It’s been several months since I last posted. Life’s been crazy busy but fruitful, exciting and fulfilling yet at the same time exhausting. And to be real, sitting down to take time to write has not been at the top of my list. However, God has been persistent in filling my mind, heart and journal with themes He wants to express through me. One such theme is “Loving Well.”
A very dear friend of mine was asked to direct a very large number of women for a Tres Dias event several months ago. As the team gathered at meetings to prepare for this incredible Jesus encounter, the Holy Spirit pressed upon my friend different themes to be focused on at each of the four meetings. At the last one, I was asked to speak on “Loving Well.”
If you go to your local bookstore, you can find lots of books on how to love yourself, your spouse, your children, your job, community and just about anything. Scriptures came to my mind like: “Love one another…” (John 13:34 & John 15:12) and “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might…” (Deut. 6:5). But, I sensed the Lord was directing me to something more than what came easily to my mind.
When I asked Him what message He wanted me to share, He immediately whispered, “Love Me well.” I asked, “How do I love You well?” And God said “through obedience.”
Now that word “obedience” may make you a little uncomfortable…especially if you are afraid of asking Him what He may want you to do.
– Perhaps you’re not sure if you really trust God completely because of past hurts you may have experienced.
– Perhaps dreams you’ve believed God gave you, have been put on hold and you can’t understand why He would give you them, and then ask you to lay them down.
– Perhaps you fear what others may think or say.
– Perhaps you don’t want to sacrifice your “comfort” and want to hold on to the assumption…since God loves you beyond measure, He’ll be ok with your “good enough”.
1 Samuel 15:22 says, “‘But Samuel replied, ‘What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to His voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice…’”
Deuteronomy 30:10,11 says, “The Lord your God will delight in you if you obey His voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.”
God is not talking about striving or works to attain what grace has already given us. He’s talking about loving Him well!
He instructs us in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
And in John 21:15-19 we see Jesus teaching and challenging His disciples: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love You.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love You.” [Jesus] said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because Jesus asked him 3 times, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” You see, Jesus was teaching them that if they love Him, “do” something! It is an action of obedience to God.
In His charge to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2, Jesus says, 4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love Me or each other as you did at first! 5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to Me and do the works you did at first.”
I don’t remember when I first started this practice, but on every Tres Dias weekend I serve, during a particularly sobering chapel, I ask Jesus either, “What do You want me to do next?” or “What do You want me to surrender today?” Then I pray for His courage to do it without delay.
Abraham waited a lifetime for his promise for a son…only to have God tell him to sacrifice Isaac. And what did Abraham do? He got up EARLY the next day to obey the One He loved…more than His child. He didn’t sleep in…didn’t drag his feet…didn’t try to barter with God…he simply obeyed and trusted Him.
I love the story of the Parable of the Three Servants in Matthew 25:14-30. “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man about to go on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey…” The servants were given different amounts, “each according to his own ability.” They were given something because they had the capability to use it. We know God’s character is faithfulness. And He wants those who say they love Him, to be faithful too. So, whether we’re in charge of little or much, faithfulness is vital.
We know Scripture shows that God rewards faithfulness. What I didn’t realize until I was open to understand and receive it, was that God also judges unfaithfulness:
“…And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents…’”
“…To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
So, the one who started with the most is the one who was found the most faithful. His responsibility was greater, and rewarded accordingly. Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.”
Have you noticed in the news and all over the social media, countless examples of those who appear to have the greatest opportunities in life end up being the ones who squander them the most? There will be a day when they will be held accountable, for they must answer for their unfaithfulness.
Scripture teaches this in Ecclesiastes 11:9 – “But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do.”
I love the insight Bill Johnson has contrasting the faithful and unfaithful servants in his book “Face to Face with God”:
[In the same measure that faithfulness is rewarded, unfaithfulness is judged because God judges everything that opposes love. How did the lazy servant oppose love? Consider the master’s rebuke to him.
He didn’t correct the servant’s view of Him as a hard man reaping where He didn’t sow; He rebuked him for his wrong response to that view. Instead of being inspired by a holy fear of the master, which would have given him a correct sense of the weight of the trust that was put on him, he looked at the task and said, “Too hard.” He ignored his responsibility, dishonoring his master by essentially telling Him that His expectations were much too high.
The faithful servants didn’t make excuses. They took what they were given and simply used it. Although they too knew their master to be a hard man, they also thought Him trustworthy and desired to please Him. Their love for Him was demonstrated in actions that revealed their deep reverence and respect for His authority and that it was a privilege to represent Him.
Faithful servants don’t get hung up over how they’re going to fulfill the Master’s command before they’ve even tried or even after they’ve tried a few times and been unsuccessful. They trust the Master. If He said it, then apparently He thinks they’re up to the task—if they use the talents He’s given them. They see that being given the opportunity to represent Him in all His power and glory is the greatest privilege they could ever receive.
Unfaithful servants look at the commands to do the impossible and question the goodness and wisdom of the Master. Instead of pursuing Him to find a way to fulfill His commands, they put them out of sight and go about their business.]
So…how could we love God well?
– Choose to seek Him first in ALL decisions…big or small…not what we determine warrants His time or what we determine is BIG enough
– Choose to surrender our ways for His ways
– Choose to trust Him
– Choose to believe His character is faithfulness
– Choose to believe our best interest is always at hand
– Choose not to make excuses or compromise
– Choose to do God’s will…His way and not our way
– Choose to wait on Him and His perfect timing (Ecclesiastes 3:1 – “Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.”)
– Choose to serve our God as the Audience of One and not be yoked to fear of man or fear of man’s approval.
– Choose to abandon our self to Him and answer “Anything Lord. ANYTHING!”
I don’t know where your relationship is with God our Father. Elohiym (God, Judge, Creator). Adonai (Lord, Master). Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah). Yahweh Shalom (Lord of Peace). Jehovah Jireh (Lord, Provider). Jehovah Rapha (Lord, Healer). El Elyon (The Most High God).
One thing is certain. God doesn’t want what’s good for you. He wants what’s best for you.
So choose to love Him well…through obedience.