be done in our lives.

Assignment.jpg

Sound Mind

“The Word of God has the power to renew your mind and change it from unsound to sound” (pg. 158).

One of the ways Satan attacks us is through our mind. Our thoughts can wreak havoc, breeding a multitude of negative thoughts before we even know what happened! Lately, I have felt so distressed with the events of our world. I was bogged down in the misery, tragedy, and ugliness of the events that surrounded me. Day after day, I would read another news story about a tragic event in the world and my thoughts would spiral. Thankfully, my Lord (and some good friends!) helped me through this time. It does not take long; Satan will use any trick in his arsenal to try to get you. He will target you however he can.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is. Romans 12:2 NLT, emphasis added

This is my life verse. God brings it to my attention quite often. I constantly need to remind myself that I need to change my mindset. I need to counter Satan’s attacks by centering my thoughts on God and His Truth. When our minds are filled with God’s Word, we can immediately wield it against Satan’s attacks.

Love, Power, and a Sound Mind. It all comes back to God’s Word. Satan wants to divide us from God. We must stand firm and wield our weapon of truth and light in the midst of these attacks.

*****

Let’s Pray: Father, Your Word is Holy and True. We know that Satan wants to defeat us. He wants to destroy our relationship with you. Thankfully, Lord, we know that the ultimate victory is already won. Strengthen us in our daily walk, Lord. Help us live out a bold faith. Give us courage and strength to face the attacks when they happen and to turn immediately to You for wisdom and discernment. We thank You that we can come to You at any time, with any need, and we know that You will hear it and answer it in Your perfect timing. Thank you, Father. We love You and praise Your Holy Name. Amen.