Bible Study, Faith, life, Spiritual Encouragement, Uncategorized
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Hello Friends! I’ve missed you! {& I have a gift for you}

A few of you may have wondered where I ‘ve been. Or, my absence may have gone unnoticed. Either way, I want to tell you that I’ve missed writing, missed my readers, missed the community online and I’m putting my toes in the water once again. I’ve missed you.

Some of you have known me a long while, and you know the big year of recovery that 2012 will be in my memory. Our accident in August 2011 will always be that experience upon which hinges a tremendous amount of change. Without fail I will now categorically divide my life between “before the accident” and “after the accident”. I blogged thousands and thousands of words expressing the pain, blessings, trials and joys of having my stuffing knocked out of me and the miracle of being saved and the work of recovery.

I marvel at the treasure mined throughout those months of bathing in the mercy of Jesus and recovering from the wounds that nearly killed me. Dear friends, thank you for reading along and experiencing it with me.

Of the many lessons I learned these past two years, one I’ve tucked into my heart and want to share with you is this: Be kind to yourself. Being kind means giving yourself grace. There need be no judging or pushing or stretching yourself too thin. When you are kind to yourself, you find extra to give to others.

This may sound cliched or even metaphysical, but it’s really rooted in scripture. And, when you begin the process of discovering yourself in the gift of salvation through Jesus, one incredible thing you will discover about the God of the Bible is his lovingkindness.

Lovingkindness.

It takes two words to identify this one facet of God’s nature.

Just three steps (and 29 days) can bring you to experience a whole-life makeover by God’s lovingkindness.

I grew up attending Sunday School and Christian School, learning verses and Bible stories. I was saturated in scripture.

But (and I don’t think I’m alone here) I felt more shame, less grace, more “in trouble”, less worthy of this salvation that seemed as much a part of me as my own hand. Grace was in the name of the church I attended, mercy was a term with which I was familiar but the doubts mounted even as my gold stars multiplied on the Sunday School attendance chart.

Eventually, I became numb to the lovingkindness of God and piqued to the possibility that I might be “unsavable”. Perhaps you have felt, for one reason or another, that you aren’t worth the kindness of God. This niggling feeling cajoles you into treating yourself (and others) with unkindness, too. It looks like “being critical” or having low-self esteem. It manifests itself in promiscuity or disordered eating or perfectionism. But, I think it’s more simply unkindness. It’s a wrong thinking rooted in a misunderstanding of (1) who God is and (2) who I am.

Somehow, those astute people we looked up to like parents, teachers or siblings, failed (as all humans do) to emulate the lovingkindness of God towards us and we, in turn, interpreted those failures and missed opportunities into this: God doesn’t love me. God isn’t kind to me. Bad things happen because I am bad and because he isn’t loving.

But he does love you and he is kind. Turn the treasure of your past over in your palm, examine your experiences in the light of the truth of the Bible and you will see….

God cannot do some things. Did you know that?

God cannot change his nature. He is who He is.

He is the I AM, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. Theologians call this inability to change, to waffle, to decrease or increase in nature immutability. Since God is immutable, he can’t be both loving and unloving, or kind and then unkind, or just only when he feels like being just. We may not be able to see his justice at a particular point in our lives, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t just or didn’t act upon his justice. He is complete in his nature.

Always.

Doesn’t that fact alone make him worthy of our attention and worship?

***

Ask these three questions:

1. So if the Bible, God’s word, declares God to be possessed of lovingkindness towards his people, then he is. Can I take him at his word?

2. Can I lay aside my feelings and my past hurts and mistakes and accept his lovingkindness?

The Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me. {Psalm 42:8}

3. If he actively pursues me with lovingkindness all day long and sings songs of love and acceptance over me at night, could I possibly do the same for myself and others, too?

***

The word lovingkindness may not appear in your Bible.

Lovingkindness can found 29 times in the Old Testament in the King James Version. The root word is also translated into steadfast love, mercy or kindness.

The ancient Hebrew word for lovingkindness  is heced (or checed) appearing 248 times in the Old Testament. The New Testament, written in Greek, used a word similar in meaning eleos. In both words there is not only the nature of kindness and goodness and steadfastness, but the action of lavishing it towards humankind both in a broad sense ( as of God to his chosen people, Israel Psalm 36:7) and in individual ways (Genesis 19:19, Luke 1:58).

I like the old way of tagging “loving” onto “kindness”.

“Loving” gives action to the concept and a motive or purpose toward which his kindness is applied.

