Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ups n' Downs

Life.

It's full of ups and downs, don't you agree? One moment you're on a mountain top, and you feel you can see the whole world and everything in it. And then the next moment, you find yourself in a valley covered with clouds and darkness and you can barely see your hand in front of your face.

But are we supposed to feel right all the time? That's a question that gets me. I want to feel right all the time! I want to feel as if everything is fun and enjoyable. But to be honest, it's not. There are dreary, dull things that each of us are called to do each day... and if you're anything like me, you might struggle with finding it pointless or boring...

Let me just be real with you. I just came off of an emotional high last week. I was on a retreat with a bunch of girls seeking God... and boy did He work! He showed up in ways I'd never seen Him before.

But then the moment I stepped off the plane on my way home, it was back to real life. My bank account needed some attention, my jobs as well as my chores at home seemed to call out to me and say, "hey, Sandie, where have you been?"

Things that I've allowed myself to slack on because I just wasn't here seemed to be backing me into a corner and smearing all over me, "FAILURE".

Even ministry responsibilities were up to my neck and I felt as though they themselves were standing over me saying, "you can't do this, so you shouldn't. You'll never do good enough at these things... There really is no hope for you."

So the spiritual high became not so high...

Let me tell you, writing this is more for me at this moment than it is for anyone else.

This morning I was reading in the Psalms, glossing through them because I'd read them many times before. I was getting ready to close that book and go on to Matthew and pick up where I'd left off when God stopped me. Go back and write down those verses you read that stuck out... He seemed to whisper.

For some reason, I went back to Psalm 62 first and wrote down just one verse:
"I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken." (verse 1)
 Three phrases jumped out at me while I wrote.

Wait Quietly -It speaks of unquestioning hope, silent expectation. I expect something from God, so I wait before Him, looking to Him, knowing He will give it. It's not up to me to have victory, it's up to Him.

He Alone -There's nobody else. He's the only One. I have no other options, no "plan B". Nobody else can protect or save me. I'm utterly dependent on Him and Him alone.

Never Shaken -He doesn't waiver, so why should I? In Him nothing can shake me. The more in Him I am the less of a threat to me everything else becomes. My joy and peace are not dependent on life's many ups and downs, it's dependent on Him and He never is shaken, so I don't need to be shaken either!

How hidden in Christ are you, dear Christian? Do you know that your life is already hid in Christ? (Col 3) But, is your heart there too? Are you waiting quietly before Him in every circumstance? Is your confidence in Him and Him alone?

Those were the questions I had to ask myself this morning... Placing my trust in Him is a day to day choice that I must make... Never is there a moment when I should take the day off from being with Him...

Life is completely unpredictable, wouldn't you agree? I make plans in the morning, but most of the time, my day doesn't go anything like I planned. Life throws angry blows at me all the time! One moment I feel loved, then the next it feels like the whole world is against me. Nothing is predictable.

There is only One we can be confident will never do anything to harm us. He is stable, kind, gentle. When He brings changes into our lives, we can accept them because they are from His hand, and He never forces us to do anything. His love for us is very great! How can we doubt Him? He's not the kind of God that demands service from us always. No, He wants us to sit at His feet and take in His beauty, trade our burdens for His peace, trade our pain and sorrow for His joy! He wants us to look to Him, quietly enjoying everything that He is to us.

Assure yourself of this one thing, dear Christian: He LOVES you! In Him, you cannot be shaken. Do you believe that? He asks you to. Why not take Him at His word?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Here's the secret...

Today I'd like to share with you a secret. It's a secret that I know could change your life if you let it...

I happened to be reading in Revelation on this one particular morning. It's a book that gets me excited, perplexed, and causes me to have a sense of awe all at once...

Maybe its because it talks about heavenly things I can't imagine. Maybe its because it talks about things that will happen that I can't fully understand. Or perhaps its because there is so much promise of hope in it that gets my mind off of the here and now. 

But as I read this time around, one little phrase jumped off the page at me. Just one. That's it. It grabbed my attention as never before. Usually, I read it and don't give it too much thought. Perhaps you do that too. Maybe I should tell you what it is...
"...the One who is, who always was, and who is still to come..." -Revelation 1:4
I read that and stopped... Who is He? What is that like? 

We are limited!
Think about it. Here I am, one who can't imagine not having a beginning, yet my Abba Father has none. My mind can't wrap itself around that concept!

