Love With All Your…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”

–Luke 10:27

Really, Lord? Because we know our hearts, and they are deceitful above all things. Our souls are constantly warring with the flesh. Strength, to us, is less preferable than weakness in you. And our minds? Our minds are so easily led astray.

It seems like our ability to love God is measly and miserable. To do so with our whole person seems to add up to very little.

Praise the Lord that He is glorified by and delights in our love- even if our love is far from perfect!

So loving is He that:

  1. He Guards the HEART We Are to Love Him With

Though our hearts are wild and rebellious, the Lord guards them. He works to protect our hearts from further corruption. He is intent on giving us pure hearts, washing them clean through Christ. Scripture also says He replaces our hearts of stone with hearts with hearts of flesh.

  1. He Redeems the SOUL So That We Can Love Him Personally

Apart from Christ, we would have no way to love God in a personal relationship. But He, in loving us, sent His son to die for us. He made a way for our souls to be reconciled to Him eternally. Because of that, our wretched souls are counted free. We are called His friends and His children –and forgiven.

  1. He Gives us the STRENGTH to Love Him Always

Does it take strength to love God? Ask anyone who’s betrayed Him or sinned against Him. So, ask anyone. There is nothing in us courageous enough to perfectly stand up against the world and all of sin and say “I love God more.” But He, He can makes us able. He makes a way out of temptation. He gives us endurance and His Spirit to keep us from sin and help us to lovingly glorify Him even when we are weak.

  1. He Renews Our MIND to Love Him More Fully

Romans 12:2 tells us that if we are to live according to His Will, and even to know His Will, we are to have our minds renewed. We are to see everything in light of Him and understand ourselves, our lives, our decisions, etc., according to our newness in Christ. This complete changing of the mind to fit with His enables to love Him because it enables us to know Him.

What love is this, friends!? Our Lord loves us enough to make a way for us to love Him despite our corrupt version of love. A precious gift.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

The Battlefield of the Heart is the Lord’s

Photo from: Pixabay

Oh, that her heart would change. That his heart would turn from bitterness to joy. Even that my own heart would be more patient. I try. We try. But we come to the battle with no weapons save our own will.

Paul knows a thing or two about how effective a weapon our wills are:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15.)

When it comes to matters of our hearts, the battlefield is the Lord’s alone.

There is nothing in our flesh able to defeat the power of sin. Nothing in us can be nurtured to overcome our sinful natures. Indeed, our inclination towards sin makes our efforts to eradicate our sinfulness futile.

Even when we win, we lose. Even when our wills triumph over that one sin, another must take root. To beat out impatience, we use pride. To defeat our sense of discontentment, we turn to worldly comforts like gluttony. Fighting the battles of the heart on our own leaves us lost in thick of it, swapping out old battles for new battles.

To win battles of the heart, the Lord has to be in command. His power must slay our sin. And His Spirit must stand in its place and restrain us from fleeing after the enemy again.

Beyond the battles of our own hearts, this is true for those we love. I can’t speak for you, but I can say myself that I’ve tried to free others’ hearts from tyrannical sins…unsuccessfully.

I’ve tried to reason with loved ones’ crushed by doubt and disappointment. Upon seeing other stumble into sins of indifference or apathy towards the Lord, I’ve charged in, Bible waving. It’s hard to see others at war in their hearts –especially when they are losing.

But, just as I can’t win against my own flesh, I also can’t win against theirs. I can’t change her heart or heal his anymore than I can manufacture true patience from my own filth.

Isn’t Christ’s coming clear? “The battle is not yours, but God’s.” Though we are to fight the good fight of faith, it’s fought in the Spirit, on our knees, as followers of the one who the victory belongs to. That victory is His because the war is His. He’s the only one who could win it. It remains true.

When our hearts can find no peace from the wars waged inside, we must step back from the front lines and let the Lord fight for us. When our loved ones are locked in a stalemate with themselves, we must first call on the Lord to end the war.

We’ll all lose. And that’s how we’ll win.

He shares the victory. He knows what’s best. He made the heart, and He’s made it anew. When we race to put our wills’ to work and our rationale into force against theirs’, we rush into wars that we can’t win.

Clear the battlefield, my friends, our victory is ready. (tweet this!)

There is no heart He cannot reach, and we do better in the trenches of triage, where lies the true fight of faith.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday #Faith-Filled Friday, #DanceWithJesus, and #LifeGivingLinkup.

What Hope Can a Broken Heart offer?

How can our brokenness be useful to others? Offering our broken hearts to the Lord as a sacrifice and a praise is one thing. But, giving ourselves to others when we’re messy and vulnerable is another.

Though we shouldn’t recklessly hand over the reins to our heart or carelessly welcome anyone’s influence into to our hurts, there is a place for being broken among people. Scripture allows for this, explicitly and implicitly:

“Mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.” –Romans 12:15-16

We are to share in other’s sufferings and grief. At the same time, sharing even in Christ’s sufferings, we are to be those who mourn and who need others to mourn alongside us. That’s part of living in harmony. According to Christ, it’s part of living in this world:

“In this world you will have trouble.”John 16:33

Recognizing that fact and admitting to broken-heartedness is part of witnessing to others, Christian and unbelieving alike.

Unfortunately, there are two lies we believe that stop us from living and proclaiming Him to others even when we’re a mess.

The lies?

  1. To make anyone want the Gospel, we have to make it attractive by having it all together.
  2. No one else will understand anyway. Our comfort isn’t in this world.

