All Who are Thirsty| By Jasmine Beard

IMG_6919This is a picture I took a couple months ago of the Great Smoky Mountains. Breathtaking, I know. As I opened the cabin doors and walked onto the balcony, I was awestruck at the majesty of God and His splendor.

As I gazed into the skies and saw the glorious mountains and trees, I envisioned God crouching down from the Heavens whispering into my ear sweet whispers from Heaven.

His words are like honey to my soul. The very sweetness of Him quenches the longings of my soul and every inkling of my Spirit.

How I long to be in awe of Him all the days of my life into eternity forever and ever. I dream that He picks me up in the palm of His hands sweeping me away into the clouds of His majestic being. I am dancing in the glory of His beauty and drinking from the palm of His hands for the rest of my days.

This picture reminds me of the Samaritan woman at the well.

She came to the well for a drink of water for she longed to quench the thirst of her body. Unaware, she met Jesus who did not want to only quench the thirst of her body, but of her soul as well.

“…But if anyone drinks the living water I give them, they will never thirst again and will be forever satisfied! For when you drink the water I give you it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, springing up and flooding you with endless life.” John 4:14 (TPT)

In that same way, Jesus met me, and it is because of this that I am able to see His majesty, to see His glory, and to drink from His cup.

After I dance with Abba in the clouds, He gracefully places me back down to earth. I look around, and I no longer see the beauty and splendor that I saw before. I see brokenness, dirtiness, and darkness all around me. Nothing in me wants to stay and be back on Earth, but God tells me,“go forth and love my people and tell them of this majesty you have found and this water that never runs dry.”

I once saw a picture of myself at a well. The depth of this well was deeper than I could ever hope to see. Then I saw a picture of a wide well, and God instructed me to never be a fat well.

This picture may seem funny to you, and it is a bit funny to me as well. However, that picture is packed with so much meaning..

If we are fat wells, it means that we have no depth to our reach. We just take up excess space. However, if our well has depth, we can bring nourishment to barren land.

Jesus does not show us His splendor or allow us to drink from His cup just for our nourishment. If we just continuously receive from God but never pour out, we become essentially a “fat well.” However, if we instead allow God to fill us deep into our soul and allow others to drink from the well inside of us, we become a deep well.

‘“All at once, the woman dropped her water jar and ran off to her village and told everyone, ‘Come and meet a man at the well who told me everything I’ve ever done! He could be be the Anointed One we’ve been waiting for.’ Hearing this, the people came streaming out of the village to go see Jesus.”’ John 4:28-30 (TPT)

The Samaritan woman dropped the very water that would quench the thirst of her body because she had found drink for her soul. Today, be a deep well bringing the same gushing fountain that has quenched your soul to God’s people.
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God is Speaking; Are You Listening?| Jasmine Beard

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As we go through the hustle and bustle of everyday life, God is watching us. He longs for us to gaze upon His face in the midst of our busy, and at times, hectic schedules.

We have all been taught that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Those are really big words that mean God is all powerful, all knowing, and that He is ever present.

These are great facts, but if we are not careful, we will fail to let the very truth of those words sink into our heart. We can instead put lids on God, doubt His power, His wisdom, and that He is with us always.

Most of the time, we associate God with what we are doing instead of who He actually is. We notice God’s presence in our devotion time, when we read His word, or when we sing Him songs of praise. However, if we are not doing something that feels spiritual, we think God’s gaze upon us has left. That is simply not true!

God is very much in the moments when we feel spiritually high, but He also in the mundane tasks we do at work, while we are changing our baby’s diaper, and while we are watching movies.

“Where could I go from your Spirit?
Where could I run and hide from your face?

If I go up to heaven, you’re there!
If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!

If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there!
If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting!

Wherever I go, your hand will guide me;
your strength will empower me.” – Psalms 139:7-10 (TPT)

One person I can relate to in the midst of my crazy schedule is Martha in the Bible. She loved Jesus, and just like me and you, she had a full plate of tasks to get done.

