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Embracing the Love of God

Footpath near trees in Ihlara valley in Cappadocia,embracing-the-love-of-god-400x400

Get to Know God

Webster’s dictionary defines love as “affection; kind feeling; friendship; strong liking or desire; fondness; good will.” It also says love is “due gratitude and reverence…” Love means “to regard with passionate and devoted affection”; also “to take delight or pleasure in; to have a strong liking or desire for, or interest in; to be pleased with; to like.”

When we become mindful of our affection for God and God’s affection for us, we can get a better perspective on our fears.

When we are so busy thanking God for what He has given us, we become less afraid of losing a job or a loved one or our material goods. When we delight in knowing God is present in our life, we can become so bright and pleasant that we attract more good people and good experiences to us.

I was marveling at a row of beautiful trees one day in a park. Just staring at the trees, God gave me understanding about the beauty of His creation. He gave me a greater appreciation for our uniqueness, too. I noticed that the oak tree and the willow seemed to get along peacefully. The willow wasn’t bent over, trying to make the oak more like it. And the oak wasn’t tussling with the willow to bring it into submission. They stood tall in their own space, doing what God designed trees to do – clean the air and give shade. I thanked God for my walk in the park that day, and thanked Him for bringing my attention to one of the many lessons He has planted all around us. I was reminded of what the Bible tells us in Matthew 6:30–34:

Wherefore, if God so clothes the grass of the field . . . shall He not much more clothe you? Therefore take no thought of what you will eat or drink. . . . Your heavenly father knows that you need these things… But put God first and all these things will be given to you.

God wants us to have a relationship with Him first – and in our heart of hearts, we want a relationship with Him, too. We yearn to be connected to something. In our mother’s womb we were connected. During our formative years we relied on someone bigger than us to feed us, buy us clothes, and provide for all our basic needs. We have an innate desire to feel connected. I believe God wants us to acknowledge our connection to Him. He wants us to be mindfully connected to Him first and foremost.

We connect to God by spending time reading His Holy Scriptures. We connect by praying, telling Him what’s in our heart and on our mind. We connect by meditating, listening, expecting to hear His guidance for our lives. We connect to God when we acknowledge His presence, when fellowshipping and giving praise at church. We commune with God when we appreciate His wonders in nature, too.

We get to know God on a more intimate level by spending time with Him. God wants us to spend time with Him, but He doesn’t want us to think of it as an obligation. He wants us to delight in our time with Him.

Even if we don’t feel like spending time with Him, we can ask Him to help us by giving us the desire to spend time with Him. By His grace, He will give us the desire to spend time with Him. So many people grew up feeling obligated to go to church, and as soon as they were out on their own they wanted nothing more to do with church. Church for them had become a religious chore, a Sunday sacrifice of sorts. But they believed if they didn’t go to church every Sunday – and to Bible study and choir rehearsal during the week – surely they would go to hell when they died. God wants our church experience, our fellowship with other believers, our collective worship to be delightful. I encourage people to find the church that’s right for them. Ask God to guide you.

Once we yield ourselves to God, He leads us into His power, ability, and strength. Being in tune with God will allow us to experience His love in small gestures and grand experiences. Remember the singing group the Spinners? They gave us the R & B hit “Mighty Love.” Keep on loving. You’ll soon discover, a mighty love. They sang it with so much soul.

I believe God’s love is the mightiest love.

And when we understand how God expresses His love, we can recognize His love in our life. Knowing what to look for, we will discover love in the relationships we have with the people in our life.

God’s Love Is Graceful

One young woman I work with in our church told me how her understanding of God’s love delivered her from feeling unwanted. Kate lost both of her parents at a young age. Growing up an orphan, she felt unwanted. But as a young woman she began reading her Bible.

She gained hope through stories about others who had experienced a change in fortune. She read about Esther, who had also been orphaned. Esther was raised by her uncle. She, too, must have felt abandoned at times. She, too, must have wondered why God took both of her parents. Esther must have cried many nights wondering what would become of her. But when Esther was a young woman, she was introduced to a king. The king fell in love with her and made her his queen.

Esther did not have the same pedigree as the other women presented to the king. She did not have the impressive dowry some of the other women likely had. She did not have the confidence of a young woman raised by loving, doting parents. But the king chose her. The Bible tells us,

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace… will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:10

God’s grace is what gives us unmerited favor. The dictionary defines grace as “divine love bestowed freely on people.” As we get in a relationship with God, we can expect to experience His grace in our life. We may not all marry a king, but we will learn to appreciate the kinglike qualities of the people already in our life.

“God told me to ‘abide in Him,’ ” Kate said. “When I looked to others for my fulfillment, I began to lose my true identity as a Christian. There were times when I felt that absolutely no one loved or cared for me, but He has shown me His amazing love. Through His grace, He has shown me how to be the best ‘me’ I can be. Even though people may not always accept me, I know that I’m accepted in Him. I am not easily offended anymore. I simply see people through the eyes of grace. I don’t hold anything against anyone anymore.”

As Kate became less bitter, she became friendlier, offering God’s grace to others through a friendly smile.

Like Kate, I too had to overcome some insecurities. I did not have the traditional formal training in theology, but God was calling me to minister and co-pastor our expanding church. I was terrified about getting up and speaking. But I had to trust that if God called me to do it, He would give me whatever I needed to fulfill this calling. Finally, I had to realize that God already had equipped and empowered me to speak the truths He assigned for me to speak.

I love Marvin Sapp’s song “The Best in Me.” It reminds me that God sees my intentions even when others are focused only on outcomes and are measuring me by their own standards of success.

When I set my intentions to speak God’s Holy Word, I had to decide I would speak it wherever God sent me to speak.

I would speak it in our churches in Atlanta and New York. I would speak it in communities across the country and around the globe. I decided I would speak to large crowds of thousands gathered at women’s conferences or to the few hundred people who show up at our church on Friday morning for a workshop. I want to encourage you to believe that God sees the best in you. God sees your intentions, your efforts. God sees your beauty, your talent. God sees your resilience and fortitude. If you don’t have a parent, someone in your extended family, or a lifelong friend who has always seen the best in you, be still and know that God sees the best in you.

Watch the video on Embracing the Love God Wants You to Have:

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Your Turn

Do you have insecurities that need to be overcome? Have you fully received the love of God? Do you believe that He sees the best in you? Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear your thoughts about the love of God!