And notably, without fail, God applies lovingkindness to people.

Lovingkindness is an attribute of God, and therefore a noun, but it is definitively an action undertaken by God consistently and profusely towards those who are in need of love and kindness and turn to him.

Are you in need of love and kindness? Yep. We all are. But, do we look to Jesus to satisfy this need?

When the Canaanite woman found Jesus on the road and begged him to deliver her daughter, sick with many demons, she called out: Son of David, Have mercy (eleos) on me. (Matthew 15:22) This desperate woman appealed to Jesus’ authority and his ability as a God who is by his very nature loving-kind to appropriate his mercy on her helpless child. And he did.

1.  The first step in showing kindness to yourself is to look to the God of lovingkindness to supply it.

Simply mustering up kindness will not do. We fail too often, know ourselves too well, and fall prey too readily to self-blame or, alternately, pride. Instead, look toward the source of lovingkindness and accept, with open hands, the kindness of your savior.

What if you prayed this daily? Let your lovingkindness and your truth continually preserve me. Psalm 40:11

Aren’t there times when life leaves us beaten down and limping?

Aren’t there days that stretch into months, even years, where we find ourselves looking to people to fill those deep needs only to be left wanting?

Aren’t there too many reminders of our failure?

Let’s ask God for his lovingkindness and truth to preserve us.

2. Gaze into the lovingkindness of God.

28 times God’s lovingkindness is described in the New King James Version. Click here { lovingkindness x 28 } for the full list. Print yourself a copy. Print a copy for someone you love.

Your entire month of February 2013 can be covered in divine lovingkindness! (Then, you can begin again in March!).

Gaze into God’s truth and allow yourself to be aware of his gentle kindness toward you and find your true value.

3. Practice lovingkindness toward yourself as often as you have opportunity. Exchange self-criticism for God’s truth.

What do you believe about yourself? What’s the record you play again and again in your mind? Do you agree with these things that God says about anyone (you too!) that calls on the name, Jesus? In the book of Ephesians, there are 29 declarations about who you are in Christ. I made a list of these for you, too. Print, share, read, agree, believe, and watch your identity transformed by truth! Click this link: {29 truths about me} for pdf.

Dear friend, do you know how loved you are? Do you know how complete and fulfilling and generous God wants to be with his lovingkindness toward you?

February may be the shortest month of the year, but it could be the 28 days that changed your life.

Will you let his lovingkindness give you a makeover?

***

By the way, here’s some photos of the big project that took over our lives this year.

...here goes the old fireplace...

…here goes the old fireplace…

...figuring out the new library fireplace...

…figuring out the new library fireplace…

...the demolition begins...

…the demolition begins…

...power tools are fun...

…power tools are fun…

...things were pretty messy around the house foe months...

…things were pretty messy around the house for months…

...the library (still needs its shelves painted!)...

...the new kitchen...

…the new kitchen…

...the stockings hung at the new fireplace...

…the stockings hung at the new fireplace…






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10 Comments

  1. What awesome truth your write here. Our accident was 36 years ago the day before February 14. I continue to care for my husband….and what I learned was his “steadfast love and faithfulness.” I always find it so encouraging to know that He has the same lessons we need to learn. You encouraged my heart today… (Love the pictures of the poppies in your house).

    • Oh, this kind of accident always teaches, doesn’t it? Thank you for sharing, Darnly. (PS the picture is from Lowes -can you believe it? I fell in love)

  2. Isn’t God amazing to redeem the tough times, we wouldn’t choose, and use it to help us experience more of His loving-kindness? Thank you, Alyssa, for sharing with us the wisdom you have gleaned…lovely remodel…beauty from the chaos…just like what God does for us…I hope you are feeling completely better…blessings to you 🙂

  3. Wow. I am taking to heart your suggestion to pray for God’s lovingkindness and truth to preserve me, to wrap myself in his grace, and to accept God’s immutability. Powerful words here, friend.

  4. ” Instead, look toward the source of lovingkindness and accept, with open hands, the kindness of your savior.”

    YES. Living with open hands… beautiful post and exactly what we are called to do as children of God. we receive all that we need from him, especially that grace and love that we need like air.

    I call it being a child, “weak and loved,” and I write about it often at my blog. I hope you stop by- I think we are kindred spirits!

    Instead, look toward the source of lovingkindness and accept, with open hands, the kindness of your savior.

  5. Roger and Carol Krebs says

    What a wonderful post, dear friend. Love the pics of your remodel too – beautiful! Carol

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