Tag Archives: Jesus loves you

In Christ, We Have Everything We Need

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight(Ephesians 1:3-4 NIV).

Praise the Lord!

All those who are in Christ - those who have trusted in Him for salvation believing He died for them and rose again conquering death forever- all believers have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places, where God lives. Each and every one, all God has to offer is ours. Our spirits are lifted out of this world and now belong to Him. We have access to everything Jesus has to offer. 

He chose—picked, wanted, desired, selected—you! Before He even created the world! He knew in advance what He was going to do. He knew mankind would fall. He knew we would need a Savior and He knew Jesus would come to redeem us. Praise His holy name!

Even more mind-blowing—He chose us to be holy and blameless in His sight. Before we were ever born. Before our ancestors were born. Before we committed our first sin. We were chosen to be holy, set apart, pure, and consecrated to Him. Even then He saw us as blameless, without spot, pure, and sinless because He knew the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ would cleanse us and make us pure. He died for us choosing to take our sin on Himself and giving us His holiness. 

So now we live for Him not to earn His love or salvation but because He loves us and because we love Him. We show Him our love through our obedience. 

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Love Over Labels

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. … I was woven together in the depths of the earth.Psalm 139:13-1 

I easily judge others based on first impressions. I lump them together with people who are similar and think I know them. Yet, every human is one of a kind, unique, and irreplaceable. One in a hundred billion. Planned by the Master Designer. Embroidered by God who lovingly chose each color. Individually given exclusive DNA and life experiences. 

Why not stop using labels to categorize people?

A label only tells us one small part of who a person is.

I’m an introvert but still different from every other introvert.

I’m a white female but that doesn’t fully define who I am.

I’m American but that doesn’t reveal my soul.

Because I vote a certain way doesn’t mean I’m like others who do the same.

To say someone is OCD, autistic, extrovert, introvert, ugly, or beautiful doesn’t tell me who he or she is.

We’re individuals. One-of-a-kind souls wrapped in bodies unlike any other. Each of us is a wonderful miracle. Pigeonholing people doesn’t mean I know them. To know each other we must communicate, listen, understand, and love. We need to look for the exquisite colors God put in each soul. 

Instead of judging others quickly, may we look for God’s fingerprints on each heart and show love.

iBelieve.com

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Seek God

Yearn
Seek
Know
Believe
Hunger
Thirst
Search
Trust
Call
Ask
Knock

He will answer.
He will reward.
He is calling.
Listen.
Follow.

Hebrews 11:6

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Nothing Can Separate Us From God’s Love

Believers in Jesus are secure forever. Writing to encourage early Roman believers, Paul wrote, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?... I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 38-39).

Jesus taught, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28). We’re guaranteed His love for eternity.


Excerpt from: 10 Reasons You Truly Have Nothing to Worry About

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Choose Grace

Grace is loving kindness given with no way to repay, earn, or deserve it. It’s receiving God’s unmerited favor and forgiveness. When perfection reaches down to love helpless sinners. Grace is free and lasts forever. 

What an incredible, beautiful gift of freedom yet somehow, we keep returning to chains. Grace by its definition can’t be combined with works. The Apostle Paul wrote, “And if it is by grace, then it is no longer by works. Otherwise, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:6). 

He also reminds us, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21).  

Jesus died for us because we could never obtain freedom from sin on our own. We’re powerless apart from Him. 

Scripture teaches, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Three burdens God’s grace frees us from:

The burden of slavery to the law

There are 613 laws in the Old Testament. Jewish leaders added many more leaving people drowning in detailed law. 

Obeying the well-known ten commandments is impossible. Who will never covet another’s belongings or put anything or anyone before God? What about always keeping the Sabbath day holy? 

We might easily avoid murder or adultery but Jesus took it further when He taught, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). He also revealed that hating another person is like committing murder (Matthew 5:21-22). Jesus wanted to make it clear no one can keep the law. He came to set us free from this impossible task.

