Fruits of the Spirit – LOVE (Part 2)

“Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy consecrated and set apart for Him and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love” Ephesians 1:4 (AMP).

Have you ever experienced a day where everything and everyone just gets on your nerves?  A day when everything that could go wrong does?  A day filled with so much anger, frustration, and defeat that the idea of loving yourself or anyone else seems impossible?  I call those “black heart days” because it seems as though your heart is hardened and shrouded in darkness … like a lump of coal.  Sadly, I admit that I am in the very midst of a “black heart day.”

On days like this, we need to stop giving satan permission to whisper lies in our ears and focus instead on God’s truths.  We need to remember that God loves us unconditionally and there is nothing, not even our imperfect behavior, that can separate us from His love (see Romans 8:35-39).  The truth is we were created, on purpose, by God’s own mighty hand.  We are an unrepeatable miracle.  God’s love is medicine for our hearts and lives.  If we truly believe in God’s love for us, it will heal our brokenness, rid us of our fears, and buoy our confidence.  “But God … He loved us … even when we were dead (slain) by our own shortcomings and trespasses …” Ephesians 2:4-5 (AMP).  God loves you!  Allow that truth to become more than head knowledge.  Allow it to become heart knowledge.

How much of our precious time is wasted feeling condemned?  For years, I trudged through life under the full weight of condemnation.  It was like carrying around a bag of rotting, stinking potatoes that robbed me of all peace and joy.  Because of my many failings, I felt completely distanced from God.  Surely, after all of my misdeeds, He could not truly love me.  I would repent and ask for His forgiveness, but I never truly received His forgiveness by faith.  Instead, I would pick up my rotting, stinking bag of potatoes and trudge onward.

Allow me to share with you something I have learned from countless teachings and Bible study.  There is a difference between “condemnation” and “conviction.”  Condemnation presses you down.  It casts a burden of guilt upon you.  It impairs your ability to truly love others because you, yourself, do not feel loved.  It is not God’s will that we live under condemnation. “He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation — he incurs no damnation” John 3:18 (AMP).  Conviction, however, is intended to lift you out of something … to help you move up higher in God’s plan for your life.  God has given us the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and convince us to pursue righteousness (see John 16:7-11).  The Holy Spirit’s conviction urges us to repent, turn around, and go in the right direction.  No matter how far into disgrace we may fall, God’s unconditional love is ever-present and never out of reach.  “The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a savior [who saves]!  He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing” Zechariah 3:17 (AMP). The revelation of God’s unfailing love does not give us license to live a sloppy, self-centered life.  What it does give us is reassurance that He loves us completely and unconditionally despite ourselves.  This knowledge should then help us refrain from lengthy guilt trips and motivate us to do better.

Like so many others, I have questioned God’s love when faced with crisis, disappointment, rejection, or heartbreak.  Not so long ago, cancer stole my precious mom.  Even today, the heartache I feel is indescribable. While she was sick, I prayed in earnest that God would heal her.  Never once did I question His existence or doubt His healing abilities.  When she died, however, I began questioning His love for me.  I was prompted to consider not only all of God’s promises, but what He did not promise as well.  God never promised us an easy life.  No, he warned that we would experience tribulation, trials, distress, and frustration in this life (see John 16:33).  What He did promise is to always be with us.  “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, Who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” I Peter 5:10 (ESV).  He also promises us His love that endures forever (see Psalm 136, I Chronicles 16:34, and Psalm 100:5).

In preparing to write this post, I spent a good deal of time studying God’s love for us.  It brought me much needed reassurance and comfort.  I hope it has done the same for you!  My prayer tonight is that each of us comes to learn of, fully accept, and feel God’s unconditional love.  How amazing is His love?  We should desire to exemplify Christ and show the world love because He first loved us.

God-loves-you

© 2016 by Kelli Hammond Mills.  All rights reserved.

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