Friday, February 17, 2017

Scriptures on the Love of God

Since we are coming off of Valentine’s Day and the rather secular focus on love, I thought it would be nice to simply read a few verses demonstrating God’s love for us.  For a complete devotional on this topic, please see:  God’s Valentine.  This list of verses is not meant to be exhaustive.  Keep in mind, that even on our worst days, God still loves us deeply and unconditionally.  It is my heart’s prayer that you will experience God’s love in your heart and around you through the reading of these verses, as well as the whole of God’s Word.  Be blessed through the following verses.

Personal Photo


The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. 
  (Zephaniah 3:17 KJV)


For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
  (John 3:16-18 KJV)


 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.  
(1 John 4:7-12 KJV)

Photo from Pixabay

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
We love him, because he first loved us.
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. 
(1 John 4:16-21 KJV)


A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. 
(John 13:34-35)


If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  
(John 15:10-12 KJV)


Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 
(John 15:13 KJV)


 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  
(Romans 5:8 KJV)


Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.  
(1 John 3:1 KJV)

Personal Photo


What is your favorite verse that reminds you of God’s love for you?

What verse(s) would you add to the above verses?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Loving Lord, Thank You for Your love that is seen throughout Your Word.  Remind us that Your Word—the Bible—is Your love letter to us.  It is when we read Your Word with the realization of Your loving heart that we see Your love from beginning to end.  Help us to experience the depth and height of Your love for us each day.  Nudge us to share Your love with those around us each day—many are hurting and need to know that You love them and desire nothing more than a relationship with them.  Pour out Your love into our open hearts each day.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

God’s Valentine

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  (John 3:16-17 KJV)

Note:  This post is an edited and revised version of what I shared last year on Valentine’s Day.

God's Valentine image from pixabay

Happy Valentine’s Day!  God loves you so much—more than you or anyone can begin to fathom! 

Have you ever realized that you are God’s Valentine and that He is yours?  Think about what this means; let it seep deeply into your soul—your innermost being.  How does knowing this change your view of yourself, your view of God, and your view of others?

God loves each and every one of His children fully and completely—a love that is uniquely and individually designed for His children.  God’s love for us is so intense and deep that we are unable to fathom it this side of Heaven.  God’s love is a love that completes and fulfills us in a way that nothing or no one on earth can.

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.  (1 John 3:1 KJV)

Since we live in a sinful, fallen world, it makes sense that the love we experience here would seem rather incomplete.  In Heaven, I believe that we will experience such a fullness of God’s love that our earthly bodies and minds simply could not handle it.

God’s love of and for us is an empowering love, it is not a love that controls or manipulates to get its own way; it is a love that sets its object (that is us!) free!  Due to the sinful world we inhabit, at times we experience love that is anything but freeing; in fact, it sometimes controls and manipulates to get its own way.  Sadly, “love” in this world can also be horrifically abusive.

Even at that, I believe we can catch glimpses of this love in the world around us, as well as throughout the Scriptures.  Think about this:  God’s Word (both the Old and New Testaments) is His love letter to us.  How cool is that?!  Try reading your Bible as God’s love letter to you; see what a difference it makes in how you perceive the words in it.

Personal Photo

How does knowing the Bible is God’s love letter to you change how you read it?  What do you think about this idea of the Bible being God’s love letter to you?

In February 2009 (including Valentine’s weekend), I was blessed to go on a Walk to Emmaus retreat—a 72 hour date with the Lord.  It was a wonderful time of spiritual growth, nourishment, and renewal!  Experiencing God’s love and the love of His children was simply amazing!  I simply do not have the words to describe that time.  To learn more about this experience, please see:  Walk to Emmaus

We see God’s love for us in the imagery of a shepherd caring for his or her sheep—protection, provision, care, and guidance.  His love for us goes far beyond the love we feel for our family and friends or receive from them.  It is a love that heals and love that provides safety and security that is not of this world. 

God’s love is perfect and complete—it fits us perfectly, it heals us and sets us free from fear (1 John 4:18 KJV) and bondage to sin.  God’s love is the real thing!

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. 
(Zephaniah 3:17 KJV)

How have you experienced God’s love?  How have you shared it?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear God of Love, we long to bask in the healing warmth of Your love.  Please pour into our open hearts Your love, so that we may in turn pour out that love on others.  It is only in and through You that we have any capacity to love.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, enabling us to love those who are the most challenging to love—who are the ones who are the most loved-starved in our midst.  As we begin to think about preparing for Lent and then Easter, direct our attention to Your greatest demonstration of love—sending Your precious and only Son, Jesus Christ, to walk on earth and to die on the cross in our place, and rising again—giving us access to You and to eternal life that is worth living.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


Friday, February 10, 2017

Letting Jesus Remove the Clutter

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace...  
(1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV)

Note: This post is from January 29, 2016.  As I was praying and preparing this week, I felt the Lord impress on me to post this message again (possibly with some editing).  Moreover, I am feeling some “nudges” to develop more posts with this theme.  Just know that I am “preaching” to myself as much as I am to those who read this post!