Some are able to live more righteously than others. One might live an evil life, committing violent acts while another gives their life to serve those in need. The person who demonstrates more kindness might think this earns her a ticket to heaven. The problem is the standard for living in God’s presence in heaven is perfection. Scripture instructs us in James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” 

During the Apostle Paul’s ministry to the early church, he continually fought the lie that Gentiles must obey the Jewish law to become a Christian. He explained in Galatians 2:16, “Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”

Jesus came to set us free from the law’s immense weight! He promised, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me... for My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The burden of being “good enough”

How good is “good enough?” How do you know if you’ve earned favor with God? 

Sometimes, God uses me to bless someone either through words I write, giving encouragement, or offering help. In those moments, I may fleetingly feel virtuous. But other times ugliness comes out of my heart: jealousy, pride, disdain, deceit, and other offenses. Then I know how weak I am. I can only live a godly life as I rely on Christ in me.

It’s impossible to reach heaven through obedience. We may as well try to fly to the moon in a hot air balloon. The Bible teaches, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). Jesus once stated, “No one is good—except God alone” (Luke 18:19). 

On my best day, when I’m seeking Jesus and have spent time praying and yielding my heart to Him, I still struggle with pride, impatience, and selfishness. To overcome these faults, I must rely on His holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus came to earth and lived as a human to understand our struggle against sin and died to break its power. Without Him, we remain enslaved. My best intentions and greatest efforts can’t overcome the seed of sin planted when the first man and woman rebelled against God. By being reborn through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can choose righteousness. 

In God’s great love, He sent His Son to do what we’re incapable of: live a perfect life and pay the price for disobedience. Since sin deserves death, He suffered and died in our place; being fully God, He conquered death and rose as our eternal Savior. He now offers salvation to anyone who believes in Him. Not because we’re deserving but because of His grace and unfailing love. 

When we trust in Christ and receive His grace, His Spirit dwells in us and enables us to live honorably. When we fail, as we all do, He promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The burden of doubting salvation

The denomination I grew up in taught once you believe in Jesus, you’re His forever. But the underlying disclaimer, live by the rules or you probably never truly believed, caused doubt. Therefore, members frequently made multiple professions of faith. I remember one evangelist who proclaimed, “If you’re not leading people to Jesus, you’re not a Christian!” Fear struck my heart. Being shy and reserved, I lacked such boldness. Seeking to prove my Christianity, I made myself go door to door in my neighborhood. I can’t remember what I said but I probably invited them to the revival.

My struggles with doubt usually resulted in conversations with Jesus. Wrestling in prayer with Him after the incident where I went door-to-door, a light came on as I thought, “I know Him.” Regardless of what anyone might say, His Spirit lives in me and He’s been there for me since the moment I believed in Him. Salvation comes through a relationship. Christianity is knowing Jesus personally and loving Him. Religion is about performance. Yes, He wants us to follow Him and strive to love as He loves but He’ll never leave us. 

Jesus promised, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).

God pours out grace on the undeserving. All people rebel against God yet He gives us every day the gifts of sunshine, nature, food, drink, and life. The Bible says He sends rain on the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45). He gave His Son to offer life to anyone who believes. He welcomes all people. And once we belong to Him, we are held in His embrace of love and grace forever. He blesses us not because we’re good but because He loves us.

Grace Made Clear

One incident in my life made grace real to me. I’ve regularly attended worship service and read my Bible for most of my life but sometime after marriage, my husband and I stopped going to church for a few years. I went days without thinking about God. 

In my late thirties I’d never been pregnant though I wanted a child. But my husband felt reluctant about being a father, to the point he had a vasectomy. I agreed with my head but not my heart. I stuffed my feelings and thought I could manage. Much later I found out he made that choice because he didn’t think he’d be a “good enough” dad.

Eventually I began seeing a counselor who suggested we try alternative conception methods such as artificial insemination. Over time, my husband’s heart had softened and he realized God would give him what he needed to parent well. We decided to take her advice and I went in every month for almost a year. 

After a year of no success, we decided to stop insemination efforts. I remember praying one day and asking God to show me what I should do or to change my desires.

