“All The Love in The World”, from L.Willows (The Lordship of Christ Jesus, Our Hearts, Day by Day)

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Many hearts are feeling the lament of the suffering that exists in the world right now.  We approach Holy Week, tomorrow is Palm Sunday – most of us are in the experience of home isolation. I don’t believe that anyone could have fathomed that this would be what life looks like a few months ago. Here we are. Our hearts seek the Lordship of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We must bring our hearts to God and trust that He hears every prayer now more than ever before. I am thankful that His Love is always faithful and Near.

In my own life, I have needed the Lord’s Presence countless times in these weeks. Remarkably, I have been witness to many miracles even though there have been times when I felt lost. I have seen bold prayers answered in the lives of many that I know. His Nearness is vivid and palpable.

These are not normal times. I find that there is no way to prepare for life “now”. The only way to live is by putting complete trust in God.  To me, that meant for everything, large and small and in-between.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

I needed to pause and step back, to go again to God and ask for His Help. Prayer has been a way of life. Needing the guidance of the Holy Spirit is the most essential protection. Most of all, for my heart- I need to be filled with the Love of God. It is the Bread, the only Bread that will sustain and feed me or any of us throughout this and our lives.

John 6:35  “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Acts 2:46-47 “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

We are in days, unique times- but not the first times in the history of mankind when all have gathered in homes to pray to God and ask for His leadership and favor.

We need to open our hearts with gratitude for what we receive from Him. He offers us daily bread. Help us to see it and receive it. His Love, wisdom and the power of His Lordship is here for us.

God provides all the love in the world. The power of His love is here.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We are in the safe grasp of The Lord. His comfort is near to each of us. Nothing that happens in this world, no matter how grave the crises, or close up the danger feels- can or will ever alter the truth of who God is, and of His Promises to us. This time that we are all in, as difficult as it can be is to walk through, is part of a trial that we each are called to courageously face.

We cannot face it with our own strength alone. We need God’s strength. We need to call upon His Love. It is a remarkable Power.

God’s Love is granted to us as a Treasure to be given out.

Our hearts not only need to be filled by His Love for personal healing and restoration, but we are also His people- His ‘responders’, able to fulfill His will and purpose on behalf of others.  We do not have such knowledge but by allowing the treasure of His Love, His pure character to move through our hearts, we become instruments of His Love.  In this way, we are equipped to respond generously to the world around us. There is a call for us to love one another in courageous ways right now.

Acts 9:15 “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.”

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Christians who have spent years in prayer and had the privilege of community and study now have an opportunity to live their faith boldly, to entrust to God all of their hearts and with full belief in His enduring goodness – take all and every action in their immediate surroundings using every gift, ability, and talent for the benefit of others so that His Love is forwarded outward. What was entrusted to us, needs to be given selflessly.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

We are connected by our need for God.

Now, more than ever we live in a world that needs to be bound together by love. As we witness daily counts of how many are dying worldwide of COVID 19 our response can’t be fear. We need hope. We know that death is not the end of life. Yet the suffering that exists is in many other forms of loss. It is one that my words do not need to repeat.

Each reader knows too dearly what the sources of suffering are both in their own lives and in their communities near and far. It is a loss beyond words. It is economic, cultural, national, spiritual and deeply personal. It takes hearts and presses them in ways that I cannot write.

The most important thing is that suffering brings our hearts to God. We need Him desperately. He answers and is vividly Present. I am reminded that in scripture we have not been promised that life is exempt from suffering, but that it is like a refiner’s fire that strengthens us, more as we are given mercy and comfort from God- we are able to be merciful and comforting to others.

Romans 5:3-4 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

The Way that God Loves us.

We need to pray that God’s immeasurable Love runs like rivers of mercy. 

Today and in the next days and weeks, I pray that you will receive fresh fillings of God’s Love in your hearts. Jesus Christ is our Lord. Most especially, remember as I hope that I do- it is a time to love one another. If we each search our hearts we will find that there are some that we need to reach out to and others that we need to forgive. We may have burdens on our hearts that need to be brought to the Lord. He is There, miraculously able to be with each of us to transform it all in the Power of His Love. It is personal. The Lord Jesus Christ is a personal God that we can call at any moment of the day or night.  

God is always with you. His Love is constant, unwavering, steady and faithful.

1 John 4:7  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

1 John 4:16 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Each day as we mark this time, we can remind our hearts that it is also a beginning. We can start the days with a remembrance of God’s call to each of us to Love faithfully as He does, to remember to be generous with the Love that pours to each of our hearts and to open our hearts softly towards Him with trust, listening to the calling of His Spirit. We each have specific “instructions” on the way we need to walk forward. We will know. We will feel His prompting. God’s Loving Hand is always with us. He is always leading. Call upon the Lordship of Christ Jesus. 

 

He is giving us all of the Love in the world. He Is All of the Love in the World.

Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”

Pray boldly. Be Strong and Courageous. Put your life and heart into the Lordship of Christ Jesus. 

