Five Ways God’s Love Changes You Part 2

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5 more ways God's love seeps into our hearts and transforms us.

 

I struggle with many things:

caring too much about what people think of me

second-guessing my decisions

accepting God’s plan for my life

focusing too much on material things of life

spending way too much time at my computer

Maybe you can relate.

This world is full of conflicts between pleasing God and pleasing others. Our life is characterized by clashes between our spiritual side and the part that simply must type the memo, get dinner on the table, and generally survive in the world.

I have found one simple act that helps me win the battle:

Basking in God’s love.

As I said in a previous post, basking in God’s love during a particularly stressful season kept my heart at peace. Simply stopping for a few minutes to contemplate my Father’s unfailing love for me helped me win the battle against doubt and anxiety.

A look in God’s Word confirms: God’s love transforms me.

Here are 5 more ways God’s love changes you and me:

God’s love enables us to stay on His path. “For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness” (Psalm 26:3). When I am mindful of God’s never-ending love for me, I am much more confident that God’s path is the best one. I don’t walk in my qualifications or in my competence. I walk in His faithfulness.

God’s love gives us the confidence to pray. Psalm 69:13 says: “But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.” Because we know God as a caring Father, we can come to Him as His much-loved children. His unfailing love gives us the courage to come with our debilitating failures, our overwhelming dilemmas, and even our pesky problems.

God’s love motivates us to obey. Psalm 106:7 tells us the reason for the Israelites’ rebellion: “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.” After all God had done for them, how could they forget His love? Yet I often do the same. But when I do bask in the abundance of God’s love, my rebellious spirit is tamed. I’m drawn to follow Love.

God’s love in our hearts enables us to please God. “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 147:11). Just like any loving dad, what pleases our Abba Father most is for His children to curl up in His caring arms–to put their hope not in their own cleverness or ambition, but in His love for them.

God’s love helps us to love others. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). We are to love others as Christ loved us. That little word as can have a couple of different meanings. It can mean, “Just like I have loved you, I want you to love other people” or “Since I have loved you, you are to love one another.” Loving others in the same way Jesus loved us is a difficult task. It’s made a little easier because God has filled our hearts with His love.

So take a minute right now and bask in God’s love. Meditate on Christ’s sacrifice. Repeat the words of God’s affection from Scripture.

Allow His words of love to seep into your heart and change you.

(Find the first 5 ways God love changes us here)

Finding Focus — in Lent

Lent is a time for soul transformation. As we remember Christ's love and sacrifice He changes us.

I’m on a quest to find more focus in my life. To zero in on the important and to ignore the rest.

To help me in this quest I am going to observe the holy Lenten season. Lent is the period of forty days leading up to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count.) It is a period of focusing on Christ and His enormous sacrifice and boundless love for us. During this time we can abandon the frivolous and concentrate on the eternal. It can be a season of transformation as we pull our chair closer to hear God’s words to us.

Three tools I am going to use to concentrate on the spiritual during this time are:

Fasting. The whole idea of forty days of Lent may have been inspired by Jesus’ forty-day fast before He began His earthly ministry. But please don’t try this at home. Fasting as a spiritual discipline can have life-changing effects, but forty days is extreme. Try fasting one day a week during this season of Lent. Or give up a favorite food or activity for forty days. In the past I have abstained from chocolate, ice cream, TV watching and shopping. When I do this kind of focused fast I am reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice every time I deny myself a simple pleasure.

Bible study. Lean in to hear God speak by spending more time in His Word during the next forty days. There are many ways to do this. My Bible studies Soul SpaDivine Design and Bless These Lips are designed to be completed in 40 days. This year I am leading a journey through practicing Spiritual Disciplines. My daughter and her husband have written a family Lenten devotional. Author Margaret Feinberg is inviting people to join her in reading the book of John this Lent.

I have been praying about how God would like me to spend time in His Word these 40 days. Continuing with my 2015 theme of focus, I have decided to concentrate on one book of the Bible. Philippians seems the perfect book as it talks about Christ’s sacrifice and becoming more like Him. I am going to prayerfully read this book every day of Lent asking God to change me through His Word.

Focus on Christ. Fasting and Bible study can become merely rituals of Lent. If we’re not concentrating on Christ, they are only outward habits that will not transform our souls. But if I recall Jesus’ sacrifice when I turn down that piece of three-layer chocolate cake, my heart can be content with God’s presence. If I listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice as I read the Word, He can satisfy my soul.

Jesus is ready to bless you with joy, love, and transforming grace. Receive His blessings. Look for Him in the ordinary moments of this Lenten season. Hear His voice speak His care for you in His Word.

Psalm 278

Question: How will you observe the Lenten season?