Many people struggle with clutter in their lives:  inner and outer.  I face struggles in this area, yet there is a degree of order to the “mess” (in other words, I can almost always find what I am looking for).  There may be a method to my madness…or not!  At the same time, I realize that God likely has a different perspective about my clutter.

Image from Pixabay

Holding on to objects—whatever they may be—of our past, a past the Lord has led us away from is likely far more counterproductive than we realize.  Whether or not we realize it, we are weighed down, hampered, kept from the future that awaits us; the future that is created especially for us by Jesus our Savior and Lord.  This is the future where we will find a happiness and a contentment that comes from being where we are needed and doing the things the world most needs us to do.  This reminds me of a quote from Frederick Buechner:  “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”[1] {Note: This paragraph looks much different in Blogger's editor than it does here.  I cannot figure out how to change it.}

Letting go of the “stuff” gives us freedom for the future—openness, space, margin for the Lord to work and for us to work too.  When we are free of this “stuff”, perhaps “stuff” that haunts us, we can become the person we were meant to be all along!  All this “stuff” that we think we need only distracts and hinders us (this is at least partially true for me). 

To be sure, the “stuff” is not always bad; it may have served a good and worthy purpose in the past.  If the “stuff” is truly a thing of the past; a past that is no longer the path God wants you walking down, why cling to it, as if it has the power to save?  This is what I have talked to myself about in the past and even just this week (as of the writing of this post in January 2016).  At the point God made it clear to me that the path I was on was not the correct one, I was so overwhelmed that it did not occur to me to start parting ways with the objects that had occupied hours of my life for many years, and stuff that I had spent a sizable amount of money to acquire.
Over the past several years, the Lord has been freeing me more and more of the files of paper, projects that were a significant part of my past.  Since the beginning of the year (2016) I have gotten back to work—it is work but it goes amazingly fast.  It is also completely overwhelming at times; mostly it feels great!  Now in 2017, I am beginning to see the deep need for even more work in this area. 

Image from Pixabay

Our God is a God of order (as can be seen the Scripture above).  He created order.  Therefore, order pleases Him—order in our lives, order in our churches—makes a difference, a difference that might just makes others take note.  God brings order to our disorder, if we allow Him.  As we depend on Him to remove the inner and outer “clutter” we find freedom.  This freedom gives us the necessary space to think, to create, and to simply live. 
Jesus also addressed this in His Sermon on the Mount:  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 KJV). 
Where are you storing up treasures? 
I am working towards an increasing desire to store up treasures—the most important treasures—in heaven; a work that is in progress.  These are the treasures we should all desire.
In some way, releasing all this stuff, the baggage of the past—tangible objects and people may well be a type of “pruning” (see John 15).  I invite you to check the archives of the blog for some posts from last year on abiding (and pruning).
We can depend on God to help us in our weakness.  He is kind and gentle with us, yet He does not allow us to stay—growth, change happens and is expected.  I am thinking my releasing of this “stuff” will take me places I have never dreamed possible.
What do you need to do with the “clutter” in your life?
How is Jesus helping you with the “clutter” in your life?
Please join with me in prayer:
Dear Lord of Order, We confess that our lives are out of order; we need your help in regaining order.  Enable us to see our living and working spaces with Your eyes, so that we can address the piles of “stuff” that weigh us down.  Likewise, we need Your love, grace, and power to clear away our inner “clutter”, providing the necessary space for You to do Your creative work within us.  Remind us to be loving, caring, and gentle with others who struggle, as well as with ourselves.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,

Note:  Be watching for a possible post on Tuesday, February 14.

Friday, February 3, 2017

My One Word for 2017: Diligent

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.  
(Proverbs 4:23 KJV)

Last year I decided to join in with many others and seek the Lord for the word He desired me to focus on and use it to guide the year (and write blog posts about it).  My word for last year was “abide”.  To read last year’s post see:  My One Word for 2016:  Abide.  While I learned some about what it means to abide in Christ, in the vine; I think I may have missed some important pieces too, such as letting the word truly guide my life and year.  Nevertheless, I plan to continue to abide in Christ as long as I live!

