Love God Greatly http://lovegodgreatly.com Blog Fri, 22 Jul 2016 04:05:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 We Are God’s People http://lovegodgreatly.com/we-are-gods-people/ http://lovegodgreatly.com/we-are-gods-people/#comments Fri, 22 Jul 2016 02:54:37 +0000 http://lovegodgreatly.com/?p=32811 We all have a past and these stories have shaped us into who we are today. And while they are all extremely different, the common thread is that our stories indicate the beliefs we have about ourselves today. We set ourselves up either for success or failure. Our beliefs about ourselves determine our behavior, so we…

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We all have a past and these stories have shaped us into who we are today. And while they are all extremely different, the common thread is that our stories indicate the beliefs we have about ourselves today. We set ourselves up either for success or failure. Our beliefs about ourselves determine our behavior, so we must refuse to allow the lies from our past, the hurt & the wounds to determine how we walk today.

When we are recognized by an authority figure, there’s something that wells up inside that brings such satisfaction, peace & joy. Here’s good news, friends … the Lord is the authority on WHO we are! Not anyone else. He is our Creator, the one who we should listen to and allow to shape our hearts and minds.

In the second chapter of 1 Peter, he shares what God says about us. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” [1 Peter 2:9-10]

In this verse, He’s informing us of who we are in Him …

#1. “A chosen race” – You are chosen & accepted.

We are driven by acceptance because we love the feeling of acceptance. When we are accepted, our self-esteem swells up! However, we aren’t always accepted … our insecurities, disabilities & character can get in the way. Yet, God accepts you & me just as we are. There are no conditions, He simply just LOVES you & accepts you just the way you are. Why? He created you. You are His. You are chosen.

#2. “A royal priesthood” – You are capable.

We have direct access to God. Always. How glorious!!! We do not have to go through someone to get to Him. We are His. And as followers of Jesus, He has entrusted us to be His hands & feet and serve those in need. You are capable simply because you are His! Bill Hybels once said, “I would never want to reach out someday with a soft, uncalloused hand – a hand never dirtied by serving – and shake the nail-pierced hand of Jesus.”

#3. “A people for His own possession” – You are valued.

Scripture says, “You have been bought and paid for by Christ, so you belong to him.” [1 Cor. 7:23]

Jesus paid the ultimate price for you because He deeply loves you. Yes, YOU! The price He paid was not done in vain. It cost him His life. The cross proves your value! So when you allow your self worth to be judged by things of this world, you are devaluing the cost of your life & the love your Savior has for you. He came to rescue you because you are His most precious treasure.

#4. “But now you are God’s people” – You are forgiven.

There is nothing that affirms your value & self-worth other than knowing you are forgiven! When we come to the Lord with our sins, He erases them. They are forgotten & not rehearsed over & over again like we do in our minds. No! God simply treats them like they no longer exist. WHAT FREEDOM!

The Lord is moved when we come to Him asking for a clean slate. He immediately forgives because He loves us! Though this may sound simple & to some incomprehensible, it is truth. His Word says if we confess our sins, He will forgive us. Friends, that is God’s glorious mercy!

We are accepted, valued, loved & forgiven because of what the Lord has done. So, now what? He asks us to go into all the nations & proclaim His goodness & mercy. To be a light in the darkness. So, go “proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Love & Light,

 

 

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About today’s guest writer: Vanessa Warren has a passion not only for reading God’s Word but learning to live it out day by day. You can find her at Kelli & Vanessa where she and her friend, Kelli, encourage women to live lives that write a beautiful story. You can also find Vanessa at Awaken Movement where she is the U.S. Operations Director. Vanessa’s favorite role though is that of wife, to her husband Mark, and mom to her two children, Stella and Noah.

 

 

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Our next study: You Are Forgiven beginning August 29th!!!
You Are Forgiven is a book and journal COMBINED! We can’t wait for you to see it! In the meantime, plan on joining us for our fall study which starts August 29th! You won’t want to miss it!

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Jesus, Beloved of God http://lovegodgreatly.com/jesus-beloved-god/ http://lovegodgreatly.com/jesus-beloved-god/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2016 04:00:02 +0000 http://lovegodgreatly.com/?p=32804 JESUS, BELOVED OF GOD… David was known for many good things. He was a great king, a wonderful friend, a fierce warrior, and this week we see that he was considered a man after God’s own heart. But we have also seen that as amazing as David was, there is One who is in every…

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JESUS, BELOVED OF GOD…

David was known for many good things. He was a great king, a wonderful friend, a fierce warrior, and this week we see that he was considered a man after God’s own heart.

But we have also seen that as amazing as David was, there is One who is in every way better, and this week is no different.

