Deserved, Not Demanded

Sometimes I think I should stop reading devotionals, but then I might not have so much to write about. I’m constantly surprised, although maybe I shouldn’t be, at the statements some authors make about God, with seemingly no thought as to how they portray God. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt but can’t help commenting.

I recently read an article about putting Jesus first. Overall, it was good and had valid points, until I got to the part where the author said, “Jesus demands and deserves to be the first love in our lives.” He certainly deserves first place, but does he demand it? That doesn’t sound like the Jesus I know. The Jesus I know is a loving shepherd who leads me beside still waters, makes me lie down in green pastures and restores my soul. When I’m tired and stressed, he leads me into his rest; his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.

And yes, the great command is to love God, but not before he loves us, and not because he demands it of us. A human lover who demands to be loved is usually considered somewhat mental. And God isn’t like us. Rather than demanding love, he loves us into loving him. He loves us into being first in our hearts and minds, the center of our lives and the focal point of all our hopes and dreams. With that kind of love, we can’t help putting him first in our attentions and affections.

My One Word for 2020

By now, most people have given up making resolutions. Several years ago, resolutions began to be replaced by the simplicity of a single word. I’ve had a “one word” for quite a few years now and I know many of you have adopted this as well. Being given a word by God and then reflecting on it throughout the year helps me focus on one thing and sets the tone and direction for growth in grace and knowledge.

This year God gave me the word unfazed. It jumped out at me as I was reading Romans 8:37-39 in The Message: “None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

Life took some unexpected turns for me last year and I’m certain this coming year will also hold some surprises. By remembering my word, I hope to ride the waves in the love and strength of Jesus, and not let any of it faze me. I’m going to hold onto the fact that nothing can separate me from his love, even the rough stuff.