Relentless

I thought that maybe God begrudged the business of transformation—that He had to fix me so He could love me more. As if the ultimate goal was for me to be perfect like Jesus so God could love me like He loved His own Son.

Without me being cleaned up, it would be impossible for God to love me—I was just too messed up.

But I started to wonder if I had it all wrong.

What if transformation wasn’t about God making me more perfect so He could love me more, but instead was about changing me so I could experience His love more perfectly?

…In our cheaply made, throw-it-away culture, we have a hard time wrapping our minds around the fact that God doesn’t assess our inherent worth based on our perfection (or lack of it).

He finds us completely worthy just because we are —because He made us.

God doesn’t love us any less because we’re broken. In fact, the care and time He takes to restore our lives is just another way He shows how much He loves us.

He wants us to flourish for our sake.

His desire is for us to have more of what is most important—more peace, more joy, more love.

God has gone (and still goes!) to great lengths to repair us because He wants us to experience this abundant life.

He is pursuing His creation with a relentless love and His method is not to retaliate, it’s to rescue.

As we say “yes” and partner with him, He will transform every part of lives; our fears and anxieties, jealous tendencies and the source of our sadness, our pettiness and pain— they will all be uncovered, excavated and healed.

God’s endgame is for you and me to be completely and utterly able to live in the most intimate, unencumbered union with Him.

– Christa Hesselink

 

But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display—the Anointed One died for us.

– Romans 5:8 (VOICE)

 

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

– 1 John 4:16 (NLT)

 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 8:38,39 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Obey

A world of confusion and disappointment results from trying to believe without obeying.  This puts us in the position of a bird trying to fly with one wing.  We merely flap in a circle and seek to cheer our hearts with the hope that the whirling ball of fathers is proof that a revival is under way.

– A.W. Tozer

 

Loving God means keeping His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.

1 John 5:3 (NLT)

 

And he is, to them, ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence’. Yes, they stumble at the Word of God for in their hearts they are unwilling to obey it—which makes stumbling a foregone conclusion. But you are God’s “chosen generation”, His “royal priesthood”, His “holy nation”, His “peculiar people”—all the old titles of God’s people now belong to you. It is for you now to demonstrate the goodness of Him who has called you out of darkness into His amazing light. In the past you were not “a people” at all: now you are the people of God. In the past you had no experience of His mercy, but now it is intimately yours.

– 1 Peter 2:7-9 (PHILLIPS)

 

Jesus said, “I will do what the Father requires of Me, so that the world will know that I love the Father.”

John 14:31 (NLT)

 

‘Listen to and obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, so that it may be well with you.’

– Jeremiah 7:23 (AMP)

 

By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again with your Word. Festoon me with your finest sayings, God; teach me your holy rules. My life is as close as my own hands, but I don’t forget what you have revealed. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, but I don’t swerve an inch from your course. I inherited your book on living; it’s mine forever— what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing exactly what you say— I always have and always will.

– Psalm 119:111-113 (MSG)

 

Obedience is the key to real faith.

– Chuck Colson

 

Photo by Arik Stewart

Love Never Fails

Love never fails.

– 1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV)

 

Love is the river that flows through. Love is the arms that are holding you. Love is the place you will fly to. Love never fails you.

-Brandon Heath

 

You stay the same through the ages. Your love never changes. There may be pain in the night. But joy comes in the morning.
The wind is strong and the water’s deep. I’m not alone here in these open seas cause Your love never fails.

-Newsboys

 

Higher than the mountains that I face. Stronger than the power of the grave. Constant in the trial and the change. One thing remains.
In death. In life. I’m confident and covered by the power of your great love.
My debt is paid. There’s nothing that can separate my heart from Your great love.
Your love never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out on me.

-Jesus Culture

 

Love never fails.

 

Everything else

Everyone else

may fall away

but God will never fail

you

 

He is the Love

the Constant

you are searching for.

 

– Susie Stewart

 

This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in Him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust Him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to Him.

– John 3:15-17 (MSG)

 

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Love Always Trusts

Love always trusts…

– 1 Corinthians 13:7 (NIV)

 

In other translations – “love believes all things”.