Half-truths are deceptive lies, aren’t they? That anyone understands, and cares, and has been messy and broken and vulnerable –that’s what we need to hear. That’s what the unsaved and the struggling believer needs to know before they can live the end of John 16:33:

But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Living as those who know that He has overcome the world, our brokenness is a testimony to the Lord and to the realities of this world that many people deny. It means that in our brokenness, we still have hope to offer because:

  • We can be broken but not destroyed.
  • Our brokenness does not cause us to be useless and abandoned, but loved and sufficient in weakness because our strength is in Him.
  • The stream of living water in you and me doesn’t cease to flow when our persons of clay pottery shatter. It flows all the more freely.
  • Defenses down, hearts exposed, the honesty of being broken is something this world doesn’t admit or acknowledge -not with any hope.

BUT in our brokenness, we continue. We fix our eyes. We smile. We pray. We offer ourselves to others anyway, because our worth isn’t found in the all-together we have to give. Our worth, to others and in our innermost being, is bound up in the one who was broken for us.

That’s why our brokenness offers hope. His body and Spirit were broken, separated from God Himself, rejected. Offered as a sacrifice, as our broken hearts are to be. God uses that sacrifice, raw and messy in our lives and others’ to help restore life, revert perspective, and bring us into a more intimate reliance on Him.

Imagine- when your broken heart is sacrificed to the Lord, He uses the mess to let others know the truth, His presence, and the hope He has to offer all of us. The hope we need. The hope even we as believers ignore when we pretend that brokenness doesn’t come before redemption.

This post is being shared on: #Thought-Provoking Thursday #Faith-Filled Friday, and #DanceWithJesus.

What Your Broken Heart is Worth

Photo from: Pixabay

I’ll admit, this idea hit me when I misheard the lyrics to “First” by Lauren Daigle. I thought she was singing: “before I bring my need I will break my heart.” The line didn’t quite make sense, but I was convinced that’s what she was singing, and then I read this verse:

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.”
Psalm 51:17

Could it be that the Lord values our brokenness? That a worthy sacrifice in His eyes is our hearts –broken? It sounds sinister, but we know our Lord is good.

It follows then, that the Lord’s desire for our broken hearts is the same as the Lord’s desire for our good. A broken heart can be a blessing. A broken heart can glorify God.

Earlier, in Psalm 51:10, we read the much loved line:

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Could it be that this heart is one in the same at times?

David exemplified this as he wrote this Psalm. It was written when David was confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba. Convicted and mourning his sinfulness and its consequences (like his son’s resulting death,) David chose not to turn from God. He chose not to mend his grief with proof that he could be worthy again if he tried.

Instead, David offered the Lord his broken heart. It was through that sacrifice that David’s heart was made clean again and that His joy was returned. Through that sacrifice and brokenness, David was given a willing spirit again and could experience and witness the Lord’s true forgiveness.

When our hearts are broken, something is exposed and made vulnerable. What’s inside the heart (though formerly fortified) becomes available for change, healing, and growth. In fact, the healing work of redemption is nothing without there first being a need for the healing and the redemption.

When we break open our hearts (or have them broken and hand them to the Lord,) it is a sacrifice on our part. It’s a sacrifice of dignity, of a sense of control, and of our pride. To sacrifice our broken hearts to the Lord is to say: “I won’t try to fix this my way, but I will it to you for your glory and your glorious work.”

It is praise to the Lord to offer Him our broken hearts as sacrifices, because we’re offering for Him to freely correct, clean, and rebuild us as He pleases, to His glory. It is a putting aside of all the gunk we have in our hearts to return our hearts to their maker. When your heart is breaking, let it be a blessing and a praise.

This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory.

Pray First

Photo from: sapch.org

I remember when these words sounded limiting –were you ever in that place? Praying first…or really before anything at all, seemed so restrictive. It took up valuable time and energy. Praying first meant either doing something obligatory and then continuing in my own way or having to sit around and wait while time was a-wasting.

But these words have become sweet. Praying first is a blessing the Lord provides. When we really turn to Him in prayer, laying all before Him, there is a peace unlike any other that permeates our lives.

  • What if you never had to guess about the right answer?
  • What if you never had to wonder if you were doing the right thing?
  • What if you didn’t have your plans messed up because you waited to make them until the timing was right?
  • What if you never looked back in regret, believing you really disobeyed God in a decision?

These things happen when we pray first, and when we pray in line with His will. Think of all the verses the Lord gives to show us this truth.

To name a few:

 “…in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7

Scripture knows it, too. The peace of God, the kind of peace that guards us, keeps us, and changes our lives and hearts, that fills us when we present ourselves in prayer to the Lord.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” -1 John 5:14
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” –1 Thessalonians 5:6-7

Put these two verses together. God hears us (indeed other verses say will give us anything) when we ask according to His will. God’s will for us is that, for one thing, we pray continually.

To be in His will, we need to be praying. To pray in His will, we need to be praying. (tweet this)

When we really pray –as in, going before the Lord and doing so to give His thoughts, Word, and ways priority in our lives- we hear Him. We get closer to Him. We find ourselves moved and led because we are in closer fellowship with one we can go to always. He’s also the best one to go to always. He’s God.

There’s a reason prayer gives us peace that transcends. It’s in prayer that we are nearest to Him, and He defines peace. He is eager to fill us with it and keep us there (Isaiah 26:3.)

Praying first puts the Lord’s will first. (tweet this)

It puts Him above ourselves, which keeps us where we ought to be- at the feet of Jesus, following Him along the perfect way. That makes it hard to get lost. It removes worries of missed turns and bad timing, replacing them with the perfection and grace of our Savior.

Pray first when you:

  • Get up in the morning
  • Face difficult tasks
  • Make decisions
  • Eat a meal
  • Enter a conversation
  • Spend time with someone you love
  • Get the feels (anger, joy, excitement)
  • Think you’ve got it handled
  • Begin routine tasks
  • Consider your relaxation and entertainment options
  • Start to worry
  • Make plans
  • Say yes
  • Say no
This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory.