Learning to Love – A Giveaway {Closed}

My husband recently preached an excellent sermon entitled “How To Be Perfect”. Sound intimidating? I thought so when he announced the title. “Oh boy. Get ready for a mile-long list of dos and don’ts!” However, as he got into the message, I quickly saw that my presuppositions had been incorrect. 


Here’s the passage that he preached from:
Matthew 5: 43-48
43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Many preachers, pastors and perhaps theologians would say that the word “perfect” here means “complete”. In some passages it does mean that. But, here, the Savior is telling us that we can be “perfect”. It doesn’t mean “completely sinless and wonderful”, though, if I could attain such perfection I would strive to do so. No, we must look at the preceding verses to see what He means. Jesus is talking about loving our enemies. Does God love His enemies? Well, seeing that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to pay for our sins, I would say yes. Seeing that He saved and used the Apostle Paul, a man who had killed those who worshiped the Savior, I would say again, yes. God is perfect in every way, including in His ability to love those who do not love Him in return. Prior to June 12, 1993, this was I! Loving our enemies is one way that we, as Christians, as disciples of the Lord Jesus, can be perfect, just like our Father!

I’ve been re-reading this passage in my devotions. I’ve been mulling it over, trying to determine, what is love? Must I go spend the afternoon with my enemies, hanging out? Is that love? Should I call them daily and chat? Is that love? Or, is love simply not hating them? You know, not wishing evil on them, praying for them, etc.? To be clear, I don’t think I have any enemies, in the traditional sense of the word. I don’t think there is anyone out there slandering me or plotting my demise.(At least, I hope not!) But, I know there are some folks who are not exactly my number one fans. Or even my 2,679,342nd fan. These folks don’t want me to drop by for a coke and they don’t want to chat with me if they see me at the store. So, I’m calling them “enemies” but I feel that word is a bit harsh. The point is, I want to love everyone, even those who don’t exactly like me…at all.

It’s been a while since I had read portions of the book If by Amy Carmichael. I believe it’s no coincidence that I picked it up again just today, when I’m striving to learn how to love. I wanted to share a few passages that convicted me.

If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice; if I give any room to my private likes and dislikes, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I put my own happiness before the well-being of the work entrusted to me; if, though I have this ministry and have received much mercy, I faint, then I know nothing of Calvary love.


If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into the vice of self-pity and self-sympathy; if I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.


If I do not give a friend “the benefit of the doubt,” but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love. 


If I take offense easily; if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.


If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love.*
*For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.


If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things that I know not, forgetting that my Sinless Saviour trod this path to the end, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

I could go on and on. I received a bonus from this book. Not only am I learning how to love my enemies, but also how to better love those who love me in return. I long to share this book with all of my readers! It will be a great addition to your devotional time. However, I do not have the funds available to purchase a copy for everyone. I have decided to give away two copies, of either the book or the audiobook,(winners’ choice) to two readers. I will hold an old-fashioned drawing for the winners on Friday, July 1, 2011, at 6 PM. Winner will be announced immediately after the drawing.

How to Enter:
Do one or more of the following, each item counts as an entry, just let me know in your comment how many you have done. Those already following my blog can also count that for an extra entry! Just let me know you’ve been following!

1. Comment on this post.(If comments are not working, please let me know on my chat box or by e-mail. Thank you!)
2. Post about this giveaway on Twitter.
3. Follow my blog
4. Follow by e-mail
5. Post about this giveaway on Facebook or your blog.

I look forward to blessing two readers with this marvelous and convicting little book!

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More from "If"

More convicting thoughts from If by Amy Carmichael:
If I cannot bear to be like the father who did not soften the rigors of the far country; if, in this sense, I refuse to allow the law of God (the way of the transgressors is hard) to take effect, because of the distress it causes me to see that law in operation, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am perturbed by the reproach and misunderstanding that may follow action taken for the good of souls for whom I must give account; if I cannot commit the matter and go on in peace and in silence, remembering Gethsemane and the cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Wow…as a pastor’s wife, I have seen my husband have to “take action for the good of souls” and the results have not always been pleasant. Slanderous statements have been hurled our way, lies have been perpetuated, and the “cold shoulder” has been given more than once following such “action”. I admit it, it has perturbed me in the past, and it may again. I now see, however, that such results are to be expected. Did not Christ suffer when taking action for my good? Wasn’t the precious Son of God spat upon, beaten, and crucified for the good of my soul? I can, or rather, should be willing to suffer the mild persecution that I have for His cause. Emphasis on mild! Nothing I have endured or will endure could come close to being like my Savior’s sufferings.

I continue to marvel at how this book, so small in size, can carry such weighty and convicting statements. It continually brings me to my knees!

Valerie

This was for Me

I am continuing with my reading of If by the late Amy Carmichael, missionary to India. I have been convicted time and time again by the brief paragraphs which comprise this book. In reading some of them, I have to really stretch my mind to fully grasp her meaning. Others jump right out at me and bop me between the eyes. 


