Fruit That’s Always in Season

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)

It’s finally autumn. That’s a big deal for Arizona. With our scorching, hot summers, fall and winter are the seasons we look forward to the most. Although relatively warm compared to other parts of the country, our temperatures of low eighties and high to low seventies are like paradise after the sizzling heat of summer.

I have to admit, though, there is one aspect of summer that I really enjoy no matter what state I’m living in and that’s summer fruit. There’s nothing quite like walking through the farmers’ market in Iowa and picking out my favorite summer fruit: cherries, peaches and nectarines, apricots, pineapples, strawberries, etc. Cherries are like my summer candy. In Upstate New York, you only have to drive every few miles before running into a roadside fruit stand chock full of a delicious array of wonderful summer fruits.

Now that fall has arrived, it’s difficult to find those juicy summer delicacies. Of course, some stores may import them from other parts of the world, but it’s nothing quite like the stuff that’s locally or regionally grown.

When we are born again, there is a fruit that is given to all believers at the time of their new birth: The fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are never out of season. The fruit of the Spirit is the change in our character that comes about because of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. This fruit is with us all the time and accessible anytime.

I specifically want to zero in on the fruit of self-control. Philippians 2:13 tells us, For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. It’s so easy, sometimes, to forget, during the heat of a battle, that we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help control our emotions, our thoughts and our actions. I can’t tell you how many times we have had to shake our coaching couples (not literally, although the temptation was there), particularly those who profess Christ,  into the realization that they can actually control the vitriol that proceeds out of their mouths when trying to win an argument. We hear all too often, “I couldn’t help myself,” and we remind them Who lives on the inside of them. Therefore, self-control is readily available for access if they would only use it.

The fruit of self-control is not simply will power. Rather, it’s the power of the universe, God’s Holy Spirit, dwelling on the inside of us that allows us to live victorious lives in this sinful, challenging world. So, when you feel like you have what I call the “can’t help its”, remember, you can!

In Matthew 8:2-3, we see this account:  Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”

Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. My question to you is: Are you willing to ask God to help you allow the fruit of self-control to be an everyday part of your life? I pray your answer is, “I am willing.” (Pam)

Fullness of Joy

… And be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold. (Nehemiah 8:10, AMPC)

I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing. (John 15:11, AMPC)

The verse in Nehemiah quoted above tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. The Hebrew word used for joy is defined as rejoicing or gladness. I believe that the joy of the Lord is actually a product or manifestation of the grace of God. When we know that we are loved and cherished by God Almighty Himself, we can’t help but to be filled, to overflowing, with joy.

The strength that we experience comes from our trust in the faithfulness of God.  John 15:11 quotes Jesus regarding His joy that resulted from Him doing the will of the Father.  Jesus came to earth to be humanity’s personal Savior and sacrifice for sin.  God loved humankind so much that He gave His only son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place that we might be reconciled to God.  Knowing the extent of God’s devotion and desire to provide for an opportunity of salvation for humanity should inspire our confidence in God’s will and ability to satisfy our greatest needs.

As always, our strength does not come from us but from God.  Therefore, when we face what, in reality, is beyond our capability, we can do as Christ did and say not our will but God’s will be done.  We can prevail in knowing that God is working in us and through us. Consequently, as we pursue the will of God for our lives, we can share in the joy and delight that Jesus spoke of.

In John 15, Jesus talks about how He kept God’s commands. He then challenges us to do the same in loving one another.  We must come to understand that only by doing God’s will can we truly experience the joy of the Lord in its fullness. The joy of the Lord is far superior to happiness because it is not dependent on circumstances or people.  The joy of the Lord is founded on a relationship with God, the ultimate promise keeper.  Jesus wanted His joy to be ours in full measure – complete and overflowing.

Fullness of joy is a choice we can make by receiving God’s gift: His Son as our personal Savior.  Allow the joy of the Lord to be your endless supply of strength to face the challenges of life and eternity. (Adrian)

Fear is a Thief

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]. (2 Timothy 1:7,AMP)

The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? (Psalm 27:1, NLT)

Fear, dread, trepidation, and apprehension all denote agitation and anxiety that’s caused by the presence or imminence of danger. That danger could be real or just an anticipation of something unpleasant. There are, of course, many types of fear, and not all fear is bad. Some fear can keep you out of a lot trouble, but it can also cloud your judgment and blind your perspective. The type of fear that keeps us out of trouble is our fear of something obviously dangerous. For instance, we should have a healthy fear of jumping into a wild animal’s cage or of playing Superman by leaping off a tall building without preparation to defy gravity.