Throughout our whole existence, we try and try and try to learn how to best live this thing called "life", and yet HE is the One who created it! One day everything here will be over and only what is spiritual -or of His Spirit- will last forever; only that which is unshakable, born of His breath will remain.

I can't imagine space without limits. All of life is limited, everything here is restrained, bound by time, death and decay. This world, although not fully explored, has its limits.

But what about God?
He is infinite! He has no limit! His goodness is not limited by evil, His strength is not limited by weakness. His wisdom is not limited by ignorance. His presence is not limited by walls or objects of any kind. His sight is not limited to one location, nor is it limited by darkness. He can see all at once, hear everything, understand what each person says, though all may speak at the same time.

...His creativity is not limited by what He's seen or heard before. His plans are not limited by others' plans. He cannot be stopped or changed; He cannot die or sin. His life is not limited by time, which for us will soon run out. No, He is eternal and unlimited!

You see, sin is weakness, not strength. And God is the only One who is without sin, has always been without sin, and will always be without sin!

Here's the secret...
You without God are hopeless, weak, helpless, sinful, needy... But when you have God, you have love, hope, peace, strength, joy, help, grace, and so much more!

Christian, you can't afford to live even a moment without Him! Don't try! He is everything you need! He seeks to empower us with everything that He is so that He will be known!

Child of God, get to know your God, for He is the One who lives within you!
"...And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing His glory." -Colossians 1:27
Are you putting your hope anywhere else? Let me put it this way... if you were stripped of everything you owned, would you feel devastated, as though your life is over and there is no hope?

Let me tell you something... Christ is in you, and HE is the hope of glory! He is the Son of God, one with God, from eternal past into eternal future and HE is your Hope of glory.

You can have your life stripped from you and still have Hope, because that is what He is... The same One who always was and who is still to come.

Even better yet...
He desires to cause His life to flow through you! His limitless power and strength can flow through your limited, weak life. His wisdom can flow through your foolishness. His righteousness is marked all over you, and He wishes to live that righteousness out through you!

Oh, it is not about you, dear Christian, because if it were, your life would be over and in shambles. It is about the God who created you, who thought you up. Who dreamed that you would be a visible demonstration of who He is! He longs to show Himself strong on your behalf. He longs to let you be a person who makes real and tangible the mighty power of God! Will you let Him?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Problem of Living for Me

The thin figure caught my eye as the team and I gathered back together from evangelizing on the pier in El Salvador. I didn't know if it was a he or she, but this person walked in a rather strange way. He wore tights and a green trench coat. His hair went to his shoulders, and he wore a hat that seemed to fit his look. In his hand he held a blonde doll. 

The people I was with also noticed him, and we all watched as he walked by. Suddenly, he turned and saw us watching. "Don't make eye contact," someone warned us. He took a few steps toward us. In his eyes, evil danced, a grin spread across his face that seemed to say, "I see you watching..." His face, his body language, everything about him, seemed to by trying to beckon us to come. Come experience this evil with him.

How strange he seemed. One of our team members tried to give him a tract, and as soon as she did so, he darted away, as if opposing magnetic forces had come in contact. He was gone. His face forever etched in my mind -the evil dancing in his eyes... There was no life there; only death. 

I realized while watching that the evil I saw was not really him, but it was the powers of darkness to whom he'd surrendered control. He was a voodoo doctor, someone informed us, and he was obviously ready to do his work whenever someone bid him to.

The Evil that God Sees
Is this what God is watching every day? He sees the evil going on and is repulsed by it. Why? Because they are surrendering control to the evil one, His sworn enemy!

Fellow Christian, compassion should be what drives us, as it did Christ. That man I saw was helplessly under the control of demonic forces... I realized it was not him I was disgusted at, but the enemy who had him under his control. Sure, this man had to have chosen the life he is living, but doesn't most everyone? 

Some of you are thinking, "well, actually, no, Sandie... Most people don't have a choice as to what circumstances they are in." 

While it is true that we did not choose our parents and siblings, our nationality, our looks, our time in history, our gender, etc., it is also true that we have a choice as to how we deal with our circumstances. 

Our response is entirely up to us. Nobody forced Eve to eat that apple in the garden. Nobody is forcing you to live for yourself either. 


We do have a choice
Joshua implored the people of Israel, "Choose you this day whom you will serve..." (Josh 24:15) It was no circumstantial happening -Oops! Today I'm accidentally serving myself!- no, indeed, it was a choice. One you and I must take seriously. 

