Tag Archives: God’s love

I Love You

Sunset over the Gulf of MexicoI Love You, by Lydia Floren

“I love you.”  God says these three words to us over and over again, every single day. He did it yesterday, and He’s doing it right now. He’ll keep on doing it, tonight and tomorrow and the day after that.  But just because He is saying “I love you,” doesn’t mean we hear it, or that the meaning of those words sink in.

Our hearts have to be tuned in, to listen for that sweet message.

How God says “I love you”

God’s “I love you” might be a beautiful song, a stunning sunset, the encouraging words of a friend.  He may say “I love you” through a great conversation, a belly laugh,  a good night’s sleep. Or, an “aha” moment when a truth strikes home. Sometimes, He just whispers “I love you” in the stillness of our minds. And if we ask, he will help us to understand just what that means.

This is a little conversation I had with God recently:

“I love you.”

Thank you. But what do You mean when you say “I love you”?  And why does it matter?

I

I am the most powerful being in the universe. I made up love. I define it. I am only good. There’s no evil in me at all. I am patient, kind, faithful, generous–and present. I created you, and everything else in this world, and beyond. I wanted you with me always, and I sacrificed greatly to make this possible. I know everything. I am the only person that will ever completely know, and unreservedly love, you. I see you now, exactly as you are.  

I love you.

Love

I cherish you. I enjoy your company. I want the best for you. I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere. I see exactly what’s going on, and I’m guiding you. I’ve got your back. I’m providing for you. I’m healing your heart from the faulty thinking that has kept you in bondage. And, I’ve already forgiven every wrong thing you have done, and will do, to me. I adopted you. I respect you, and I am protecting you.

I love you.

You 

You are my precious creation. Before you were even born, I chose all the qualities that would make you uniquely yourself. And that hole in your heart? That is an incompleteness that can only be filled by me.  And I am filling that hole.  You belong with me.  You are wanted. You are loved. You are my beloved child.

I love you.  

I

LOVE

YOU.

I LOVE YOU.

I love you with an everlasting love.  Jeremiah 31:3

Blue pansies with the words "I love you"

Lifeline, by Lydia Floren

Lifeline

by Lydia Floren

I have spent a lot of time, over the years, learning how to experience and live in God’s love. I have read books, scoured the scriptures.  I have prayed. And I have written articles and launched a website, and spoken to groups on this topic. And prayed some more.  You would think by now I would be living a life where I experience God’s love all the time, that it would come naturally to me. But, often it doesn’t.  Yes, there are times when I “live in the presence of accepted tenderness”, as Brennan Manning calls it.  In those moments or days, I feel like I am in a speedboat skipping over the waves, grinning from ear to ear.  My heart overflows.

But how quickly my world can shift!  I get caught up in the little things, which somehow morph into big things. Or I get blindsided, suddenly lashed by a severe storm. One minute I am atop the water, the next I am up to my chin in choppy waves, struggling for every breath. My natural reaction, of course, is to flail, to fight with all my strength to keep my head above the current.  In my panic I have lost sight of Jesus’ steady gaze.  I no longer see his strong hand just inches from my own.

My lifeline

In the middle of the tempest God often whispers (and his whisper can be very loud, believe me!)

“Give thanks.”

“What? can’t you see I’m drowning here, Father? There is no time for this.”

“I see exactly what is going on, Child.”

“Give thanks. Now.”

I have learned through hard experience that I had best pay attention to that oh-so-kind voice. To take a gulp of air and give thanks right where I am.  When I do, the whole tempest around me shapeshifts into calm. The storm isn’t gone, of course.  I have just found the calm in its center. So I begin…

Thank you…

Thank you that you are going to make something wonderful out of all of this, and work it all to good. thank you for your goodness. Your care. Your constant presence in my life. thank you that I can trust you to give me strength to do what you are calling me to do. thank you for teaching me not to avoid the fire, but to walk through it under your protection. Thank you that you are not, and never will be, ashamed of me. That you know and have covered, not only my past mistakes, but also the ones I will make in the future. Thank you that you love me more than I can imagine. And thank you that I can trust you to guide me, and protect me. 

Thanksgiving changes everything. It is like opening the valve to a fire hydrant on a hot day.  Or turning on the light in a dark room. Or…or meeting God’s gaze in the middle of the storm, and then clutching on to his hand with all my might.  Terrified one minute, and content the next.