In Matthew 17 the disciples witnessed something amazing. They see the transfiguration of Jesus. They see Him in a way no one had ever seen Him. They caught a glimpse of Jesus as God.

Christ was both God and man; but, in the days of his flesh, he took on him the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7). He drew a veil over the glory of his godhead; but now, in his transfiguration, he put by that veil, appeared … in the form of God (Phil. 2:6), and gave his disciples a glimpse of his glory, which could not but change his form. – Matthew Henry

And then they heard the voice of God the Father saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” It is something the Father said before, at Jesus’ baptism, but this time He adds a little more. He says, … listen to him.

The Father knows that when we listen to Jesus, the Son, we are also listening to God the Father. They are distinct and yet they are God. It is as if their hearts beat as one because their wills and desires are in perfect unity.

Why does the Father want us to listen to His Son? Because it is only in Him that salvation is found.

Do you want to be free? Then listen to Jesus!

Do you want to be at peace? Then listen to Jesus!

Do you want to be content? Listen to Jesus!

Do you want to be joyful in all circumstances? Listen to Jesus!

David was great, but he also messed up royally. Despite David’s pretty awful sins, he was considered a man after God’s own heart – not because he was any better than us – but because he belonged to One who is better in all ways.  

In Jesus is found everything we need for life and godliness, and it is by listening to Jesus, the true man after God’s own heart, that we too can be called a woman “after God’s own heart.”

Looking To Jesus,

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Week 7: David- The Man After God’s Heart http://lovegodgreatly.com/week-7-david-man-gods-heart/ http://lovegodgreatly.com/week-7-david-man-gods-heart/#comments Mon, 18 Jul 2016 03:35:06 +0000 http://lovegodgreatly.com/?p=32787 So far in our study we’ve seen David as: The Shepherd Boy The King The Man The Warrior The Friend The Sinner And now this week we focus on David: The Man After God’s Heart. What I love most about David was his love for God. Yes, we know from last week that David had…

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So far in our study we’ve seen David as:

The Shepherd Boy
The King
The Man
The Warrior
The Friend
The Sinner

And now this week we focus on David: The Man After God’s Heart.

What I love most about David was his love for God. Yes, we know from last week that David had his weak areas of his life, like we all do. But what was it about David that God would describe him as “a man after God’s own heart?”

I believe it was his love for God.

Even though David sinned; even though he made mistakes… David loved God.

We see the contrast so clearly between David and Saul.

Both men sinned, but it was David’s heart that was crushed when Nathan confronted him about his sin. What was his response?

“I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13)

His concern was his relationship with God.

David sinned and admitted it. But he didn’t stop right there. David went further and did something about it. He sought reconciliation. David wanted to be right with God. It grieved him that he had broken his relationship with God and he would do anything to fix it.

Chuck Swindoll, in his book: David, states that there are three qualities God saw in David that He loved: David’s spirituality, his humility, and his integrity. All are qualities that remind God of His son, Jesus.

Let’s take a closer look at each in David’s life…

David’s Spirituality

David loved what God loved. He was burdened by what burdened God. David’s priority was living his life for God but he didn’t just talk about living for God; he put his faith into action in his life. He tried to listen and obey God in most areas of his life. When God confronted him with his sin, David took steps to change and repented of his sin. Bottom line: David’s heart was sensitive to the things of God.

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those who heart is completely His…” – 2 Chronicles 16:9

Do you want to be a woman described as “a woman after God’s own heart?” Then give your heart completely to the Lord. Love what He loves, hate what He hates, hurt when He hurts, and rejoice over what He rejoices over.

Make Him your first priority. Your first love.

David’s Humility

Years of tending sheep and being the youngest in a family of boys taught David to be humble. He wasn’t his father’s first pick. He wasn’t Samuel’s first choice. But he was God’s. In David, God saw a young man who had a servant’s heart: one who faithfully served in the fields tending sheep; one willing to run errands back and forth to his brothers on the battle lines. David faithfully served and helped those who didn’t appreciate it.

David wasn’t out to make a name for himself, but when the time arose he also wasn’t about to allow God’s name to be trampled on and disgraced. David learned to be humble when he needed to be humble but he also learned God-given strength out in those lonely fields. He knew when to take a stand and had the courage to do so.

David’s Integrity


“From the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him,
To shepherd Jacob His people,
And Israel His inheritance.
So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them with his skillful hands.” – Psalm 78:71-72

Integrity – what we do when nobody’s watching. David is described as having integrity of heart. Remember, God doesn’t look at the outward appearance, He looks at our hearts. (1 Samuel 16:7)

Ohhh sweet friends, as we learn more and more about David we see that we don’t have to be women who are perfect, who are sinless, and who have our acts all together. God is looking for women who love Him. Women who want to serve Him in whatever “field” He is calling them to. Women whose hearts are His – giving Him access to the good and the bad so that He can do a mighty work first IN them and then THROUGH them for His glory!