I want to concentrate on the fear that causes undue anxiety due to the expectation of something unpleasant. That kind of fear is a dangerous enemy.

When I began my teaching career, the first grade I taught was kindergarten. I enjoyed it, but I knew that it wasn’t for me. I wanted to work with children who were a bit more self-sufficient. I eventually worked my way up through other grades and finally landed at grade six.. When we moved from California to Iowa because of Adrian’s new position in the company, I had to make a shift. I did some substitute teaching in various grades, and it was fine; but I didn’t necessarily want to teach full time any longer.

A friend of mine from church, who was an adult basic education teacher, and also helped prepare clients (students) to take their GED, told me she was changing positions and asked if I’d be interested in taking her place. She worked at a residential treatment center for substance abuse. This facility also housed a mental health institute. I told her that I was interested, but inwardly, I was uneasy. The day she invited me to come and observe, I could feel my fear wanting to take over. I almost changed my mind about going, but I soldiered on. Part of me had to deal with the surprising prejudice I realized I had about working with that population of people. I had never been around folks who did drugs and such, so I didn’t know what to expect. I stood aloof (my heart beating fast) as I observed her interaction with the clients. She was occupied with one student, so another one approached me and asked if I was a teacher. I reservedly said yes, so he asked for some help with his math. Reluctantly, I sat down with him and, suddenly, all the fear just washed away, and that prejudice just took a dive off a cliff somewhere. Afterwards, I readily accepted the invitation to take my friend’s place. This turned out to be one of several of my most rewarding teaching roles. In fact, I became the teacher with the highest percentage of people successfully achieving their GED. I almost allowed fear to rob me of some of the greatest joys I experienced in teaching.

I used to be terrified of computers. I believed I was going to be that person who could irreparably damage one.  I was assigned to teach a specialized adult class that concentrated on getting displaced workers back on their feet by learning new skills. One of those skills was basic computer. Yikes! How was I going to do that? Of course, fear stepped in and almost caused me to not take the position. I thank God for an understanding and helpful husband. As I would look ahead and see what I was supposed to teach on a particular day, I would share that with Adrian; and he would teach me the concept so I could teach my students. My confidence was now growing; and after a few weeks, I discovered that I actually had a genuine proclivity for computer science. I began experimenting with different things and was able to give my students even some advanced knowledge.

Fear can stop us in our tracks if we allow it run our lives. God wants us to walk in victory even when circumstances seem daunting. Faith is the opposite of fear, and faith is where we as Christians should be walking, daily. Some scary situations may give a start, but we want to learn to grab hold of ourselves quickly, and allow Holy Spirit to get us back on track.

There are so many things God wants us to accomplish in our walk down here on earth; but if we walk around with timidly and being afraid of our own shadow, we will miss out on all the blessings that come with obedience. Sometimes, obedience takes courage and boldness – in other words, fearlessness. God wants our thoughts well balanced with self-control so that when He tells us what He wants us to achieve here in history, we will feel empowered by Him to do it.

We can’t forget what Philippians 4:13 tells us: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It’s not our strength, but Christ’s. What got me through the “scaries” in my life was allowing God to be my partner. We will always need His strength to help us to obey Him and allow Him to take us where He wants us to go. (Pam)

Grace Received

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. (Romans 5:1-2 NLT)

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT).

Through our faith in Christ, God saved us by His grace, even while we were lost in sin. And that only happened because of His rich mercy and great love for us.

Grace, defined as a place of undeserved privilege and unmerited favor that is not motivated by anything other than the devotion of a loving God, was made available to mankind through our acceptance and faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.  Through receipt of God’s grace, we have peace with God and restoration of relationship with Him, thus making us beneficiaries of His operational power (another definition of grace).  