Are you in the middle of a storm? Overwhelmed with mounting bills, a deep hurt, or a scary diagnosis? Or an oppressive sense of failure? Are you fighting for your life?

Maybe it’s time to stop reacting to the problem, and start looking toward Your Lifeline.  To quit flailing.

Take a deep breath.  And then whisper these simple words: “Thank you….”

Once you start, He’ll help you fill in the rest.

Right Now

love God and love others

Right Now

by Lydia Floren

For some time, I have been focusing on learning to receive the love of God. I am convinced that in order to obey what Jesus said was the most important commandment—to love God, and love my neighbor as myself—I must first receive God’s love for me. In fact, I believe it is impossible to obey this command without first being filled up and living as one who is beloved. The question is how. How do I live in the love of God? How do I learn to embrace God’s love for me personally? How do I accept this love every day, and fill up with it? Answers to these questions have been coming to me in pieces rather than all together. Today I have been given another piece:

Have you ever been in a “mood”? A state of mind where nothing is good or right or positive about the world, the people you encounter, God, and especially yourself? I was in such a state this morning, and after lingering there for a while, this thought came to mind:

“I love you right now.”

“Now, God? Now is not a good time to be loving me. I am crabby, having a pity party, mad at the world, frustrated with myself. This is not a good time to be loving me. ”

“Now. Now is the best time to love you.”

He is right, of course, much as I don’t want to acknowledge it. There is no better time for Him to love me and for me to accept His love than right now, because it is as I am. And because now, when I know myself to be a crabby, sorry individual is when I need His love the most. Now is when His love really does the most good, has the most transforming power. But now is also the hardest time to receive His love. I am ugly and I know it. My heart is spewing forth negativity, anger, condemnation, self-righteousness, pride, selfishness, self-loathing.

And yet He calls to me:

“Come on child, climb out of the pit of your pity party—your hopelessness. Receive my transforming love. Let go of your shoulds and oughts for yourself and those around you, and just be loved. I’ve got this. And I’ve got you. You are safe, and you are free. Simply follow me in the next step, and watch me work! “

Now.

I am not hopeless. And I am not helpless. He knows me and loves me just like I am. And He wants me to live in that love.

Now.

I do have a choice. Do I accept His knowing and loving and forgiving? Do I accept His grace? His embrace? When I do, I am letting go of the lie that I can live in joy without Him. Or that I would want to. I choose to believe He is safe. His love is there always, even (and especially) when I am at my worst.

Even now.

He loved me first.

He loves me now.

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

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 NAS)

Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8a NAS)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

Patience

Perfectionists are  a restless lot. As a perfectionist-in-recovery, I am no expert on patience.  Impatience?   Now that is something I know well.

Much of my life I have lived in the world of impatience.  I am impatient for a project to be done, for people to hurry up and catch up, for the house to be perfect, my kids to be perfect, my husband to be perfect., and– most of all– for ME to be perfect.

Every perfectionist is really hard on themselves, and I am no exception.  I try-I really do-to correct all my imperfections, to achieve the elusive status of “perfect,” for once in my life.  (I wonder what that might feel like?)  Occasionally I get close, and have the momentary sense of satisfaction before the all-too-familiar restlessness returns.

I am learning that perfection is such a hopeless goal, and it is so unnecessary:.  The truth is, I am already perfect.  God through Christ has made me that way.  My  job is to claim perfection for myself, not to create “perfection” in myself.

Patience grows in the soil of contentment, watered by thanksgiving. From belovedlove.org

Patience takes root when I quit focusing on self-improvement.  In fact, it really flourishes when I quit focusing on myself altogether, and

  • I give thanks for God – His character, wisdom, kindness, honesty, integrity, and
  • I give thanks to God, for His enormous love for me and every other person on the planet.

Patience thrives when I am thankful to God for His infinite patience with me, and for teaching me – slowly and surely – to be patient with myself.

Patience grows in the soil of contentment, watered by thanksgiving.  And as I turn my face toward the warmth  of God’s Love, that patience blossoms with Joy.

The Father’s Love Letter

The Father’s Love Letterthe father's love letterI am sharing something different today.  It is a powerful and personal message of God’s love called The Father’s Love Letter written by Barry Adams.  The Father’s Love Letter started outas a simple sermon illustration, but has reached many lives in the past 15 years.  It  has been translated into over 100 languages.  (Check out their website  FathersLoveLetter.com to learn more.)

Hope this blesses you as much as it continues to bless me!