As I pursued the Lord regarding this year’s word, there were several contenders.  Finally, a few days into 2017 the word came.  Prayerfully, this word will “stick” and guide me through the year (even with getting an incredibly slow start).  My heart’s desire is for this word to impact the whole of my life, not just my spiritual life.

My one word for 2017 is:  diligentIf I focus on what this word truly means at the deepest level and its various nuances, this year could really change my life in a positive way.  To meet my many goals, I will need to be diligent!  This is something that does not happen overnight; it happens slowly, but surely over time—as new habits develop. 

Wordificator creation by K. Jolly, All Rights Reserved.

Diligent (noun) is defined as:  “1. constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken.  2. the degree of care and caution expected of a person.”[1]

Diligent (adjective) is defined as:  “1. constant and earnest in effort and application; attentive and persistent in doing something… 2. done or pursued with persevering attention…”[2]

A few synonyms for diligent:  attentive, industrious, painstaking, persevering, and studious.

WordCloud created by K. Jolly. All Rights Reserved.

Personal Photo. Graduate school Commencement, May 1999.

Personal Photo. End of Undergraduate Finals, William Penn University. May 1995 

In pondering the dictionary definition of diligent, I can recall times where I was diligent in pursuing a rather long term goal.  The long term goal was attaining two college degrees.  As a part of my master’s degree work, I decided to pursue the thesis option.  Researching, writing, and defending the thesis required diligence over the long-haul.  Keep in mind, my topic had little to no published research, so I was creating a possible theory to explain the phenomena I experienced and was continuing to see in interviews with my participants.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.  
(Proverbs 4:23 KJV)

We are to diligently guard our hearts, as the writer of Proverbs admonishes us.  Being diligent is what God desires from His children.  In God’s perspective, we are either “all in” or “all out”—fence sitting is not allowed.  To humbly walk with the Lord, to abide in the vine, requires a degree of focus and diligence.  Diligently pursuing the Lord (to discover He is pursuing us too!), while diligently studying the Scriptures gives us a new perspective on the whole of life.

Personal Photo.

Personal Photo

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 
(Acts 17:10-11 KJV)

By keeping alert and diligently studying the Scriptures as did the Bereans, we will be prepared, ready for the Lord’s return (like the wise virgins see, Matthew 25:1-13).  Preparing and doing the necessary work with alertness and a watchful readiness will make all the difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us. 

The woman described in Proverbs 31 is a good example of one who is diligent—doing the various tasks at hand.  Yes, this is “work”, however, it is work with meaning and great reward—reward particularly throughout eternity.  When we have a solid work ethic others will take note.  Sadly, a good work ethic will not always be rewarded or appreciated; in fact, it will be looked down upon—work hard, nevertheless.

 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.  
(Luke 9:62 KJV)

Being diligent is reflected in Jesus’ admonition about putting your hand to the plow and not looking back.  What is true of kingdom work is also true in the workaday world where we reside.  The focus is forward, not backwards—focusing on what lies before benefits us far more than being encumbered by the past. 

As this year slowly unfolds, I anticipate learning and doing more than last year by actively and diligently doing what lies before me.  I am looking forward to seeing the difference this one word can make in my life and in my home. 

I know that I will need encouragement along the way.  Who knows, there may be more blog posts on this topic throughout the year!  How can we encourage others to be diligent in living for the Lord?

If you had a word for last year, how did it help you? 

If you have a word for this year how is it guiding you, thus far?

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for developing within us the quality of diligence—the ability to focus on and stick with a task until it is complete.  Remind us how all that we do is to be done as unto You, knowing this should impact how we approach our daily work.  Fill us with the desire to diligently study Your Word, to search the Scriptures for ourselves and not take others’ words as true.  Likewise, instill in us a desire to be diligent in all other aspects of our lives, and thereby reap the dividends of a life lived to the fullest with the end in mind.  May we be always ready for Jesus’ return!  In Jesus’ Name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,


[1] See “diligent” Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (1996). Published by Random House, New York.
[2] See “diligent” Random House Webster’s College Dictionary (1996). Published by Random House, New York.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Goals 2017

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.  
(Proverbs 16:9 KJV)

Goal as defined by Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 is:  “The end or final purpose; the end to which a design tends, or which a person aims to reach or accomplish.[1]  Goal is a noun indicting a stopping point, as in a race or even a starting point.[2]  For the purposes of this post, I will be considering the word goal from the first sentence in this paragraph.

Word Cloud created by K. Jolly. All Rights Reserved.

We are nearing the end of the third week of this year.  The year is still fresh and new—full of possibilities.  Each New Year’s Day we receive a fresh start from God.  Of course, that is true of every day the Lord gives us, especially if we are walking in relationship with Him.