By faith we are brought into relationship with God, devoid of works on our part.  We have been spiritually born again into the family of God and Jesus Christ. Now that we are in the family, we have relationship or a bond with God. When we think of our human family, we are related by birth; but there may be no other basis of affiliation.  Some people are separated from their parents at birth and know little or nothing about the character or personality of their birth parents.  In these cases of family alienation, what’s missing is fellowship.  God, in His wisdom and love, desires and has made provision for us, to have fellowship with Him.  The only catch is that we must choose to have fellowship with God through Jesus. It is our choice to be made after becoming a part of the family by spiritual birth.

After receiving grace as a free gift from God, the desired response God is looking for from us is to return His love through pursuing fellowship, friendship, companionship, and solidarity.  Fellowship with God requires us to be followers of Jesus Christ and also to imitate Him in demonstrating love to mankind.  The better we know the character and personality of God, which was personified in the life of Christ, the more enhanced our fellowship with God will be.  For example, think about your natural father telling you that all you have to do is come by the house and he will give you a gift.  Some people may respond, “ I want nothing to do with my father.” Despite that declaration, you are still his child by relationship of birth.  The only thing preventing you from enjoying the full benefit of relationship is your lack of desire for fellowship.

God not only wants to rescue you from the destructive effects of sin through a new-birth experience, He wants to lavish and enhance your life by sharing every moment and activity of your existence through fellowship.  Don’t run from God as a fearful father, but run to Him and embrace the love, peace, joy, and fulfillment He desires to give.   Grace received requires the love that spawned it to be shared.  Scripture tells us that God so loved us that He gave Christ that we might have life.  Understand and receive the freedom of knowing our faith in Christ has saved us, not our good works.  Then return God’s love by asking Him to help you to confidently and joyfully follow and imitate Jesus daily. God is waiting on you to come home. (Adrian)

Givers Need Takers

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16, NKJV)

The other day I was thinking about the whole concept of giving and taking. I thought it was interesting how we tend to criticize takers, but the truth is that without takers, givers wouldn’t be able to do their jobs. If we try to give but no one is taking what we give, our giving is fruitless.

We typically reflect on takers in a negative way. They take but never give. I guess we would see them in a better light if we describe them as receivers.

I considered how God was so willing to give His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. But what if no one ever actually received His gift? Obviously, the consequence would be that we’d all wind up in Hell, totally condemned for our sins. Perish the thought!

Have you noticed how much easier it is to love someone who loves you in return? Of course, you have; it’s what we expect. Unfortunately, there are times when our acts of love and kindness are not reciprocated. Now what?

The solution to this dilemma is really quite simple when we look at God’s Word. Romans 5:8 tells us: This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other (NLT). This is what loving unconditionally is all about. The definition of agape, the God-kind of love, is the act of deliberately giving oneself to meet the needs of another person. This is the kind of love this passage of scripture is speaking of. In other words, it doesn’t matter so much what your spouse, or anyone else, does or doesn’t do, you must still choose to love. There are definitely risks involved. And this is where we need those takers or receivers to feel validated.

Here’s the thing, though. The risk we take when we choose to love unconditionally is rejection. God took that risk when, while we were still in our sin, Jesus died for us. Being the omniscient One He is, He knew that many would reject His love. That, however, did not stop Him. He was still willing to take the risk.

Remember, God didn’t wait until we were perfect before He gave us His greatest sacrifice. He loved us as though we already were! As challenging as that sounds, He wants us to do the same. Trust me, this cannot be done in our own human power; it requires the power of God.

When we choose to do things God’s way and love unconditionally, He blesses our obedience. Scripture teaches us that to know God is to love Him, and to love God is to obey Him.

Let’s not shy away from giving that love. Even if we don’t receive a visible return immediately, let’s  still be willing to obey God. Who knows? Your demonstration of love may turn those receivers into givers, themselves.

So, to all those takers out there, this is an opportunity to take and not be criticized. Givers need takers.  And to all those givers out there, remember it is more blessed to give than to receive according to Acts 20:35.  (Pam)

Forgiveness Is a Choice

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

Through decades of life and experience, I have had many opportunities to be forgiven and to face the challenge of forgiving others. It still amazes me when talking to people about the need to forgive and move on, how difficult it seems for many to actually forgive even with knowing this is God’s desire for them. In today’s scripture, we are instructed to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to one another. I can hear some of you saying,  “I wish it were just that simple.” But it can be when we understand the context of the directive to be God’s representative in the earth.