Luke 10:38-40 (TPT) says this:

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their journey, they came to a village where a woman welcomed Jesus into her home. Her name was Martha and she had a sister named Mary. Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation he shared.

But Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.”

What Martha failed to realize is that the Creator of the Universe was speaking, the one who could tell her all about who she was, was in her midst.

We often read this passage of scripture, and we think Martha should have reacted and done the exact thing as Mary and sat at Jesus’ feet. I’m not sure if that is the case, simply because these two sisters are different, and their relationship with God was different.

Maybe Jesus would have been pleased at Martha’s devotion if she had simply listened, heard, and hung on every word Jesus said while she was working and doing mundane tasks.

Devotion, prayer time, worship nights, and Bible reading are fantastic things to do and things we should be doing. But, outside of those moments, we must recognize that the Creator of the Universe longs to also speak to us during mundane tasks and the hustle and bustle of this crazy life.

Come Alive|By Heaven Harris

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I have always considered myself a dreamer – a visionary. Dreaming came easy for me and those very words have often been used to describe me over the years. I had a big imagination, and I was not afraid to use it.  

Over the years though, often without realizing, I found my dreams becoming smaller and smaller, and my heart to dream dying. Sure, there were certain things I would find myself believing for and visions I would catch a glimpse of sometimes in the secret place of prayer, but my BIG dreams…what happened to those? The ones that made my bones rattle and my heart quiver because they required the work of my BIG God.

I think I even created the excuse that it just happens that way sometimes. We grow up; we become adults. The yearning to dream is drowned out by the weight of responsibilities and failures we have experienced. It is subtle, of course. We do not even realize it sometimes. We trudge through life, and many of our dreams deteriorate from life-like and life-size to mere bones laid bare and dry.

Ezekiel 37:3: “He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’”

This scripture was laid on my heart about a month ago. Most of us know this story or have heard a sermon on it in some form or fashion. I would venture to say that most the times we take in this story is in reference to praying for those hearts that we long to see come alive to the love and purpose of God. We pray that He breathes His holy breath on our family, our schools, our church and brings forth the army referred to in the scriptures.

The rest of the story in Ezekiel goes like this…

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!

5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.

6  I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.

8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”

10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

I was waiting for Him to tell me who I needed to pray for and instead He said, “See those dry bones?  These bones represent those dreams  I have laid on your heart and given you vision for but that lay dead in the valley. Can these bones live? Can these dreams and the words I have spoken over you live again?”

I was honestly at a loss for words. As I sat in the presence of my sweet but direct Savior, I began recalling those dreams and words spoken over me throughout my life, and my reality check was that most of them I had allowed to dry up and become barely a whisper in my heart.

So, let me ask you…

Are your dreams thriving and breathing before a Holy God or are they laid bare in the valley somewhere? If you are looking back and realizing that you have dreams that have no life to them, let me encourage you with this scripture:

“The earth and sky will wear out and fade away before one word I speak loses its power or fails to accomplish its purpose.” Matthew 24:35 (TPT)

When reading this. I hope that you see the pattern. That every word and dream God spoke WILL come to pass without FAIL. Let your heart rest in knowing that those beloved words, passionate dreams and those vivid visions He has whispered to you in the quiet places are alive and well and will find their way to fruition. You need only to speak.

The word prophesy simply means to say that a specified thing will happen in the future; to speak as if divinely inspired. I urge you to prophesy to your soul! Prophesy to those dreams!  Prophesy to your heart!

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

Fast forward to the here and now, as I chose to take God at His word and began speaking those dreams out loud, I have now applied and been accepted into college. I am moving out of state due to an amazing opportunity that opened up for me to stay home with my daughter and go to school. I know this is just the beginning of an amazing new season.  

I urge you to take God at His word and let the presence of God soften your heart and remind you today of the dreams He has given you.  Then speak them aloud and ask God to breathe His Holy breath on them and watch, in His timing, everything He has promised you will come to life!

 

Let Us Return to the Lord| By Tori Savoy

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“Just give up on me. I am not worth it any longer,” I told, or basically yelled, toward God.

