The Power of Three Little Words

by Jackie M. Johnson

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

Words are powerful and they can have a profound impact on our lives. While kind words can make a heart blossom with joy, cruel words close up the heart and make it wither like a bouquet of roses in the sweltering summer sun.

Over the course of a lifetime, three little words can make an indelible impact. For instance, when a child is born, parents will exclaim, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!”

When the child grows up and auditions for a play or gets chosen for a sports team, he will burst with excitement, “I made it.” A teenage girl can’t wait to share with her best friend, “He likes me!” Or, upon graduation from high school or college, say, “I did it!”

But those elusive three little words that we all long to hear, “I love you,” have the greatest impact on our lives.

Of course, we want to hear them from the man we love. But it is wonderfully startling that God, the One who loves us most, longs to share those profound words with each of us. God loves us with an everlasting love. It never ends. We are loved every single day.

Over and over in God’s Word, the Bible, He demonstrates his love—He cares, He has good plans for us, and He never leaves. God shows the power of his love and mercy in Scripture as He rescues Daniel from a lion’s den and or when Jesus gives a blind man sight for the very first time. He also rescues and heals us, too. In fact, from start to finish, the Bible is all about God’s love for mankind—and how we can be restored to God through a close and personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Three little words. God loves you. God loves me. In his kindness and loving care, God is reaching out to each of us. He simply wants us to reach back.

Lord, thank you for your love for me. And that You never leave. You are the One who loves me most. I want to know You and love you more. Teach me to love the way you love. Help me to be patient, kind, compassionate and other-centered. Empower me to receive Your boundless love and then give it out generously to others.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Jackie M. Johnson is an accomplished author and blogger who inspires readers worldwide with hope-filled and encouraging content. Jackie is the author of Power Prayers for Women, the breakup recovery resource, When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Emptyand Praying with Power When Life Gets Tough. Jackie’s is member of AWSA and CAN (Christian Authors Network). Connect with Jackie at www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com.

Join the conversation: How do you reflect God’s love to others around you?

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How Much Are You Loved?

by Louise Tucker Jones

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31: 3 NIV

I was talking with my oldest son on the phone, hearing the latest tales of my strong-willed 18-month-old granddaughter, Alexandria. Every day, Aaron had a new story to relate. He and his wife Amy had waited 11 years for this child, and they were enjoying her to the max.

Before we got off the phone, Aaron mentioned he was going out of town. As always, I promised to pray for his safety.

When I hung up the phone, I dropped to my knees beside my bed and prayed God’s protection over my son while he traveled. As I prayed, I was suddenly overwhelmed with love for my firstborn. I asked God, “Lord, does Aaron know how much he is loved?” Surely he did, especially now that he was a daddy. He adored his brown-eyed, curly-headed little girl.

But I wondered. Did he really know? As an adult, did he have a clue how much I loved the sound of his voice and how I still carried his heart in mine every day?

Then suddenly, I felt God whisper to my own heart, “Louise, do you know how much you are loved?” I was so overwhelmed by the question that it took my breath away. I felt the Lord repeat it. “Do you know how much you are loved?”

Sadly, I whispered through tears, “No, I don’t think so.” Too often I failed to take precious time with the Lord. I was a busy wife and mom. I was writing and speaking, doing good things for the Lord. And yes, I knew Jesus loved me and died on the cross for my sins. I was definitely a believer, but those whispered words pierced my heart. “Do you know how much you are loved?”

I thought about how many times I went to God with my hurts, troubles, and innumerable requests. Times when I begged God to give me wisdom and discernment in the midst of a spiritual battle. I prayed daily for family and friends who needed healing, but how many times had I gone to the Lord, just to tell Him I loved him? And when was the last time I sat at His feet and let him pour His love into my spirit, just soaking in His goodness?

As parents, we can’t even put into words how much we love our children, yet we often forget that God is our model. He’s the one who taught us how to love. How to give mercy and grace. His love stirs our hearts with emotion. The love of Jesus saves our souls and the love of the Father says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

It has been several years since this incident happened with my son. My granddaughter is now a teenager. And yes, I’m certain my children know how much I love them. But most of all, I want them to know how much they are loved by their Heavenly Father.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Louise Tucker Jones will touch your heart or tickle your funny bone with her poignant life stories which have been published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies, including over a dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul titles. Having a son with Down syndrome, Louise writes extensively concerning people with special needs, co-authoring the Gold Medallion award-winning book, Extraordinary Kids. Married to Carl for 45 years before he relocated to heaven, Louise is a mother, grandmother, professed chocoholic, and founder of the support group, Wives with Heavenly Husbands. www.LouiseTuckerJones.com; LouiseTJ@cox.net

Join the conversation: Do you know how much you are loved?