When we can realize that anything God asks us to do is only possible with His help and empowerment, this should inspire us to move forward. God has promised to never leave us alone or forsake or abandon us. All God ever requires of us is to make a choice to obey and pursue His will for our lives.  To believe that forgiveness is accomplished as act of our will by choosing to forgive the offending party is to activate the power of God on our behalf.  We must realize that forgiveness, (or anything else God desires for us to do) is not emotion based, but choice centered. Many of us wait around until we feel like we can forgive, and the truth is that the only thing that may take time or be a process is for our feeling to be healed.

Forgiveness should be done immediately, by choice, because God asks to and because He made provision for us to be forgiven immediately through our accepting Jesus Christ as the atonement for our sins. Because we are forgiven, God can, and has, empowered us to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving as we allow Him to heal the hurts.  

God does not ask us to forget what has happened, but does ask us to erase the debt owed from our life’s ledger. What I mean is that when you see the person who has hurt you, you must remember that you have made a choice to forgive them and no longer seek retribution or punitive damages from them.  We attach no strings, stigma, or conditions that will affect our behavior of kindness toward that individual. With God’s help, you must remember how God has forgiven you and can enable you to move forward without bitterness, strife or resentment.

Your ability to choose to forgive immediately – that  is to obey God – will release you to experience the promises of God’s peace and support. Even if the person is a repeat offender, forgiving and releasing the debt will allow you heal and move forward knowing God is at work in you and working through you as a follower of Christ. (Adrian)

Would You Marry You?

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.(Genesis 2:24, NKJV)

We do a lot of marriage coaching as well as premarital coaching. What’s nice about premarital coaching is that we can, many times, catch some issues before the wedding that might crop up later in the relationship. Sometimes, we’re able to reveal any red flags that could potentially cause a great deal of harm if not dealt with in our sessions.

All too often, people decide they want to be married without considering what would make themselves good spouses. They, instead, only think of what they will personally get from the marriage. So, one of the questions we like to ask is, “Why should someone want to marry you?” and the follow-up question, “Would you marry you?” We get a variety of responses, but most of them boil down to, “Because I’m a nice person and I have a lot of love to give?” They don’t understand that it takes a great deal more than that.

The two questions I posed above are especially pertinent to single people who really want to get married, but do not have a partner yet. I mean, seriously, would you marry you? Why is that question important? It’s because most people don’t ever really take an honest assessment of themselves to see if they are, indeed, fit for marriage.

Here are a list of questions you might ask yourself if you want to determine how ready for marriage you really are:

  1. Am I willing to put my spouse ahead of myself? Are you willing to lay aside your desires to meet the need of your mate?
  2. Would I rather serve or be served? Do you like being catered to or can you see that catering to someone else can be quite gratifying?
  3. How well do I handle conflict? When you look back over relationships of the past, how did you handle disputes? How did you handle your break-up? Is it important for you to have the final word?
  4. Can I be counted on to follow through with promises? Are you a person of integrity. Are your words and actions congruent?
  5. What did I learn from watching my parents that I want or don’t want in my marriage? Did your parents expose you to a culture of squabbling over minute issues? Was there an atmosphere of peace or turbulence? Were your parents close or dismissive of one another?
  6. Am I willing to compromise in some areas? In our book, Marriage is Not for the Faint of Heart, we point out that in order to be successful in married life, you must be willing to adjust your ways in order to attain harmony in the relationship. If you are not, it’s better to remain unmarried, otherwise, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
  7. Is getting my way the most important thing? Do you relish the feeling of accomplishment when you get what you want? How willing are you to let go of some of your wants to create an “us” partnership?
  8. Is my independence the most important thing to me? Are you willing to be interdependent with your mate? Do you have an “I can do it by myself” kind of attitude?
  9. Is divorce an absolute “NO” for me?
  10. Have my friends or family members told me that my ideals, expectations and standards are too lofty for anyone to attain? Are they right?

These questions indicate what it takes to be marriage ready. Your honest answers to these questions can determine how equipped you really are. Understand that these are not meant to cause you any kind of condemnation. Instead, they’re intended to help you to think long and hard before making what should be a life-long decision.

Be willing to do what you need to do to prepare yourself for the blessing that God intended marriage to be. He is the author of marriage, and His word can help you get ready. Through your relationship with Him, you can be successful in many areas. Why not give Him the opportunity to assist you in this huge pursuit. It’s also a good idea to begin praying for you future spouse. Pray that he or she will be as prepared as you.