Week 7 Challenge: In response to what our nation is going through right now, our challenge this week is to take time out EVERY morning to pray for our nation. Pray for our people to respond in love through the power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for our nation: that hearts will be softened, forgiveness will be extended, and love will be accepted. We must remember that “GREATER is HE who is in us than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 (paraphrased)

WE are not here by accident. God has a divine purpose for each of us living here at this exact time and we ALL have a part that we can play in helping our nation through this difficult time. Let’s choose to be a light in the darkness and shine for Jesus! Let’s be women who not only READ God’s Word but women who DO God’s Word! May WE be WOMEN after God’s own heart!

Let’s Talk:
Share a prayer for our country in today’s comments and let’s join TOGETHER in God’s Word and through the power of prayer!

 

Love God Greatly!

 

Week 7 Video:

(Can’t see the video? Click here)

Week 7 Memory Verse:

 

Week 7 Reading Plan:

 

Friends,

We are SUPER excited to share with you our next fall study: You Are Forgiven!!! Whitney, Jen, Joy and I have been busy behind the scenes writing our new BOOK and we can’t wait to share it with you! For this study You Are Forgiven will include chapters for each week, personal testimonies, as well as all the regular amazing content that we include with each journal! You Are Forgiven will be a book and journal combined! We can’t wait for you to see it! In the meantime, plan on joining us for our fall study which starts August 29th! We’d love to have you join us! You won’t want to miss it!

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Is Your Life Marked By Repentance? http://lovegodgreatly.com/life-marked-repentance/ http://lovegodgreatly.com/life-marked-repentance/#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2016 01:51:27 +0000 http://lovegodgreatly.com/?p=32713 As we read about the biblical patriarchs, it is easy to set them on a pedestal and view them as super godly. We see them with faith so strong that they can boldly stare into the mouths of lions, defy Pharaoh, and battle nations. It seems like some had such a love for God that…

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As we read about the biblical patriarchs, it is easy to set them on a pedestal and view them as super godly. We see them with faith so strong that they can boldly stare into the mouths of lions, defy Pharaoh, and battle nations. It seems like some had such a love for God that they were willing to sacrifice all, even their only son.

David can seem like one of those kinds of men, filled with faith that led him to bold action.

But we should never forget that all of the people in the Bible, no matter how godly they were, were also sinners in need of repentance.

Repentance is one of the marks of a believer. When Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses, he placed this as number one: “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent,’ He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

But what exactly is repentance?

James P. Boyce’s Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine (1886) gives a simple and accurate definition. “Repentance is sorrow for sin, accompanied by a determination, with the help of God, to sin no more.”

Let’s break it down:

1. Seeing

Some things are painful to look at and our sin is one of them. We need to take a careful look at our words, actions, and hearts. If you are a sinner like me, you will find a lot of ugliness. The only way we begin to see our sins is through the truth of God’s Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 4:12; John 16:8).

2. Sorrow

Once we truly see our sin we will feel sorrow. This is not the superficial sadness of getting caught. It is what Thomas Watson called a “holy agony” of the soul. The Bible calls it a broken heart (Ps. 51:17). Speaking to God, David says in Psalm 51:4, “… against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” Despite the people he had wronged, David understood that ultimately he had sinned against his holy God. This goes for us as well. When we bark at our kids, speak disrespectfully to our spouses, waste our money or neglect our bodies, we are sinning against God and this should break us.

3. Confession

With sorrow comes confession. Repentance always includes a sincere and remorseful confession of the wrong that we have spoken, acted, or even thought. Sometimes it means confessing it to others. But it always means confessing our sins to God; owning what you have done without making excuses. Confession glorifies God (Josh. 7:19), humbles us, and makes us more dependent on Jesus. Confessions is a means in which our hearts are softened.

4. Hatred

This is one of those times in our lives when it is okay to hate. Sin is a satanic destroyer that brings ruin to man and creation, and the only feeling appropriate to have concerning sin is holy hatred (1 John 3:8; Zech. 3:4-5; Ps.119:104). We should hate it as it grieves the Lord and damages our lives.

5. Turning

Lastly, we must turn away from our sin and turn towards God (Acts 26:20).

Repentance does not make a person perfect. You will never perfectly repent this side of heaven. It also does not save us because we are already saved. But repentance is an ongoing, daily activity for us because we remain sinners in need of daily mercy.

