the love factor

Love_God_Love_Others_std_t_nv

“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. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Our truth today is simple: if a person truly loves God, then they must have a real and genuine love for others – whether that be a family member, friend or a neighbor. Not only do we sometimes struggle with having a true and genuine love for God, but we also struggle sometimes with authentically loving others. Yet loving others is connected to love and devotion to the Lord.

Why do we struggle with loving others? Sometimes they have hurt us and sometimes that hurt has been so big and it has made such a mess that loving them seems like we accept them or what they did and they we feel confused because why would we – how could we – love a hurtful person? Why should we love those who have made us feel like garbage?

Well thankfully God has never withdrawn His holy love for us when we made Him fell like we didn’t care, or didn’t want to obey Him. I am sure God has felt pain – especially with some of our decisions and actions, yet His love and mercy is always abounding.

Loving God with all that we are – heart, soul and mind – is a declaration against logic and feeling. It also plainly and yet powerful demonstrates that nothing else in this world is our focus or our aim – that nothing is a god or idol in our life – for the Lord alone is who we worship and in whom we live for.

Yet often we allow our anger or other feelings to become our idols and we serve those feelings and fan them into flame within our lives or even within others. In doing so, it not only breaks our connection with others, but also it affects our devotion to God. This is how the two are so deeply connected. This is why Jesus spoke what He did in this truth.

Did that person hurt you? Yes! Should they be punished! Probablly. But when we resist loving them still – when we let our feelings guide us and we serve them, then all we do is deny ourselves the joy of being centered in a loving and intimate relationship with God.

When we stop letting those idols of feelings control us we have freedom then to overflow with the love and generosity of God towards others, regardless of what they have said or done. No longer do we let lies control us, nor do we let others actions steal from us and cause us pain. We surrender all those feelings and all that sense of justice and fairness to foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ and we purpose to walk in the freedom of God that is found when we are centered on His complete & full love.

As you wrestle with this truth today – ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you how your view of others and their actions is keeping you at bay from being centered in God’s love. And ask the Holy Spirit to show you have you might more faithfully demonstrating God’s redemptive love to others.

(NOTE: the post today was taken from the “Daily Devos” that I write. To sign-up to receive them go to: http://nickolasemery.us6.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=026a704b43a1b6cd8af81e245&id=c95886fdad

buying into the marriage lies

I believe with all my heart that there is an attack upon marriage today. People come together, in holy matrimony, and are ending up in a holy hell. I see it almost every day in perfect strangers – as well as I hear about it all the time from friends. Naturally my heart hurts for the stranger I witness in a store or park, whose marriage is “oh-so-publically” falling apart. And if it is possible, my heart aches all the more for my dear friends who are struggling in their marriage as well. Marriage is meant to be amazing – and with the right tools & support – redemption from the hard stuff a marriage faces is suppose to be life-changing. Yet for many it is not. For many, their marriage is struggling, and even ending.

My marriage is far from perfect, because I am far from perfect. My smokin’ hot wife is truly amazing. Compassionate, merciful, faithful, fiercely loyal and tremendously loving. When communication breaks down in our marriage and we experience a conflict, she is always quick to show me grace, and give me space to process my short-comings, or my needs. We have always worked at not buying into the marriage lies that many today are faced with, and many of which they are believing. Before our marriage even started, we made a commitment to one another, that in our marriage, we will give up our right, to be right – and that we are committed to be redemptive, rather than “be right.” Not buying into the marriage lies takes focus and commitment, consistently – and that’s what makes it so hard.

Recently a friend shared on a social media site a blog called, “3 Marriage Lies“. I read it once, and then I read it again. I read it a third time. And then I called my wife and I told her to read it. I read it so many times and ended up calling home about it because it so clearly articulated exactly what so many people are struggling with right now in their marriages. Whether its been a perfect stranger, or a dear friend, many I encounter are buying into the marriage lies rather than living in the truth and power of redemption. Read this blog and let it encourage your heart, and your marriage. (CLICK HERE to read the “3 Marriage Lies” blog.)