© 2020 Linda Willows

“A Long Time Ago, but We Have Now”, from L.Willows (Live Love, Courage, Bold)

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Joshua 1:9 –“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

A long time ago, I traveled very far away. It was a different time, my perspective was immersed in the experience. (a humanitarian initiative) I did not have colleagues from the US with me. My reflective life was on the inside of my heart and in prayer. The times asked for courage.

It was 1993. I gathered with many others in the old cushioned seats of the historic Sarajevo National Theater, a majestic structure that had been constructed in 1899. It was during the second year of the Balkan war. Though there was shelling from the nearby mountains and snipers lined an unseen circumference in the ridges, there was nothing that stopped the people of the city from attending a performance at the cherished Theater. The local performing artists worked to continue performing during the war. I remember that a small orchestra group also played regularly outside for all to enjoy each day. These were bold people.

That evening, I remember the feeling of being together with several hundred others in the cathedral-like opera house gathered together gazing towards the stage. It smelled a little bit musty, maybe of a perfume that I was not familiar with. It was semi-dark because it was only lit by an old generator. It felt wonderful to enjoy laughter at the comedy that was presented. There was joy even during the war. It was a relief to be together in the Theater.

No one had electricity at that time. There was no heat. It was winter-time in Sarajevo. Just being in the audience was a victory. Crossing the streets to arrive meant that you had risked the snipers that targeted civilians. I noticed that no one ran across the streets. Everyone learned to walked with heads held high. They had reasoned that there would be an appointed time to live and a time to die.  This was the time to laugh.

The actors on the stage were immersed in the play. I was far enough forward that I could see their expressions. It helped me to understand and be swept into the joy of the moment. Laughter rippled through the Theater. Then, suddenly, there was a loud thunderous sound. Then it happened again. It wasn’t us clapping. It was an interruption that everyone knew well. It was shelling from the mountains that landed next to the Theater if not upon an adjacent wall. My ears rang. My heart shook. No one moved. The play stopped. Everything became completely dark and still.

It was understood that the generator had been struck. No one moved towards an exit or left their seat. I sat in my seat and waited. I could feel the breath of the people around me. It was very cold in there.

I had learned to be still and expectant. Everyone sat together and waited in the darkness without moving for some moments, I don’t know for how long. Because of the thunderous shelling outside, the decision to stay may have meant living or dying. It seemed that the Theater was the target. It was a landmark. The next shell could have hit us all. It was the same as deciding when or how to cross the street.

God really does have your life in His Hands. We live and die for Him. This was one of those moments. There were many in that war. It felt like a collective decision to be together in the Theater with the expectancy of faith.

Suddenly a small light appeared on the stage. It was a candle. One of the actors was placing candles on the perimeter of the wide half-circle of the stage’s edge where the stage-lights had been. The actors were lighting the candles. One by one they were lit. In moments the lights revealed a wondrous view, one that was more spectacular than before.

Then, in the glow of a very special evening, with the pop-pop of shelling in the background and the occasional thunder of larger threats, the play continued in candlelight. The play was wonderful. I am not certain that I ever really knew what it was about but I laughed and was filled with joy.  It was a night to remember forever. Though it was very cold, I felt warm.

Later, walking to the room that I stayed in on those icy and snow-filled streets, I felt like I was in a neighborhood regardless of the threats that appeared to still be all around. Though I was not carrying one of the candles from the stage with me, I felt the glow of the room. The sense of faith and expectancy stayed with me. I did not have fear later that night when I was alone and the night war thunder.

We all seemed to be together, still in one larger room – not scattered individually throughout a city divided. God protects each of us, like a Light with and within every heart.

And now, (2019) if I hear thunder I am comforted. I remember that God is with each of us everywhere. I know that in some places and in some lives, we face times that feel dangerous or isolating but I know that He is always with us and never apart from anyone. I know that even when things happen that seem to cause moments that looks like a temporary “disconnect” – if we wait with hope, faith, and expectancy, especially with and for one another, and in fellowship – our Lord God responds bountifully and generously.

His Love and Light and His Spirit shine into our lives and hearts vividly. They warm us in ways that are transformative. We enter into bold new ways to tell His story, of how His Love has altered our lives and the landscape of our hearts.

He has mine. My story is one of the ongoing triumph of the Love of Christ in my heart and how it brings peace to me.

Joshua 1:9 -“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

God is with you. He is with us all the time. He gives us strength and courage. I pray that we are each given the gift of many chances to step forward as bold Christians that walk fearlessly and lovingly towards the Life that we are given with generous and loving hearts.

© 2019 Linda Willows

“God is With You – All The Time”, from L.Willows (justice, Overcome, stand with Love, do no harm)

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Hearts that have been broken by trials and challenges can be lifted by God. They are given the strength to be stronger than before.

Sealed and healed by His power to walk forward in Love, we are given grace upon grace to walk beyond and through worldly circumstances.

Are there any of us that have not faced forms of brokenness? We all have examples from life, whoever we are, wherever we live. There are personal stories that line the insides of each of our hearts.

We pray that God is with us during these times; that His Goodness is greater than the experience of what is visibly broken.

