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He First Loved Us by Lucretia Bock

Today’s guest blogger, Lucretia Bock, is a dedicated servant of the Lord gifted in prophecy, discernment of spirits, counseling, edification within the church body and emotional healing. She is a graduate of the International House of Prayer Theological School and Sweet Briar College. She earned her degree in International Affairs and plans to use her experience in traveling to touch lives worldwide with the love and identity of the Father’s heart. She is passionate about her family and her friends and lives in New Braunfels, Texas. Since 2013, Lucretia has been serving her Daddy God full time and is looking forward to working with ministries across the nation to help them provide a greater prospectiveon the Father’sheart for today. You can reach her at lucretialoves@gmail.com.

Heart in CloudsWhat is love that He would lay down His life for His friends and hope to gain the whole world? What would love do to gain eternity full of those He died for in the first place? Would He give more than His own life to save others or does love require more than all that is available?

Sometimes love is obedience and sometimes love is patience and sometimes love is pure understanding that in the end, nothing can separate us from Him who first loved us.

I don’t understand love sometimes but I love to think that grace affords us a picture into the love Jesus gave us at the beginning and end of the crucifixion. I think that love is great when you pour out something you have and leave yourself empty only for Him to fill back up again. Sometimes I wonder how He fills me when I pour out. But if I only understood it from His perspective, the perspective of Heaven, then I grasp what depth His love is for me and for my neighbor and those I don’t even know but whom He died for in the first place, His people – Israel. I once prayed for Him to keep the peace in Israel because I wanted Him to prosper me. But when I fell deeply in LOVE with Him, my heart changed and I began to pray for the peace of Israel because He LOVES her.

What are your motives? What do you focus on during the day?

Is it yourself and your needs? Is it Him and His desires? Is it what you lack or what you can gain?

Is it God’s love?

I don’t believe that He expects us to be perfect. He created us human and in that He expects us to be the exact creation He created – HUMAN with all of our imperfections, but already perfect in His eyes. God doesn’t see us as we are on earth but as we are seated with Him in Heaven. He loves us just the same now as He will when we are with Him for eternity for in his eyes, we are outside of space and time!

Spend time with Him today going after His heart for your situation by honoring Him with YOUR love. Give yourself the grace it takes to take this life as a journey that lasts for 40 or 50 years or more.

Laugh. Even if you have to do it on purpose – it creates endorphins that help adjust your mood.

And love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

Throw it Off

FBPlayer“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

What is stopping you? What is preventing you from being all that God created you to be?

God tells us to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. When I look at this passage, I think of a great running back who sets his eyes on the end zone and throws off any opponent who attempts to tackle him. He sprints, he cuts; he spins; he drags players behind him. He runs with determination and perseverance and is not satisfied until he crosses the goal line.

This is how we should view our spiritual journey, fixing our eyes on Jesus and not letting the problems of the world drag us down.

Life is full of obstacles that will attempt to tackle us and stop us short of victory. Is something trying to prevent you from finishing the race?

While we must deal with the problems in our lives, we cannot let them overpower us spiritually.

Throw off sickness

Throw off job loss.

Throw off temptation.

Throw off marital problems.

Throw off family issues.

Throw off ?  You fill in the blank.

We must know through prayer, the Lord will run the race with us and will comfort us and keep us strong in the midst of trial as long as we remain connected to him.

Remember when Jesus strolled on the water and Peter wanted to join him in some wave walking? Peter did great until he took his eyes off Jesus and began to look at the sea below. That’s when he began to sink.

Are you sinking? Have the problems become bigger than Christ?

I can remember a stretch not too long ago where, because of a family issue, I felt like I was drowning. I was defeated and did not throw off that which was trying to take me down. The issue was out of my control but I did not keep my eyes on Jesus and trust him with my circumstances. He was the only one who could handle it but I found that out the hard way.

When I finally gave it over, that’s when I was able to see the goal again. I persevered and threw off the issue, living above while Jesus did his work below.

The Lord knows life is hard. We can choose to give up or we can run the race with the running shoes our faith equips us with.