Believes – Greek pisteuo = faith, trust, belief. In context it implies that love sees the best in others or gives the other person the benefit of the doubt, choosing to believe the best about them, not the worst…Paul is not saying that love is gullible and believes everything and does not exercise qualities such as wisdom and discernment…love will believe well of others unless convinced otherwise.

-Bruce Hurt

 

When love has no evidence, it believes the best. When the evidence is adverse, it hopes for the best. And when hopes are repeatedly disappointed, it still courageously waits.

-Robertson & Plummer

 

I’m thankful that my parents trusted me as a teenager; it made me want to live up to that trust. One of my friends had parents who did not trust him, and he lived up to their distrust! Sometimes you will get ripped off when you trust, but love persists in trusting.

– Steven Cole

 

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

– Isaiah 26:3,4 (NIV)

 

People are not always trustworthy.

God is.

 

Instead of mulling over broken trust from the past,

and approaching every person with a leery eye,

may I seek to be trustworthy

and love people with openness,

believing that my God

Who is faithful

will guard my heart

and wants me to trust.

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Photo by Nicole Stewart

Gentle & Humble

 

“Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart…” Matthew 11:29

 

Gentle and Humble

This is His heart.

 

I read it, but I can’t grasp it.

 

The words bring a calmness to my thoughts

bring a warmth to my spirit.

 

Two little words

make an impact

in a loud and quiet way.

 

I ponder.

 

But…

 

Is this even possible?

God is humble?

 

He is gentle and humble to His very depths,

in His heart?

 

I ask Him how this can be?

Teach me, Lord, because I can’t wrap my brain around this.

 

And He leads me to make a list.

 

WHAT HUMILITY IS NOT:

~Arrogant

~Pushy

~Obnoxious

~Controlling

 

Humility is the absence of those things.

 

You, Jesus, gave of your time to people

who were less than lovely

who had no prestige

who reeked of sickness and disease

who were unappreciative

who just didn’t get it.

 

You gave of Yourself until You were spent completely and humbly,

absolutely nothing more more to sacrifice…

 

And when I’m yoked to You in life,

attached to You intimately,

I sense that You are leading

and carrying the brunt of the weight

and that you challenge me and confront me

but it is done lovingly

not with arrogance

or obnoxiousness

 

But with the heart of the One

who washed dirty feet unexpected

and stood up for a prostitute’s dignity

and loved to be with children

and is a Shepherd to all of us lambs

 

And I know that I am in the presence of true humility and gentleness

because I don’t feel

the condemnation

the squinted eyes of judgment

the snide and sarcastic remarks

the heavy hand of false self-righteousness

the stab of hurtful words

 

I feel that You, Jesus,

want to lead me in paths of righteousness

by streams of cool water

to the Rock

to truth and wisdom

to be humble and gentle….

 

Because that is what You are.

– Susie Stewart

 

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'” Matthew 11:28-30

 

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You Are Here

You are HERE.

 

Not over there

or over there

or even over there.

 

You are here.

 

And there is purpose in that.

 

God is looking at His map of the world

and He sees you

and you might think

that your “You Are Here” arrow is so small

and insignificant

that God couldn’t possibly notice

 

that you are here

 

Swallowed up by 7.1. billion people…

 

But He does.

 

He not only sees you,

He designed the map

He placed you on it

He created you

for this moment, this season, this place.

 

God has the aerial view

God has the on-the-ground view

God has the in-your-heart view

 

He sees with eyes ever open.

 

He sees you

He sees all of us.

 

And He is able to love each one.

Completely.

 

And He knows….

the suffering

the joy

the pain

the circumstances

 

He was the one that placed your “You Are Here” sticker on the map.

Lovingly

Deliberately

Creatively

For such a time as this.

 

And He longs for you to place a “You are Here” sticker

on your heart

for Him.

 

Because that’s where He belongs

and that’s what gives you purpose

on this great big map

in this great big universe

when a whole lot of things don’t make sense.

 

You are HERE.

Make it count.

– Susie Stewart

 

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14 (NIV)

 

“This is the plan,
planned for the whole earth,
And this is the hand that will do it,
reaching into every nation.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies has planned it.
Who could ever cancel such plans?
His is the hand that’s reached out.
Who could brush it aside?”    Isaiah 14:26,27 (MSG)

Mender

 

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Are you in a state of disappointment?

A state of hurt?