 A few days before Christmas, the doctor we’d been working with called and asked if we’d ever considered adoption. I told him we might though my husband and I hadn’t discussed that option before. His words taught me a lesson in grace: “There’s a baby boy who was born yesterday who’s available if you’re interested.” What?! Twenty-two hours later I held our son in my arms. 

I’d been “doing” the least for God I’d ever done and suffered from a choice we made, yet He gave us a miraculous opportunity to adopt. I felt the full meaning of grace more at that moment than ever before. I realized then and know now, God’s love for me isn’t dependent on my behavior. He simply loves me. Completely, without reservations. No ifs or buts. 
 
Our son is now grown and married and one of the greatest blessings we’ve experienced. He provides a picture of what God’s grace is like. And my husband has been the best dad anyone could have.  God’s gift to us also brought me back to serve Him but with joy and not because I feel obligated. 

God’s Heart

Grace reveals God’s heart and character. From the moment He decided to create mankind in His own image, He planned to redeem us. He didn’t want children who were programmed to love and serve Him. He wanted us to willingly come to Him in faith trusting His goodness. He also knew that giving us the choice to rebel meant allowing corruption into the world. Sin destroys whatever it touches. We only have to look around us to see the results of disobedience: pain, chaos, suffering, wickedness, and death. God couldn’t allow evil to enter heaven or for sinful mankind to live forever. We faced death and eternal separation from our Father.

But God unfolded His majestic plan. His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, would come to earth as a man, fully God yet fully human, live the perfect life required for salvation, choose to pay the price for our rebellion and as God, overcome death. 

When Jesus rose again, He made it possible for anyone who believes in Him to receive the gift of eternal life. He offers His righteousness in exchange for our sin. 

Grace says anyone who calls on His name will be saved (Romans 10:13). God’s heart cries out to us all: Believe in My Son. Receive My love. Come to Me, My beloved child.

Published at iBelieve.com

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You Are Loved

I know from a human viewpoint I often don’t measure up to others, and it’s impossible for me to reach God’s perfect standards. These thoughts assail me at times:

“I’ll never achieve what she’s accomplished; God must like her more than me. She’s so competent and productive.” 

“She’s more loving, wise, and obedient than I am. Of course, God favors her.”

How can I respond to this struggle?

I remember the truth:

“But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love...May Your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in You” (Psalm 33:18, 22, NIV).

I hope in God’s Hesed, most often translated as mercy, loving-kindness, or steadfast/unfailing love. This word has such deep meaning, Christian musician Michael Card wrote an entire book, entitled, Inexpressible: Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness.

God’s abundant care for us is incomprehensible. We receive this truth by faith but its depth is beyond our knowing. If we could understand, we’d never question if He prefers someone over us. He’s loved all His children since before time began. He knew, when He created mankind, we would choose sin. He cherished us so deeply, He planned from the beginning to send Jesus Christ to live a perfect life and then die to pay for our wrongdoing. 

I can’t fathom His merciful kindness which has nothing to do with my performance. Yes, He calls me to obey, but His affection is unconditional, unchanging, and eternal. I show my devotion for Him through my obedience. Whether I succeed or fail doesn’t change how He cherishes me. His love is rock solid, immovable, and always with me. 

He always calls us to seek Jesus, believing in and remaining in Him. We are to walk with Him, talk to Him about everything, listen and obey His teaching. He holds all His children dear and knows how frail we are. 

Do you wonder if God values others more than you?

Find a quiet place and meditate on these verses:

“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ Your unfailing love, LORD, supported me” (Psalm 94:18).

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1).

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Believe He calls you beloved.  

Thank You, Father, for Your eternal and unchanging love! Help me rest in You, rejoicing in Your grace. When thoughts come, tempting me to compare myself to others, leading me to jealousy or insecurity, please help me bring those thoughts captive and replace them with the truth. Thank You that nothing I do can make You love me more or love me less. Your love is an undeserved gift. Praise Your holy name!

What does God’s unfailing love mean to you?

How does His love change how you view others?