One thing to remember is that repentance is not a way to manipulate God into blessing you and giving you what you want. It is not a way to earn favor with God or a way to make Him “happy” with you. You can’t manipulate God into being good. He already is good. He already loves you more than you can imagine and He always blesses his people.

Repentance is a gift for us. It keeps our hearts soft towards others so that bitterness doesn’t take root.  And it keeps our eyes focused on Christ and His work on the cross because we become very aware that we are helpless in our sin and we’re in need of divine help.

Looking To Jesus,

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Jesus: The Hope Of Sinners http://lovegodgreatly.com/jesus-hope-sinners/ http://lovegodgreatly.com/jesus-hope-sinners/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 03:02:58 +0000 http://lovegodgreatly.com/?p=32769 I love David. He’s honestly one of my favorites. Reading about his poor choices, his less than admirable decisions, and his selfishness… not one of my favorite topics for this David-loving girl. I like seeing him depending on God. I like seeing him being humble and trusting in God when no one else is. That…

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I love David. He’s honestly one of my favorites. Reading about his poor choices, his less than admirable decisions, and his selfishness… not one of my favorite topics for this David-loving girl.

I like seeing him depending on God. I like seeing him being humble and trusting in God when no one else is. That encourages me, fires me up, and makes me want to do the same in my life.

But even though David loved God, he was also a sinner and prone to wander. Kinda like me.

We painfully see that this week. At times when I read the story about David and Bathsheba, David and Uriah, and David and Nathan, I almost want to scream at him and tell him to not go out there. Close your eyes. Don’t give into the temptation. Humble yourself and just tell the truth.

Our choices have consequences.

Many times our poor choices not only hurt us, but hurt those who are innocent around us.

We see that in our reading this week. David’s sin not only hurt him, but his sin hurt God. His sin hurt his child with Bathsheba. It hurt Uriah who was innocent and noble. It hurt David’s family, and ultimately hurt his nation whom he was supposed to guard and protect.

David had many successes in his life, but he also had many failures. We can clearly see the difference in David’s life when he was fully depending on God and when he was far from Him. Though I don’t like seeing one of my heroes sinning and living so far from God, I believe God allows this story of David to be included in the Bible to encourage us and give us hope.

Though God did amazing things in David’s life, David was a sinner… just like me.

David – at certain times in his life – turned his back on God… just like me.

David – at certain times in his life – thought he was more important than others… just like I have.

David – at certain times in his life – was selfish and independent… just like me.

David – at certain times in his life – forgot who his first love was… JUST LIKE ME.

Ohhh but sweet friends, we have Jesus. Jesus is by far the better King.

Reading 1 Timothy 1:12-16 causes me to rejoice in the love, grace, and hope that I have through the forgiveness of my sins because of Jesus Christ!

He knows my past. He knows my sins. He knows the darkness of my heart and the struggles that I fight. He knows my sins and He knows my regrets. He knows when I have wandered from Him like a lamb and He has had to go out after me, for my protection. He knows the darkest parts of me, and yet He choses to love me.

He does the same for you, sweet friend.

David was a sinner. I’m a sinner… and so are you.

Yet we read in our verses today that Jesus shows us mercy (vs 13). Through Jesus’s shed blood on the cross I don’t receive condemnation but instead receive grace, faith, and love (vs 14)!

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.”- (vs 15)

Friends, Jesus came for us. He already knows we are sinners in need of a Savior. There is no reason to hide from Him or cover up our sins.

He knows our sins and yet in His grace and mercy has chosen to love us in spite of them.

He chose mercy over wrath.

We are all sinners, but don’t miss this important part of our reading today: “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”

Ahhh… do you see how powerful your testimony is? Paul in these verses doesn’t hesitate to show how awful his sins were. Why? So that others could have hope. He was more interested in being an example of the amazing work Jesus can do in a life rather than creating an image void of his past and the amazing work Jesus had done in him!!

Sweet friends, allow others to see your failures so that they have hope that the amazing work Jesus did in your life, He can do in theirs too.

Jesus… He is our only hope.

Even though I’m sad about the choice David made with Bathsheba, I love how God redeems that situation.

Yes, David and Bathsheba suffered the consequences for their choices and sin, but don’t miss the fact that God in His mercy blesses them with another son… Solomon.

Never forget that we serve a God who redeems.

He is our hope. He is our friend. He is our Savior.

*Let’s talk: Encourage someone today and share how God has extended grace, patience, and mercy to you and how His love has changed your life!

Love God Greatly!

