Thursday, February 2, 2012

iLove Deep and Wide

iPray eVotionals 
The gun sounds as the race begins. iPray eVotionals exhorts the runners on the path of a prayerful lifestyle.  It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn.  It's for the runner who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.
Prayer is communication with God.  Can we hear God's voice when He says that He loves us?  Or are other voices crowding out our definition of true love?   
Defining LOVE
How horribly twisted is Valentine's definition of love?  Is Valentines Day a good example of what God is?  Because God is love and I'm thinking that this holiday falls short!  When we come before our Lord in prayer we want to hear his voice over all the others.

"How deep and how wide is my love for you!" Said a Target ad.

Is Valentine's Day commercialized?  Most store advertisements tells us how deep and how wide their love is for us.  As deep as our bank accounts and as wide as our homes are able to fit merchandise.  What happens (or does not happen) on Valentine's Day is the defining factor on the status of our love life, so we are told.  TV becomes a hypnosis tool, like a rocking pendulum, chanting into our heads, "You have no love in your life until you buy a whole lot of heart shaped doodads and expect (AKA demand) expensive doodads in return."  A day that could be set aside for honoring God in loveing others is lost in selfish greed, hitting the world's human target on how to love.

"How deep and how wide is my love for you!" I said to my Chiropractor.
Is Valentines Day full of conditions?  When I'm feeling great I can say I love my Chiropractor.  He uses the Neurological Integration System (NIS) and all I can say is IT WORKS!  My love is as deep as his rates are affordable and as wide as how good I am feeling.  It's so easy to love someone when you are receiving a service that you are very pleased with.  If the service benefits me in a big way then yes, my natural reaction is love... but conditional love.  In other words, we love someone because they fulfill a condition that we require before we can love them.  Valentines could be a day designed to love on others.  But it is crowded out by very human conditions and expectations.

"How deep and how wide is my love for you!" Said God.

Valentines day is commercialized, full of conditions and even our best love intentions can fall short.  Why?  Because our definition of love is not in line with God's definition of love.  Our best human definition of love is dependent on services, cuteness, being cared for, looks, if someone is fun to be with, feelings and emotions that can change from one moment to the next.  But God's love preceded anything we have to offer or anything we could be.  A great verse about His love is found in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  God is Love, and His unconditional sacrificial love is very different from human love; it's not based on warm fuzzy feelings or emotions. He doesn't love us because we're lovable or because we make Him feel good. Forget Valentine's Day holding any sort of definition of what love really is because when we read that God is love in the Bible, this means that God defines love with a higher authority than even Webster's Dictionary! God is the very definition of love itself.  As hard as a Target ad might try, as hard as I might try, I cannot define love outside of knowing God. This essentially means that our human "Valentines" definition of love falls terribly short.

"...being rooted and established in love, may [you] have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17b-19

As we bow our heads in prayer THIS is the love God is speaking into our hearts.  Because of HIS love, we can know love.

HOW wide, HOW long, HOW high, HOW deep?

This poem about HOW Jesus loved says it all:
(click to read)
How Should We Love?
HOW can we go out and share this love with others?
"How deep and how wide is my love for you!" Said Veruca Salt's dad.

Is Valentine's Day teaching us HOW to love?  Most parents love their children no matter what, which is a bit closer to God's sacrificial unconditional-love.  They want the best for their children.  But sadly (parent or no parent) most of us don't know HOW to love.  Most prayers for what is "best" looks like this, "Please let only good things happen to my __________, no harm, no danger, no fear, no challenges that are too difficult, may __________ always feel good, have no pain, be successful, be cool, be popular, fit in, fill in, be pimple free, always get "A"s, be the best and end up in the most prestigious place. A-man."  How much love for their "best" is in this prayer?  Shockingly very little.  In "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" Veruca Salt's dad lived this prayer by giving his daughter everything she ever asked for.  She said, "I want..." and he said, "Alright..."  She whined and he bowed.  She cried and he gave her what she cried for.  He ended up with a spoiled brat that did not appreciate anything.  A deeper and wider way to love; wanting what is "best" would be through a prayer more like this, "May __________ consider it pure joy and lean in on you when __________ face trials of many kinds and when hard times come.  May the testing of __________'s faith produce perseverance.  May perseverance finish its work so that __________ may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (From James 1:2-4) Teach __________ that Your grace is all that is needed, for your power works best in weakness. May __________ not fear being weak knowing that You heal and You are __________'s strength. (From 2 Corinthians 12:9) May __________'s character be strong by your spirit, full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (From Galatians 5:22) In Jesus Name A-man"  Living out that prayer loves in a much deeper and wider way; wanting what is truly best.
Veruca Salt's dad is not the only example of love in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"  Each and every golden ticket winner is an AMAZING, life changing, example of love.  Child by child, golden ticket winner by golden ticket winner... click "How Should We Love" below... and you might just find the PERFECT love mentor!  One that will show you EXACTLY how you should love...

Celebrate Valentine's Day this year with a love that points your family and friends towards God.  Set this day aside to honor God and love on others.  That is how iLove on you in this iPray eVotional today!   iPray that uLove because Christ first loved you.  iPray that you won't wait to first receive from another, but you will be the first to give.  iPray you love even when things don't go your way, not withholding love because you might not have gotten what you had expected to get.  iPray that you will love your enemies and uPray for those who persecute you. (From Matthew 5:44) iPray against a revengeful, selfish or spoiled heart attitude on this Valentine's Day and beyond!  For love is meant to be more than just a day... it's meant to be found in God through Christ Jesus our Lord! 

And more than anything iPray that as uPray, as you turn your hearts towards Him, you will hear God's voice when He says that He loves you.  That you will have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is for you! (From Ephesians 3:18)  

In Jesus' Name iPray for you!

All for HIM,

iPray eVotionals
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