They Come That Way!

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 NIV

Have you ever admired someone and wished you could be like them? Maybe a good friend who somehow always seems to have it all together? Maybe you’ve known someone who’s faced incredible odds or trials and managed to land on their feet—faith and sanity intact? Perhaps you know someone who seems to have the Midas Touch—everything they touch turning to gold?

Have you admired someone with amazing talent, a great singer or musician, perhaps a powerful preacher, or even someone in great shape or athletically gifted? For me, I admire people with great organizational skills and those who manage their time well—they’re never late for anything.

By comparison, we’re nowhere close to that person. We love them, but can’t help but being a little envious. I know I should never compare myself with other people, but sometimes envy does creep into my thoughts.

Realistically though, those we look up to and admire didn’t come that way.

On one of my Ugandan missions, I shared the Gospel in a small church in the bush. Relaxing with my friend during lunch, we noticed two little girls behind us. They were watching my every move, whispering back and forth in Luganda, their native language. After they left to get their food, my friend, Monique, was chuckling under her breath. She leaned over and asked, “Do you know what those little girls were talking about?”

Of course, I was clueless, since I didn’t speak their language. Monique told me the girls were admiring me, the muzungu (white person). Neither had ever seen a muzungu before. The younger one, who was about four years old, pointed out my red fingernails.

In response, the older, wiser, and more observant five-year-old explained, “Did you also see her toes? They are the same. And then, with all the confidence in the world, she declared, “Muzungus come that way.” Silly as it might be, many of us are like those little girls. We see someone and conclude; they came that way.

We might think we don’t have the same value as the one we admire. But if we were to pull back the curtain on their lives, we’d see ordinary people—whose lives include hard work, study, practice and/or preparation that coexists with failures, rejections, heartache, and disappointments.

No one just comes that way. People are people. We all have our issues in life. We all have our failures and flaws. I didn’t come with painted nails and neither does anyone come into this world having it all together.

The good news is what we DO come with—God’s immeasurable love. Our real value is not in our accomplishments and talents, these are external add-ons. Jeremiah 31:3 God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

His love for you is relentless, immeasurable, and infinite. Ephesians 2:4-7 says “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”. Your heavenly Father has planned a magnificent, never-ending future for you, and it doesn’t matter if you can sing, preach, wear a certain size pants, write a book, throw a football, climb Mt. Everest or be on time for every appointment.

It would be wonderful to be able to claim all those things, but it would never be what measures your value. We can’t earn God’s love, we just come that way, possessing His love.

Pray and ask the Lord to open your eyes so you can see yourself the way He sees you. You might be surprised.

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They Come That Way! – encouragement from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri ClarkAbout the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.

Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.

Join the conversation: How does seeing yourself through God’s eyes change your perspective?

 

 

 

More Than Called…

by Ava Pennington @AvaPennington

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” Jude 1:1-2 ESV

Are you feeling drained? Has serving God become a burden rather than a privilege?

Each of us has been called to serve our mighty God in a unique way. But we can become so busy fulfilling our call that we focus on the “doing.” We want to do better—to write well, to teach effectively, to do whatever we’ve been called to do to the best of our ability.

Yet our ability can be limited. Then we struggle with our inadequacy as we represent the King of Kings. That inadequacy drives to seek His empowering to accomplish His purposes.

To be conscious of our calling is to serve with an awareness of the privilege of being used by God to advance His kingdom. But that’s only a partial picture of what it means to be called. In the New Testament, Jude wrote, “To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” (Jude 1:1-2 ESV).

Jude made a point of addressing his epistle to those who are called, loved, and kept.

How often have I been so busy ministering the love of God to everyone else that I’ve forgotten I’m also a recipient of that same love? We are loved by the God of love, not because we serve, but because He lavishly pours out His love on us through Jesus Christ’s atoning work.

Not only are we loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), we are also kept. Our Heavenly Father sustains us and protects us. He holds us in the palm of His hand. Regardless of our circumstances, there is no safer place to be.

He saves us by the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross, and He seals us by His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). We have everything we need to do all He has called us to do. More importantly, we have everything we need to be all He has called us to be—chosen, loved, adopted, redeemed, and sealed.

When we understand who we are—and to whom who we belong—God releases His power in us and through us to serve Him. The order is important. Identity comes before service. Being comes before doing. Reveling in His mercy, peace, and love comes before ministry in His name.

Before you write your next chapter, teach your next class, answer the twenty new emails sitting in your Inbox, or even change that next diaper, take a moment to consider this reminder:

“I am loved with a lavish, everlasting love. This love is unrelated to what I do, but it has everything to do with who I belong to. I am a beloved child of the King kept by His almighty hand.”   