 

 

 

 

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Week 6: David the Sinner http://lovegodgreatly.com/week-6-david-sinner/ http://lovegodgreatly.com/week-6-david-sinner/#comments Mon, 11 Jul 2016 01:33:07 +0000 http://lovegodgreatly.com/?p=32696 DAVID THE SINNER And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. – 2 Samuel 11:27 It would be easy to read about David the Sinner this week – the…

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DAVID THE SINNER

And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. 2 Samuel 11:27

It would be easy to read about David the Sinner this week – the raw David and Bathsheba story filled with drama, deceit, devastation, and doubt – and respond with a hearty, “Not me.”

Lord, I’ve never committed adultery.

Lord, I’ve never carried a baby that wasn’t my husband’s.

Lord, I’ve never taken steps to ensure the death of another.

Lord, I’ve never…

Nope. Not me.

We’re pros at it, you and me. We scroll through people’s lives on social media, engage in conversations in our front lawns, and yep – with lowered voices even share in our very own church circles – and we’re quick to call out the sins in others (if not out loud, then often in our minds).

But talk about our own sin? We’d much rather refer to ourselves as The Faithful Friend. The Brave Warrior in the Faith. A Woman After God’s Own Heart.

We conceal our sin, praying that with just enough distraction and cover-up, no one will ever notice.

We compare our sin, pointing out the speck in another’s eye instead of recognizing the log in our own.

We contribute good works to “outweigh” our sin; working harder and doing more in hopes of finding favor with God and with others.

But just like Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7), so it can be said of each of us.

We are all sinners.

As much as we want to escape our sin, it’s ever before us. No amount of concealing, comparing, or contributing will ever resolve our sin issue. But we can learn from David. Instead of denying or continuing to run from his sin, David took the first step towards true repentance: he recognized that he was a sinner. David listened to Nathan’s strong words in 2 Samuel 12 then said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” – 2 Samuel 12:13

“Repentance requires honesty. No one comes to God with true repentance in their heart unless they’ve first acknowledged their need for forgiveness and reconciliation with him. Only those who have ceased trying to cover up their sin with self-righteousness and deceit can experience the deep and lasting change that comes only through repentance.” – Joel Lindsey

As we study David the Sinner this week, let’s determine to be honest before the Lord about the sin in our own lives. The process won’t be easy. In fact, it’s likely to be downright painful. But hang with us, because David’s story doesn’t end with his sin, and our story doesn’t have to either. In our own despair and devastation, David’s life meets us where we are and points us to something better: His name is Jesus the Hope of Sinners, and His gift is repentance for all who believe.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting! – Psalm 139:23-24

Today, would you take this first step with me?

My name is Whitney, and I am a sinner.

{Don’t miss Wednesday’s post for the rest of the story: Jesus: The Hope of Sinners.}

At His feet,

 

 

 

Week 6 Video:

Week 6 Challenge: Commit this week to turning down the external noise around you (social media, television, world news, etc.) and instead take time to search your own heart, asking God to reveal and help you to repent of any unconfessed sin in your life.

Week 6 Reading Plan:

Week 6 Memory Verse:

 

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An Intimate Friend http://lovegodgreatly.com/an-intimate-friend/ http://lovegodgreatly.com/an-intimate-friend/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2016 02:30:08 +0000 http://lovegodgreatly.com/?p=32687 I am riveted by the idea that God knows me not just as His follower, but as a close friend. He knows that when I get tired or lost in a weaving train of thought I twist my hair into long ropes. He knows when I laugh deep and long I giggle so hard I…

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I am riveted by the idea that God knows me not just as His follower, but as a close friend.

He knows that when I get tired or lost in a weaving train of thought I twist my hair into long ropes. He knows when I laugh deep and long I giggle so hard I nearly stop breathing. He knows that when I read a verse that penetrates my soul I’m liable to raise my hands. He knows that when I’ve had enough in life, rammed about and pushed to the brink, I want to run away. He knows when praise wells up in me I quietly stomp my foot in worship. He knows me.

Discovering loyal earthly friendships that know all your nuances and love you still is a rare treasure.  This week David and Jonathan have given us an example of what a deep grace-filled comradeship should look like. 

Healthy friendships may very well be the hardest thing we navigate. And yet no other waters are more important or worthwhile than chartering the depths of friendship’s love. There is nothing so provoking to bless or break hard earth like the testing of friendship’s soil.  Without the friendship of the Holy Spirit and the growing Word of God alive and active in our lives we are liable to feel powerless against wounded pasts, hurt feelings, or future fears of rejection which could cause us to shrink back from knowing or being known by others.

Ephesians 4:32 marks out a beautiful road map for friendship.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Be Kind.

Be Tenderhearted.

Be Eager to Forgive.

