The Choice to Love

The Choice to Love

Reflection:The Lord did not love you and choose you because you were greater in number than any of the other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed (bought) you.” Deut 7:7-8

Response: 
According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, the word covenant refers to “a coming together… [where]…God initiated, determined the elements, and confirmed his covenant with humanity. It is unilateral. Persons are recipients, not contributors; they are not expected to offer elements to the bond; they are called to accept it as offered, to keep it as demanded, and to receive the results that God, by oath, assures will not be withheld.” Thus, as believers, our relationship with God is not based on merit, status, or how good we are. We are accepted because God chooses to love us regardless of our weaknesses or failures.

The underlying basis of God’s covenant relationship is love. His covenant reflects His steadfast, everlasting love towards us. His love aids us through difficulties, carries us through storms, shields us from unforeseen circumstances, and protects us from harm. In His love, we enjoy enlargement to our influence, multiplication of our seed, and fruitfulness in our harvests. His covenant of love enjoins us blessings that pursue and overtake us as we walk in partnership with God’s will and way.

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God’s love toward you as a believer is not based on merit—what you have done, what you do or don’t do, how good you are, or because you deserve it. God loves you because His nature is love. He chooses to love you. His love is active and always present even when you feel you don’t deserve it. Embrace His choice. He chose you.

Strong-&-Courageous-Evonne

Strong & Courageous

Reflection: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Response:
Joshua was chosen and designated to lead God’s people into their promised land. God told him in Deuteronomy 11:24: “Every place where the sole of your foot treads will be yours. Your territory will extend from the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Western Sea.” And in Joshua 1:5, He tells Joshua, “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail or forsake you.”

Joshua was immediately forced to confront and face his fears and doubts. Despite the tumultuous task ahead of just entering the land and conquering it, God’s word to Joshua was: “Be strong and courageous,” which meant he needed to prevail, persist in, and be stronger than his obstacles.

For Joshua to be effective as a leader, it would require strength, courage, and obedience to confront each battle he met. The task he faced was not peaceful but a bitter, violent struggle that would go on for years to come. Despite this, God promised that Joshua would experience victory if he continued to be strong and courageous.

Strength: In this text, to be strong is not just muscular or physical strength. Instead, it is within the context of the covenant relationship that God demands strength. For Joshua and the people of God to achieve victory, they needed to be strong, i.e., determined, not easily swayed by what they saw, or circumstances. And they required consistency to prevail over their enemies.

Courage: Along with strength, God also required courage to withstand fear and difficulty to focus on the purpose and obtain their end goal. Courage fostered confidence and reliance on the presence and power of God and not in their ability.

Obedience: God’s word to Joshua included a warning in verse 7: “Be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.” Obedience to God’s will and word is one of the critical principles of Scripture, as well as a key requirement for being successful. The only way Joshua could be successful was to not just listen to God’s voice but follow what He said—for Himself and His people. Obedience involves trust, submission, and giving up one’s way to follow God’s way—which ultimately is always better anyway. Our success and victory are tied to our obedience.

Faith: Lastly, we need faith, not just to believe, but to be devoted and loyal to God and His way. We can be strong, courageous, and obedient for a time, but if we do not have faith in God or the successful outcome of our tests, it can be easy to walk away when we get tired or discouraged. Faith and being faithful means that one can endure or remain in one place despite times of adversity. Because you believe, then you will not abandon what you have set out to do until success, victory, and fulfillment are achieved.

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God is calling for strong, courageous, obedient, faith-filled believers who walk in accountability to God. Effective believers must be sensitive to God’s voice, His promptings, and listen to His voice. God wants to speak to you—He desires to give you instruction and direction to excel with victory and success through difficulty. Do you hear Him speaking to you? Are you feeling weary, discouraged, or doubtful about what you face? You are not alone. “Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Hope in Distress

Reflection: “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The LORD our righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:6)

Response:
How does one overcome the unexpected loss of a loved one, the betrayal of a trusted friend, or the trouble of a rebellious child? How does one recover from financial distress or significant health issues? Jeremiah speaks of God’s promise to care for His people despite arduous trials and sorrows. He declares hope in the face of their distress and promises them a better future. The promise includes two components: restoration and righteousness.

