Perfect Love

God's loveWhen was the last time someone you love let you down?

It happens. More than we’d like.

Whether it’s our husbands, our sisters, our brothers, our children, or our friends, love will disappoint at one time or another and we’ll want to run away.

But where do we run?

Busyness?

Work?

The Internet?

Another person?

I’ve come to the conclusion there is no such thing as perfect love on this earth, because God doesn’t allow it. If all our desires were fulfilled by a human being, then we’d have no need for our Abba Father. He wants us to run to him when things go awry, and he doesn’t want anything or anyone to take his place.

It’s the Lord who fills the void left by others who walk away. He comforts us when the people closest to us pierce our hearts with angry words or rejection. He gives us hope when our expectations aren’t met. He desires for us to cling to him and his promises in the Word.

Psalm 36:7 says, “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” When human love falters, perfect love is waiting for us with feathery arms.

In order to have peace and harmony in our relationships, we have to give human love a hall pass. It will never be perfect, and if we expect it to be flawless, we won’t be content. We’ll most likely live out our lives unhappy and bitter.

Instead, we have to love those around us as Jesus loved, unconditionally, without harboring resentment. Instead of a critical tone, we should compliment the positive. We have to forgive those who occasionally disappoint us.

When you are struggling to love reflect back on Luke 6:32-36: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

We all know that human love can be beautiful, but only God’s perfect love is divine. LBW

 

Running the Race by Dana Arcuri

7W0W2620 low resToday’s guest blogger is author Dana Arcuri. Dana is a captivating author, coach, and speaker who delivers a powerful message on persevering, overcoming adversity, and never losing sight of hope. Her e-book, Harvest of Hope: Living Victoriously Through Adversity, was published in December 2013 and her print book was published in February 2014. In addition, she’s a contributing author for Inspired Women Succeed, published May 2011.

As a freelance writer, her work has been published at TotallyHer, Write Where It Hurts, Christian Women Lifestyle xPress Online Magazine, and American Collegiate Poets, Fall Concours 1984. She is a member of Pittsburgh East Scribes, a local writing critique in Pittsburgh, PA and leads Writing Purposely Group Coaching for aspiring writers. When Dana’s not busy writing, she enjoys reading, alternative health, and building her wellness business. You may visit her website at http://www.danaarcuri.com/ and her author Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DanaArcuri. 

running-girl“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)

For those who don’t know me personally, you may not be aware that I don’t like to exercise. I think it all comes down to one simple pet peeve of mine; I dislike sweating. And bad hair days. Seriously, if physical fitness didn’t involve perspiration I think I’d enjoy it more. Despite my aversion for working up a sweat, I decided a treadmill may be a great way for me to exercise, while getting into shape. Whether the sun is shining or there’s a rainstorm, I’d have the convenience of increasing my physical activity right in the comfort of my home.

Once I began working out on my treadmill, I discovered it gave me the opportunity to connect to God one-on- one. So there I was listening to Mandisa singing “Overcomer,” when I realized Jesus was calling me to be an overcomer. To run the race He sets before me and stay in the fight, until the final round. Most importantly, to not give up hope no matter what unrelenting adversity I’m facing, but to keep on keeping on.

Instantly, this reminded me of tough times I’ve endured when I felt as if obstacles knocked me off my feet. When hardship, suffering, and pain were so unbearable that I didn’t think I could continue walking, let alone run the race. Yet when I shifted my attention from my harrowing trials to focus on my Heavenly Maker, the heavy weight was lifted and my burdens became lighter.

The Bible says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight, not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should not become disqualified.” 1st Corinthians 9:24-27 (NKJV)

Today, are you trying to carry a massive load, and struggling to stay on track? Do you feel as if the path you’re walking is too much to bear? If so, ask God to give you endurance and perseverance to reach the finish line. Keep your eyes on the prize to remain motivated to complete the race the Lord has set before you.

I Need Him by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

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Lord, I need you, oh, I need you. Every hour I need you.”

The song by Matt Maher has been replaying in my head the past few days and it’s caused me to reflect on the ways I need God.

Every day.

Every hour.

I need His direction. In the morning I surrender my day to Him. Today is a highly unusual day. No meetings. No lunches. No agenda. Just God’s agenda. It’s fun to give Him an empty slate to work with.

I need His protection. Easily distracted, I count on the Lord to put his protective hedges around me when I walk out the door. I wonder what would happen if I did not pray prayers of protection over my family? I don’t plan to find out.

I need His words. Because I made a living putting words together, I am never at a loss for words, but because words are powerful, I don’t want any to come out of my mouth that are not of God. I also don’t want too many to pour out. It’s important to listen more than speak.

I need His peace. Naturally high strung and a “Type A,” anxiety can overtake me at times. Meditating on God’s word is like Chamomile Tea. It soothes and calms the anxious soul.

I need His inspiration. I crave a word from God daily. I’m disappointed when I don’t hear from Him. When we get into His word, we make ourselves available for a direct revelation from our Father in Heaven.

I need his love. Sometimes, I don’t understand how God could love a sinner like me, but he does, just like he loves you. He loved me enough to pull me out of a difficult childhood to safety and continues to demonstrate his love to me daily. Every breath I take is a gift from a loving God.