Easy to type out those quick three, but much more gritty to live those out. The last part of the Scripture seals the deal: “… as God in Christ forgave you.” Jesus, like a good and faithful friend, has gone before us and created a way. It all happens through Him. 

Jesus is deeply compassionate towards the minuscule details that make the flower of friendship smell just a touch sweeter. He knows what graces you need to keep stirring fresh the bonds of friendship. He knows how to rescue you and then how to link your life into the kindred arms of others. He knows how to recover lost and wandering friendships. He knows you and He hasn’t forgotten the covenant of friendship you need.

David knew the friendship of remaining surrendered to God’s heart above all and that served his deep-rooted camaraderie with Jonathan well. 

“The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,” {Psalm 25:14-15a}

Jesus is personal, attentive, and trustworthy. His covenant binds all others. Allow the fruit of a right friendship with Jesus to springboard you into the glorious depths of friendship with others.

Let’s Talk: Where is the Lord asking you to surrender to His heart first in regards to the friendships you are building?  How has the Lord’s kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness given you a road map for healthy friendships?

Mighty Love,

Cari

 

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About today’s guest writer: Cari Trotter has a tremendous passion to see women grow in their yearning and affection of God’s Word. Her longing to see multiple generations of every denomination become all glorious within fuels her drive to serve others with the Word. As a speaker she is known as an enthusiastic, relatable woman that brings real life to the feet of Jesus. Through her ministry, Glorious Daughters, she is equipping women to live beautifully brave lives of faith in a Great God. She adores her role as a football coach’s wife and being momma to three sharp arrows. For more information about Cari’s ministry, visit www.caritrotter.com

 

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Jesus: The Better Friend http://lovegodgreatly.com/jesus-better-friend/ http://lovegodgreatly.com/jesus-better-friend/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 04:41:49 +0000 http://lovegodgreatly.com/?p=32656 For some, the topic of friendship brings up warm and grateful feelings. For others, it’s a touchy subject that stirs up deep emotions of hurt or loneliness. I know for a fact that some of you cried hot tears on Monday when you read about David and Jonathan’s incredible bond, because you’ve longed for it…

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For some, the topic of friendship brings up warm and grateful feelings. For others, it’s a touchy subject that stirs up deep emotions of hurt or loneliness. I know for a fact that some of you cried hot tears on Monday when you read about David and Jonathan’s incredible bond, because you’ve longed for it – you’ve even prayed for it – but you’ve never known that kind of authentic friendship.

For those of you who wanted to put down your Bibles and quit earlier this week (it’s ok, God can take it), can I just speak to you all for a minute? Instead of pulling away, I’m asking you to lean in and let God’s Word comfort you in this hard place today…

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” – John 15:12-17

Because earthly relationships are always comprised of two sinners, all of us have experienced times when our friendships (or lack of) have stretched us in uncomfortable ways. But this is it: the longer I walk with Jesus, the more I can embrace these uncomfortable seasons because they remind me that I was never made to find lasting comfort and fulfillment from this world – not from my possessions, not from my location, not from my social status, and not from the people God has placed in my life.

Instead, our loving Father longs for us to look to Him.

To seek Him above all others.

To find comfort, peace, rest, and strength in Him.

David may have been a loyal friend, but Jesus is the better friend. Breathe in deep, and let the truth from today’s Scripture wash over your friendship-weary soul:

Jesus, the Sacrificial Friend

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” The setting was the Last Supper; the audience was His disciples. The evening had revolved around Jesus’s great love for those who knew Him most intimately. He had already washed their feet, spoken of intimate details of His last moments on earth, comforted them with the promise of the Holy Spirit, and challenged them to abide in Him. The next day, Jesus would willingly lay down His life for His friends. Can I challenge you to never get over that? He would defeat sin and death and make a way for you and for me to find mercy, grace, forgiveness, and all that we need in Him. You can stop looking. Greater love has no one than this.

Jesus, the Accessible Friend

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” In our filthy, sinful, yet redeemed states, we are blessed beyond comprehension to be called servants (or slaves) of Christ. As followers of Jesus, we are chosen, bought with His precious blood, owned, protected, provided for, and given life-long status in the family of God. But if that weren’t enough? He calls us friends. This is no limited, closed-off relationship. Slaves are called to obey without understanding, but because of Jesus, those of us in Christ have access to ALL the knowledge and understanding we need to obey God’s commandments and be comforted by His love. Try to wrap your head around that kind of friendship for a moment. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30), and He is never far from any of us (Acts 17:27). 

