A Love That Endures

If I am honest, it’s Tuesday morning, I am supposed to have my post up for Sarah to look over this morning and I had a devotional planned out and written in my head…but as I tried to write it, God kept drawing me to write something different. So I am sitting at the island in my kitchen, sipping my coffee, Ellie Holcomb is playing in the background (seriously…go listen to her new CD Red Sea Road, it’s incredible!), writing a completely new post from what I planned. I hope and pray God uses it to remind us to rest in His love that never fails and is unconditional. This past weekend I was away at a retreat with my churches youth group and the theme was all about learning to be still before the Lord in a loud and distracting world…be still my noisy soul and know He is God. We had times of silent meditation after all the sermons where it was so quiet you could actually hear a pin drop to the floor. During this time, I wrote out prayers, fears and insecurities, hopes and dreams, distractions keeping my eyes from looking at Christ, etc. but also during this time, I kept thinking of God’s love for me. His love for you. His love for this world.

Worldly love fades. It comes and goes, often times has stipulations and conditions, ebbs and flows with circumstances, and is lost in an instant. We just celebrated Valentines Day last week and again, if I am honest, my favorite part of this “holiday” is the day after because all the chocolate is half off ;]. I am always reminded of how our culture distorts love into something it’s not…now, to be clear, I am not bashing buying chocolates and teddy bears and planning something awesome and romantic to show love, I think it’s great. But as a girl in her mid twenties who is single yet again for V-day, it can be hard to rest assured in God’s love to me in the midst of this particular day. Dozens of social media posts flooded my news feeds about ‘the love of my life’ and I actually got mad at God for not giving me the love of my life. And then came the sweet conviction that in the moment you hate but ultimately leaves you in more awe of our Creator.

God ever so tenderly reminded me earthly love is feeble, but His love endures forever…check it out:

Psalms 36:5

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Psalm 100:5

For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 145:8

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

All of these verses have a few themes: God’s love endures forever and He is faithful, gracious, compassionate, and merciful.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of tasting this kind of love from my gracious Father. It’s the kind of love that leaves you speechless and wondering what you did to deserve it. The greatest thing about God’s steadfast love is we do not deserve it—He freely gives it to us. You see, God sent Jesus to earth to seek and save the lost…why? Because He loves us. Jesus emptied himself of absolutely everything, including humbling himself to the point of not counting his equality with God the Father something to be grasped (Phil 2), humbling himself to death on a cross, pouring out His unconditional love upon humanity.

At times this kind of love seems too good to be true, like that perfect fairytale we only read about in Disney princess stories. But this love is not a fantasy. It’s real. We all have those failures that make us feel unlovable and we’ve all had those moments of anger where we made someone feel unlovable. God’s love is different.

God’s love never fails.

God’s love is unconditional.

God’s love looks not at what you have done to deserve it, but what Christ did on your behalf.

God’s love does not need to be earned.

God’s love is behind and before you.

God’s love is steadfast.

God’s love goes to the depth of your deepest shame, but doesn’t stop there…it goes even further.

God is love.

It’s easy to think about God as some ruler someplace in the sky sitting on a judgment throne and yes, he is sitting on the throne and yes he will judge the earth, but he is far more than just that. God is our loving, compassionate, merciful, faithful Father. I do a bunch of nannying kids and babysitting and when a kid falls down or gets hurt, what do they do? They come running, with tears falling down their faces, arms lifted high, just wanting to be held and loved, comforted and feeling safe. We, as Children of God, are the same way. When life beats us down, God is waiting, with arms open wide and full of love to pick us up and be our comfort. I heard it put once that when we worship and raise our arms, it is not to show off or be “macho spiritual,” but it’s expressing our deep desire for our Father to pick us up and draw near. This picture has changed my view of God so much; instead of running to fleeting love found in this world, I simply need to look up to my Heavenly Father and receive His love. Love is steadfast. Love endures. Love is vulnerable. Love is hard. Love covers a multitude of sins. God is love, may my love for others emulate God’s love for me. Live out of the love that has been poured upon you, it’s more freeing than living without love.

Live Loved.

Love unconditionally.

I mentioned Ellie Holcomb earlier and she has this song called “You Are Loved” here is the chorus…but you should definitely just listen to the whole album.

And you are loved
Not because of what you’ve done
Even when your heart has run the other way
Nothing’s gonna change His love
And you are wanted
Not because you are perfect
I know that you don’t think you’re worth that kind of grace
But look into His face you’ll know
That you are loved

 

Someday My Prince Will Come

I was inspired and also slightly distracted upon the realization that when this post goes up I’ll be in Disney World. So naturally, (after my mom suggested it) this post took a fairy-tale sort of direction.

As a little girl, I was never really ‘into’ all the princesses. In fact, my favorite Disney movie was The Aristocats. Mulan was my favorite princess movie and she wasn’t even technically a princess! However, I still fell in love with the idea of Prince Charming. This perfect man that would come riding through the streets of Suburbia on a white horse and sweep me off my feet. I mean, the name Sarah even means Princess. I had things going for me!

