by Susan Sampson

How do I take the truth that God is love and He loves me to heart and believe it and abide in that love?

I honestly don’t know how to write about this because this continues to be a struggle for me – believing God loves me and living and resting in that love. I am still battling to uproot the lie that love is a feeling! This is what the world would have us believe. But this is not how God speaks of love. Love is both a noun and a verb. God is love and our love for God and for others is demonstrated by our obedience. God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us on the cross. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

We are called to walk by faith and not by sight. We must stop allowing our feelings to shepherd us and follow our Good Shepherd, Jesus. This is a battle because the old sin patterns are deep. The pathways are well tread. We must choose a totally new traffic pattern. We must no longer go down the sinful roads of worry and anger and instead follow our Lord down the highway of holiness.

In order to follow Him, I must know and believe His Word. I must believe He loves me even though many days it doesn’t feel like it or look like it from my limited and human perspective. I have to believe the truth of His Word, so when bad things are happening in my life and in the lives of those I love, I can still hold onto the truth that God is love and He loves me!

God’s ways are clearly not our ways. He is sovereign and He is therefore in control of all things. And He does allow bad things to happen in all of our lives for our good and for His glory. What really got to me in the lecture is when Laurie said that I can’t reason in my mind, “This is bad.” That is arrogant!

“The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” (Psalm 145:9)

“The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.” (Psalm 145:13)

“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.” (Psalm 145:17)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I had a sweet picture of this recently. My mom has been trying to sell her house since just after my dad passed away earlier this year. They have a beautiful home and we all thought it would sell quickly. She quickly found a new house to buy that was going to require some work. We all agreed, and I thought this was the house the Lord had for the new season of her life. Then one problem happened after another. It was a very difficult time for all of us. Mom finally made the difficult decision to let the house go.

Within the past two weeks, she has a contract on her house and has found a new house and they have accepted her offer. This new house is a thousand times better than the house she tried to buy earlier this year. What was a “bad time” in our lives was in reality the Lord leading her to the sweetest and most beautiful home which really needs no work at all; but we couldn’t understand or see at that time.

God is love. He demonstrated His amazing love at the cross. We must fix our eyes on Him; believe His love is true and real; believe His Word and not our feelings which continually change moment by moment and cannot be trusted. We then must obey His Word out of love for the Lord.

“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).

I am fighting to believe God loves me and rest in His love!

by Susan Sampson

Have you noticed (or am I the only one who does this?) that there are certain Scriptures that you really only think apply to your children? Philippians 2:14 I realize is one of these for me: “Do all things without grumbling or questioning.”

But Thursday this really hit home. Laurie told us to take this truth to heart – that we think childishly!  She gave the example of the family whose mom has very specific things they are to do when they get home. She said one child can do this very easily and another has such a hard time. Then she said, “Why do some have such a hard time hearing?!”

The answer was because the way that child is thinking is so strong she can’t hear anything! The definition of this was “headstrong.” In case you forgot what that lovely word means – it’s obstinate; stubborn; strong-willed; unyielding; inflexible; unbending. And those were just a few.

About a week before this lecture my husband and I were discussing one of our children and the struggle this one continues to have. As we were talking he said to me, “You don’t listen.” Now mind you, he has said this before, and I have been asking the Lord to give me His grace to have a gentle and quiet spirit and to submit to my husband (1 Pet. 3:1-6). But I see that I have been headstrong.

I have been confessing my pride to the Lord and asking Him for the grace to turn away from all pride and have a humble heart. When I heard my husband say this, it cut like a knife. I didn’t want to listen. My flesh wanted to defend myself and prove that my way was the right way. My flesh wanted to grumble and question. In fact I think it wasn’t until the next day that I went to my husband and told him that he was right and I would do what he said with regards to how he wants to handle the situation with our child.

