Astonishing Love!

The Story

The divorce was over. 

Since then, Anita had done a lot of things she was not proud of but she had been rejected so long that she was looking for affirmation from anyone.  She used her body to get relief from the words that had played over in her head.  Her ex-husband had told her that ‘no one would ever want her’and she had believed him.  Somehow, now there was vindication.  Everyone wanted her body, but maybe he was right; did any of them really want her?

She had two little children and she was always careful to see that they were cared for, but this last time, when she didn’t know where they were frightened her.  She tracked them down and loaded them into the car.  They stopped at McDonald’s and got hamburgers and fries for everyone.   The drinks she had at the bar before she went home were wearing off.

She drove straight home and put the kids to bed telling them that she loved them.  As she did, she wondered how she would get off this crazy path she was on.  Anita loved her children and knew that the way things were now; she was cheating them of her time and training.  She had given that responsibility to others.

Going Home

When the call came that her Grandmother had died, she left work, picked up the children and put some things in a suit case and began the 28 hour trek to get back home.  She didn’t know it then, but she was headed toward love and freedom.

At the funeral, surrounded by the love of her family and friends, Anita took stock of her situation.  She determined in her heart not to go back to the crazy life she had been living.  She was making good money, but that didn’t make up for the longing in her heart.

Following Her Heart

She quit her job and sold her house over the phone.  She made arrangements with her parents to move in with them until she could get established.  She got a job right away.  Her Sister stepped up to watch the children when she was at work.  She would come home, tired and hurting.  Her bunions throbbing from all the time she was on her feet.  Her dear Mother would get a pan of sudsy warm water and kneel down to lovingly wash her feet.

Love

Her folks never asked questions.  They knew she was different; not the sweet innocent girl who had left their home.  She was worldly and sensual.  It drove them to their knees.  Yet to Anita, they never offered criticism or condemnation.  They only gave love and acceptance.  She was their daughter and they loved her and that was unchangeable.

What Anita did not know was that her Mom was not well, and soon she ended up in the hospital.  The doctor removed her gallbladder and with it 300 gall stones.  Anita had been so self-absorbed; she hadn’t noticed her Mom’s pain.  What remarkable love her Mom had sacrificed to her oldest daughter.

Today’s Lesson:

Anita’s parents showed the love of family.  They accepted her even when their hearts were aching at her condition.  This is a picture of the love of God for His family but it is only a small peek at the astonishing love that Father God has for His kids.

We Have An Enemy Who Lies to Us

Satan and his demons have taught us to believe that everything bad that happens is ‘an act of God.’  We have accepted the idea that God is just waiting for us to make a mistake so that he can lower the boom on us.  We fear Him but we don’t understand that we are supposed to reverence Him.  (That is what the word ‘fear’ means in the Bible – reverence and awe.)

When things are bad, we bargain with Him.  God, If only You will . . . and we make our request and  .promise to be good if only . ..  Father God knows that we can’t be good with our own effort.  He only wants us to love Him by accepting His Son Jesus and then He will change our hearts and our spirits; then being good will become second nature.  It is not about what we do.  It is about Who He is. 

The Truth – God Loves US

  • Every good and perfect gift is from above and from the Father . . .
  • He loves us with an everlasting love.
  • He is good and only does good.
  • He is love.
  • He has promised ‘no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’
  • His love endures forever.
  • We are His family.
  • We are children of the King.
  • He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.
  • He has forgiven ALL of our sin – past, present, and future!
  • He has made us ‘new creations.’
  • Our old life has passed away and all things have become new.
  • Even when the old habits in our flesh act out, He gently nudges us to turn to Him so that He can help us to be free.

We Live Far Below Our Privilege

The Scripture in Galatians 5:1 is haunting.  It says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free!”  In church, we don’t see many people who were truly free.  Learning how much Father God loves us brings us to that freedom.

If you are struggling, join me in singing, “yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me,  yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so!”  Whenever we mess up, we can know that God’s love is always available.  Go to Him at once and receive His forgiveness.  It is always available.  Then sing that little chorus over and over again, until you begin to understand His astonishing love.

There is a Terrorist and it is Not Who You Think . . .

There is a terrorist . . .

Once he upon a time there was a very privileged individual who had everything.  He was next to most powerful person you could imagine.  The problem was that he just was not satisfied.  He wanted to be the most powerful.  He didn’t appreciate all the benefits that he had in his role.  He had incredible talents and was an incredible musician.  Nothing came to the powerful leader without passing through this one.  His own exalted position caused him to be prideful and he hungered to have it all.  He had a plan . . .

He would gather others to join him in taking down the big guy.  In his delusion, he could see himself sitting at the helm and being the greatest!  Somehow he convinced others and they joined him when he started the attack.  He hadn’t counted on the incredible power of the one-in-charge.  He was soundly defeated and exiled faraway.  He raged and raged.  He began to destroy everything in his new location.