But alas, no knights in shining armor have trot up my driveway (which would be pretty impressive since it sits at a 25 to 30-degree angle), and the idea of Prince Charming shifted over the years. I vividly remember hanging out in my friend’s backyard in middle school talking about how amazing it would be if Zac Efron and Corbin Bleu pulled up in a bright red convertible and whisked us away with them to L.A. Needless to say, that never happened either.

Now I’m twenty-three, I’ve yet to meet my Prince Charming, but I still get giddy every time Flynn Ryder takes Rapunzel to see the lanterns. That scene, along with every other Romantic Comedy out there builds up this view of the perfect man. Tall, dark, and handsome. Blonde, blue-eyed, and fresh out of the gym. Good looking guy in a suit that shows up at your door with roses and a bottle of wine. Hot Doctor. Foreign, rich, and oh wait, he’s actually a prince in his home country? Okay, you get the idea.

Now, I’m not writing this post to bash romance and fairy-tales. I love that stuff. Sure, sometimes I watch them and shed a tiny tear at the realization that in most cases that isn’t quite how ‘love’ works. But I do know that when I think of the “Perfect Man” there is one love story that comes to mind.

It’s the story that can be summed up in one simple verse:

“For God so loved the World, that He gave His only Son. That whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Jesus was the perfect Man, and he fits the bill. He healed the sick, brought wine to the wedding, and he was called the Prince of Peace. On top of all that, he died for you. He died for everyone, to forgive us all from our sin so that we can live forever with Him. I’m positive Flynn Ryder couldn’t even do that if he tried.

The best part of this love story? Jesus was 100% real. His love for us isn’t summed up in a fairy-tale. It exists in a best-selling book of history and mystery written just for you, and He will love you unconditionally. Even if you don’t have miles of golden hair that glows when you sing.

Until next time,
Sarah

GUEST BLOGGER: Something about Love

Hello there friends! Just a quick note before this post! This is our first guest post. They will be every third Tuesday of the month UNLESS it’s a month with five weeks, then they will be on Thursday. Our first guest blogger is my (Sarah’s) friend Sarah. I know what a coincidence we are both named Sarah, and are such good friends right? She is a wonderful human who I met at the first camp I ever worked at. I’m excited for you all to hear from her! -Sarah

Something about Love

I’m sure you all have heard something in the past few days about the holiday coming up. Well, I guess now today’s the day! I guess I find myself floating in the middle of the spectrum for feelings on Valentine’s Day. Allow me to explain – I think Valentine’s day is so much fun. Sure, it’s a commercial holiday, chocolate and teddy bear companies make millions. Hey – sue me for thinking it’s fun to make a cute card with a cheesy note and sparkly heart stickers on it! But the day also tends to remind me about my current relationship status: and that would be “single as a pringle”.

When I was asked to jump in and write on love, though, I was stoked. It’s been a topic on my heart and on my mind a great deal lately. My closest friends are now all in relationships, I’ve been crushing on someone, and, of course, V-Day has been creeping up on us. I’ve gone through the motions of “When will it be my turn?” all the way to “I trust God to bring me someone more amazing than I could ever dream.”

I don’t think singleness isn’t what has been my main problem. I’ve been dealing with something that I imagine everyone faces, whether they’re in a relationship or not. I get so caught up in earthly things – education, technology, romance – that I don’t remember that God is so much greater than all of these. And He has been so gracious to remind me when I start to get distracted. Just this past week, I’ve been blessed by multiple pastors, a new book, and Scripture in reorienting me back towards the Lord.

So here’s a couple things God has put on my heart lately:

When God established the Old Covenant with His people, He gave them laws, they said they could keep them, and swore by sacrifice. They knew if they didn’t keep the promises they made, they would be in trouble. When they forgot and ignored God’s law, He brought them into judgment. But when they came to a time where they questioned if He was still for them, He made the promise of a New Covenant. He didn’t want death and destruction for His people. When He promised the new covenant for His people, He made these promises – “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts… For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:33-34

“But God demonstrates His love for us in this – that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. Knowing humanity was unable to keep the Lord’s commands on our own, He made a way for us to come back to Him. Jesus’ blood fulfilled the New Covenant (Luke 22:19-20), and we were brought into a new relationship with God. Through this New Covenant, we’re granted a few things: the desire and ability to obey God, the ability to know God intimately (both through the power of the Holy Spirit), and permanent forgiveness of our sins. We no longer shed our own blood as a repayment for our failure to keep God’s commandments, rather we are promised that Jesus is the guarantor (Heb 7:22), and the mediator (Heb 9:15) of the new covenant. His sacrifice and His alone is what guarantees our relationship with God.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11. Jesus came to this world so be the sacrifice that saved us. What an amazing love. He came so that we might have life abundantly (John 10:10).