My guilt had overwhelmed me, and I felt as if I would never be good enough to be loved by a perfect Savior. Even though I knew God gives us forgiveness, I could not quite forgive myself enough to accept God’s love again. I kept failing Him time and time again. I did not feel deserving of His love. All I felt was shame.

But Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) tells us differently.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)

37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The love of God is something we could never earn, and if we cannot earn it, how could we lose access to it?

One of the most impactful books of the Bible for me is the book of Hosea. A prophet of God, Hosea was given instructions to take Gomer, a prostitute, as his wife. Yet, over the course of their marriage, she remained unfaithful and went chasing after her lovers.

Eventually, she became used up and worthless to the point no man wanted her. However, Hosea bought her back for a costly price.

“She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, “I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.'” Hosea 2:7 (NIV)

“When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, ‘Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD.’” Hosea 1:2 (NIV)

This story is a representation of God’s love for us. We have chased after our lovers whether that be a person, money, or success to fulfill us. God knew before we were even born that we would rebel and be unfaithful to him. Yet, He willingly chose to go to the cross and pay the highest price for our souls.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Yes, there will be consequences to our decisions, but God is always waiting with open arms to forgive and shower us in love.

“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” Hosea 6:1 (NIV)

The Devil will fill your heart with shame. But God will shower it in forgiveness. The Enemy will make you feel hatred for yourself. But God will reign down His love upon you. No matter how broken you return, God just wants you back in His arms so He can mend you.

If you are dealing with guilt over mistakes you have made, God is calling you to return to him. He is waiting with open arms and unending love for you. Nothing can separate you from that love, and no love of this world can compare to the love of a Savior.

An Open Invitation|By Heaven Harris

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Have you ever tasted something for the first time and instantly thought, “How in the world have I went this long without this in my life?”  

It opened not just your pallet, but your life to something new and different. Something refreshing!

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalms 34:8

This has always been one of my favorite scriptures. Reading it always reminds me of the passionate pursuit of God for us as His children, and it honestly brings me back to the day I gave my life to Christ.  I remember it vividly. I was 15 years old and sitting on the edge of my seat while the pastor preached the love of God.

In those moments, even though I may not have known this scripture in its entirety, these are the very words Jesus was speaking to me, “Taste, see that I am good for you.  Let me open your eyes to my goodness!”

My favorite thing about God is this very aspect., He is always in pursuit, and He is ALWAYS a gentleman. Our God is no harlot, and the God that is love is the very one that knows exactly how to pursue.  He invented the very concept. His strategy is an open invitation.

“Come and taste… let me show you who I am and what I have for you.”  

“Taste and See!”

Sound familiar?

Same words, different context, different motive.

Let’s take a journey back to Genesis 4 in The Garden of Eden, the oasis of perfection God created for us.  There was a sly enemy, whispering to Eve those same words… “Taste and see! See that the Lord has been withholding from you.  Taste and see that He is not really for you the way that He claims He is. Taste and your eyes will be opened.”

It was a trick, a curse. Eve tasted, as did Adam, and yes, their eyes were open to the world and shame in a way God never intended for them, and the enemy was sure he had won. He thought this was the ending to the story, but he was wrong then, and he is wrong now.

God, knowing end from the beginning, knew what He would have to do, and He did it with our names written on His heart. He sent His son, His one and only, to reverse those words that were used to trick all those years ago.

”His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!” Hebrews 12:2 (TPT)

To imagine enduring the cross with joy is a pure display of the true love that Jesus has for us.  

I am now 31 and if I am being honest, I have not always stuck by the God who is love. I have been the prodigal daughter more times than I care to admit.  Almost two years ago I found myself in a marriage that was falling apart after only seven months and like Eve, I thought maybe God was holding out on me. In my pride, I tried to take control of my own life which led to divorce and a child out of wedlock.  

The day I found out I was pregnant was one of the hardest days of my life, but it was also one of the most redeeming. I sat in my car crying and crying out to God asking why now? Why this way?  

Feeling defeated and angry with myself, God sweetly whispered, “I will show you my love in a whole new way with this child.”