Restoration: God promised to step in and take control. He takes ownership and calls His people “my pasture,” “my people,” and “my flock.” God promises them hope. His people are no longer limited by their circumstances, but through their relationship with Him, He offers an opportunity to lead and provide them everything they need. When we turn our circumstances and disappointments over to Him under his rule—He then leads and draws us to a place of accountability, purpose, and fellowship.

Righteousness: God promised a righteous branch. The righteous branch stands for fidelity and uprightness. The Hebrew root for righteousness refers to an ethical or moral standard that portrays God’s nature and will. Psalms 145:17 says, “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” As leaders and believers, our uprightness should be defined in terms of God’s and not of ourselves. When we embrace God, we accept the “The Lord our Righteousness”—He is our righteousness. We possess an even greater hope for experiencing fruitfulness and success because He is with and in us.

Live exceptionally—in balance, freedom, and rest.
The prospect to rebuild or restore ourselves can look impossible after experiences of loss, distress, or extreme injustice. But God. He is our righteousness. He is our advocate. He is our hope. Embrace His promise for restoration and rest in the righteousness of His care.

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The Good Shepherd

Reflection: “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.” (Ezekiel 34:23)

Response:
Ezekiel uses shepherd imagery to describe God’s leadership in Ezekiel 34:23: “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd.” The New Testament also uses shepherd imagery as described in John, Chapter 10:11: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” God is the supreme “Good Shepherd,” and His role as shepherd over His sheep is infallible. He rules perfectly without the constraints of human frailty or human error.

What does the Good Shepherd do on behalf of His sheep?

He protects: “I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts from the land so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.” (Ezekiel 34:25) No one likes to live in fearful or traumatic conditions. Fear can become a normal part of life depending on where one lives, negative experiences, or enemies we confront. When God committed to a covenant of peace, He established His role to protect us and keep us safe from our enemies, freeing us from living in anxiety and fear.

He blesses: “I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing” (Ezekiel 34:26). To bless means “the act of declaring, or wishing, God’s favor and goodness upon others. When God shepherds, He blesses His people and puts us into positions of favor and prosperity. As His people, we enjoy a state of spiritual favor when we allow God to shepherd us. We can rest securely in His care and His desire for us to live abundantly and productively.

He frees: “…but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid” (Ezekiel 34:28). Under the shepherd’s care, He will break the yoke of bondage. No longer are we subject to captivity or limitation. Under the “Good Shepherd,” we possess freedom—free from fear, free from worry, and free to live.

He feeds: “I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land…” (Ezekiel 34:29). All creatures must eat to survive, but if they do not maintain the means to find food, this can prove difficult. Food provides the essential foundation for strength and sustenance to function effectively—literally and in a spiritual application. We need the Word of God to aid in our spiritual nourishment for survival.

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“He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.” (Psalms 95:7) As the sheep in God’s pasture, we must depend entirely upon Him for our wellbeing, endurance, and our life. Take time this week to acknowledge Him in everything you do. Do not allow the busyness of life to overwhelm you so that you don’t seek direction from Him or to obtain the strength needed to accomplish all that He purposes for you.

Repaired-Restored

Repaired & Restored

Reflection: “The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” (Isaiah 58:12)

Response:
Why do believers tend to walk in guilt or condemnation when they fail or make mistakes? Many times, believers hold on to their mistakes and sins though the Bible says all sin and fall short of His glory. God says that He forgives our sins and will remember them no more. (Jeremiah 31:34)

As believers, we should define our forgiveness and restoration in terms of God’s and not of ourselves. When we accept Christ, we welcome the Lord who is “The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” (Isaiah 58:12). Just as God promised the nation of Judah restoration through the coming of Christ, we possess an even greater hope for experiencing fruitfulness and success because He lives within us. He is not coming for us; He is with us and in us. Every broken situation, fragmented relationship, or disparaging situation, He can repair as we commit these areas to Him.

Live exceptionally—in balance, freedom, and rest.
What areas of your life do you need the Repairer and Restorer to fix and heal? Have you given these areas to Him? Do you trust Him to fix them despite opposition, trials, or temptations? Can you rejoice as you experience small wins? Commit this week to trust God and to rejoice in who He is and what He has the power to do in your life.