I have been so childishly headstrong thinking I’m right and he’s wrong. The fact is I might be right and he might be wrong. Or he might be right and I might be wrong. In some sense it almost doesn’t even matter. The Lord is in control. But what I knew was right is that God’s Word is true and He has told me in 1 Peter 3 that I am to be subject to my own husband. “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord” (1 Pet. 3:5-6a).

As a child I cannot see as my heavenly Father sees. My sight is limited, my understanding is limited, my knowledge is limited, my wisdom is limited. He knows all, sees all, has all power. He is our Father. We are only children. But we are beloved children. I dearly love the NIV translation of 1 John 3:1: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are.”

Jesus said, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:4). We need to humble ourselves. We need to admit we are headstrong and don’t listen. We need to confess that God is God and we are not. We need to believe His Word and work to put the flab of the flesh to death!

As our study Beyond Belief points out, the fog is cleared by the cross of Christ! The cross of Christ is the most beautiful and amazing demonstration of that lavish love! The Son of God, His firstborn, our Brother, the child who never sinned became sin and took the wrath of our Father that we deserved for our sin and the full penalty of eternal damnation and total separation from our Father. He overcame death and put death in its grave!

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1a).

Let’s help each other to humble ourselves as little children and believe His love, know His love, trust His love, and live His love.


by Susan Sampson

We fight for truth by believing the truth and obeying the truth and not relying on our own insight–even when we don’t feel like it. Jesus wants the truth to be forged in us. “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being” (Psa. 51:6a).

Truth being forged. I am reminded of different movies I have seen where weapons and battle armor are being forged in the fire to make them strong. Paul describes our weapons in Ephesians 6. Two of them are the belt of truth and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. He tells us we need the armor to “be able to withstand in the evil day” (Eph. 6:13). And in 2 Cor. 10:4, Paul says “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” We destroy strongholds with the truth.

The example of the little girl in the lecture was so helpful for me. Her parents have told her the truth. They have commanded her. They have cared for her and loved her. She has received multiple consequences for not obeying the truth. And she loves her parents. Yet when the time comes to make her choice she goes the way of Eve who saw that the “tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Gen. 3:6a).

I know God’s Word in 1 Peter 3:1 & 4 says, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct...but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” And yet in the heat of the battle, in the smoke filled room truth fades away before my very eyes and the flesh takes over and I respond by snapping at my husband with an ugly tone of voice.

What was so powerful in my morning quiet time, the truth that I wholeheartedly agreed with in my mind, escapes me in the battle with my flesh. Clearly this is why the truth must be forged in us. Not just in our minds, but in our hearts. This is why we must continue forward by faith taking the truth to our hearts and live it out day by day. This is why we must continue to hide God’s Word in our hearts by meditating on Scripture and memorizing Scripture.

Ultimately, this is something only the Lord can work in us. It is something He has promised to do for His people. Only the Lord can change a human heart. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord; I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:33).

And in Ezekiel 36:26-27, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

So what do we do? What is our responsibility, our calling? The lecture was so helpful at this point. We live lives of repentance and faith. We run to our Lord and not from Him in shame. For there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. I confess again and again that I don’t have a gentle and quiet spirit and ask the Lord to reign me in! I confess that I believe the lie that by “one more word” I will save my family when I know the truth that says to adorn a gentle and quiet spirit. I must repent of the lies that I believe and choose to place my hope in the Truth, Jesus Christ. My way only leads to death. Jesus is the Way to life.

He is the light. He is love. And He is our advocate. We are in the light and the light is in us. This is the truth to stake our lives on. This is the truth we must believe whether we feel like it or not. This is the truth we need to cry out to God to forge in our hearts. Our advocate pleads our case; is on our side; is for us and cares for us. He sees our situation and wants to see us through it. He wants to listen, hear, know, and understand. He has the ear, heart, and mind of compassion. He will fight for us and with us! He is there to fight with us against the darkness. He helps us navigate and shows us the ropes. And He brings all He has to bear to our situations–His wisdom, love, and power. He is the light and the darkness has not, nor ever will overcome the light!