Once we understand God’s love and His keeping, we are free to serve Him without fear, equipped in every way to fulfill the purpose to which we are called.

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More Than Called… -insight from @AvaPennington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

© 2010 Martin Alan Grivjack Photography Martin Alan Grivjack Photography

About the authorAva Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.

Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.

She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.

Join the conversation: What has made you question the goodness of God?

Drawn by His Love

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them; and I will raise him up on the last day.                                                                                              John 6:44 NIV

Have you ever thought about the day that God started calling you to Himself?

Sandi did. And her story brought tears to my eyes.

Having grown up with an alcoholic father who made no room in their home for a Supreme Being, religion – even talk of it – was out of the question. Sandi couldn’t even own a Bible, for fear of her father’s rage. Yet God continued to bring people into Sandi’s life who told her about Jesus, and eventually, she surrendered her life to Him.

Today, Sandi is married to the man who first told her about Jesus. And she is now raising their children in the knowledge of God and the understanding of who Jesus is.

Although God wasn’t “allowed” in Sandi’s home while she was growing up, she realizes now that He was there, all those years, drawing her toward Himself.

Hearing Sandi’s story made me think of my own. I used to think I had made a great decision as a young child to follow Jesus and learn of His ways. Smart kid that I was, I thought. But it was no doing of my own. And the more I live life, and the more I look at the Word of God, the more convinced I am of that.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you,” Jesus told His disciples in John 15:16 (NIV).

I don’t have it in me to choose Him. And Psalm 14:3 says “No one does good, not even one” (NIV). So I’m so glad He extended His love far enough to reach even me.

Were it not for His pursuing love, His pulling at my heartstrings, His making me aware of my need for Him, who knows where I would be today?

When we remember where we were when He drew us toward Himself, what we were doing when His lovingkindness began to call, what pit we were in when He pulled us out, we stand in awe of the destiny from which He rescued us.

Thank you, God, that your Word says “I loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness” (Jeremiah 31:3, NASB). When I begin to feel I’m unworthy, unnoticed or unloved by anyone, remind me that the God of the Universe called me by name and drew me to Himself. That is amazing love. And that love is mine.

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Thoughts on being drawn by God’s love from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), When God Pursues a Woman’s Heart, When God Sees Your Tears, and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Losing a Beloved Pet Reminded Me of God’s Love

by Debbie W. Wilson

“When the vet calls to confirm my appointment for Tuesday don’t cancel this time.” Larry’s words socked me in the gut. He had made two previous appointments to put our 14 1/2-year-old yellow lab down. But, when she seemed to rally, I canceled the appointments.

Larry’s back is more important than giving her a little more time, I told myself. But I grieved. Corrie was deaf and lame, but still alert in the evenings. She never so much as whimpered when she fell, though her falls had to hurt her arthritic body. Our vet had said most dogs would be grumpy at her stage in life. Corrie wasn’t.

I spent Sunday afternoon alone with Corrie. She ate the food I placed between her front paws. She loved her biscuits, so I gave her extra. I selected the thinnest rawhide chew, but by evening she was so weak she couldn’t hold her head up. I held it for her. Her life was ebbing away before my eyes. Tears ran down my cheeks every time she looked at me with her lab eyes.

As painful as it was to see her like this, it was her last gift to me. She seemed to say, “Larry’s right. It is time.” I needed that assurance.

For the last year Larry and our son Brant had to carry Corrie outside. She couldn’t negotiate steps. But she still had her spirit. She would lean her head into your hand when you petted her. She perked up for treats, and she always roused when Brant came home.

Why would we hang on to a pet who could do nothing for us—she had numerous accidents. Christmas Eve, Larry had to bathe her between dinner and dessert. We washed her bed several times a week. She was heavy to lift.

We hung on because we loved her.

Jesus said “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God” (Luke 12:6 NIV). Jesus was making the point that if God remembers sparrows, how much more does He treasure you? The world may not remember us when we are gone, but God will, because He loves us (Psalm 103:14-16). Each of us is significant to God. Vastly more significant than how our beloved pets are to us! It may seem silly to even compare the two, but our attachment to them can be a reminder of His great love and concern for us.

Do you have an imperfect pet you’ll never forget? When you think about your pet, remember how much more God loves you.

“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself” (Jeremiah 31:3 NLT).

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Debbie W. Wilson is an ordinary woman who has experienced an extraordinary God. Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie speaks, writes, and coaches to help women discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at her blog.

Join the conversation: What lessons have you learned from your pets?

Photo by Rob Wingate on Unsplash