He also tells us that if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit (John 15:5). What the heck does that mean? Well, not only do we get to know God intimately, but as we abide in his Word, life, and love, we are made more and more like Christ. That means as we get to know God more, we start to see things the way He does, and love like He does. We come to know more of the kind of love He has for us. He sent His son for a broken, disobedient and ignorant people – to save us, that we may have life and joy in Him (John 15:11).

Thinking about that brings me back to a pretty joyful place. I have been reminded that my God loves me, pursues me, and saves me from death and destruction. Though I know I couldn’t ever repay Him, I’d say that deserves the biggest Valentine’s Day card of all.

Wishing you abundant joy, peace, and blessings –
Sarah

Find our guest blogger on the internet:
instagram: @hell0sarahh
twitter: @hell0sarahh
wordpress: https://rockpaperscriptures.wordpress.com/

Love Is A Verb

Growing up I always looked at the word ‘love’ as an adjective, a descriptive word that I used toward things I thoroughly enjoyed or people I was fond of. And though that was not and is not wrong, love is far more than just a way to describe things.

I love coffee/coffee shops

I love being outdoors

I love going to camp

I love writing and photography

I love mac and cheese

The list goes on…

But

Love is also a verb.

Love is also an action.

As I have been thinking about what love is and is not, the various ways I see it functioning in my world, I kept thinking of the ever so classic verse, John 3:16. Anyone who grew up in the church can probably say this verse with hand motions and their eyes closed; it’s also the one verse I told myself not to use in this love series because I felt it was just ‘cliché.’

For God so loved the world that He gave his only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

 This got me thinking about how I love, specifically others. Those who know me know just how introverted I can be. Groups of people most times bring me some form of anxiety, talking in a group setting is almost unheard of, and if I had the option of staying home in my cozy safe place or going out, 7/10 times I will stay home. I was talking with one of my roommates the other night and was expressing my struggle to be around people right now and she simply said something along the lines of “what are we called to do as believers? Love others and that means stepping outside of yourself and being around people.”

**Disclaimer: having alone time and staying home is not always the wrong choice—it sometimes is the best thing we can do

But When I look at John 3:16 I see that God did not stop at just loving the world, he loved so greatly he GAVE. He didn’t stop at love the adjective; he continued to love the verb and calls us to do the same. Jesus gave sacrificially, love is not just doing the minimal, love goes above and beyond what is expected…not for the great things we do to be seen or heard for our glory, but to bring glory to Love Himself.

I was at a women’s retreat with my church the other week and one of the application questions asked was where is God calling me to say Yes Lord?

And I am asking you the same, where is God asking you to say yes? How can you love your neighbor this week? Maybe it means stepping outside of your comfort zone and speaking up in a group setting or choosing to go be with people versus staying home. Often times that is what it looks like for me right now, but it may be different for you.

If you feel so led, leave us a comment about how God is calling you not let love stop at describing something, but instead letting love become a verb. We’d love to hear from you!

Also, if you ever want to email us about any questions, thoughts, etc. visit the contact us tab :]

 

Until next time,

~Christi

“I Believe in a Thing Called Love”

Over the past week, I took to Social Media and asked “What are your favorite love songs or songs about love?” and I got a lot of answers! 80+ to be more specific.

Just looking at this list made me realize something about love. Each of these songs was different. Sure a couple of people suggested the same song, and there were several songs by the same artists. But I realized that everyone’s perception of love is different.

Purposefully when asking this question, I left it vague so that I could see the perception of the word “love” that people thought of, and while “love” was an underlying theme of these songs, it was described beautifully in so many different ways. The love between spouses, family members, significant others, exes, crushes, and even strangers who’ve never met until that long lingering moment in a coffee shop where they fall in love at first sight. (Okay, so maybe I added that Landon Pigg song to the list myself, but it’s beautiful and I’m not sorry about it.)

These songs each mean something different to their respective listeners. Eliciting memories for example. I’m sure the artists had an intended way they hoped people would feel while enjoying their music. But I’m sure Adele, Coldplay, Billy Joel, Ray LaMontagne, and Sleeping with Sirens, for example, don’t necessarily cater to the same listening audiences.

These thoughts about perception are really what brought me to the message of this post. If each individual person who suggested a song, views love in that way. Wouldn’t that be similar to the way in which we view God’s love? I don’t mean literally (though it works in a lot of cases). If we have a personal relationship with God, then much like our relationships with other people, we have our own perception of this love. It is, however, a lot simpler. We know for a fact that the love we receive from God is everlasting and unconditional. That never changes. The love we give him in return should equal that. But alas, we sin, we do wrong, and perfection even in love is impossible.

His request is simple. Love Him by following his teachings. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:37-39

Until next time,
-Sarah

The “Love List” is on Spotify!
Listen to it here:  https://open.spotify.com/user/123294909/playlist/3eixdnzzIlofUrmqwBTLv8