Choose to live for you, and you never know what path Satan and his demons will trick you into walking on. Choose to live for Jesus, and you have a Guide, a Protector, a Savior at your side all the time, guiding you away from the devil's traps and onto a path of blessing and abundant life. 

I don't believe a Christian can be demon possessed, because he is already owned by Jesus Christ, who will never disown him. But I do believe a Christian can be tricked by demons into following paths of self destruction. 

The Problem of Living for Me
So much is going on in this present day and age among believers that is turning off the power of the Spirit in their lives... Christians are doing the same things that non Christians are doing. They participate in "...sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties and other sins like these..." (Galatians 5: 19-21) That is what happens when you follow your own desires -when you choose to live for you instead of Christ.

That, my dear fellow believer, is Satan's goal for your life! Are you walking in the power of the Spirit every day? If not, perhaps you've chosen to live for yourself instead of the One who died for you! 

Shall I be so bold? I think I should! 

I just came from a country where Christians are putting their lives on the line for the sake of the gospel. Are you doing that? We visited a widow of a man who was killed for his faith in El Salvador. She is still in love with Jesus even now, although it was for His sake her husband died.

Some of you have broken families, some of you are friendless, some of you have experienced abuse and other horrible things I cannot imagine... but these situations are not an excuse to leave God! Do you realize what He's done for you? Have you so easily forgotten this gracious Savior of ours who took the blame for your sin? Have you left Him thinking He's just the way to heaven and nothing more? 

Shame on us if this is so! 
"For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God." (1 Peter 1:18-19)
How high was the price that God paid for your soul... Let the weight of this truth sink in deep. Your sin -that empty life you'd inherited from your ancestors- was keeping you separated from God, so He paid the price to get it removed from you! The price was the blood of His very own Son, Jesus Christ! He let His Son die in your place.

Then He raised Him up from the dead so that you could be given new life. Not the same one you had before; not a life of emptiness and sin and being far away from God! No, no, NO!

Oh, Christian, He died and rose again so that you could be freed and far away from that life of emptiness and so that you could know God!

The Voodoo Doctor
As his face kept coming back to my mind, evil dancing in his eyes, God reminded me of a prayer I pray often: "God, I want to decrease so much that all people see in me is Jesus and not Sandie!"

You see, when I looked at that voodoo doctor, I saw another power greater than him. This power was dark, and had control of his whole being. He was utterly helpless to the control of it. He was completely obedient to it.

Let me ask you a question, dear Christian.... Are you that obedient to God? Are you so surrendered to Him that when people look at you, they don't see you, but they see a power so much greater -the power of the Kingdom of Light? Do they see in your eyes that love has reached down into the depths of your soul and changed you? Are you following Christ and Christ alone?

If the voodoo doctor were only halfway in the service of demons I might've noticed some of the man's own personality, but he wasn't. (Not that halfway service is any safer to the soul.) All I could see was evil, bondage, and death.

Should we not be even more radically one hundred percent in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ who gives us freedom and life?

Radical Thinking
Oh, I know, Christian, this is too radical and extreme for you to think about. But just think about it anyway. Let it stretch your thinking beyond its limits. Read in the bible and you will see that Jesus is looking for people that would leave all and follow Him. Are you doing that? Are you living with your hands off the temporal and on the eternal?

Great blessing comes when we are in the service of God under His power, by His grace simply through our faith in His Son Jesus.

Don't count your life so dear, your possessions so special, your friends so close, your work so needed, that you would never risk them for the sake of Christ! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Are you sure?"

The day had been a long one. I had taught all morning, then rushed to a cleaning job, then ran an errand for a ministry at our church.

I was so tired that on the way back from the errand, I missed my turn and found that out of habit, I was headed towards the store closest to our house.

Oops! I thought to myself, I missed my turn... Oh well... I decided that I would go ahead and go all the way there and do some shopping for my upcoming trip.

I walked in to the store, realizing just how messy I must've looked... 

I wore a very old pink T shirt that said A Passion for Jesus on the front in bold print. It had been worn for painting a few times, so it had some paint splattered onto it. My hair was falling out of a ponytail I had put it in that morning.

I was on a mission. When I get focused on a mission, nobody can distract me. (My sisters know this well.) I found everything I was looking for and went to check out.

The middle aged man behind the counter eyed me as I waited for him to ring up my items. "How are you?" I asked, trying to be friendly.

He mumbled an answer and continued checking out my items. He spoke with a thick, African accent.

Finally, after the transaction was done, a curious smile crept across his face. He asked a question that made me stop.

