14-Lavish-Love

Heavenly Father,

This past weekend, everyone celebrated a major birthday with me; the start of another decade. I kind of wanted it to go by unnoticed. I truly enjoy making others feel special but when the spotlight is on me, I have to push past my own awkwardness to simply enjoy what is being lavished upon me. My husband wanted to make it a memorable weekend so he planned it big! (And You, Lord, planned it even bigger!) If it had just been what my husband did, I would have been more blessed than I could ever imagine…but it seemed like love was lavished on me by almost every person who has ever known me- from my children and family members, Bible study, co-workers, neighbor, to old high school friends who I haven’t seen in ages. At my family birthday party, we played a 20 question game to see how much they knew about me. It caused me to take a look back over my ever-lengthening life and realize how You have lavished love upon me all along!

Lord, I’m always thinking of ways I can tell You or show You how much I love You…but You always out do me!! When I see a sunset, I want my thanks to be straight from my heart for what You share with me…but the glory of that sunset is far more glorious than any painting I could ever make for You! When I worship You with praise songs, I want to sing to You with all my heart…but then I read in the Bible that You sing songs over me! When I try to write of my love for You…every syllable seems so inadequate…and then I read Your word which is alive and speaks to my very soul in ways I can barely describe. You said if we love You, we should feed Your sheep, so I purposely share Your word in a way that will nourish others…but I get fed far more in the process! When I try to share a drink with someone who is thirsty, or clothe someone who needs it like I am doing it for Jesus…You end up blessing me far beyond those tiny actions. When I try to give myself sacrificially to show You my love…I am given newness of life overflowing to the point I can barely stand it!

No matter how much I love You or in what way I try to demonstrate my love for You…You always love me more! Thanks for all the ways You lavish love upon me, Father, through my husband, family, friends, strangers, nature, Your word…and the ultimate crazy lavishness of Jesus’ life laid down for me when I was a sinner. I am so loved, I don’t think I can stand it…and then You love me more! It’s a good thing I don’t have that many decades left. I don’t think I can hold any more love from You than right now! Oh, yeah! But then there’s eternity!!!! Good thing I will have a new body that can hold even more lavish love!

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“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”     1John 3:1

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for Your lavish love! Help me love You by…

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Heavenly Father,

My nurse daughter’s favorite cure for anything is a bath! If one of her kids (or even one of her critical care patients) gets a sniffle or a full-blown fever, her prescription is always a bath. I’ve had two short “bugs” in a row, first the upper respiratory crud going around, then before being fully recovered- a bout with a stomach virus. I’m not complaining because I have been incredibly healthy all my life (which I am most grateful for, Lord!) Yet having just stepped out of a shower, I feel like a new person! It seems all the germs and sickness have been washed away.  I feel refreshed and renewed. Though I didn’t think I had enough energy to even get in the shower, I came out ready to do almost anything…because I’m clean!

That’s just physical cleanliness…it’s even more powerful to be cleansed with the power of Jesus Christ! I see it happen before my eyes all the time. I am honored to work with a group of beautiful young women who feel incredibly dirty from years of substance abuse. Not only do they feel filthy from the stench of drugs, but from all the experiences that go with it, and from the things which cause them to start using in the first place. One young woman had been using drugs since she was 8 years old when her mom started giving her heroin to calm her down. She hadn’t known any other life. She never believed there was ever any other way to live except dirty. After several months of sobriety, she kept saying she was really enjoying learning to be clean. Yet it wasn’t just from being free from drugs; it was from living a life with Jesus.

Nothing else cleanses us like Jesus’ holy blood shed for us. You love us so much; You knew we could never be clean without Him. That’s why You sent Him to be born, to live, to die and be resurrected so we could have eternal life and cleanliness. We can never wash away our own sickness of sin. That’s why You prescribed Jesus’ holy blood for us to wash away our filthiness in. We may not all be coming from a life of heroin abuse; but we all have sin. We all need a bath. Father, when my sins are washed away by Jesus, I can do anything! I am fresh and renewed! Jesus not only cleanses me but lives in me! Nothing can be cleaner than from the inside out!

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“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…wash me and I will be whiter than snow…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me….Restore me to the joy of Your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.”   Palm 51:2,7b,10,12 

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”   Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:25-26 

“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.”   Acts 22:16

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I want to be really clean. Wash me in the blood of Jesus for forgiveness for…

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Heavenly Father,

My sweet 5th grade granddaughter and I have developed a competition. When I drop her off at her house, we both try to be the last one to say “I love you more!” She tries to yell it quickly as she closes the door before I can get another word out. I’m sure we’re not the only ones who try to prove our love this way. I think I came up with a line she can never top… “I loved you first!” I pulled the grandma card. I settled the issue with the fact that I loved her before she was born …while she was still in her momma’s womb…before she knew who I was. BAM! There is no way she can top that! She still tries! And I love that she does.

Lord, I struggle often with how to express my love for You. I want so much to voice the ever-growing love and awe I have for You. No matter what words or actions I can ever come up with, Your love is always more. It always has been, is now, and forever will be. You loved me first. You created me. You breathed life and love into me. You sustain me. You are my life. You loved me way back when You sent Jesus to be born, live, die and be resurrected- so I could live with You forever. Your love is eternal with no beginning or end. There is no way to measure it and certainly no way to out-give it. Yet I never want to quit trying.

My love for You grows every day… because I can experience more of Your love as it expands my heart to make room for more…And the more I share it, my soul holds even more. Someday, my body won’t be able to contain it and I will burst out of this earthly shell to make room for an even greater measure! You loved me first. Yet through all eternity, I will be growing to love You more!

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“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:10-12

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, help me express my love for You by…

 

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Heavenly Father,

My granddaughter is learning to do tricks on a balance beam along with a whole menagerie of spectacular flips and bends. Hours are spent in practice to keep her focus intent so her balance and skill improve. She did not inherit even a tiny bit of her athletic balancing skill from me. I seem to have a knack for tripping very ungracefully. Yet as clumsy as I am, I can testify it also takes practice to train our spiritual eyes on You, Lord. When I fix my heart, mind and soul on You, I can do amazing things far beyond my own capabilities.

There are times I know I am “walking on water” so to so speak (like Peter did when he crawled over the side of the boat and walked out on the lake to Jesus). When I find myself truly focused on You, Lord, I can glide above the most turbulent waves unruffled and do what seems impossible. I know it’s  because I have my eyes glued to You. I’m walking (perhaps even soaring) towards You and nothing can stop me…until I take my eyes off You. It only takes a second to shift my gaze from You to what seems total chaos around me. I suddenly realize there is no possible way for me to be doing what I’m doing. There is danger all around. There are voices of fear and mockery telling me I can’t walk above crashing waves of finances, health, future plans, the world situation, looming disasters…When I look at the circumstances, my mind sees there is nothing to hold me up and I cry out “Help me, Jesus!”

You pick me back up, set me back on my feet, and remind me to keep looking at You. I watch my gymnast granddaughter fall and get back up and keep practicing until she perfects her focus. Father, I may not be able to do gymnastics, but I can tell my spiritual focus is improving. The fears and loud crashing waves of the world don’t disturb or distract me so easily—at least as long as I keep my focus on You. Father, keep training me to look at You all the time.

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During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them , walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to You on the water.’ ‘Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:25-31

 

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart might be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you; the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”   Ephesians 1:18-21