CHOOSE LOVE

The purpose of creating this piece of Martin Luther King Jr was to focus on his message of love & forgiveness. In his time he had every reason to be bitter & hate but he chose love over hate & peace over conflict. He was not a perfect man but chose to handle himself in a way that has garnered respect many decades after his death. “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness”. “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Lets choose to live together as brothers instead of perish together as fools. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”martin-luther-king-jr-web-print

AFRAID OF SCARY THINGS IN THE DARK?

fear-not-armor-of-god
Fear Not: Armor of God by Laura Kestly

If we really believe in just what we see in our world today, we can be filled with fear.

One only has to look at the events going on in the news every night (not to mention the Presidential election) to realize we live in frightening times.

                The truth is that we do wrestle against some pretty scary things–things that we don’t actually see but are pretty mighty like: “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age–spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The enemy or bad guy in our scary movie, the devil, is a wily one with ‘tricks’ that may appear as ‘treats’ as his mode of operation (Matt. 13:39, Eph. 4:14, Gen. 3). The fact is that he was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies (John 8:44). This prince of demons (Matt. 12:24) wants us to believe that it’s “flesh & blood” (the physical human person) that we wrestle with, instead of the very real, dark spiritual forces behind it. Satan is an incredible illusionist– a master of disguises. He is able to deceive many when he transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). That’s why God has provided us with a costume of sorts for our protection—it’s called the armor of God (aka the Lord Jesus Christ). When one chooses to put on this protection, they will become ‘hid in Him’ and able to stand in strength & mighty power against the devil’s tricks (Col. 3:3, Eph. 6:13-17).

Believers can take comfort that greater is He who is in their inner man than he who is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4, Eph. 3:16). When we ‘put on’ the Lord Jesus Christ, we also put on love (Col. 3:14, 1 John 4:7-12). God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. The one who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

                When we’re fearful we rely on our own fallible understanding & ways rather than trust in an almighty infallible God, Who moves in mysterious ways that we do not always understand. It’s helpful to be constantly mindful that God’s purpose is never the same as man’s purpose (Isa. 55:8-9). A Christian believer is someone who trusts in the knowledge & the wisdom of God, not in his own abilities or in man’s wisdom (1 Cor. 1:20-21, 2:5, 3:19; 2 Cor. 1:12). If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the calm, relaxed pace which should be characteristic of a child of God.

                Who hasn’t given their all physically at a time or two (or three…) and become exhausted? But when one gives of themselves spiritually (relying on an almighty, powerful source) their strength is enhanced, not depleted (Isa. 40:29; Eph. 3:16 6:10). Fear & worry steal the strength that God freely has available for us to be utilizing each moment of our day.  

                As we look to the Author & Finisher of our faith, we can be motivated to move in love, not fear (Heb. 12:2).

I find it helpful to consistently ask myself, “Are my words and actions motivated by love or by fear?” If I find they are motivated by fear, I pray to cast down this false thinking & renew my mind in the right spirit (2 Cor. 10:3-5, Eph. 4:23, Rom. 12:2).   There is some truth in what the character Yoda, in the movie Star Wars said,

“Fear is the path to the dark side,

Fear leads to anger,

Anger leads to hate,

Hate leads to suffering.”

The suffering referred to is not the suffering that is patiently endured in the Christian faith (Col. 1:24, Phil. 3:10, 2 Tim. 1:8), rather it’s the suffering that’s rooted in fear and doesn’t lead to a peaceful resting in God.

                So let’s pursue love, not fear and cast off the works of the dark side, and put on the armor of light–the Lord Jesus Christ–making sure there’s not any room for the flesh (or fear) (Rom. 13:12, 14).                     Laura

God’s Love & Public Relations

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”  -A.W. Tozer-

If there was anyone who needed better PR in our world today, it would be God.

There has been an all-out negative campaign to spin (overt deceit to manipulate the public) to destroy God’s image. He has been sadly misrepresented and His holy words have been reduced to sound bites, often taken out of context, even by those who profess to believe in him.

For many God is an uncaring, cold, distant & angry Father who could care less about them.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

As a child one of the first songs I learned was Jesus Loves Me“Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.” I loved singing this simple song but really didn’t fully grasp how much God truly loved me until I was much older.

Though ultimately God is incomprehensible (beyond what our finite mortal minds can grasp), He, in condescending love, has revealed and declared certain things to be true of Himself.

Only in the Living Word, and in the pages of the Written Word, can we get to know God.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8).

How does “the Bible tell me so” as the song says? (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:16)

The love of God is a grand reality. But only by the direction of the Spirit of the Lord can one come to know it. And then it’s not a question of our understanding what God may mean, but of believing what He’s said. In revealing Himself at all God has to condescend to our capacities, using language which must be understandable by us; but which can never fully reveal Himself because that which is finite can never explain the Infinite—Here’s how the Bible communicates God’s love for us:

  • God’s love for the world came in the form of a gift of His one & only begotten Son. For those who receive & believe in this gift– eternal life with God is theirs (John 3:16; Eph. 2:8).
  • God showed His love among us by sending his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him (1 John 4:9).
  • God’s love isn’t manifested towards us because of anything we have ever felt or done—it’s not based on us loving Him first, because He beat us to it & loved us first (even while we were still sinners Christ died for us) (Titus 3:5; 1 John 4:19; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:4).
  • God does not force His love to be accepted. He desires for us to choose Him and the precious gifts He has freely given to us. He grieves, like any loving parent, when we make bad choices and opt to believe the lies of the destroyer instead of Him ( John 8:44; 1 Pet. 5:8; Gen. 3:13; Deut. 30:19; Josh. 24:15; Prov. 1:29, 3:31, 12:26; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14).
  • Because God IS self-existent, eternal & everlasting–His love has no beginning or end—it’s immeasurable/infinite & everlasting (Rev. 1:8, Deut. 33:24, 1 Tim. 1:17, Ps. 90:2, Gen. 21:33; Eph. 3:18).
  • Because God IS immutable, unchanging & almighty—His love is pure, true, faithful & powerful (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:17, 10:23, 13:8; Gen. 17:1; Ps. 91:1; Rev. 19:11).
  • God IS patient, longsuffering & merciful (2 Pet. 3:9, 15; Num. 14:18; Ps. 86:15).

Don’t take my word for it. Look in the Bible & see for yourself. Faith comes by hearing & hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith so that you may be able to start to grasp the love of God in Christ & when you do it will affect everything else in your life (Eph. 3:17-19).

Love, In Christ, Laura