Can you believe it’s been six months since God gave the instruction and permission to launch this website?!? He’s revealed much to me during this time, and I’ve loved sharing it with you, post by post! As I wrote in my very first post, my prayer is that, through my life and this site, as I have dedicated both to Him, you will be brought to Jesus, and the river of life will flow out of your heart in a powerful way! Maybe Liv has been a blessing to you, and God has used it to do just that…bring you closer to Him and make beautiful changes in your life to look more and more like Him. Maybe it hasn’t been what you were hoping for or needing. Or maybe you just don’t have time to read one more thing; your plate is already full!
This brings me to today. The LORD has directed me to take this time to check in with you all and see what’s going well…and what isn’t. We’ve compiled a survey to help me serve you (and, therefore, Him) better. As always, the LORD will continue to drive us on this venture; He has chosen this medium to hear your voice in order to fine-tune some things to better meet you where you’re at.
Your feedback is super important, so please take a few minutes to honestly answer the questions in the survey below. They’re anonymous, so I hope that helps you feel more comfortable in sharing how you really feel and what God is laying on your heart. You only have to take the survey once; there’s no need to come back every day and lobby for your vote! : ) Let’s get started!
Getting the kids caught back up in school from being out with Covid, post Covid cleaning, Christmas shopping, decorating, plans with family, parenting…There are many things that are occupying my brain space, yet God keeps reminding me this season of joy.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Put away all fear; for I am bringing you good news of great joy—joy for all the People.”Luke 2:10 GWT
Lots of kids stand in line this time of year to meet Santa Claus. When it’s their turn, he bends over to pick them up and set them on his lap. He leans in to hear of the one gift they really want for Christmas. This whole experience brightens up some of their faces in the hopes that their Christmas wish will come true; and then, there are those who are utterly terrified of every single detail of it…the strange elf helper, the bearded man, not being next to Mom or Dad, pictures, the uncomfortable Christmas sweater they had to wear, or the bow so tightly tied in their hair…
There are child-sized fears, and there are adult-sized fears:
Years ago, a heavenly messenger was sent to tell shepherds some good news. No, they didn’t sit on Santa’s lap and request this news. We aren’t even told if they’d asked Almighty God for or about it! Yet God, in His kindness, willingly leaned His head down toward those shepherds to give them His undeserved approval, support, and the great news of Jesus. He gave them His grace, and when they were aware of this favor God was giving them, it gave them intense joy!
A stirring admiration affected their emotions and minds. Yes, their occupations made them unclean, but isn’t that why Jesus came–for all those who are unclean with sin (Mark 2:17), to forgive His people’s sins (Matthew 1:21)? God chose the shepherds with intention! He chose them, because He knew He’d have their attention; He chose them, because He knew they, like sheep, would listen and follow directions well; He chose them, because they’d respond right away, their excitement would be contagious, and glory and praise would be given back to God alone! There’s nothing mentioned about their cleaning up before they met Jesus. They just left right away, short tunic and all…not just to see this message come to life with their very own eyes, but so they could “see it” in their minds–to “get it,” to understand. They had an urgency…an emphasis…and chose to go!
The GOOD NEWS, the teaching and revelation of Jesus, the Messiah, isn’t something we’re to be afraid of and shy away from! To share this message with others is a proper response, when we consider that God bent toward us to share it with US!
Clear some brain space and let me know of an example you’ve seen of God’s favor this past week, a message that excites you! Your joy is contagious!
For more on the meaning of joy, check out the last post:
My daughter wrote a sentence down on a piece of paper the other day, brought it to me, and proceeded to ask of me what I’m going to ask of you: See the sentence above? Read it seven different times, changing the emphasis from one word to the next. For example:
Continue through until you’ve read it all seven times…
…Did you notice how putting the emphasis on different words in the sentence changed its implied meaning? The first time implied that you never said it, but someone else did. The second time, you were emphatic that you never said that…and maybe you’re even a little annoyed or upset that someone would say you would. The third time, you never said it…out loud, but you probably thought it…
Same sentence…different perspectives and implications.
This got me thinking about where I put the emphasis when I go through situations, when I hear something, what I dwell on in my thoughts, etc., and how that emphasis directs where my focus and perspective is. In the sentences above, it was on the bolded words, but maybe in thinking about other situations, it’s on the tone someone used when they said something, what wasn’t accomplished, how someone rudely pushed themselves in front of me, etc. Where we put the emphasis can tend to distract us from where our emphasis should be…at least, for me.
“Rejoice at all times.”1 Thessalonians 5:16 BSB
We tend to put the emphasis on “rejoice” in this verse.
Xaírō gives me the beautiful picture of God, leaning His head down toward His kiddos, willing to give us His undeserved approval, support, and kindness.
What if we were to put the emphasis on “all times” in the verse above? If someone gives you a nasty look, you remember God’s favor toward you and are glad; I think this would make it easier to respond in kindness. When someone says something snarky, not only remember God’s favor, but sit in it…experience it; this should cause you to be glad! When you’re afraid, remember God’s favor and be glad He’s caring for you! This is a hard thing to do all the time! I’ll admit; it’s not always on my radar, yet it’s something we’re commanded to do…and the emphasis can make a big difference on how we apply it to our lives.