In what felt like a whirlwind of failure that I would never recover from, God opened His arms wide and beckoned me to taste and see what He had for my future.  In that moment, I chose Him. It’s all He has ever wanted anyway, in our freedom, to choose Him daily. In that moment, and the days that followed even into the here and now, He redeemed this heart of mine and is daily showing me how amazing He is.  What seemed like my curse, God turned it around as my most precious blessing.

Genesis 50:20 says that what the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good. (paraphrased).

His invitation has no bias or conditions.  His goodness, His fullness, His promises are for us all.  No matter where you are, I encourage you today, God is near to you and extending His invitation to you.  He is standing at the door knocking, like a gentleman, waiting for you to open the door to your heart. He is waiting for you to taste who He is. Only then, can your eyes be opened to beauty that encompasses His very nature.

 

 

 

Contaminated| By Jasmine Beard

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“Empty me of me, oh Lord.” This is a prayer I pray very often.

Have you ever been confronted with yourself and did not like what you saw? Like you didn’t even recognize yourself in your reflection?

So many times, our hearts and actions can detour from the character of Christ. It is not natural for us to have the same heart and character of God, but as believers, we count our natural character dead and our new character alive in Christ.

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 (NIV)

Picture yourself as a piping system with water, pure water flowing in and out of you. This is a picture of what God desires to do in us and pour out of us in this world. The water is His love.

The Bible tells us that God is LOVE.

You see, our culture likes to paint a very different picture of what love is. Culture tells us love is self-acceptance, self-seeking, and lives true to every fleshly desire our heart leads. In Jeremiah 17:9, the Bible tells us that the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked without God.

Paul gives us a great description of what true love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (TPT):

4 “Love is large and incredibly patient.Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.

5 Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.

6 Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.

7 Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others.Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.”

The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy the love that God desires to flow through His people. He wants to contaminate the water that flows through us.

To contaminate means to make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.

If you drop one grain of sand in pure water, the water becomes dirty. Something that was once drinkable and ready for consumption becomes tainted and undrinkable.

Today examine your heart and ask the Lord if you are contaminated, tainted, or even have a grain of sand inside your heart. He is faithful to purify us time and time again, all we have to do is ask.

“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” John 7:38 (NLT)

Do You Even Know Me?| By Tori Savoy

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Marriage is one of those things that’s beautiful and ugly all in one. It has a way of exposing your true character and teaching you lessons you never realized you needed. Marriage is a representation of the covenant we share with God and just about every struggle and every victory can be related back to our walk with God.

This is something I have found true in my own marriage.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only wife who has been guilty of being upset because their husband was not listening to them or was not taking part in conversation.

Our minds are wired to relate intimacy to the emotional connections that happen through conversation. We want our husband to listen to our long story or allow us to vent about our days while responding in a way that shows he is genuinely interested. Words are our intimacy, and when we do not get it, we feel alone and less than as if we are no longer interesting to our husband.

How does this relate to our relationship with Jesus? EVERYTHING!

As I was upset over this very thing one day, God showed me this is exactly how I treat Him. When I neglect to talk with Him and listen to what He is trying to say to me, He feels neglected. It causes my relationship with Him to become disconnected.

A relationship with both man and God requires spiritual and emotional intimacy. This is why prayer life is so important.

Matthew 7:22-23 says “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

‭‭In our marriage, it takes work and intimacy to know one another. Saying you are married is one thing and knowing your spouse is another. Have you ever told your husband, “Do you even know me anymore?”

As I sat sulking to myself over this very question, God reached down to me and said “Do you even know ME?”

Sadly, my answer was not one to be proud of.

You see, God doesn’t want us to just claim to be a Christian, but wants us to pursue an intimate relationship with Him.

God is begging for your attention and wants you to seek intimacy with him through your prayer life. Just as you desire that intimacy with your husband.

Think back to when you and your husband or significant other had first met. All you both wanted to do was get to know one another. Me and my husband spent hours on the phone talking about anything and everything.

