Steadfast Love

Proverbs 19:22

What is desired in a man is steadfast love…

Hosea 6:6

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

In hindsight, I was a very difficult child. I probably caused most of the family difficulties in my parent’s household. I was rebellious, strong willed, and hated our family culture. Yet, deep down inside, I knew both parents loved me in their own way no matter how stupidly I acted.

Currently, after almost forty years of marriage to the same woman, I know she still loves me. Though throughout the years we had our share of heated arguments, strong differences in parental tactics, and sharp changes in personal preferences in food, clothing, and lifestyle, we still confirm our love for each other and enjoy sharing life together.       

Then God, while I was still in total rebellion against Him, forgave me for disrespecting Him and His ways before I even came to know Him. Since then, through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, I have come to grow in His grace. He is now my standard of measurement of the steadfast love we are to display and share with others.

To know someone loves you unconditionally opens the door of acceptance. You learn to fully accept yourself as you are and yet are motivated to live up to your full potential as a person. You gladly change your attitude, behavior, and thinking so you may fully enjoy living with the person who steadfastly loves you. You enjoy their companionship. You look forward to sharing your life with them and they share their life with you. And with the Triune God there is no difference.

God longs to share His life with you. His desire is to create a human/divine family that includes you and me. Like any healthy family, the parent wants to be involved in their children activities. God likewise wants to be involved in your activities. As you share your life with Him, you will discover more of who HE is. As you gain knowledge of His character, attributes, and ways, you will inculcate them into your life. You will become an image of your Father in heaven. You will then better understand how the apostle Paul wrote that we are being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

Everything good begins with love. When love is allowed to bloom, we begin to experience the entire fruit of God’s Spirit. The fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control become the bedrock of one’s attitude in life. Love also leads the way for faith and hope to follow. When apostle John writes that God is Love, than one better understands the importance of allowing God to fully live in us.

HE is the essence of all creation. HE created life, the planet, and universe so that HE may express HIS love. When we rebel against HIS love, we find ourselves living life outside HIS Character. The result is sin which devastates oneself and those around you. When immature, we rebel thinking this type of life is normal. We wallow in our misery and call the dark side of life normal. When love is removed, the ugliness of human nature runs rampant. The result is self-destruction and eventually the destruction of a society.

There is nothing more highly elevated than immovable love, firmly fixed in place, and non-changing for one to totally grasp the power and character of God. His steadfast love is our standard to pursue. Even when we fail, his grace will pick us up, and we will continue the journey to become more and more like our elderly brother Jesus Christ.

Is not this what makes being a Christ-follower the most adventurous trip one can choose in this life?

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

Available for Your Devotional Study: 

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Joy within Trials

James 1:2-4, 12

 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

How does one consider trials a joyous event? 

When one loses their job, or one’s business is forced to close and one faces financial ruin, or a meaningful relationship ends, are Christ-followers supposed to rejoice?

When one’s health is broken, or one is constantly being bullied into submission, or one’s life work is hanging on the balance of being destroyed by outside destructive influences, is one to accept being a victim without hope in the situation changing for the better? 

Why would a good God allow such events occur in our life? Doesn’t HE want us to live a life of comfort and ease? Why would HE want us to temporarily suffer such pain and misfortune?

I am sure we have all asked similar questions as we face the challenges of life each and every day. Yet when one better understands God’s macro purpose for yours and mine life, the quicker one accepts the moment and places trust in HIM to move you through the process for the sake of others, yourself, and HIM.

Most often our initial reaction from such a negative event may cause temporary shock. We are in shock because of the unexpected potential negative consequences on the matter. We may then become angry at God or others for making such a destructive impact with our life at this moment in time. Somewhere in the process we will also grieve of our loss. These are all natural human responses to an ugly situation. Any of these emotional events may last for a few minutes or a few years and are necessary for healing to commence.

But as Christ-followers, during the entire ordeal, our faith in God will be tested. Either we will lean on HIM throughout the entire process, or not. If we do lay our pain at HIS feet, HE will provide us with the internal strength to remain firmly trusting HIM to lead you to work out the situation for the best long-term outcome for all parties involved.

When we continue to lean on HIM, trials will strengthen our faith in HIM. We become participants in HIS handiwork. HE is molding and shaping you and me to maximize our potential as a child of HIS. You may not see it at the moment. You may still be on an emotional roller coaster, but you are also being held in HIS grip.

HIS Spirit full of love, joy, and peace becomes more active and alive within you as you lean on HIM through the ordeal. The joy James writes about is the paradox of being a Christ-follower. Even when you are suffering, HIS joy lives in you and HE cannot stop expressing who HE is even during bad times.