God is With You, All the Time

Looking closely, we see that since we are living in a broken world – one that is not yet redeemed by Christ, in which, we ourselves, grateful for the gift of grace in Christ; are not yet fully redeemed (not perfect and removed from all sin), we are subject to personal brokenness and trials that recur.

Romans 8:19- “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption…”

Recently, I have listened to hearts sharing courageously about the corruption of evil, the forms it takes and how that feels when it becomes a ‘like a mountain’ in your path as you are trying to walk forward- even on behalf of your family or for others that you serve.

2 Peter 2:9- “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”

1 Peter 5:10- “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

Revelation 3:20- “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

He is The Door to Freedom from Brokenness

Our lives are each so different but our hearts are similar. How we face God is similar and the way that it feels to go through a short or long season of inner brokenness in this world or one’s own “inner world” is similar. We live as God’s family. We are His children, His Beloveds. God is with us- all the time.

Joshua 1:19- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

For one moment I need to be specific. Sadly, our culture and world today call out some things that families and communities face in degrees of severity regardless of where they live or what their status is. Evil, which is the opposite of Love seeks to win the ‘battle’ for our hearts and lives. Evil, which is Sin, is the equivalent of death. Love, which is Christ – is Life.

The Choice between Life and Death; Deuteronomy

See What Kind of Love The Father Has

Recently there have been numerous accounts of bullying. This may sound sensational and blown up on the news, taking on perspectives and short interviews but it is far more personal and with far-reaching for the hearts involved. It is an assault on the spirit. Bullying happens to people of all ages. It is aggression towards those perceived to be vulnerable.

  • It wounds his or her trust and sense of innate protection and safety of self.
  • It violates the boundaries of his outer and inner heart and mind.
  • It places a false shame upon the identity of the individual because it causes one to question “why me?”.
  • It potentially violates the natural progression of trust in peer, and or authority relationships.
  • It potentially shakes trust in the caretakers that were supposed to be in the role of protectors, this includes spiritual figureheads, mentors and inner “promise keepers” that one looks to. (sometimes people that are harmed unknowingly lose faith in “God the Protector” as well, questioning why He did not prevent the harm)

This has equal implications for all ages. People in their 30’s, 40’s, even seniors can be on the receiving end of bullying.

How is bullying defined? It is a form of aggression that inflicts harm on the vulnerable. 

It is described as the action of seeking to harm, intimidate or coerce someone that appears to be vulnerable. This breaks my heart because vulnerability to me is a quality that is appealing. It is often the sweetest part about a kind and open person, not only a child but someone with a soft and pure heart; especially a Christian that has an intimate relationship with God.

Psalm 105:15- “Saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”

Romans 13:10- “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Christian “weakness” is Strength in the Sovereignty and Infinite Power of God.

The interesting thing is that the worldly definition of vulnerability is that one is open to attack but the Biblical definition of vulnerability is very different. Christian vulnerability is allowing God’s power to be supreme and sovereign!

2 Corinthians 12:9- “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:10- “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Romans 8:26- “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

I could go on into hundreds and hundreds of scriptural quotes but there is no room! The Old and New Testament are filled with the encouragement of God’s Sovereignty and Divine ability.

In this article, I only mentioned bullying as a form of agression that inflicts harm. Please consider how much goes on in this world – all of the trials that our neighbors face. There are so many things that attempt to steal our spirit and take away purity of the heart.

Aggression and forms of anger are like underground streams of toxic waters that are often unknown to us. Sometimes we have to stumble into the result of them before we know that they exist. Then we respond, we feel, we want to repel, understandably.

We Must Choose to Stand With Love

Can we pray that we are more loving and kind to one another? If you sense that there is even a seed of unkindness, bullying or aggression of any nature – know that its source is evil, that there are currents pulling in powerful directions in our world today but really there are only two directions. One is for good and the other is the opposite.

Where will you stand? We must choose to stand with Love.

1 Corinthians 16: 13-15- “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”

1 John 4:16- “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Romans 11:22- “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.”

Ending with these thought-provoking quotes from scripture, I have few words to add except that when I read Romans 11:22, I am reminded that the kindness of God is gracious, full and good. I am grateful that I abide in Him as a Christian and have been given the gift of salvation. It isn’t something that is to be taken for granted or that is a ‘once in a lifetime offer’. It is a daily, hourly, heart-altering journey that brings me humbly before God knowing that I need to ask that my heart be searched, reviewed, seen by His Spirit. I am not the judge or the arbiter of my destiny. I am not the one that is in control. I am not the one with the power or the strength to “do life”. I confess vulnerability. I go to God, to Christ, to His Spirit for “all things”, for wisdom, for help and in most especially in challenging times. I pray that He is sovereign in my life, in all life.

Isaiah 30:15- “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”

Zephaniah 3:17- “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

God is With You. He is Good. Behold, He is The Door

I am so grateful that God is with us, all the time! Behold, He is at the Door. How could we navigate this life in any other way – with anyone else at the Door?

Revelation 3:20- “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
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© 2019 Linda Willows