Jesus, the Perfect Friend

Because sin entered the world, we will always lack in our human relationships. But there is One who is the Perfect Friend. Even when the world rejected Him, Jesus gave His life to save us, making a way for us to know Him intimately. And about that tall order He gave us to love others? He loved us first, showing us the way.

 

In the comments, would you thank Him for His friendship today?

 

At His feet,

 

 

 

 

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Week 5: David- The Friend http://lovegodgreatly.com/week-5-david-friend/ http://lovegodgreatly.com/week-5-david-friend/#comments Mon, 04 Jul 2016 03:32:03 +0000 http://lovegodgreatly.com/?p=32639   I’m learning in those dark, hard, painful times in our lives that many times God blesses us with the sweetest of friendships to help us endure. Friends who become His tangible hands and feet. Friends who literally wrap their arms around us, speak words of encouragement into our brokenness, and help us to feel…

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I’m learning in those dark, hard, painful times in our lives that many times God blesses us with the sweetest of friendships to help us endure. Friends who become His tangible hands and feet. Friends who literally wrap their arms around us, speak words of encouragement into our brokenness, and help us to feel loved.

Ohhh the amazing power of a dear and loving friend given to us at just the right time!

I know, at least, this has been true in my life. One of the many blessings of growing older is that I get to see God’s hand a little clearer in my life with each passing year. I see this beautiful tapestry of God’s grace and love weaved in and out of every detail of my story, which ultimately is His story.

My parents divorced at the end of my third grade year and that summer my mom, brother, and I moved to a small farming community in rural Indiana for a fresh new start. At a time when I felt distant from God and my life was shattered, God had already begun to write a beautiful redemption story.

I just didn’t know it yet.

For only one year, I lived across the street from Whitney and her sweet family. Her younger sister, Stephanie, and I became best friends as we played together with our dolls, dreamed together about our futures, and did each other’s hair (in the latest fashions of course… normally that meant with a lot of hairspray!).

Unaware in the brokenness and mundane days of my fourth-grade life, God was building, growing, and forging a friendship that would span decades.

So many times in our lives we want the easy days. We want the pain-free days. We want to live on earth as if we are already in heaven.

But we aren’t in heaven yet and we live in a fallen, sinful world. We live in a world that is full of pain, heartbreak, and regrets. But God in His mercy and grace gently weaves stories of redemption, second chances, and forgiveness into our lives through the friendships He so graciously gives to us.

We see one of the most powerful stories of friendship this week as we read about the relationship between David and Jonathan.

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. – 1 Samuel 18:1-4

“Jonathan’s expressions of love and friendship toward David paint one of the most beautiful portraits of a covenant in the Word of God.” – Beth Moore

This beautiful covenant had three parts: visually, sacrificially and symbolically.

Visually– Jonathan was generous in giving David his robe, tunic and weapons.

Sacrificially– Jonathan gave the throne, what was rightfully his, to David. Jonathan wanted what God wanted, even if that meant he wasn’t the chosen one to lead his nation. Jonathan sacrificed his position, his right, and his dreams when he removed his robe and tunic and placed them on David. Jonathan could have been like his father, King Saul, and fought God’s plan. He could have held onto his rightful position as the next heir to the throne. He could have become jealous of David and God’s blessing on David’s life. He could have… but he didn’t.

Ohh what a better world we would live in if we would all submit to God’s will for our lives instead of fighting for our rights. For our wills. Our ways.

Our lives are not for our own glory but for God’s. Sometimes we forget that, but Jonathan did not.

Symbolically- Jonathan symbolically gave David his weapons to show that he would do everything he could to protect David and make sure that one day David would wear the crown that God had chosen David to wear.

In Jonathan, we see a man who loved God more than he loved himself. He willingly submitted his life to God’s will and supported David wholeheartedly. We need more “Jonathans” in this world.

What an amazing example of true friendship we have in Jonathan and David.

But even more amazing is the friend we have in Jesus. He left His throne in heaven and came for us because He loves us. He sacrificed more than a title or a position; He sacrificed His life so that we can have forgiveness of our sins and healing from all our pain, brokenness, and regrets. He came to redeem.

And redeem He has! That fourth-grade friendship, which started out over 30 years ago in a place of pain, fear, and brokenness has created a beautiful, life long friendship… and the results of it have even touched your life!

Stephanie and I remained friends long after my mom remarried and we moved to another state. For years we kept in touch – even going to each other’s high school graduation parties, being in each other’s weddings, and visiting each other when we had our babies!

From my sweet friendship with Stephanie I was able to keep up with Whitney over the years, who is now one of my dearest friends too and I know dearly loved by all of you as you read her writings here at Love God Greatly!!!

