by Angie Thomas

Valentine’s Day…some love it….others dread it or even despise it.  As with almost everything in our culture, the uniqueness of a holiday is often lost and misconstrued by commercialism and unrealistic expectations.

What if God wanted to really communicate to you His great love for you? We have tossed around the phrase “God loves you” so much in our Christian culture that it has quite possibly lost its power to penetrate our hearts and minds.  But God can remove the darkness around our hearts and give us new and clear perspective of His deep, pure, and passionate love for us!  Read Song of Solomon and be amazed at the intense, passionate way God describes His love for us.  Reflect on the amazing new heart we have been given in Christ because of His love for us.  Read the story of the crucifixion in one of the Gospels and consider the deep pain and anguish your Savior experienced because of His love for you.

As we start this journey to deepen our love for Jesus, the place we must start is reflecting on His unimaginable love for us.  Listen to Ephesians 3:14-21 (The Message):

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

May His Spirit work deeply and gently within us!

by Angie Thomas

This is one of my favorite verses:

But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory…but, as it is written,What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”… (1 Cor. 2:7, 9)

God desires to do something lasting, powerful and unimaginable in our hearts….but we must yield to and submit to Him. And this my friends, requires TRUST in the love and goodness of our Heavenly Father.  The enemy will try every way to dissuade you and get you to fear taking a journey towards heart transformation with Jesus.  Every time you hear the enemy start to whisper, “It will be too hard,” or, “This is a waste of time. You are already saved. You don’t need to put so much effort into your walk with Christ,” you just turn around and tell him to “SHUT IT!” (thanks Lindsay for the quote).

The truth is, we are saved and made perfect in Christ, but our flesh remains and Christ is still working out His perfect nature in our hearts.  It is the paradox of the “now” and “not yet” of our Christian lives.  If you feel the tension…don’t be afraid.  Remember God’s wonderful promise that, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).

The Message paraphrase of this tension and dilemma we often sense is awesome:

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” (1 Cor. 13:12-13)

But how do we love God extravagantly? It’s fun to talk about but honestly a bit more challenging to live out.  John 14:23 says, Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.'”  So, Jesus seems to be saying love and obedience are inseparable, but let’s admit it…we have all been balking at obedience since our first birthday when we began to understand someone telling us, “No!” Which is why we need LOTS of GRACE and each other! Following Jesus can be difficult at times but when we share our struggles and pray for each other the burden is lifted and joy multiplied!

I am so excited to see and experience with all of you the UNIMAGINABLE things God has in store for us, not only in the next few months but in the years and decades that follow as we are more fully equipped to be His disciples!