-Lydia Floren

The Father’s Love Letter

My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.

Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways.
Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image.
Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring.
Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived.
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation.
Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.

Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.

Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born.
Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented
by those who don’t know me.

John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.

1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.

1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father.
Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.

Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you.
Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul.

Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me.

Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires.
Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine.

Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you.

Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart.

Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes.

Revelation 21:3-4

And I’ll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.

Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.

John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being.
Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you.

Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you.

1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love.

Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me.

1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.

Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.

Luke 15:7

I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.

Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…
Will you be my child?

John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you.
Luke 15:11-32


Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

Father’s Love Letter used by permission
Father Heart Communications ©1999 FathersLoveLetter.com

Share with Us:  How have you experienced God’s love recently?

Our Deepest Need

Our Deepest Needby Lydia Floren

“Christ is wisdom and He is our deepest need. Our inner restlessness can only be pacified by the revelation of His eternal friendship and love for us.”
–Margaret Bottome (as quoted in Streams in the Desert, 8/26/15)

I need you, Father,

  • to tame my wandering mind
  • to still my soul
  • to focus me on what is important
  • to fill me up with Your love, and to show me how to live as one who is beloved
  • to banish my nagging sense of being “never-enough”
  • to teach me to truly love myself, love You, and love others
  • to complete me–to fill in all the holes and gaps, and make me whole.  Again and again.

Thank you for Your unwavering love for me, for each of us.

Our deepest need is You.
Our deepest need is met by You.  In You.  With You.  Without fail.

Christ is wisdom

God is Good Company ( God’s Company Part 1)

God is good Company by Lydia Floren

One of the greatest things God has given me is the gift of His company.

Now, don’t get me wrong. When I say “company”, I don’t mean God’s business, World Incorporated, LLC.  OK, yes, I might –might– have some control issues, but even I am not foolish enough to think that God would put me in charge of His whole international operation.

When I say “the gift of God’s company”, I’m talking about His presence.  God, because of Christ’s sacrifice, gives everyone personal access to Him:  the privilege of spending time in His company.  And, His spirit actually lives within every person that chooses to become His child.

God’s spirit is actually with me, but also within me.  Amazing.

God loves each of us without any conditions at all.  Nothing will ever change that reality.

When I spend time with God, I feel like I am in the presence of a dear friend, or a loving parent.  He knows my good parts and my ugly ones, and loves me right where I am.  I don’t have to prove anything to Him, or to anyone.  I am 100% safe.

When I am around someone who loves me and enjoys my company, I relax.  I don’t feel the need to prove myself, or to protect myself from their judgment.  I can be silly.  Creative.  Quiet.  Contemplative.  I tend to laugh more.  And to worry less.  It lifts my spirits, and it encourages me.

In God’s company, I can be utterly and completely myself.

Time with God

All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided

AllIHaveNeeded

by Lydia Floren

Can we really count on God to meet all of our needs?

YES.

Really?   How can we know this?

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. 

                Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.

Thomas Chisholm wrote these words, and sang them with confidence because he made a habit of remembering.  He chose over and over again to recall all the times that God had provided for him.

When doubts creep in, make a habit of remembering.   Choose–and then continue to choose– to bring to mind God’s past faithfulness in your life, and in the lives of others.   And then choose to thank God for His consistent loving care.

The longer we follow God, the louder we sing

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. Psalm 37:25

thelongerwefollow

Related Posts: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Recent Series: NOMB Part I, NOMB Part II, NOMB Part III

 

 

 

No Shadow of Turning

noshadow

by Lydia Floren

It is so easy to doubt God in a crisis.

Is God really going to provide?

Is He really going to take care of my current situation?  Or is it all up to me? 

In his song “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” Thomas Chisholm answers these questions with a remarkable image:

Great is your faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee.

There is no shadow of turning with Thee. 

What is a “shadow of turning?” When you are walking in the sunshine, you have a shadow.  Every little motion you make is reflected by your shadow.  Any time you turn a little to the right or left, your shadow also turns.  And if, as you are going along, you notice that your shadow has changed, you can be sure that your direction has also shifted.

When Thomas Chisholm says “there is no shadow of turning with Thee” he is pointing out God’s consistency.  God is steadily walking toward the light, toward Truth, and He invites us to follow.  As we do, we are, naturally, in His shadow.  If God were to get off course—to turn to the right or left—we would no longer be directly in His shadow.  The shadow would have turned.

