Feb 10 2013

God’s call for us to LOVE…Blessing Journal Challenge Wk 4 Devotion

Welcome to Week four of the Blessing Journal Challenge for 2013!

This week we will focus on one more quality and command of God…LOVE.

With Valentine’s Day coming up on Thursday, here in the USA, I thought it made sense to look at His LOVE.  It is such a huge topic!  There are SOOOO many Scriptures that focus on His love, after all, God is LOVE.

God's call to Love...Unwrapping His Grace at surrenderedlivingnow.com

Our last family picture with Will taken in June 2012 by Gina Weeks.

As most of you know, this will be my first Valentine’s Day with my lover/husband/best friend and the kids’ Daddy celebrating in Heaven and us here without him in hugging distance.  Needless to say, it is going to be an emotional week for us.  It has already started.  We are facing a lot of things this week.  Tuesday is Josh’s 10th birthday.  His first birthday without Daddy here and a very significant birthday too.

Thursday is Valentine’s Day and Friday is the eighth anniversary of Will’s homegoing to heaven.

Then Saturday is Josh’s 10th birthday party.  He picked a Mystery theme.

Facing all of this without Will is very painful.  I am working hard set aside time to grieve the loss, stop what we are doing when emotions hit the surface for the boys or me, and talk about the special memories we have of him.

But there is one thing that we will always have with us and that is his love for us and our love for him.  One of the things that I loved about Will was that he was always looking to Scripture to learn and grow as a parent, a husband and one of God’s sons.  His example in how he did that has helped me so much. 

So tonight, let’s take a few minutes to look at our lives and God’s Word and see how we are living out God’s call…His command… to love one another as He loves us.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 NIV

And he even told us how that love looks…

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful,it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13 ESV

That is a pretty tall order!  But God knew we would need help to know how to live it out…and Jesus taught us through the way He lived His life and how and what He taught while He was on this earth.

I realize that this passage is often used in weddings…and for good reason.  It speaks to how we are called to love each other in marriage.  But God’s command for love goes way beyond the gift of marriage.  We are called to love our children, if we have children, in this way.  We are called to love our siblings, our parents, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors who blare their music too late at night or let their animals poop in our yards!  Whew!  Yes, we are called to love everyone…including our enemies.

It means being kind when our gut tells us to let loose on them.  Ouch.

It means returning love and patience to them when they hurt our feelings.  Ouch.

For us as parents, it means to not let our children get on our last nerve, to breathe respond firmly and consistently with love…not in anger.  Super Ouch for me lately.

I have asked God to help me with this.  I am better at it with strangers than with my own children some days.  One of the things I am learning is that if I don’t take care of myself physically and I am tired, I over do it, or allow myself to become more focused on getting jobs done around our house than remembering that the time I have with them is precious training time and what they learn from me and how I handle situations, including them, is so much more important than getting the job done “right” every time.

Since the accident, I struggle with my energy levels.  My body is taking a lot longer to regain its strength that I would like.  But I am getting better at remembering the gift of the miracle of being able to do the things I can do and the gift of the energy I do have.

I am working on taking better care of myself…getting more sleep, taking frequent breaks, and setting more realistic expectations for myself and my boys.  God is helping me to do this.  I am learning to include Him in the planning of my time so that I can respond and reach out in love more often than I have done on my own.

You see, by ourselves, loving in the way Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 13 is impossible.  But if we remember that God is strong when we are weak He is strong.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-11 ESV

When we remember this.  It is not impossible.  It is God loving others through us.  It is God reaching out to others in love through us.  It is God touching lives through us when we are the most uncomfortable, that makes it possible…if we let Him take control of our actions and, if you are like me, our quick tongues.

So yes, this week has Valentine’s Day.  A day to celebrate romantic love.  I will be remembering my sweetheart and our very special moments together that night.  But I am also planning to find ways to teach our sons more about God’s Love that day and this week as well.  If it weren’t for God’s love…we wouldn’t know how to love each other.  It is Him loving other through us that makes it possible.

And I am so grateful that He loves me so much and my boys so much that He will be with us during a week of painful and new firsts without Daddy.  And I am thankful that He will give me the strength, courage and love that only comes from Him when I am feeling week and missing my husband so much…so that I can still reach out and love on my boys and help them to see how much God loves them.  And together we will pray and ask God to give us the wisdom and courage to step out of our comfort zones and do better at responding to each other in love and find ways to reach out to our neighbors with God’s love this week too.

I hope this devotion has encouraged you as you read it.  God loves you with an amazing love…He loves us with amazing love as is described in the 1 Corinthians 13 passage and SO many others…including how He gave up His life for us and took our punishment (loved us when we were unlovely) so that He could spend eternity with us in heaven loving on us!  Wow!

May God bless you this week and may you find ways to reflect on how He has loved you in your days.  May He help you to reflect on this beautiful description of love and help you do better at loving the people in your life that you need to do better at loving like God loves you…I pray that for myself as well.

Here is the link to the Blessing Journal Challenge Journaling guides in the next article posted tonight so be sure to check it out too.  I thought it might help to post them separately so that you can print out the journaling guides and stick them in your journal to reference during the week without the devotion attached to it to make it easier to use.

If you haven’t joined me in this Blessing Journal Challenge for 2013 and would like more information you can find out more here.  And the rule is…you start with today!  There is no “catching up” or guilt for not completing all the weeks.  And what I share in the guides are just that…a guide…you journal about what the Lord leads you to write/create.

And please join me back here tomorrow night for a very special birthday tribute to Gina Marie who celebrates her 37th birthday on Monday, 2/11!!!  She will be posting her Marriage article on Valentine’s Day this week instead so that she has the day off for her birthday!!!

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Sitting at HIS feet with so much to learn,

Mary Joy

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About the author

Mary Joy

I am a broken daughter of God and a work in progress. I am passionate about encouraging women to embrace God's grace and faithfulness as I discover and share His faithfulness, grace and even joy in the messiness of my journey as a widowed (less than 2 yrs), homeschooling mom with a missionary's heart. I am in awe of how God fills me up and carries me through each day. My Heavenly Father leads me as I continue to parent and home school my two recovering and very active boys and encourage my beautiful teenage step-daughter (long distance) during her first year in of college. In every moment I see incredible evidence of God's healing love, grace and faithfulness. I am so blessed to be the creator, manager, and an author of Unwrapping His Grace as I lean on my Savior to lead us in this special web-ministry.

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