I need His salvation. Where would I be without the hope I have? I can’t imagine a life without Christ or without an eternal future with Him. I would only have a dead end to look forward to and no reason to pursue holiness. What a mess I’d be without hope.

I don’t think I can really put my arms around how much I need the Lord., can you? It’s more than I know. Isaiah 64:4-5 says, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways.”

We have no idea how much God is doing for us behind the scenes. How much he helps us in ways we never acknowledge or know about. God has our back! We need him more than we perceive.

What about you? Think about it. In what ways do you need Him?

Every Day.

Every Hour.

 

Surprised

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Why was Jesus’ death and resurrection a surprise to his followers?

More than once, he described what was coming.

In Mark 8:31-32 it says, “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. Mark goes on to say Jesus spoke “plainly” about this. Again in Mark 9:31 he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”

Matthew 16:21 adds that once the disciples realized Jesus was the Messiah, “from that time on” Jesus began to talk about his future death and resurrection.

But despite the repeat messages, Jesus’ resurrection still caught people off guard.

Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and Salome were frightened when they encountered the two angels at the tomb and Jesus’ body was missing. The angels had to remind the women of what Jesus told them numerous times. On their way back to tell the disciples, the women encountered the risen Savior. What a joy to see him again! But when they ran back and told the disciples the good news, the eleven didn’t believe them.

Peter was the only one who gave it a second thought, and hurried to the tomb to see for himself. Probably aware of their disbelief, Jesus later appeared to the disciples as well, but they were “startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.” Jesus had to show them his hands and feet and eat a piece of fish to prove he was real.

Why were Jesus’ followers surprised?

Will we be surprised when he comes back in all his glory?

He has prepared us for his second coming just like he prepared the disciples for his death and resurrection. He’s asks us to be ready. In Matthew 24 and 25, Jesus gives us a snapshot of what to expect in the last days: there will be increased wars, famines and earthquakes. Sounds familiar. There will be false prophets and loveless people. In the meantime, he tells us to be good stewards of our time, to feed the hungry and clothe the poor, to keep watch and have our houses in order, because we don’t know when he’ll return.

Surely with all this advance notice, we won’t be caught off guard when we see Jesus in the clouds, but Scripture indicates we won’t be prepared.

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Matthew 24:37 says it will be like the days of Noah before the flood. “People were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” It took Noah about 99 years to build the ark, so his neighbors probably decided Noah was delusional and didn’t believe his story. They didn’t change the way they did things.

Do we believe Jesus is coming back? If so, are we following his teachings?

The Word says when Jesus appears again with power and great glory “all the peoples of the earth will mourn.” Why would we be sad if we believed what Jesus said and we did what he told us to do?

It’s apparent Jesus will catch us by surprise. Many continue to live their lives as if they were never warned.

It’s not to late to prepare. Read Matthew 24-25. Do what it says. There’s time to get a handle on what’s coming.

And then, when we witness the King of Kings’ return, there will be tears of joy, not tears of remorse. And we won’t be surprised.

Free to Be Me by Walda Collins

WaldaToday’s guest blogger is Walda Collins. Walda is the host of a radio ministry called, “A Sister’s Prayer” on San Antonio’s KSLR am 630, Sunday’s at 4:30 p.m. (CST). Her ministry takes a unique approach to help women find balance in life through the power of prayer, friendship and fellowship, defining and brings healing in the areas of faith, family, finances and fitness.  Conducting monthly workshops, conferences and studies, A Sister’s Prayer reaches outside the limits of San Antonio to the hearts and minds of people through out the globe. Walda also completed 23 years of service in the Marine Corps and is now a student of the gospel, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry Leadership. In her spare time, Walda is a Chef. She is a recent graduate of Culinary School with a strong desire to feed God’s people both physically and spiritually. Walda is married to Keith and has two sons, Zachary (23) and Keith, Jr. (17).

There is no better me than the me God created me to be!

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace towards me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than them all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1Corinthians 15:10)

In Genesis 1:26, God said, let us make man (men and women), in Our image. Therefore when God created us, we were created in the likeness and image of Him. He didn’t create me to be like you, nor did He create you to be like me. The great and amazing thing about God is that He blesses what He creates.

Women cartoonIt doesn’t please God when we are trying to be something He hasn’t created us to be. We even grow frustrated ourselves in our failed efforts of trying to be something or someone else.

Many times we will see that the things we try to do in and of ourselves often fail. Why? Because this is not what God has purposed us to do. God is the one who establishes who we are. When we keep our hearts upright and our attitudes to fulfill His will, then God blesses what we do. Until then, our labor, our efforts, and even our self-made successes are all in vain.

There is no better me than the me God created me to be. In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul reminds us that by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. Wow! What an awesome reminder that God hasn’t forgotten me. He knows just who I am and why He created me. I don’t have to seek status from man when God knows my name. I don’t have to be center stage or in the bright lights, when the God who knows all, knows me!

We don’t have to pretend to be something we’re not when we are walking in the purpose of what and who God created us to be. I am thankful that it is the grace of God that establishes who I am. It is the grace of God that brings me to fulfill His good and perfect plan. God created me. I am free to be me!

 

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