We have to choose to persevere. We have to swat away anything that tries to take us down. A great cloud of witnesses are rooting for us to make it into the end zone and when we do, we might hear cheers from heaven and the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 

What if God Was a Smart Phone?

photo[5]I knew it would happen sooner or later.

It was a matter of time before God took my cell phone out.

I needed a wake up call because in many ways my iphone had too much “I” in it. It was the center of my attention daily, whether it be through texting, facebook messages, tweeting or emails. I was constantly focused on my phone when I could have been more focused on God. One day while having lunch with a friend, she sharply said, “Put that cell phone away and don’t take it back out again until we’re done.”

Ouch.

She was right. I needed balance, but couldn’t pull myself away from the addiction to communication. I was living out what Paul struggled with in Romans 7:

“For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

More simply put, I was aware that I was over the top with my phone but didn’t correct the behavior. So after my quiet time on Saturday morning, I turned on the phone and there was

Nothing.

The screen was blank and I remembered I’d dropped the phone in the bathroom earlier that morning. The impact with the hard tile floor was enough to knock the screen out.

So what did I do? Did I turn away from the evil of technology and give up my smart phone?

Sadly, no.

While I knew it was a message from God, I was still desperate to fix the phone.

I blew off my workout, hurriedly got dressed and headed to the Apple emergency room to see if the phone could be revived.

On the way my thoughts were consumed by iphone worry.  What if they couldn’t fix it? Could I afford a new one? What if I had to leave the phone to be repaired? Could I run my errands near the Apple Store?

I could figure out where those places are if I had my phone.

I braved the Saturday hysteria at the Apple store, a place I would have normally avoided on a weekend, but it was worth the hassle to be connected again. I waited an hour and a half in a sea of people, many of whom were hoping for a good prognosis like I was. I was bored, and thought If I had my phone, I could keep myself busy while I wait. Wait a second, I wouldn’t be here if I had my phone!

Finally, the Apple tech emerged with good news. My phone had made it through surgery. It was alive again, but for a price.

I was grateful, but now that all was well, I was beginning to feel the conviction about my phone obsession again. When I got in the car to return home, I don’t think it was any coincidence the song playing on the radio was by the David Crowder Band, “How He Loves.” The world stopped when the first line sang out, “He is jealous for me”

Nailed.

God was reminding me he is jealous for my undivided attention.

I wondered what it would be like if we treated God like we treated our smart phones?

Would we be desperate to stay connected with him?

Would we be anxious to see what he had to say to us?

Would we carry him around with us 24-7?

Would he be the first person we talked with in the morning?

If our connection was severed for some reason, would we drop everything and make it a priority to get it back?

Would we not be able to make it without him?

Anything that takes the place of God is an idol, even a phone. When we spend more time thinking about that thing or person, we elevate it over God.

Is there something that has consumed your focus recently?

Technology?

Television?

A family situation?

A hobby?

God loves you and he is jealous for you. He doesn’t want you to put anything or any person before him. If you are guilty, pray this prayer along with me and let’s put God back where he belongs:

Lord, forgive us for not keeping you in your rightful place in my life. Help us to put you at the center of our thoughts and actions during the day. When something or someone else consumes us, may your Holy Spirit immediately make us aware so we can repent and become centered again. Thank you for removing things from our lives to get our attention when we fall away from you. We praise you for your gentle correction. In the name of Jesus, we pray, AMEN

Researching vs. Receiving

computer and Bible            Breaking news from God. That’s how I see blogging. I love it and enjoy sharing what the Lord is teaching me. It’s the way I journal. Except I share my journal with whoever cares to read it. So when a woman said, “God is commanding you to take a vacation from blogging,” I felt my creative hands being tied.

            She said, “He wants you to quit blogging for a while and spend that time reading his Word, staying in it longer than usual.  After you read two chapters, read another chapter, then another chapter after that. Just keep reading.” God knows me so well. He understands I have a difficult time sitting still unless I have a project to research. What about you?

            So, after confirming the directive, I obediently put blogging aside for a week. In my time in the Word, the Lord revealed many new truths, but this was the “aha” moment. 