"Do you have 'a passion for Jesus'?" He asked.

I was caught surprised, not ready for this. "Yes! Yes I do." I answered quickly.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I am!" Again, the answer came back quickly. Why had he asked if I was sure?

He turned and began to ring up the next customer, and the conversation was over. The walk back to the car was a rainy one. I sat in the car and thunder clashed loudly in the sky, rain pelted against the window of the car.

Are you sure?

The whole drive home, something else was on my mind. What had just happened? His question echoed in my mind. Are you sure?

Pictures flashed through my mind of Christians all over the world boldly proclaiming their faith, standing up for Jesus, unashamedly losing their life for the sake of Christ. The lost have no doubt that something is different about them. They don't have to ask, "Are you sure you love Jesus?"

They can see it.

I parked the car in the driveway and leaned against the steering wheel. "Oh, God... forgive me!" Tears welled up in my eyes as I realized that my mission in the store was not the one God has given me... His mission is souls. We aren't to go out into public places to seek something more than we seek out the lost!

What a convicting thought!

Do we love Christ enough that others can tell without us having to say it?

"Oh God, make my love for Jesus so obvious that the lost don't have to ask, 'do you have a passion for Jesus?' but rather, "Why do you have a passion for Jesus?'!" I prayed, grieved over my own mistake.

Let us not be so wrapped up in life that we miss God's mission for our lives! Let's be so wrapped up in the love of Christ, grateful that He's died for us, that the mission of our life is to win the lost!

Paul said this: "I am not ashamed of this good news about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes..." (Romans 1:16)

Let us not be ashamed, dear Christian, of the Christ who died for us!

Take a good long look at the cross, the extreme measure that Christ went through to win you, and you are sure to realize that there is no price you could pay that would outweigh what He went through for you. Let His love greatly impact you and win your love in return!

The passionate love of Christ more than anything else is what wins the lost! Let us love Him without shame!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Every Person Has a Past

Every person has a past...

Some not as pleasant as others, but all with torn up dreams; sudden and unwanted twists to their stories that have an effect on them they never wanted.

In the short life I've lived so far, much has taken place already that I didn't see coming. And when it did, confusion clouded the pathway, and my dreams became a blur. Wounds that went so deep, I never thought I'd be whole again.

Broken trust with those trusted most, broken relationships, hopes dashed, opportunities galore for bitterness and anger to creep in.

As I mentioned in a previous post, When Life Hurts, I recently went through a very painful experience. One that made me wonder if there could be any hope... A loss I could not have imagined to hurt so much.

My first reaction was denial... This could not be happening! I blissfully resisted the truth that what I'd had was gone forever. But soon, the truth began to sink in, and I was hurt. My life felt like it had been torn apart. I became angry. I was angry at God and at those who'd hurt me, angry that this happened to me.

How could God let this happen to me? I questioned... How could God even love me when He lets this happen to me?

Often I would find myself on my knees weeping before God, angry at my circumstances, angry at Him, knowing somehow, though, because of the truth I have been taught, that I had no grounds for my anger towards Him...
"Then I went into your sanctuary, O God.... I realized that my heart was bitter and I was all torn up inside."                                               -Psalm 73:17, 21
I knew my heart was becoming bitter, and through many tears I made that difficult choice to forgive my offenders and to let go of the lies I believed about God.

Let me tell you right now, that is never an easy choice... God's grace is sufficient, but apart from His grace, it is impossible.

The choice of forgiveness is a step you and I take, leaning heavily into the arms of Jesus Christ, who has experienced all pain before you when He walked this earth. He will guide your feet onto the path that is hard to follow apart from Him.

Through the hurts He proves best that He is indeed kind. He is strong enough to carry us when we cannot walk. He is light when the darkness is so thick that we cannot see the path in front of us. He is comfort when we ache so much that there seems to be no remedy for the pain. He is the Great Physician and we must go to Him with every wound.

Every person has a past, but Christ calls us to let go of that past and hang on tight to His nail pierced hands.

He was called to this earth to give us a taste of the glory to come by ridding us of the power of sin and death. He was called to heal us, to give us hope in the darkness, to bind up our wounds and set us free. Jesus read His calling in the synagogue before those who did not believe Him to be the Messiah from Isaiah 61;
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; ...to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness..." 
No longer are we to let our wounds fester, our broken heart remain crushed, our life be bound up in bitterness, our mourning become hopelessness; no longer are we to remain captive to the curse of death in this world, to hang onto our ashes, to let a spirit of heaviness weigh us down...