To me, the big game changer is “being aware.” Have you ever gone to buy something new to you, thinking you’d never seen anyone have it before? Then, after you buy it, you see the same thing here, there, and everywhere?!? It’s not that these things suddenly appeared; it’s just that you’re more aware of them. What if we did that with God’s favor? We’d look for it; we’d notice it; we’d focus on it; and we’d remember it.
This is something I need to focus more on! In fact, while I’ve been working on this post, I’ve tried to do this more often…to be more aware of His favor. It’s honestly turned a frustrated perspective around several times for me, like an about face! Thank You, LORD, for bending over toward me, supporting me by teaching me through Your Spirit and Your word; Your kindness overwhelms me!
I think of the picture at the beginning of this post. The kiddo is looking off at something that has his gaze, but his mom is trying to redirect his attention…his focus. Sometimes, I’m so in the thick of things; I need someone to come along beside me and lovingly help me redirect my attention…my focus. When I focus on the negative, chances are, my perspective is negative. When I focus on the positive, like my God leaning toward me, willing to give me His approval, support, and kindness, my perspective will, most likely, change to be more positive, as it has many times this week.
A Bucknell University survey of individuals mostly in their early twenties focused “on how men and women react to relationship situations,…both [men and women] felt that a partner whose love wasn’t equal to their own was worse than unequal sexual attraction…Emotional commitment and sex both play a role in a relationship’s success—but Dr. Wade,” a researcher who led the study, “didn’t expect commitment to trump sex for both genders.”1
We all want to be loved…truly loved…but Satan takes advantage of this natural longing to tempt people to look outside of God’s design, while making the case for it in the name of “love.”
I’ve been looking at different Biblical interpretations related to love the last couple posts, as I want to Biblically know how to respond. Here’s another one:
This goes back to what love is, according to Scripture. First John 4:8 says that “…GOD is love.” “Love,” here, is the exact same Greek word used for “love” throughout 1 Corinthians 13: “agapé” (see the “What’s Love Got to Do with Me” post link below for more on this). When we read about love in these verses, we’re really reading about God–and what HE prefers, which is what “agapé” (love) means. Too often, we focus on what WE want, what WE think we deserve, why WE’RE right…When we focus on WE or ME, we lose the point of love…to focus on GOD and what HE chooses.
The second basis for this interpretation, reciprocation, can be a dangerous pillar to stand on. Just because something’s reciprocated doesn’t mean it’s love (what God prefers), which is why we have to look at Scripture deeper.
If certain thoughts, desires, or behaviors violate God’s relationship standards (see the 1 Corinthians 6:9 post link below for more on this), and we choose to not abide by them, we aren’t abiding in Him (1 John 3:24). We’re, basically, developing our own design; viewing our creation/standards as better than God’s; and serving ourselves over God. This is idolatry, which is referenced often throughout Scripture as something prohibited.
“…Your people, again, committed evil in Your sight, and once more, You let their enemies conquer them. Yet whenever Your people turned and cried to You, again, for help, You listened once more from heaven. In Your wonderful mercy, You rescued them many times! You warned them to return to Your Law, but they became proud and obstinate and disobeyed Your commands. They did not follow Your regulations, by which people will find life, if only they obey. They stubbornly turned their backs on You and refused to listen.”Nehemiah 9:28-29 NLT
“For from Him [all things originate] and through Him [all things live and exist] and to Him are all things [directed]. To Him be glory and honor forever! Amen. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship.”Romans 11:36, 12:1 AB
1 Sinrich, Jenn. “This is What Men Care about Most in Relationships—and It’s Not Sexual Attraction.” THE Healthy, 8 September 2017, https://www.thehealthy.com/family/relationships/reciprocated-love-over-sexual-attraction/
I’m sure you’ve noticed–There are a LOT of words in the Bible that we don’t use in our typical conversations. I tend to call them “church words.” You know…the ones we act like we know (and we do have an idea, sometimes), because we’ve heard them so much. Yet, if someone asked us, “What’s that mean?” we’d have a hard time coming up with a confident answer. First Corinthians 6:9 has a bunch of those words, for me. Yes, I know what “homosexual” means, but I learned that, Biblically, this word’s referring to more than we tend to think it is.
I’ve been digging into some of God’s standards, since 1 Corinthians 13:6 says “Love doesn’t celebrate or enjoy violating God’s justice or abusing God’s standards.” People, saved and unsaved, have varying views of what His standards are. Since Paul talks, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, about those who are guilty, in God’s court, of violating God’s standards, because He’s holy, I figured that’s a good place to start. Here’s what I found some of those “big church words” in Verse 9 mean, since they relate to this topic of love in more ways than one:
I had these definitions fresh in my mind, as I thought about the following Biblical interpretation.