What you just read in the “3 Marriage Lies” is just the start. There are so many other tools out there for you to grab onto – the key will be for you to use them. If you need help, tell someone. Talk to someone, now. Let them know the lies you are buying into and stop going to “people and sources” that you know are just going to agree with you, and fuel the lies you’ve bought into. It’s not working – so stop it.

God never intended your marriage to be a place of pain or isolation. And I don’t want to, for a second, ignore those in a marriage where there is so much abuse happening either that you see no other way out, then leaving. That situation needs help. You need to be safe. You deserve to be loved and secure. What I am talking about, or speaking to rather, is those marriages where people are wounded and hurt and who have bought into a variety of marriages lies that have done nothing but bring down their marriage. God never intended your marriage to be a place like this and I hope you understand that God has no plan to leave it that way – so why should you? Fight for your marriage my friends. Seek redemption over your rightness. Seek healing over pain. Stop buying into the marriages lies and start living out, each day – and perhaps, moment by moment – the truth of what love really is suppose to be…

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrongsuffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

confession time

I love my mom. And that’s not the confession I’m making…

Many years ago she started e-mailing us kids each day of the work week; she shared a verse and thought of the day from a devotional calendar that she has. And it has stuck – and now we get a little glimpse into whatever she is doing that day, etc. as well.

Today’s e-mail made my heart happy. Life over the past couple of years for my mom has been hard. She lost her sister and then almost a year later, we lost my brother. So things have been tough – but she has been faithful with her daily e-mails and faithful to encourage others. Today she shared this: “I had a chance to witness to Debbie, our apartment manager, yesterday. She is really close to the truth, and wants to understand the bible-please pray that the Holy Spirit will give me the right words. I invited her to church, and will invite her to go to Bible Study…”

I wrote her back and I told her I loved her and I loved her heart for others. She told me she has really grown and been stretched this last year. And its great to see her wanting to share with others about her faith in the Lord and the hope she has in God. And it is true – something has changed in her…

I’m also madly in love with my wife. And that’s no confession either – pretty much everyone knows how crazy I am about her…

My wife shared with me recently that she has a new desire to be more open to sharing about the love of God with people she is connecting with or new people she meets. If you know her, you know that she tends to be more a “behind the scenes” kind of person. But recently, God has been growing her and stretching her to look for opportunities each day, wherever she is at, to connect with people and to point them to Jesus. And guess what? Well, every park we’ve been to with the kids in the last couple of weeks the Lord puts on my wife’s heart to connect with a person she meets there. It’s incredible – this change in her, this desire and boldness…

My mom and my wife are inspiring me with their desire to share with others about their love for God. The Lord has used them to re-ignite within me an awareness of what He has already at work doing in the lives of people I encounter each day. Their example in my life has encouraged me to more bold with people I connect with. It’s led me to pray with strangers at the pet store and Wall-Greens. It’s led me to stop, connect and listen with people I normally pass by. And it’s given me opportunities to share with each of them, the hope that I have found in the Lord.

So my confession is this: I have not been good at sharing with others the hope that I have in the Lord. And to my family and friends who aren’t yet connected to God – I am sorry I haven’t been more courageous about sharing my faith with you. We know its there – for crying out loud, I’m a pastor. But I want that to change. I want you to see in me and my actions the hope that I profess in Jesus Christ. I don’t want to just pray for you, I want to, if you’ll let me, to pray with you. And, regardless of what you might think about the church, or the Lord – I want to, if you are willing, to have great conversations with you about God and His love for you. I love each of you and I want to spend eternity with you. I care about you, and about us, and I care too much to stay silent about this anymore.

So…who are you going to share going to share the Good News of God’s love with today? There are people all around you that need to know the Hope you have in the Lord – be bold, be courageous and point someone to Jesus today!