Love is something I have struggled with...in my head I knew John 3:16, but at times my heart has wondered what that means? Insecurity has kept me from embracing love and expressing it, but through the years God keeps pealing off layers of my heart and helps me understand more and experience His love better.
Today I'm taking part in the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study Blog Hop...our job was to share a bit how God is transforming us through Wendy Blight's study, Living So That. So last night I reviewed my notes, flipped through my book and came up with many ideas, but finally asked God to show me if there was something He wanted me to share.
Time passed and my thoughts shifted to bedtime routines and then these lines came to mind, "We will spend some time with John, also known as 'the disciple Jesus loved'. What is so intriguing about this statement is that John alone called himself by this name." In the margins I wrote - "I've never done that!"
I read on and then through Wendy's words God showed me why..."he (John) knew without a doubt Jesus chose him, called him and deeply loved him. He knew his identity was in Christ, and, because of that, he knew he was the Lord's beloved." Friend, for years I've wrestled with doubt and struggled finding my identity in various places and this has led me to view love as something I don't deserve and thus have to earn.
The next lines from Wendy are ones I saw all over social media, but I didn't even underline. Now nearly a week later and because of the work God is doing I'll put them in BOLD for you (and me) here - "Oh that we would have that confidence to unabashedly speak those same words: "I am the girl Jesus loves!!" It is true, I know I can still grasp this more, but I understand it better and I am thankful! I encourage you to soak in this today!!
These thoughts about love led me to thinking about obedience because through this study God is showing me that there is something I'm not doing. (OK there is more than one, but a big one has jumped out!!) I've been wrestling with this and I know fear, especially of failure, plays a part as does insecure thinking...you know, the I'm not good enough thoughts.
As all this took over my mind the Holy Spirit whispered a question, "Jill, why do you obey?" I didn't have a quick answer, but immediately I thought about being the obedient child and "good" girl growing up. Why did I do that? because I wanted to please my parents, teachers, coaches...and thought I could earn their love. I don't think I've intentionally approached things with God this way, but my eyes were opened that sometimes I have a works mentality.
The thoughts continued and memories came to mind as the Holy Spirit again whispered to my heart, "Jill obedience does not result in love, it is a response to it." Did you get that? "Obedience does not result in love, it is a response to it."
God is love (1 John 4:16) and He loved you and me while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). His love is there whether we feel it or not. Our job, our choice is to embrace it. He's given us His Word so that we can see it, know it and experience it.
And He's showing me that I don't have to earn it, better yet I can't, but I can share it. That is what obedience is all about...responding to His love and sharing it with others. In John 14:23 Jesus says, "All who love me will do what I say" and in John 21 three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him and then instructs him to feed His sheep. It's love then obedience!
To wrap this up, I want to bring in the three chapters we've worked through - Jesus came so that, God spoke so that and we pray so that... In Titus 2:11-14 we are told Jesus would purify for Himself people eager to do what is good. I believe obedience is a part of that doing good, but being eager isn't enough. We also need to be equpped and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us God spoke so that we would be! Finally as we strive to respond to God's love and walk in obedience we will have times of need and I'm grateful for the truth of Hebrews 4:16...we can pray and God will provide!
Friend, I pray you will dive deeper into God's Word and spend time with Him...no matter where you are on your walk of faith He wants to speak to your heart so that He can change it and transform you!
Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—
his good, pleasing and perfect will.