No, Jesus has traded His life for ours! He wants us to be free!

As with physical wounds, the deeper they are, the more often we need to return to the doctor; So it is with our heart.

The deeper the hurt is, the longer the healing process, the more often we must go to that Great Physician and let Him bind up the wound again. Don't ignore your past, bring it to the One who can heal you of its effects on your life! I have found that He is in fact capable of doing just that!

Go, and keep going to this God who cares... He is great and mighty, but He also cares about every detail of your life. He is not distant, but close by.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed." (Psalm 34:18)
My friend, do not believe the lie that God has abandoned you... In whatever you are going through, He longs to show Himself to you, He longs to rescue and restore you. He stands ready to help you.

The moment you cry to Him, He is ready to answer and to heal you. You must stay close to His side, for as a shepherd carries a lamb, so He will carry you close to His heart.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

We are free!

Nothing. 

That's all it was. But soon that nothingness was radically changed, simply by a command. 

"Let there be light," and there was light. Within six days, nothing became something. Something incredible. Sky, earth, stars, sea, animals, fish, insects, plants... and best of all, humans. Made in the image and likeness of their Maker. He looked over His creation, pleased. "It is good."

He walked in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. He had what He wanted most with His creation -a relationship, a friendship that went deep. They knew their Creator and He knew them. 

Their Creator could do anything, He was so powerful that His voice could command anything to happen and it would. But there was only one thing He could not do. He could not sin, nor could He have anything to do with it, for He was perfect.

Evil had been cast out of heaven when Lucifer rose up against his Creator, saying, "I will be as the Most High..." His pride had gotten the better of him, and he'd instantly become the enemy of God, for he sought with everything in his power to dethrone the King of kings. Legions of angels were cast out of heaven with him, for they had chosen to follow Lucifer in his evil, and evil and God could never coexist. 

On the earth that God had made, evil had not yet begun to thrive, for what He made was good and only good. But one day, Lucifer in his evil schemes overtook a serpent and used it to deceive the very ones created in God's image and likeness, Adam and Eve, and tricked them into eating fruit from the very tree their God had commanded them not to eat of. 

Evil entered the world through one man, Adam, and began to thrive and cause the very thing God had warned them would happen; death. Death and decay began to take over every being that God had created. Sin became the greatest influence upon the world. Every being born into the world had one horrible destiny, that being to die. 

Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden of Eden, for there they had known sweet fellowship with God, they'd known His very heart... And now that sin entered into their heart, they had to leave, for God could not coexist with sin.

Grieved, He watched them walk away from His design. He knew what He would now have to do. He would provide a way out of the darkness and death that was overtaking the world. 

He told the people He had made to get a lamb and sacrifice it for their sin. They would have to do this every time they sinned. But it was only a shadow of what was to come, for one day He would send the Lamb. And this Lamb would die for the sins of the whole world. This Lamb would be God in the flesh.

Centuries passed. People continued to live in the dark world. Some despaired that the Lamb would ever come. Some continued to believe and to rest in hope that soon their Maker would send the spotless Lamb whose blood would wash away their sins forever. 

On a night when it was least expected He came, not in the form of a prince, in high kingly robes, not with a shout, nor with great parade. No, He came in the form of a baby, born in a lowly stable of a humble virgin. His name was Jesus, the carpenter's Son from Nazareth. 

Many did not believe He could be that Lamb they'd waited centuries for. He lived in the weakness of human flesh, yet He never did sin. He did not live in a palace, nor did He demand to be worshiped. He did not cling to His deity as something that should be acknowledged by all. He simply lived among the weakest, the lost, the dying, the sinners of the world. 

Only those who truly knew they needed the Lamb recognized Him. His name was Jesus.

And then that fateful day came. They took Him, mocked Him, beat Him, whipped Him, placed a crown of thorns upon His head, nailed Him to a cross and put Him to death. He was betrayed. He was forsaken. He who was perfect and sinless was made to be sin, and punished for it. 

The greatest injustice in all of history took place at the cross, when He who deserved worship and praise instead received mockery, He who deserved to be the Judge was instead judged for our sins, He who had been there from eternity past was now treated like the lowest of human beings. 

Three days later, this Lamb rose from the dead, proving that death had no power over Him. The grave and its master was defeated! He rose to prove that He was indeed the Son of God, the promised Lamb. He showed Himself to His disciples, the wounds still in His hands and side to prove that indeed He was the same Jesus that had been put to death three days earlier. Forty days later, He ascended up into the heavens and they received the promise that one day He would return.

