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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Love Dare- Day Twenty Two

I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.  Then you will know the Lord. – Hosea 2:20

As Christians, love is the basis of our whole identity.  Our spiritual rebirth came about because “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

When asked to clarify what the greatest commandments of all were, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart … your soul … your strength … your mind … and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

Our love for each other is supposed to be how people distinguish us as Christ’s disciples (John 13:35).  It is the root and ground of our existence (Ephesians 3:17), meant to be expressed with passion and fervency (1 Peter 4:8).  It is a quality that we are to “abound” in more and more (1 Thessalonians 3:12), always getting better at it, becoming increasingly defined by it.

So if love is what we were created to share, what do you do when your love is rejected?  How do you handle it when the one to whom you’ve pledged your life stops accepting the love you’re called to give?

The account of prophet Hosea is one of the most remarkable in the Bible.  Against all logic and propriety, God instructed him to marry a prostitute.  He wanted Hosea’s marriage to show what Heaven’s unconditional love looks like towards us.  Hosea’s union with Gomer produced three children but, as expected, this woman who had long made her living in immorality was not content to stay faithful to one man.  So Hosea was left to deal with a broken heart and the shame of abandonment.

He had loved her, but she had spurned his love.  They had grown close, but now she had been disloyal and adulterous, rejecting him for the lust of total strangers.

Time passed, and God spoke to Hosea again.  God told him to go and reaffirm his love for this woman who had been repeatedly unfaithful.  This time she had reached a new low and had to be bought off the slave block, but Hosea paid the price for her redemption and bought her home.  Yes, she had treated his love with contempt.  She had dealt treacherously with his heart.  But he welcomed her back into his life, expressing an unconditional love.

This is a true story, but it was used as a picture of God’s love for us.  He showers His favor on us without measure, though in return we often don’t pay attention.  At times we have acted shamefully and deemed His love an intrusion, as if it’s keeping us from what we really want.  We have rejected Him in many ways – even after receiving His gift of eternal salvation – and yet He still loves us.  He still remains faithful.

Even so, His love doesn’t keep Him from calling us to account for our mistreatment of Him.  We pay more of a price for our rejection than we often realize.  Yet He still chooses to respond with grace and mercy.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).  In Him we have the model of what rejected love does.  It stays faithful.

Jesus called us to this kind of love in the passage known as the Sermon on the Mount.  He said to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same"  (Luke 6:32-33).

"Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men" (Luke 6:35).

From the vantage point of the wedding altar, you would never have dreamed that the person you married might later become to you a kind of "enemy," one you would need to love as an act of almost total sacrifice.  And yet far too often in marriage, the relationship does indeed dwindle down to that level.  Even to the point of betrayal or, sadly, to unfaithfulness.

For many, this is the beginning of the end.  Some respond by rapidly moving toward a tragic divorce.  Others, more protective of their reputation than even their own happiness, decide to keep the charade going.  But they have no intention of liking it--much less of loving each other again.

This is not the model, however for the follower of Christ.  If love is to be like His, it must love even when its overtures are returned unwanted.  And for your love to be like that, it must be His love to begin with.

You can give undeserved love to your spouse because God gave undeserved love to you--repeatedly, enduringly.  Love is often expressed the most to those who deserve it the least.

Ask Him to fill you with the kind of love only He can provide, then purpose to give it to your mate in a way that reflects your gratefulness to God for loving you.  That's the beauty of redeeming love.  That's the power of faithfulness.

Today's Dare
Love is a choice, not a feeling.  It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction.  Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it.  Say to them today in words similar to these, "I love you.  Period.  I choose to love you even if you don't love me in return."

I have chosen the faithful way. (Psalm 119:30)

This is a very powerful chapter for me and the story of Hosea is one I was not aware of.  What true love God demonstrates to us and what true faith Hosea demonstrated to God when he did what he was told to do.  I ended up reading the story of Hosea and Gomer so I had a full understanding of it.

First Hosea was told to marry a sinner, one who was a known prostitute.  After they had their children she could not fight off the demons and left him and her kids and went back to being a prostitute.  God told Hosea to go and bring his wife back from her sins and love her and forgiver her and show her unconditional love as HE shows us.  When Hosea found his wife she was being sold as a prostitute and he had to buy her.  Hosea told his wife Gomer he loved her and she was to come home and never share herself with another again.  That unconditional love Hosea showed his wife is so powerful to me and so moving, I was almost in tears reading the story yesterday.

In my hubby's blog yesterday  http://michellegalvan.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-love-dare-day-twenty-one.html

 My hubby stated "I have an amazing, supportive, tolerant wife."  I do not think I am tolerant, I think being tolerant is giving the impression that I allow things to happen, I tolerate behaviors when in reality that is not the case.  I do not tolerate certain things in my marriage but what I have learned to be is forgiving.  This is the message that I try and express to my hubby. I will not tolerate certain behaviors but I will forgive them with the promise of change.  I feel Hosea was the same way, he forgave to show his love for his wife and for God and that is what I do in my marriage.  I want my hubby to know and feel unconditional love given to me by the grace of God.

Marriage is hard.  It takes work.  There is not one day that you can just let your marriage be on idle.  Just like you work hard at work and you give it all you got to get to the next promotion or achieve the next bonus you have to do this in your marriage.  So many of my friends just think they can get married and live happily ever after but it doesn't work that way.  We spend weeks, months and sometimes years learning about our partners and learning their ins and outs why when we get married do we think the work is over?  Why do we think we can just lay around on the couch and pass gas and scratch ourselves?  (No, my hubby does not do this.. I am referring to my friend who has a husband who does) We should want to be at our very best IN the marriage so that we can keep that love and desire between us alive and fulfilling for both. This is when the REAL work should begin.

I have taken to read the Book of Proverbs, one chapter a day.  Today was chapter 2 and it just confirmed my reading from the Love Dare yesterday:

My son, if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Love is a choice, not a feeling.  I choose to love and to continue to love my hubby for all the days of my life and with that love I will work to grow into a better wife, mother, child of God and leader of family and friends.  I only have one life and only have one true love in this life and I am going to do whatever it takes to honor, protect and value that love.


I have chosen the faithful way. (Psalm 119:30)

For me, this scripture has strength in its simplicity. I have indeed chosen the faithful way.

When we first read this statement, I think many of us think of the obvious--being physically faithful to our spouse; fidelity. While this is certainly part of it, I also believe this statement means much more than this. It means, to me, "the faithful way"--our thoughts, words, deeds, and actions. We have all been in situations where someone is being friendly, even flirtatious. This is, I believe, a natural part of life.

I have learned, however, that it being faithful to my wife, I respect and honor in her in everything I do. I can't stop people from being flirtatious. I can, however, control how I react...ensure that I react in a way that honors my wife, my family, and ultimately myself.

My wife has told me over the years, although it admittedly took several years for me to grasp and embrace the concept, that what each one of us does reflects on the other. I understand and remind myself that Michelle and I are one. I love her unconditionally. When I disrespect her, I am also disrespecting myself. What I do or don't do, is a reflection on her, just as what she does or doesn't do is a reflection on me. We are truly one, united under God.

I too choose to love my wife. I choose to value and respect her. She is my best friend and confidant. She loves me for who and what I am. For the reason, I strive to be the best  husband, father, and man I can be.

To me, this is truly choosing the faithful way.

~ Joseph

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