The following paragraphs really hit home, especially in my capacity as a pastor’s wife. My job is serve people. I do my best, but I so often fall short. I go to bed some nights struggling mentally with “what I should do to show love to my church family.” And then, sadly, other nights, I go to bed grumbling mentally over some off hand remark that someone made to me. I’m such a contradiction! I know it grieves my Lord, and therefore, it grieves me. These passages gave me much food for thought. My goal is to love my Lord first, and to love like my Lord. If I can do those things, I will be a much better pastor’s wife,  mother,friend, and the list goes on.


From If:


If I know little of His pitifulness (the Lord turned and looked upon Peter), if I know little of His courage of hopefulness for the truly humble and penitent (He saith unto him, “Feed my lambs”), then I know nothing of Calvary love.


If I deal with wrong for any other reason than that implied in the words, “From His right hand went a fiery law for them. Yea, He loved the people”; if I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.


If in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary from the strain, and slip from under the burden then I know nothing of Calvary love.


I especially struggle with that last one. I often grow weary of the work and want to slip out from under it, like a child sliding from his mother’s lap. I must keep working, even when I am weak.


Striving to love like HE loved,
Valerie

The Power of the Pen

Ouch.


No, I didn’t just stub my toe. That was a groan from the Holy Spirit within me; a wince of pain from my soul as I feel the sharp pangs of conviction after today’s reading of If by Amy Carmichael.






I read today:
If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.


Ouch, again. I must say, I’m guilty of writing unkind letters and words, and I’m definitely guilty of thinking unkind thoughts. I’m even guilty of spewing out these words from not just my pen or keyboard, but from my lips!


This is particularly convicting to me today. I find it to be no coincidence that I read these words today. I just deleted a blog post that I spent the better part of an hour composing last night. It was not my typical style. In this post, I let out all of my frustrations with my fellow Christian. My one consoling thought is that I did get under conviction after I wrote it. So much conviction, that I could never bring myself to hit “PUBLISH POST”. I re-read it this morning with fresh eyes and fresh heart and was compelled to hit “DELETE”. Now, I am ashamed that I ever thought those things and wrote about them at all. You will never see that post, but my Heavenly Father did. Oh! How I hate hurting Him! Yet, I continue to do just that!


This book has sent me to my knees many times to repent of my selfish, thoughtless and loveless actions. I need my Father’s help so badly.


With a heavy heart,
Valerie

Does Sin Grieve Me?

From If by Amy Carmichael:


If I find myself half-carelessly taking lapses for granted, “Oh that’s what they always do,” 
“Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.


This paragraph was excellent food for thought. While I don’t want to cast stones or judge others for lapses in character or action, I should be grieved over sin in another person’s life. When I see a person (saved or lost, it doesn’t matter) who is not behaving in a way that lines up with Scripture, I should be grieved in my heart. I should pray for their salvation, or for their turning back to the Lord. Others only see Christ in us by our works. If our works do not glorify God, then how can we be a light for our Savior? One cannot see my soul to know that Jesus does, in fact, abide there. They can only see Him through my words and deeds.


I want to pray and grieve when one isn’t obeying the Savior. I don’t want to brush it off. I don’t want to make excuses for them. I don’t want to judge. I want to love.

Valerie

My Own "Ifs"

I have been reading If by missionary Amy Carmichael. It has been extremely convicting. I will be sharing more quotes from that excellent book in the future, but, in the meantime, I thought I’d share some of my own “ifs” that I have been pondering. 


I began thinking about these after considering this verse: Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” 


Do I really seek Him first? Do I truly desire to be led and fed and directed by Christ, and Christ alone? Sadly, I would say that I do not. So often I seek after my own physical pleasures first. I want to satisfy my own wants and please Him last. Please do not misunderstand this post as some ultra spiritual “a ha” moment. It is not. I’m just sharing a few thoughts that the Lord has convicted me with through my daily walk, and through some deep valleys my husband and I have been in lately.

  • If I work for the Lord, and indeed, as a Christian I should work for Him, then I will let Him order my days. I will let Him decide when I need a vacation, and where to and for how long. 
  • If I am truly seeking Him first, then I will place a greater value on my walk with God than on my belongings or my hobbies.
  • If I truly love Him first and foremost, then the loss of friends, while painful, is but a minuscule taste of what my Master suffered at Gethsemane.
  • If I am constantly striving to please Him, then I will never feel alone, even when no one is around.
  • If Christ is the one I’m striving to please and imitate, then I will speak the truth in love, and know that He is pleased.
  • If I truly love my Lord, then I will mean the words to the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”. As that song says, “Though no one join me, still I will follow.” And I will follow gladly.



With a convicted heart,
Valerie

Words of Love

Excerpt from If by Amy Carmichael:
If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any; if I can speak in a casual way even of a child’s misdoings, then I know nothing of Calvary love.


If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.


How convicting! I shudder to think how many times over the years that I have spoken ill of someone, or laughed at the weaknesses of others, especially when I was a young person. Now, as an adult, I find myself not saying things as much as thinking them, which is still wrong.


Lord, please convict me when I think critical thoughts. Please catch me before I speak critical words. Help me to speak words of love. Help me to love as You love.

Valerie