            There’s a difference between researching and receiving.

            What does that mean?

            Let’s revisit the Mary and Martha story to understand.

            “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

                ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

            I realized I was a Martha in the way I studied the Bible. 

            I had no trouble spending hours researching a message, working on a book or doing someone else’s Bible study, but those were all busy Martha activities. I thought I was spending time in God’s Word and I was, but I was setting the agenda, telling God what I wanted him to speak to me about. When I was writing a message, I had a topic in mind. When I worked on a Bible study lesson, I was looking up a fill-in-the-blank that another person created.

            I was researching, not receiving.

            God wanted me to give him a blank check to fill in with whatever he desired to give me.  I needed to be like Mary, sitting at his feet, hanging on his every word in the Word.

            I am not suggesting we quit our weekly Bible study and throw out all our devotional books. Structured studies are valuable and teach us a great deal.  I won’t stop researching messages and I’ve obviously resumed blogging. But what I am saying is our Father wants to speak to each of us individually through his Word. He doesn’t want to do a group text. He desires for us to open the lines of communication to him alone by reading directly from the Bible, book after book, chapter after chapter, verse after verse.  I started with the writings of the Apostle Paul, but you can begin anywhere and open a window to what the Lord wants to reveal to your heart. 

            There has to be a healthy balance between researching and receiving. We miss so much when we don’t have that one-on-one time with God. This past week, my time with him was like two old friends seeing each other for the first time in five years. He had so much to say to me that I nearly filled up my journal. He has a basketful of things to say to you as well. He’s waiting patiently.

            When we need an answer to a prayer, this style of study is a great way to find it. When we seek clear direction, the Lord will provide it. When we desire a revelation from God, his Word will come alive and show us something we’ve never seen before.

            This revelation has changed the way I do quiet time. I hope it will also be a word of encouragement for you to be “Mary-like” in your studies. We can find the answers to many of our burning questions at the feet of Jesus.

Rest Stop

Stop Sign           

            STOP! 

            “God wants you to stop.”

            “He wants you to suspend all ministry activities as well as your job search. No blogging. Just journaling. The Lord says, “Run, run to me and find the freedom you so fervently desire. Be still and know that I am the God who created you and who loves you everlasting and never ending.”

            These were some of the words from a friend of a friend who claims to have the gift of prophecy.  Being the skeptical person I am, I asked God to confirm the message in another way. The next day my Bible study was about Mary and Martha.  The following day the teaching was about the importance of resting.  The same day a daily devotional I read focused on the importance of solitude and serenity.

            This was what author Margaret Feinberg labels “a sacred echo.”

            God wanted me to temporarily cease and desist. To surrender my schedule to him.

            So I did it.  I expanded my quiet time beyond the thirty-forty minutes I gave it in the morning. I stopped my feverish search for a job and instead feverishly searched for the Lord’s buried treasure in His Word.  I began to dig deep into God’s Word again like I used to in my Bible classes in seminary. I longed to hear what he wanted to tell me.     

            It felt good.

            My batteries began to recharge.

            I had forgotten what it was like to spend hours alone with my Abba Father. In my expanded time alone with him, he gave me new truths from his Word, filling up my journal and my spiritual well. The way I was going, I would not have been able to continue on an empty tank.  God knew that and had to set up a road block to make me pull off and refill.

            Has the Lord ever told you to rest? Do you run, run, run with work and activities instead of run, run, running to God?

            Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

            The world is moving at a faster pace than our human bodies can withstand. On a regular basis, we have to intentionally take a step back to receive the refueling we need. A sports car might be able to do 0 to 60 in under seven seconds but without gas, it’s not going anywhere.

            Jesus led a very busy ministry but took time to pull away from the crowd to be alone with his Father. We need to learn from Him.

            What about you?

            Are you tired?

            Are you emotionally depleted?

            Is your “to do” list more than you can handle?

            Are you searching for clear direction?

            Then take the advice I received.

            Stop.

            Throw yourself into the arms of your loving father from above and

            listen.

            Dear child of God, he’s waiting for you with open arms.

 

 

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