In whatever crisis we face, we can count on God.  He will lead.  He will provide.  He will see us through.  100% of the time.  There is no shift—not even a slight one– in God’s faithfulness to us.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.   James 1:17 NIV

ThomasChisholm

Related Posts: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Recent Series: NOMB Part I, NOMB Part II, NOMB Part III

 

 

 

NOMB Part II: Curbing The Impulse To Fix Others

 

NOMB curb others-recby Lydia Floren

NOMB (None Of My Business) Part II: Curbing The Impulse To Fix Others

When I see someone else’s struggle and “feel their pain”, I want so much to make it better. WHAT’s a person to DO? Here are a few tips:

#1 Face yourself:

  • Check your motives. Be honest with yourself about why you want to make it right. Your urge to fix is probably not as altruistic as it seems. Our motives are often mixed: sure we want to help, but we may also want to avoid the discomfort of watching others suffer or the annoyance of their “imperfection.”
  • Accept your limits in understanding and skill, and the specific ways God has asked you to serve in this world.

#2 Remind yourself of truth:

  • Pain is important. We are programmed to avoid pain at any cost, but experiencing pain is necessary; the stove’s heat or the wind’s cold prompt us to practical action. Leprosy is a malady where the nerves that detect pain are destroyed. Much of the disfigurement of leprosy comes because of the lack of feeling, not from the disease itself: a burn goes undetected, or an infection untreated, which leads to irrevocable tissue damage. Pain notifies us of danger or a need to change, even if that is just taking better care of ourselves.
  • Suffering is a part of life on earth. “In the world,” Jesus said, “you will have tribulation. But take courage: I have overcome the world.” He understands that we will have suffering—He experienced it himself many times. But he also knows that accepting hardship is not admitting defeat: far from it. God works all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
  • God uses all the pain in our lives, and sometimes He allows us to suffer for a reason. If He does so, He can be trusted: He has a good purpose in it, either for us or for someone else.
  • Your fixing can actually do more harm than good. What you think is helpful for someone else can often be downright harmful; how could you possibly know?

#3 Pray:

  • Thank God that
    He is at work in this situation, and good will come of it.
    His love for you and your loved ones is much greater than your own.
    His ideas, His strategy, His perspective, His understanding are far beyond you’re own.
    He will let you know if He wants you to do something in this situation.
    He will give you the self-control to resist the urge to step in where you don’t belong, and        the courage to step forward when He leads you to act.
  • Talk to God about the specifics. He already knows what is going on, but also knows that you need the listening ear of a loved one to hear your concerns. (It really helps. Trust me.)
  • Ask God what He wants you to do or not do.
  • Listen for His answers.

#4 Act: There are many ways God MAY ask you to help. You might be led to do one or a combination of the following:

  • Intercede. Often when I see difficulties in another’s life, I feel like God’s primary request is for me is to pray for that person. This is not a last resort. It is actually the most powerful action I can take because prayers invite the power of God’s spirit into the situation. Perfect power and perfect love, working on the problem! Who doesn’t want that?
  • Encourage. The most important thing a person can do–outside of praying–for someone in difficulty is to encourage them. Encouragement can be as simple as a smile, a hug, a note, or a shared laugh. It is easy to encourage via phone, text, Facebook, or email. A moment of thoughtfulness can make a world of difference in someone’s day, especially when they are going through a hard time.
  • Listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth, right? Listening is a powerful encouragement. Giving someone a safe place to articulate a problem or vent emotion is actually therapeutic. I have seen this over and over in the practice of medicine.
  • Serve. Practical acts of service, such as a gift, a visit, a meal, an offer to babysit are “cups of cold water” given in Jesus’ name. They help lighten another’s load in the most literal sense.

“It’s God’s problem. He should worry”
To be honest, it is a relief to acknowledge my limits, and accept my inability to fix others. When I do, I find I worry less. I pray more. My focus centers on God’s sufficiency rather than specific problems. And I am more likely to pay attention when God leads me to how and when I should act, or if it is best for me just to concentrate on prayer.

At most I might be a small part of a solution to someone’s problem. I am certainly not meant to be The Solution. Only God can be that; when I try, I just get in the way.

Accepting my limits frees me to do what God has already asked me to do—what we are all called to do in this world: love people. This love may take the form of prayer, encouragement, listening, and/or serving.

It’s our job to love folks. It’s God’s job to fix them.

Recent Series: NOMB Part I: Letting God Be The Fixer; Patience