Ohhh friends, I don’t know what you are going through right now but I want to encourage you with this: God can redeem your situation and create a beautiful story out of it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day Whitney and I would work together to encourage women around the world to be in His Word! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that one day I’d have sweet translators from around the world in my home to feed, love, and serve alongside my sweet friend, Stephanie!

God is sooo good!

He writes better stories for our lives than we can ever imagine! Trust Him today with your story. I promise He brings beauty out of ashes (Isaiah 61:3).

Let’s Talk: Do you have a David and Jonathan friendship? Who is it and what has God taught you through it?

 

Love God Greatly!

 

 

 

 

Challenge: Friendships are near and dear to God’s heart! This week, reach out to a friend who God has used to encourage you in times of pain, heartache, or loss. Thank them and let them know the impact he/she has had on your life!

Week 5 Video:


Can’t see the video? Click here!

Week 5: Memory Verse

 

 

Week 5: Reading Plan

 

Did you miss last Friday’s blog post from our dear friend, Terria? You can find it here!

 

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We Are Warriors! http://lovegodgreatly.com/we-are-warriors/ http://lovegodgreatly.com/we-are-warriors/#comments Fri, 01 Jul 2016 03:00:40 +0000 http://lovegodgreatly.com/?p=32623 WE ARE WARRIORS Imagine you are recruited and drafted into an elite tactical unit. You are excited about this adventurous journey you are about to embark upon. As you begin, you notice how long and thankless the hours are. Demands and expectations are high. Over time, you begin to lose members of the unit. Doing…

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WE ARE WARRIORS

Imagine you are recruited and drafted into an elite tactical unit. You are excited about this adventurous journey you are about to embark upon. As you begin, you notice how long and thankless the hours are. Demands and expectations are high. Over time, you begin to lose members of the unit. Doing more with less makes your mission seem unattainable. You begin feeling inadequate and overwhelmed as you are stretched to fill roles that aren’t within your natural skill set. This exciting adventure you initially signed up for hasn’t exactly met your expectations.

This is the experience for many Christian women.

We began our journey with the Lord on fire… blazing with passion and excitement about God and His plan for this world. However, over time, life happens.

We get tired.

We get weary.

We are stretched.

We pour out so much of ourselves that we forget to first give ourselves to God. We experience tragedy, hurts, betrayal, and disappointments. Life often leads us to forget God’s calling for us. This world is our battleground.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. – Ephesians 6:10-13  

Paul writes to the church of Ephesus to increase their passion for God. Jesus describes Ephesus as hardworking, persevering, and enduring many hardships for Him. However, Jesus rebukes them for forsaking Him as their first love (Revelation 2:2-4). When we lose our passion and focus, Paul gives us three reminders from Ephesians 6:

(1) The Christian life is a battleground, not a playground. God makes it clear in His Word (Matt 10:22; John 15:18) that believers will have to fight to represent Jesus to a lost world that hates Him. On our day of salvation, God gave us a new life, but that doesn’t mean we wait doing nothing until Jesus returns. We must share the Good News of Jesus. We must pour out our love, grace, and mercy on the unlovable. We must demonstrate godliness to our family, friends, and coworkers. The struggle is real. Are you in the battle or on the swings?

(2) Our ULTIMATE enemy is Satan. Although we battle with people, Paul reminds us that our ultimate enemy is not against flesh and blood. The goal of Satan is to hinder God’s Word, to discourage salvation, and to destroy our testimony. Satan encourages disharmony, discord, and division in our marriages, homes, and workplaces. When we refuse to forgive and allow anger to reign in our hearts, we end up battling the very people that God wants to reach through us. We must guard against misrepresenting Jesus to those who need Him the most. Are you God’s advocate or Satan’s?  

(3) Without God, the battle cannot be won. In spiritual battle, physical weapons should not be used. Verses 14-18 describe our full armor of God. God has provided us with defensive armor and powerful offensive weapons to wage war by His means and in His strength. Our fighting is done through total reliance on God using His spiritual weapons of warfare  – never on our own or in our own strength. Are you warring with God’s weapons or your own?

Studying the life of David, we learn how he used faith, obedience, and the weapons of God to defeat enemies.  When we fight for God, we have all of heaven backing us. God’s strength is absolutely perfect in our weakness. The battle is here whether we are willing to fight or not. Lack of preparation, lack of interest, and lack of readiness is not an option. We are warriors!

Father God, thank You for the privilege of allowing imperfect people to carry out Your perfect plans. Lord, renew our passion and endurance for the battle. Help us, Lord, to walk worthy of our calling. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

*Let’s Talk: How can we pray for you as you begin to wage spiritual warfare in your homes, your workplaces, and in your communities?

Grace and peace to you,

 

 

 

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