At some point in the last few years I have written about goals on this blog (please see Goals, Goals 2016).  This post is utilizing some material (with editing) from both of those posts, as well as some new thoughts.  Nevertheless, I encourage you to read what I shared the last two years; it may be helpful for you as you plan for this year.

The freshness of a new year beckons us to try new things, make changes in our lives, and accomplish a list of goals.  When we have our eyes on God, our goals should lead us ever closer to Him, rather than away from Him.  Furthermore, our goals should be healthy ones too—physically, spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically.  It is good to keep in mind that when we set goals they should be ones that do not require the cooperation of others—those goals have a high failure rate, for obvious reasons!

Many people make resolutions at the beginning of the year, abandoning them a few hours, days, or weeks later.  Why?  Perhaps the goals are far too ambitious, too vague, or require the cooperation of others.  New goals tend to require new habits to form—something that takes time and dedication to achieve.

The greatest commitment we can make as Christians is to grow and develop in a positive direction in our faith.  Taking time for silent meditation of our hearts and coming into the presence of God.  Doing this, along with dedication will help us meet the other goals we may set for ourselves.

The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.  
(Proverbs 16:1 KJV)

It is my heart’s sincere desire that you are setting aside time in your daily schedule to commune with God and that you are growing in your relationship with Him.  God loves you so much and desires nothing more than a relationship with you.  He loves you so much, in fact, He’s crazy about you!  Keeping your eyes on the goal (prize), will help you stay focused and not get off track.  A word of caution:  be kind to yourself, realizing that some days or weeks will not be so great; things will go wrong—give yourself the grace you deserve—give yourself the grace you would give to others.  Encourage yourself over how far you have come.

Wordificator Word Art Creation by K. Jolly.  All Rights Reserved.

For the third year I have established goals for myself—these goals are fairly similar to the previous two years with a few tweaks.  For the second year, I developed two lists of goals:  general and spiritual—there is a healthy degree of overlap between the two lists, which is to be expected.  Once again, the goals are quite substantial (clearly I have learned little the last two years or I am trying to be an overachiever or punish myself).  

Even in the face of my substantial goals, I see the need for some time to simply be, to have some “margin” or “white-space” to allow God to work, and for me to rest.  (I wrote a bit more about this concept last year in my post on goals [see the link the third paragraph].)

However, I sense this year will be different.  Different in that I am using a life planner to supplement what I am already doing.  Additionally, two of my friends easily volunteered to hold me accountable to my goals.  My thoughts are to do a quick evaluation of how I am doing at the end of each month and do a more thorough evaluation quarterly (March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1).  Perhaps evaluating how you are doing on your goals will be helpful for you as well?

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.  
(Proverbs 4:25-27 KJV)

Discipline and accountability are key ingredients in goal setting and in achieving those goals.  The life planner has built in times to assess how I am doing with my goals; as I mentioned above, I plan to do a bit more than the life planner directs me to do, which is likely a positive idea.  

In the near future, may be even next week, I plan to share my word for the year.  In my mind, the word will guide and inform how I pursue my goals.  In my thought processes I am beginning to see how my word for the year will “make or break” how I pursue my goals or do not pursue my goals.  Moreover, it will also guide my walk with the Lord.  How is that for a “teaser”?

Setting goals, having dreams serve to give us a purpose in life.  Waking up each day with a sense of excitement, expectation, and a purpose makes it easier to get out of bed and get going on the day, especially when we are fighting against the urge to stay in bed with the cover over our heads!

My most sincere desire is that you have reserved, set aside time each day to be alone with the Lord in prayer, worship, and reading the Word.  There is no substitute for this time with the Lord.  Try making a goal to spend a certain time frame with the Lord (even write it in your planner)—keep it as you would any other appointment.  I pray that you will discover, as I have, how precious this time is and make the necessary effort to tenaciously guard it. 

Personal Photo

Personal Photo

What goals have you established to pursue this year?  Who have you asked or can you ask to hold you accountable? 

God-given goals will make an impact, not only on us but on those around us as well.  May God bless you with the drive and dedication to achieve your goals.  Be sure to encourage those around you too!

Please join with me in prayer:

Dear Lord of All, thank You for the fresh start that seems so readily apparent at the start of the year; remind us though, how each day is a fresh start and gift from You.  Although we struggle at times, we know we need to surrender our goals and the whole of our lives to You—help us to surrender.  Guide us through the discernment process of goal setting, so that our goals would be given by You for our growth and development.  Guard us from losing sight of what really matters—our relationship with You.  As always, may our greatest goal be that of being rightly related to You, having our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life, so that we can enjoy You and Heaven for all eternity.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray.  Amen.

From My Heart to Yours,