First published at WhollyLoved.com

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Beautiful Bible Verses About Your Uniqueness

Our hearts cry out for some way to show we’re different, set apart from the crowd. Hairdos reflecting every color of the rainbow. Individualized tattoos. All kinds of piercings and clothing styles. In today’s world there doesn’t seem to be any universally-accepted fashion. Most are seeking uniqueness. We want to be noticed, acknowledged as an individual. We long to hear someone say, “Wow, look at you, you’re special. There’s no one else like you.”

Scientific advancements over the years have proven we’re matchless. We have fingerprints, footprints, voice patterns, among other attributes exclusive to ourselves. Every human who has ever lived was born with DNA unlike any other. We know these things, but what about our souls? The inner person who longs for love, attention, and purpose?

Original works of art are costly. Whether an oil painting, a piece of pottery, handcrafted furniture, or a designer gown, we value what an artist produces. Each is an irreplaceable piece, lovingly and carefully developed with skill and talent. Some are so treasured they’re closely guarded.

Multiple Bible verses reveal we’re all unique creations of God. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says:

Continue reading at iBelieve.com

Do you struggle with self-image? Remember you’re made in the image of God.

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God’s Message to Those in Isolation

Isolated.
Alone.
Unknown.
By choice, circumstances, or physical limitations.

Cut off.
Like a remote island.
Or unnoticed in a crowd.

Unseen or unwanted?
Invisible or rejected?

The heart cries out:
Love me.
Appreciate me.
Include me.
Every soul longs to be noticed. We each desire to be fully known yet fully loved. Many of us choose to hide because we feel inadequate or fear rejection. Circumstances leave some people in solitary living conditions. Others find their social connections are limited by sickness, paralysis, injury, or age. Regardless of whatever separates us from relationships, this was never God’s intention for humanity. He created us for community.  Research shows loneliness and isolation contribute to sickness and early death. 

Here are four messages God gives to those who feel disconnected:

1. I created you for relationship.


The idea of total seclusion is terrifying. Feeling like no one recognizes or cares what’s happening to you. There’s a reason why solitary confinement is a punishment in prison and why statistics show social detachment is associated with early death as stated above. God designed us for connection with others.

When God created the first man, Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). God has always intended for us to bond with others. 

In early Bible days, King Solomon who was reputed for his wisdom wrote: “Pity anyone who falls and has no one to pick them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10). Because God formed us for community, we will always long for intimacy.

Among believers in Jesus Christ, the bond is stronger. The Apostle Paul, early church leader, compared Christians to a body. Just as our whole being hurts if one part is in pain, Paul wrote concerning believers, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

How does learning you’re created for relationship help when you feel you’re cut off by circumstances? Maybe you believe you’re blocked from receiving such love? God wants us experience the joy of friendship; He will enable us to move forward.

I would suggest these actions:


First: Pray.


Ask God to give you a confidante. Scripture teaches us to, “Pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6). 

A few years before we adopted our son, I was writing prayer requests in a journal and wrote this:

“Father, please send me at least one close friend.”

I lacked intimate friends. I would work, come home, rest and then repeat. I held myself back and didn’t open up to others. Not long after, God opened the door for us to adopt our son. About 2 weeks into my maternity leave, I needed to arrange for childcare. Grieving, I realized I’d soon return to work and refused to enroll him into a childcare center. I placed an announcement in the church bulletin asking for someone who was willing to come to our home to babysit. 

One woman responded who wanted the job but insisted he must come to her house. My husband and I visited her and her children and decided to hire her. With much trepidation, I left our newborn in a stranger’s care. 

God in His graciousness, developed our friendship into one I cherish. Later, I ran across the prayer request I’d written. Thankfulness filled my soul for the abundant way God answered. Our son is now grown and married, and though she and I live in different states, we’re still close.

Pour out your heart to God and tell Him what you need. Ask Him for close relationships and the ability to reach out to others.


Second: Take a risk.

Be willing to make yourself vulnerable and be the first to say hi, send a message, make a phone call, or issue an invitation. Relationships are worth taking a chance. Remember, others need you as much as you need them. 