The powerful person continued to enjoy life while this creature played havoc in his new environment.  All of his confederates were with him and they found out that there was no way back.  They struggled with this news and soon joined the rebel in his anger.

The one who still had the power brought people into the exiled location where he had planted a beautiful garden himself and moved a couple into it.  He told them that they were his family and loved them tenderly as children.  He charged them to take control over the garden and expand it into the space the enemy had destroyed.  It was ideal.  The one with the power would come down and fellowship with them individually and together.  As their Father, he taught them new things every day.  They became great friends.  He told them  that there was only one rule.

He gave them access to everything except a funny tree that was in the midst of the garden.  It had an odd name – The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They didn’t know what it meant and didn’t care.  They had everything else.  He also tucked another tree in the garden called the Tree of Life.  The couple could eat of it anytime they wanted and they did.  There was no problems and no time to mark off the days.  It was a wonderful existence with meaningful activity, love and joy.

The destroyer disguised himself as one of the creatures in the garden and slithered in to see what was up.  He saw the wonder that these two shared and it infuriated him.  He plotted just as he had done before.  Finally her arrived at a plan.  He would engage them and get them to doubt the one in charge.  It had worked before and he thought it would work again.

He began by using suggestion.  He suggested that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was to be desired and that the one in charge had kept them from it because it would make them just like him.  At first they blew him off.  They didn’t need it.  They had everything.  But he was a genial sort of guy and soon the constant suggestion began to infiltrate their thoughts.  The woman was the most vulnerable to his wiles and soon was studying the tree intently.

The man was one with his mate and when she began to tell him that she thought eating the fruit might be a good idea, he told her that they really should not.  But the enemy had his effect on them both and soon she took him by the hand and went to the tree.  They stood looking at it.  It was pretty and the fruit looked delicious.  The disguised enemy was there to entice them even further and soon the woman had the fruit in her hand.  She put it to her lips and took a bite and gave it to her man and he ate also.

At once, they knew it had been a mistake.  What would the power man think?  Condemnation fell on them and they ran and hid in some bushes.  They looked at each other.  Thoughts came to them that made them feel shame.  At once they knew they were naked and began to put leaves together so they could cover themselves.

About that time, the power man came into the garden.  Well, you probably know the rest of the story.  What you may not have processed is that it wasn’t the sin that separated them from the great one; it was the condemnation.  Condemnation keeps the sin consciousness ever before the one who has sinned.  He came to them and if they had run to him and asked forgiveness, it would have been over and life would have gone on as before.  As it was, everything changed.

Today’s lesson: 

There is a terrorist at loose in the world today and it is not Adam Lanza, Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden or Jeffrey Dahmer.  It is Satan who had once been Lucifer, the anointed one who covered.  He is the one who infiltrates the thoughts of lonely, confused, isolated people.  He gets some of them to spend time watching pornography and luring them into child abuse.  He tells others that they are victims and need to get even.  Other people hear the voices and try to silence them in a sea of drugs and alcohol. Some even adopt the enemy’s evil personality as their own and delight to kill others.   The terrorist is Satan and his minions.  He is out to steal kill and destroy.

The truth is that Adam Lanza and the others are just as much his victims as the children killed in the school shooting, the people who died in 9/11 and those blown up in Oklahoma City.  If it is associated with death, it is the work of Satan.

So why do many people spend time thinking that Father God is the culprit and asking, “Why would He let this happen?”  They call bad things ‘acts of God.’   They think that God is in charge of everything and forget that He has given us choice.  He will not step in and supernaturally change our choices, unless we come to Him and ask Him to intervene.

Even Satan had choice – which is how he got himself into this fix in the first place.  The enemy knows that there is no redemption for him and he is determined to steal as many of us from the family of God as he possibly can.

So, remember, you have been given choices and when we make them, it affects others as well as ourselves.  We choose what we watch and what we put in our minds.  We choose what we do when no one can see us.  We can choose to yield to the deceptive lies of the enemy and try to bury pain in assorted addictive behaviors.

We will all be in one camp or the other.  Who we yield to controls us.  If the terrorist controls us, we become a terrorist or at the very least we will try to be good, yet know we have missed it.  If we yield to the One Who loves us, then we become a lover. We get to choose.

Our choice determines our future and our possibilities.  If we think that it is hopeless and that things are so out-of-control that we can not affect it, then the terrorist will win.  If we ourselves get to know the Creator of the Universe and reach out to Him, He will show us how to reach out to others.  He will show that there are more than enough of us to accomplish His plan for our loved ones and for our nation.  Jesus started with just twelve.

Yes, there is a terrorist but he is defeated.  Jesus defeated him on the cross.  It is up to us to enforce his defeat.

So, now the ‘Once Upon a Time’ story continues.  Remember there is a Savior . . . and He wants each of us to live ‘happily ever after!’  Who will you yield to?  Choose wisely.