The individual who is said to have come up with the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” didn’t like the current terms of the day, believing them to be more suppressive. This individual was a gay rights activist and supporter, believing the nation-state, now called Germany, should have minimal rights when it came to interfering in a person’s private life. So, while the terms we know of as “homosexual” and “heterosexual” weren’t, apparently, around, taking a look at the “big church words” above and their meanings, we see these desires and behaviors were also around in Bible times.
I’ve seen and heard the phrase, “Love is love,” a lot. You, probably, have, too. According to the Urban Dictionary, which is a web site where people, via the internet, weigh in on slang words and phrases, “Love is love,” is said to mean: 1) “The love expressed by an individual or couple is valid, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of their lover or partner”1 and/or 2) “It’s not about the sex or gender of the person, but how they treat you! So, as long as you’re getting the love and affection that you need to be happy in love, then it doesn’t and/or shouldn’t matter what gender is loving you. Often a term used by bisexuals or those who have no issues with swinging with the same-sex as long as the loving is good!”1
This post and the next one, at least, I’m going to look at Biblical interpretations of sexuality and dig into Scripture to see what God reveals about His sexuality standards. This continues the “Love Series,” if you want to call it that, which has been exposing what love does and doesn’t do, according to 1 Corinthians 13.
As a refresher from last post,…
Verse 6 of 1 Corinthians 13 instructs us not to abuse God’s standards, so it’s imperative that we look deeply into God’s Word to understand what His standards truly are. It’s only then that we can properly embrace a Biblical world view of this topic, making sure what we believe isn’t merely approved by us or is what we want, but it aligns with what God prefers (the definition of the Greek word, “agapé”–love–in 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:16).
And He said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”~Jesus (Mark 7:20-23 ESV)
Thank you, LORD, for sending Your Son, Jesus, to die…that His blood can cover and forgive all sins…visible AND invisible!
1 qbox350. “Love is love” Urban Dictionary, https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Love%20is%20love, 22 January 2020.
2 Orators Speak. “love is love” Urban Dictionary, https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Love%20is%20love, 22 March 2011.
I embarked on an internet search to see what people think love is NOT…Whew! There’s a LOT out there! The thing is, it doesn’t matter how many PhDs someone has, whom they work for that gives them clout, or how many people follow them. What DOES matter is if they agree with what the Author of Love…true Love…says love is…and isn’t. In the last two posts, I dug into several things God says love isn’t, according to 1 Corinthians 13. In this post, I’m looking at additional parameters. I pray God reveals something new or thought-provoking to you today in this well-traveled chapter of the Bible, as He has me…So, what doesn’t love do?!?
I’ve heard different reasons why some think and believe the Bible allows for homosexuality and various gender identities beyond man and woman…and why these individuals believe Christians should emend what they teach in order to look at these topics from that point of view…one which, according to them, may show God’s nature more completely. This is a sensitive subject and one that is interpreted in various ways. Verse 6 of 1 Corinthians 13 instructs us not to abuse God’s standards, so it’s imperative that we look deeply into God’s Word to understand what His standards truly are. It’s only then that we can properly embrace a Biblical world view of this topic, making sure what we believe isn’t merely approved by us or is what we want, but it aligns with what God prefers (the definition of the Greek word, “agapé”–love–in 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:16).
There are some additional thoughts, relating to views about sexuality, to compare with Scripture, but I’m going to stop here, for now. Check back next post for a closer look.
1 “GENESIS–GOD’S CREATION OF MAN AND WOMAN.” biblescripture.net, https://biblescripture.net/Creation.html. Accessed 5 October 2021.
Have you ever been really mad, and words start flowing out of your mouth that just aren’t like you? I have! I’ve thought, “Where did that come from?!?” knowing full well it was a deeper matter than just what was going on at the moment.
We’ve been digging into matters of love in 1 Corinthians 13 for a number of posts: What love IS and what it ISN’T. In this post, we’re going to continue looking at what love doesn’t do…and we’ll find that anger and frustration aren’t the only things that produce free-flowing words or insensitive actions.
23“This is what the LORD says: ‘The wise man is not to boast in his wisdom; the strong man is not to boast in his strength; and the rich man is not to boast in his riches.
24If they want to brag, they should brag that they understand and know Me. They should brag that I, the LORD, act out of love, righteousness, and justice on the earth. This kind of bragging pleases Me,’ declares the LORD.”Jeremiah 9:23 ISV and 24 GWT
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”Luke 6:45 NIV
Doing self checks are vitally important for all of us!
My daughter loves movies! Last week, in her Bible class, she was challenged to watch a movie, from a list of approved films, and compare what beliefs were present (world views) with what the Bible says about each (Biblical world view). The movie she selected was one she’s watched many, many times throughout the years. However, this time, she picked up on several things she’d never picked up on before, as she was challenged to look deeper and discern. How often do we take a deeper look and discern? Do we take the time? Are we analyzing what we allow in? Since completing that assignment, I’ve seen my daughter make some really neat decisions about what she opens the door of her heart to…and changes have been made in her words as a result.
1qbox 350 and Orators Speak. “Love is love” and “love is love.” Urban Dictionary, 22 January 2020 and 22 March 2011, https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Love%20is%20love.