He did this for you and for me... He did this because He loves you. The justice and holiness of our Maker demands punishment, so He took it for you. He took it so that the just requirement of the law could be met with no harm to you, the guilty one.

My friend, all He asks of you is that you receive Him by faith! He promises that you will be His friend. Once you are His, you will never be taken away from Him, not even by your own choice. He made a way -the Only Way- to have His deepest desire fulfilled, to have sweet fellowship with you!

This precious Lamb of God made it possible for you to enter into the Holy One's presence without anything holding you back. Our sin problem is removed, and we are free!
"Herein is love; not the we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." -1 John 4: 10

Monday, May 19, 2014

Since God is Love...

"And now abides faith, hope, love; these three; but the greatest of these is love."                   -1 Corinthians 13: 13
A question gnawed at my mind as I considered the sentence above. Why would love be more important than faith and hope?

The world is filled with unfair circumstances. Life seems to always be getting messed up. You'd think maybe hope would be most needed. And what about faith? Isn't that the key to pleasing God? Wouldn't faith be most important, because faith pleases God? Didn't He create us for His glory? (Hebrews 11:6)

But, no... the verse clearly said, "...the greatest of these is love."

It is amazing how when you go to the bible with a need for one thing, if you truly are searching, God will show you something better than what you were looking for. I had been searching for hope. I was getting to a place where I wondered if there was any. As I searched for verses on hope, I realized that God is the God of hope, He gives it due to the resurrection. But then I came across this verse.

"God, why is love more important than faith and hope?" I wasn't expecting an answer right away, but there it came, clear as day. 1 John 4:8 flashed through my mind:

"...God is love."

Wait a second. It doesn't say, "God loves everyone," although that is true, and there are verses that say that. But it clearly says God is Love.

Without love, there would be no Person to put our faith in, and no Reason to hope. Jesus coming to earth do die in our place, to shed His blood for the remission of sin, is the result of LOVE! 

Nowhere does it say, "God is faith" or "God is hope." It also doesn't say, "God is justice." ...Hmmm... interesting.

Since God is love, then several things are true:

1. Love produces in us faith, hope, justice, grace, righteousness, and all other aspects of God's character that He wishes us to live out. Since He is love, then love is believing, just, gracious, righteous, humble, hopeful, etc. (Just take a look at 1 Cor. 13!)

2. Love is the whole reason Christ died on the cross! It is because God loves us that we have hope of eternal life with no fear! (1 John 4:18)

3. That explains, then, why God created man (love seeks objects to give to), why He says that His greatest command to man is that we love God, and then to love each other.

4. Love is an expression of God's character, and by it, we show the world who God is! (1 John 4:12)

...Then where should our focus be, dear Christian? 

I've been in many churches throughout the past few years of ministry in several different parts of the world. Some of them preach only godly lifestyle. The focus there becomes, how "right" can I live? It becomes outward-action focused more than heart change. In doing so, they make God appear to be a harsh perfectionist who has no patience for backsliders or the unrighteous. But that is not God at all! Godly lifestyle without godly, unconditional love is worthless in God's sight! (1 Cor. 13)

I've also been to the churches that are so caught up in the need to "love" each other, that they compromise very important truths in God's word. They compromise the justice, the righteousness, the holiness of God. They are so afraid of offending others by godliness that they choose not to have standards of living at all, and in doing so, they make God appear to be a "softy" with no backbone. In so doing, they are not showing God's love, but a man made love that makes them look good.

Perhaps I should ask, do you really know God? The balance is found in Him! 

...God, who is love, practices justice, kindness and holiness. He freely gives hope and faith. In His love, He rebukes and chastens. In His love, He draws all men to Himself. In His love, He hates sin with a passion and wishes we stay away from it, because it keeps us from Him. In His love, He wants us to look different than the world, yet somehow, He wants us to live in it, showing His unconditional love to all, with no favorites. It is that kind of life that makes a difference!
"And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world." -1 John 4:17
God's greatest goal for your life, dear Christian, is that you live like Jesus here in this world! How it is done is by living in God, who perfects our love, and uses it to show the world who His Son is!

If you read through the gospels, you will find a Savior who is gentle, but honest, compassionate, yet bold enough to rebuke those who needed it, a Friend of sinners, but holy in His lifestyle. We are to be like Him!

Let us seek to know our God, who is love.