However, if you do not lean on HIM during your trial, then you will feel the immense pain of living life without HIM and without hope for a better future.

As Christ-followers, we know HIS macro-plan is to prepare us for eternity. HE desires us to have the divine character of Jesus Christ fully empowered within us at all times. However, the building of this character takes time to work through the fiery circumstances, plus a willing participation on our part to complete. As we endure in HIS arms, as we firmly abide in HIM, we are being perfected into HIS image. Like the athlete, short-term pain leads to long-term gain.

We may not fully recover in this life what we loss through the trial. But we know God promises us the crown of life for our faithful endurance through our journey in this world.

Yes, we will be blessed for hanging in there to the end. Meanwhile, the short-term pain hurts, the shock and grieving are emotionally draining, and the future looks temporarily hopeless. But as we face our fears, holding unto HIM one step and one day at a time, HE is with us through the entire ordeal. As we are at our weakest moment, HE becomes our strength. HE walks with us and at times may even carry us.

And yes, during our trial everything may seem a blur. But in hindsight, when you review the matter, you will see HIS hand working out circumstances, and bringing people into your world at the proper moment to launch you closer to the end of the trial and the beginning of a new adventure.      

Bottom line: Trials are God’s opportunity to shape us into HIS image and reveal HIMSELF to others. Be steadfast. Lean on HIM. Rejoice in HIS presence. HE will lead you through the ordeal.  

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager, Faith-Integrator, Scribbler

Available for Your Devotional Study: 

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John 17:8,20-21

“For I (Jesus) have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me…I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Yes, I believe. I believe Jesus Christ is who HE claims HE IS: The Incarnate Son of God, King of Heaven and Earth, and Humanity’s Savior. I believe the Bible is a recorded narrative of God’s relationship with mankind and written for our sake. We can choose to believe or not.

I didn’t believe all this at the beginning of my faith journey. All I knew was if there was a God, he needs to intervene or this young man’s life was not going to make it through his teen years. And HE did.

Every journey begins with a set of beliefs. Our actions, decisions, and choices are based on these deeply held perceived truths. The more we exercise them, and the results come true, the more confident we become in our beliefs. However, whenever our actions repeatedly fail, we eventually evaluate our belief system and discard the unreliable “truth” for another.

Over a life time, certain beliefs become our anchor – we have proven their fundamental truths over and over again with similar favorable results. Other beliefs are still being evaluated. How many of us though purposely select and choose our beliefs?   

Our initial beliefs are indoctrinated into our souls through family, friends, and teachers. In our early lives, we are typically ignorant of our surroundings and the makeup of our soul. Even as adults, the social and news media bombard us with the latest fads and the current fear factors which we subconsciously allow into our belief safe. 

However, one day (could be late teens or now-a-days even late fifties) we start struggling with our interval belief system. We start questioning everything we have been told. When reality sets in and the realization we have been lied too, manipulated by others for their sake, and then in those extreme cases, thrown out with the bathwater, we most often find ourselves angry and hurt.

Unless we are grounded on a bedrock of fundamental beliefs proven over eons of time, the majority of us will substantially modify our belief system. The transition though is most often costly of time, relationships, and money. The best prevention is having a healthy family upbringing by parents who are grounded in solid values and beliefs. Where does healthy values and beliefs come from?

The number one bestselling book of all time is still the Bible. There is a reason. Within its pages contains valuable principles and truths which have been proven over time to work. The Book also points to the importance of having a relationship with the living God. When one walks with HIM, one slowly becomes more and more like HIM.

Per Jesus’ prayer in John 17, we become one with our Father God and Jesus Christ. When we do, we learn the foundational truths of life; gain knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to manage everyday life; and find assurance and purpose for living.

Yes, beliefs allow us to focus and put structure into our world. If we don’t believe in the Triune God, we will never seek out what HE has for us. On the other hand, for those of us who believe, our focus is to seek HIM out in every day life situations. When we do, we begin to witness answers to prayer, reoccurring solutions from an invisible hand, and broken people healed from inside-out. Like the wind, which we may not see but only witness its impact, we likewise witness the effect when God’s Spirit is engaged with others.

In summary, in regards to the Triune God, to believe opens the window of opportunity to discover HIM and the truth; but not to believe, only closes the window of ever really coming to know HIM and a life built upon lasting truth.

Rooting For You in Christ!

Dr. Mike

Encourager & Author of e-Books

 *  Dancing With God: Life-Giving Theology Explained
 *  Great Business Emulates a Good God
 *  Be Radical…Follow Christ!
 *  Simply The Messenger
 *  Unequally Married

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