The same thing happens when we first become saved. But just as a romantic relationship requires us to continue to work at communicating and igniting that spark, our relationship with God must be pursued daily.

I challenge you to dig deeper into a relationship with God and truly desire to know Him and his love in a fuller capacity.

“I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭2:19-20

 

Always the Bridesmaid, Never the Bride| By Jasmine Beard

andre-hunter-263233-unsplashPerfectly primped hair, floor length gowns, blooming flowers, and a beautiful couple at the altar – this scene is all too familiar to me. Over the past five years I have attended countless weddings and even stood in a couple.

Ahhh the life of a bridesmaid! Last year I had the privilege of standing in two of my friends’ weddings. I was over the moon for them and could not wait for their big day.Through my elation and shower planning for my friends, I thought to myself, “when will it be my turn?”

I thought to myself, “Lord, I’ve done it your way, when will I receive what you’ve promised me?”

Have you ever prayed for something and the Holy Spirit whispered a word of encouragement to you and a promise of the very thing you prayed for?

Maybe you’ve said similar things to God. But what if I told you the very thing you’re waiting for is not the prize at all?

That a husband is not a reward for purity, and a baby is not a reward for a godly marriage.

Shocker I know! You see in our carnal nature we think because of our righteousness we deserve certain things. But the Bible tells us that our righteousness is like filthy rags before the Lord.

“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6 NKJV

As we tap our foot in impatience and complain about the things we do not have, God is waiting.

Waiting for you to notice him.

Waiting for you to remember him.

“…I  will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV

In a season of waiting, remember that God has not left you. He has not forgotten you. He hears you and He cares about the prayers you whisper because you’re too embarrassed to pray out loud.

As a bride sets her eyes on her handsome groom, choose today to set your eyes on God instead of the very thing you are waiting for.

When you set your eyes on the God who lives outside of time and space, the wait doesn’t seem long at all.

Trust Him and wait expectantly for your promise and most importantly keep your gaze on the best Promise Maker and Promise Keeper.

Love Series: Love Like That of a Believer| By Rachel Lukinovich

 

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No one tests my patience more than my sweet little two-year-old daughter, Ava. Like most two-year-olds, “no” is her favorite response, and only she can make me lose my cool in public.

You know that saying, “there is no love like that of a mother”? This love sees past all their child’s faults and wants to see them excel and mature in the best way possible.

It is a real thing mothers are given. It’s a huge responsibility to choose to love and care for them, despite sleep deprivation, hunger, and a screaming or whining child.

But what if we changed that saying “there is no love like that of a mother,” to “there’s no love like that of a believer”?

You see, I love my little Ava, and although I get to teach her to be a loving little human being, God really has used her to teach me how to love others unconditionally.

Although she is my daughter, Ava is not made exactly like me, nor does she process things the same as I do. Even though she is only two, her little personality and sense of style is already there. While most of the time, she’s calm, cool, and collected, and listens just perfectly, sometimes she screams and has whiny fits, shouting “NO” with flailing arms and kicking legs. She is usually patient and sweet, but whens she’s hungry and tired, she is quite the opposite.

I can truly relate to my sweet two-year-old.

Like the rest of us, she is a person born into sin nature trying to learn and figure out this gift of life we have been given. Just like us all, she needs a lot of guidance and grace, but most importantly, she needs unconditional love.

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

According to this verse, deep love is most important of all, yet I have found that I unknowingly tend to put conditions on the love I have for certain people. It’s easy to love people who I get along with or who do nice things for me. But what about that person you try to “love,” but inwardly they get under your skin? Sure you can act kind and try to choose love, and that may work for a while, but sometimes when the conditions are not “just right,” things blow up in your face and all that love goes out the window.

Is it possible to truly love people unconditionally at all times as God does?

My experience with this is a loud YES, but it required me to take the spotlight off the other person and place it on myself.

In my 27 years of life, I have had some dealings with people who were hard for me to love, some very close to me. Yet, the Lord showed me that He wasn’t trying to use me to change or even humanly love them, but instead He was giving me opportunities to grow more into His image – one of perfect love.

