When He Looks At Me

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When God looks down from Heaven…I always wondered what He saw. I know how I view myself, and prayed He saw me differently. I believed I knew how others viewed me, and prayed likewise He would see me differently.  Yet, my mind continually tries to feed me lies about how I am viewed. I go through my day-to-day life trying to ask myself “Will God approve of me if I do ______”, “Will He still love me if I fail Him?” Because let me tell you…I fail daily. Do you know what I discovered yesterday…God looks down at me and feels (yes, feels!) compassion for me. Some other great words for compassion would include: kindness, empathy, concern and care. My heart asked “so wait…you mean, He isn’t looking at me in disgust, in frustration, in pity…but in kindness…in love? Is that even possible!?”

Luke 15:11-32 opened my eyes to something I’d never seen before!! I heard a message by Andy Stanley (and strongly suggest you listen to it: http://www.intouch.org/broadcast/video-archives/content.aspx?topic=He_Loves_Me_video#.USKc7R00V8E ) and that’s where all these thoughts originated. But I wanted to share some of my “notes” I took while listening.

-Nothing we do can make God love us less or more…and I’m not just saying that tritely! I really mean it…He loves you simply because you are you. Isn’t that a wonderful thought!

-The only people Jesus didn’t seem to “get along with” were the people who were preaching and teaching that God only likes good and law abiding people. Jesus was attracted to and loves (and was loved) by people very different from Him. Jesus likes ungodly people (I know…like, seriously…He likes ungodly people!!) Christ doesn’t look at people based on what they’ve done but based on who they are at the heart.  He looked to the heart of the person, the good of the person.

 

Jumping into the passage in Luke it’s a big lead up of how we go after and seek that which we have lost. The chapter starts with the story of the lost sheep, the lost coin and then the story of the lost son…or better known as the prodigal son.  Anyway…the Father (a picture of God) loses His son, a very precious person, and the son has gone away and done all sorts of horrible things.  In the eyes of society…he was a black sheep, a failure, a disgrace to his family…and this is how the son viewed himself. In verses 18-19 the son prepares a speech of forgiveness, because he “knows” there’s no way his Father would take him back. But check out this awesome news…not only does the Father take him back – but the Father has been waiting for him to return, He has been looking and without hearing the son’s story the Father opens his arms, heart and house to this son.  The Father doesn’t need to hear how bad we’ve been, what all we’ve done wrong…He just desires to have us back, to find that which was lost. The son was going to beg to work in his Father’s house because he “knew”  there was no way his Father would take him back as a son…but because the Father never stopped loving His son, never stopped watching for him and never denied him son-ship the Father moves out of a deep conviction of unconditional, all-encompassing love. Wow.

The sheer beauty of a love like that just blows every thought I ever thought God thought about me. God isn’t looking for a good explanation of our choices. He doesn’t want our story. He just wants us.

The younger son came to the Father saying “I haven’t, I haven’t, I haven’t, I will…”, the oldest son was telling the Father “I have, I have, I have…” the issue in the Father’s heart isn’t obedience. (Gasp…what!?) Nope…it’s not obedience (sure it’s very important, but not the most important aspect of our relationship with God). The most important part of our relationship with our Father is that we simply come. It’s not about doing things for God, but it’s about being with God! Just basking in His presence, spending time with Him in prayer and in Bible study.

A cool question to ponder…which son did the Father in the story love more? The answer…neither. He loved them equally…as long as they were His sons, it didn’t matter if they did or didn’t do things for him. As long as they were with Him…He was happy and ready to celebrate. 

So the next time you start to wonder if God loves you, or if you begin wondering what God is thinking about when He thinks about you…wonder no more! Jesus loves you and when He looks at you…He is looking on in compassion and love. When God sees me…He sees His daughter (or son) and loves you more than anyone else. 

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Heart’s Perusal

Valentine’s Day…the day most people look to their relationship status and either celebrate with their special someone or (especially for women) bemoan the fact they are still single. “Love” in the way most people see the word is highly overrated. It’s not some feeling, some tingle that makes you feel good, it’s not a bunch of nice words or beautiful things.  As wonderful as chocolate is…it’s not even the feeling you get as that piece of chocolate melts in your mouth!! 😉

One of my favorite poems has been “How Do I Love Thee”…by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

When you find the keys to true love, words really can’t express the feeling/peace/joy that it brings.  Our understanding of love should be based upon the ultimate Love story.  I am blown away at the lengths that Christ when through to show us His and the Father’s immense love for us.  From the moment we were created God began counting all the ways He loved us….and He has never stopped counting.  🙂 Today, remember that God loves you, He is love and desperately desires to show you how special YOU are to Him!!! Pick up your Bible and take some time to read today…you may just be surprised at the verses God sends your way!! 😉 He loves doing things to delight us…and tonight, as the sun goes down…all beautiful shades of pink, red and oranges, maybe a hint of purple…withe the golden glow of the evening sun…smile becuase that’s God’s Valentine to you! It’s not a box of chocolates or a sweet card…oh no, God’s love is too great for that!! He needed the whole sky!! 🙂

James…a book of “good stuff”

First, I’m sorry for my lack of posting…I’ve allowed myself to get way too busy and caught up in daily life. Working during the day, and when I get home…well, time with the family comes before more computer time. I’ve been getting my devotional and journaling life going again though, so I’ll work on improving here as well!! Below is a piece from a Bible study I’m starting…I thought I’d share…

 

I wonder if harder words were ever written than “count it all joy when you fall into divers (diverse) temptations” (vs. 2).  My heart knows I “fail” this one daily.  Joy and happiness are two different things.  Joy, to me, is an inner peace that one has through the fact we know God is going to work everything out far better than we can imagine.  As we mature as Christians this is supposed to get easier, however, I know in order to grow our faith we must first have greater trials.  It’s easy to write about this but in reality…it’s WAY hard. Even thinking of where we’re at now does nothing to ease the pain of coming trials.  The thing I remind myself…if I could look 5, 10, 20 years down the road who knows what trial I’ll be facing? My “all-consuming” trial now will be an alter, a memorial, I can look back too and know God is going to get me through AND He provides for me every step of the way.  My trial now, my joy I’m having to cultivate is preparing me for much harder trials later.  And in that light ½ of me says “Bring it on!” and the other ½ says “Oh no! I can’t handle more…Lord, make the pain stop. Save me.” The women who are most admired and remembered are those who went to and through the fire.  So must we…daily choosing to die to self and our desires to joyfully, peacefully (Phil. 4:6-7) trust God through trials.  I’ll promise you though…it is NOT easy.  Or always happy…it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.