Theresa and I wouldn’t have become bosom buddies if I hadn’t been willing to respond to her invitations and to open up to her as she did to me. There comes a point when one must trust others enough to get real with them if you want them to reciprocate. 

Third:  Develop a genuine interest in others.

Ask questions, listen, and remember names and details. Intimacy works two ways. Make friends by talking to someone new. Be curious about their life, and keep seeking them out. 

Fourth: Get help if needed.

If you’re genuinely unable to reach out, consider visiting a counselor. Maybe you’re trapped in depression, have a chemical imbalance, or have trauma to work through. Find a recommended professional who can intervene.

Before we adopted our son, I visited a counselor for depression. It was one of the best decisions I could have made. The therapy I received prepared me for opportunities ahead and gave me some tools for dealing with mental health challenges.

God’s message:

I created you for connection with others. Trust Me and reach out. Love others as I have loved you. 

2. I see you.

Hagar, who lived in Bible times, experienced painful mistreatment.  Abused and used by her mistress, Sarah, she was the lowest in society: a slave. Powerless, Hagar fled into the wilderness. While by herself in the desert, feeling desperate, God sent an Angel of the Lord to help her and give her a promising prophecy concerning the child she was carrying. 

Renewed with hope, Scripture tells us, “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me’” (Genesis 16:13).

Aware God was with her and had observed and understood her pain, she returned and submitted to her mistress.

God is always watching. King David, from Old Testament times, expressed this beautifully:

“You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and You lay your hand upon me...Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there...Your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139:2-10). 

God’s message:

You’re never out of My sight. I notice those moments when it seems like you’re invisible and your heart feels neglected. You wonder if anyone discerns your secret pain and struggle. I love you, my child. I’m aware of every thought and hurt. Reach out to Me in faith. Tell Me your troubles and your heart’s desires. Receive My love. You’re never alone. 

3. I understand.

Perceiving our sin would separate us from Him forever, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live and die for us. He then rose from the grave, conquering death forever. He did this by taking the punishment we deserved upon Himself. He became sin for us. While on the cross, He was distanced from the Father and their timeless unity. In agony, Jesus cried out:

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) 


Jesus felt painful isolation beyond our ability to comprehend. He experienced true estrangement from God as He became the object of His wrath. We can be assured then that Christ identifies with us when we feel abandoned.

Jesus’s message:

I can empathize with how you feel. I was rejected so you don’t have to be forsaken. I was abandoned so you could be accepted. Receive my love and you will experience it forever. 

4. Nothing can separate you from my love. I will never leave you.

God keeps His word. One of His sweetest promises is: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). 

Paul expounded on this truth when he wrote, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

God’s message:


Rest in my love my beloved child. No one can take you away from me. You’re never deserted or without hope. 

Remember: You are seen, known, understood, and loved. Ask God to give you the confidence you need to build relationships with others.

If you find yourself in a situation where isolation seems inevitable and impossible to overcome: believe God loves you and can meet your need. He wants to have a loving, personal relationship with you. Talk to Him as you would a friend. If you don’t already do so, speak to God out loud, have a conversation with Him. A friend recently shared it was life changing for her when she began talking to God aloud in her alone times and now, she’s praying all the time! Love and trust Him. He’s always listening.

Believe this truth taught in Scripture, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1).


Originally published at iBelieve.com

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Does Anyone Care?

Image by Zdravko Rajko from Pixabay
When I sit
When I rise
When I sleep
When I wake

You’re there

Every thought
Every word I speak
Every nuance of character
Every heart’s desire

You know

My heart
My soul
My mind
My body

Are held in Your hands
Surrounded by Your love

I can never be separated from You
Because You are everywhere
From the furthest reaches of space
To the lowest depths of the sea
You are there

You always see me
You always care

Psalm 139

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You’re Not Alone

Lord, please comfort those who are brokenhearted. Hold them close. Bring healing to their hearts. Let them know they are not alone. May they lean into You for strength and hope. Thank You that You comfort my heart when I’m in pain. Sustain us Lord and help us look to You. In the name of Jesus our Lord I pray.

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