Has someone pained your heart

messed with your mind?

 

Is it all you can do

not to focus on imaginary conversations

you would have

if you could

speak vengeance?

If you had the courage to hurt back?

 

All your focus

All your focus

on that offender…

 

Because, after all,

the offense continues…

in your mind

or in real life.

 

Your heart begs to be mended.

 

If you could,

you would have a surgeon stitch

all the torn parts

because it hurts

and it consumes

and it is all you can think about.

 

We are a broken people.

 

We need mending.

 

Only the Uncreated

can truly mend

the created’s heart.

 

The only thing is…

You’ve got to force your focus

off the offender

and onto the Mender.

 

Only then can you genuinely heal.

 

And like the best of all surgeons

He stitches up

and binds up

and HEALS

your broken heart.

 

So that your focus

will stay on Him

the One who loves and cares the most.

 

Let Him mend.

Don’t stay broken.

 

Then God’s mending love

can reach out to others broken

through you.

– Susie Stewart

 

 

 

 

Heart

A stubborn heart.

A hard heart.

An unyielding heart.

I read about Pharoah

and his stone-cold heart.

And I’m incredulous.

Good grief!

How could he continue

holding the Israelites captive

plague

after plague

after plague

after plague…

God spoke!

Pharaoh feigned surrender.

He wouldn’t let go.

The consequences

the consequences

the consequences…

Destruction, pain, death.

A stubborn heart.

A hard heart.

An unyielding heart.

I can relate.

I have hardened my heart at times.

God goes to great lengths to soften it.

He works on making my heart pliable

as He unclenches my tight fists.

They go together – tight hearts and tight fists.

As I open those hands,

as I surrender all to Him,

as I trust that He knows

He knows

He knows,

my heart softens.

A stubborn heart.

A hard heart.

An unyielding heart.

It forfeits blessings.

It affects others.

It alienates.

It distances.

It creates chasms

between you and people

between you and God

between you and who you could be.

Lord, continue to make my heart pliable.

Let it bend and curve to Your beckoning.

I want

open hands of surrender

and

an open heart of trust.

– Susie Stewart

The Point

So that was the point.

 

The point of the difficulty.

The point of the suffering.

The point of the disappointment.

The point of the pain.

 

To know You.

 

I miss that sometimes.  I think it’s all about me and what I’m supposed to learn about myself.

But really, it’s not much about me.

It’s about You, God.

It’s all about You.

And the great lengths You go to to draw us near to Your side.

 

My life is to love you with abandon, and to bring You glory.

That includes the pain, the brokenness.

 

Life,

minus the pain,

equals….

 

…not learning of Your closeness to the brokenhearted.

…not hearing your comforting tone.

…not realizing that You are the only true faithful One.

…not knowing that you are the Friend that sticks closer than a brother.

…not experiencing Your timely providence.

…not depending solely on You.

….not following Your gentle lead as Shepherd.

…not knowing the depths of Your love.

…not witnessing Your awesome power.

…not feeling Your arms around me.

…not knowing what it is to be more than a conqueror through You.

…not learning that You are completely trustworthy.

…not having awareness of the joy of obedience.

…not learning of Your unconditional love.

…not experiencing Your healing touch.

…not grabbing Your firm grip.

…not being changed by Your forgiveness.

…not seeing Your Kingdom here on earth.

…not worshiping You with tears.

…not being able to relate to the pain You endured for me.

 

You, my God, took my knowledge of You

and turned it into my experience of You.

 

You took what I knew in my mind,

and filled my heart with it.

 

Job, man of many a trial, battered and bruised from the fight, said after his dark, dark night,

“I had only heard about You before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.”  Job 42:5 (NLT)

 

You will fill every wounded soldier that looks to You.

That wants to know You.

To experience

You.

– Susie Stewart

 

“When God places you in a challenging situation, take it as a signal that He will be glorified – and that you will come to know Him in a deeper way.  Because He’s going into the challenge with you.  And you’ll know Him even better on the other side….To know Him is the grand goal and adventure of life.  Inviting you into more intimate fellowship with Him will always be one of His primary reasons for steering you in one direction or the other.  Don’t just be listening to hear Him.  Be listening to know Him.”  ~Priscilla Shirer

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  John 17:3 (NIV)