This brought me to place of relying on God’s well of love that never runs dry nor does it place conditions on love. Some of the hardest times for me to love a person were the times I grew the most in unconditional love. Or you could say more into the image of God Himself, because He is Love.

“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. “ 1 John 4:12

As I persistently prayed to unconditionally love others, there was an evident heart change inside that allowed me to view people differently and truly love them unconditionally.

This was His plan all along. God is doing whatever it takes to show us and to make us into His image of LOVE in order to display His glory. However, too often we rely on our own strength and fail, when really He’s waiting to pour love out on us and through us as we draw closer to Him.

I can rest assured that if my heart is willing to change and is in pursuit of God’s deep love and affection for others, then choosing to love my neighbor will come more naturally.

I don’t know about you, but this drives me to pursue God even more and draw every drip of love I can from His well.

The love of God is what draws us to Him. We can trust His love – perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

“And may the Lord make your love for one another grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12

Love Series: The One My Soul Loves| By Rachel Lukinovich

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“I found the one my heart loves.” Songs of Solomon 3:4

As I sipped my coffee one morning, I read these exact words that were so beautifully printed on the inside of my coffee mug. This precious mug was a gift from my college friend when I first got married. The outside of the cup had “Mrs.” cutely written on it, and the scripture on the inside was to remind me of my husband.

Little did my friend know, there was irony in this. My whole teenage life, I sought after what I thought was love. Starting in middle-school I had a boyfriend, and the desire to be liked and loved only grew from there. Of course, I liked feeling wanted and pretty. Who doesn’t like being told nice things?  I enjoyed always having a guy to text or talk to on the phone. The thrill of crushes, dating, and breakups seemed like love, so I rode on that throughout my teenager years.

Fast forward to today – I am married to the man of my dreams, and we have two beautiful children together. As I sat drinking my coffee this morning, the irony hit me – I found the one whom my heart loves long before I met my husband.

All those younger years, I went to church and youth group, lifting my hands during worship. I would even sometimes read my Bible and then often talk to God. Yet, my heart still sought affirmation and affection elsewhere.

I was fooled, as so many of us are, that finding the one our hearts most desires is in a guy. As if, one day, my soul mate would come and complete me, and I would finally feel all the affection I would ever need.

Although my husband is incredible and truly my dream husband, he is a person. He has faults and can never live up to the true absolute standard of perfect love. God gave us a hunger and a desire to seek and find this love. Too often, we go looking for it in people, when in all actuality, it’s Jesus’ love that was designed to complete us and make us whole.

In 1 John 4:8, it tells us that God is love.

What? God is love?

Yes! He, Himself, resonates what true love looks like. His love is not just emotions but is demonstrated through the actions and choices He has made.

“This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 1 John 4:10

I guess you could say it was hard for me to truly grasp this great love that God has for me. Yes, He died on the cross for me, but His physical presence wasn’t there, and I didn’t “feel” loved by Him.

Are we supposed to just believe and have faith that His love for us is real?

The answer is yes, but honestly it became an easy and excited yes when I truly surrendered my heart to Him. I began to seek Him first through reading my Bible and surrounding myself with people who loved Him. This brought me into a deep well of love, too great for words to describe. I truly began to sincerely receive God’s overwhelming passion for me that has literally changed my heart.

I no longer choose sin, I choose Him. He has displayed His desire for me even on my weakest and ugliest days. His zeal for me is far greater than anything this world can offer, even if it is lavished in the deepest and fondest ways by my husband or mother.

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

When this unexplainable love from Jesus becomes undeniable, the first and greatest commandment, to love God, becomes something our hearts desire. He compels us to draw near to Him and yearn for His goodness.

Through faith and trusting Him, God has shown me that He will never fail me or let me down. This draws me to worship and make Him the center of my life and the center of my day. With great desire and sometimes simple obedience, I choose to pray and read His Word with anticipation of what He will tell me or how He will grow me.

After experiencing this great love, how can I not choose HIM? He was there all along, waiting for me, waiting for you. I have found the one my heart loves.