The question remains: Would you marry you? I hope you can say, “Of course!” If not, do the necessary work to be able to. (Pam)

The Price of Peace

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)

In this declaration regarding our peace, the “You” referred to here, of course, is God Almighty. It’s saying that the God of the universe will keep all who trust in Him in perfect peace. The word keep here means to guard, maintain, protect, fulfill, and be faithful to the provision of peace in your life. Ephesians 2:14 tells us that Jesus is our peace and reminds us that peace is a person and not place or state of mind.

This scripture emphasizes that the price or condition of exchange for this peace is twofold. First, we are required to trust in God and His provision. God’s greatest gift to humanity is Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. The challenge is to trust and have faith that Jesus is indeed the personification of God’s loving provision for our need for redemption, peace, and reconciliation with Him. The second requirement stated is for us to focus or fix our thoughts on God.

Therefore by trusting in and keeping our thoughts directed toward God, He has pronounced that He will guard our peace. Keeping our mind on God requires us to remember Romans 8:37-39 (NLT) which says, No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. For those who have received Jesus as Savior, there is nothing that can separate from God’s love.

God gives us further cause for confidence and focus for our thoughts in Hebrews 13:5-6 (NLT) that says, Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, I will never fail you. I will never abandon you. So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’”  Here we have a promise of devotion and faithfulness from God to us that should promote assurance and peace.

So, if we can have faith in the promises and intentions of God and maintain our thoughts, focused on His commitment to us, we can have peace that is provided and protected by God. (Adrian)

Every Day Choices: Speaking Life to Your Mate

Death and life are in power of the tongue, and they who indulge it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life] (Proverbs 18:21 Amplified Bible).

One our favorite activities on Sunday morning, besides going to church, is to watch the episode of CBS Sunday Morning we record on our DVR. After arriving home from church, I will, typically, make a light breakfast of tea and toast or something similar. As we sit down to eat, we cue up our favorite news show.

Every episode includes a number of very interesting stories from serious to humorous to  celebratory. Last Sunday’s episode included a piece on the famous screenwriter and film director, Quentin Tarantino. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am a fan of Mr. Tarantino, but the conversation with him was rather interesting. He talked about getting married in 2018. Nothing particularly curious about that except for the fact that he was in his late 50’s and this was his first marriage. Up until that time, he was seriously married to his work, and that was all he wanted to focus on. When the interviewer asked him what happened that caused him to finally marry. He responded, “I met Daniella!”

Those words really struck me because I could tell he was deeply in love and that this woman changed his life. He also swooned about their new son, Leo. I felt very happy for him but also a little sad. Love can truly change a person’s life forever; but without an everyday choice to cultivate that love, it can eventually turn dull and lifeless. I wondered how willing Mr. Tarantino and/or his wife were willing to do that. We have seen, too many times, love turn to hatred because the couples were not willing to saturate their relationship with everyday choices that breathe life into it.

When couples engage in disagreements, they can very easily allow themselves to get caught up in their emotions and let all manner of unkind words fly from their mouths.  These are words of death.  Death is speaking out of your flesh- your hurt, anger and pain.

It’s unfortunate, but many experts now say that they can determine how long a marriage will last simply by listening to how a couple speaks to each other during an argument.  If their words are cutting and deliberately hurtful, it is said that most likely that marriage won’t last long.  If, however, words are carefully chosen in order to soften a blow; or if they are attacking the problem instead of each other, that marriage has a better chance of success.  If you find yourselves practicing the former, the warning flags should be waving fiercely.  Take the warning seriously, but don’t allow it to seal your fate.  You can do something about it.  Instead of speaking death, speak life.

     Speaking life is: Listening (to your mate and the Holy Spirit) before you speak, sharing the truth in love, repenting quickly, forgiving even before your mate repents, and saying only what the Father tells you to say.1

One of best ways to get out of the bad habit of using death-filled words during a dispute is to make a new daily habit of blessing your spouse.  Do you know that you can lay hands on your spouse and speak a blessing over him or her?  Pray a blessing for prosperity, health, wholeness and intimacy with God.  Pray for God’s Spirit to anoint your spouse with power, wisdom and favor at home and work. Make an effort to affirm your mate’s strengths, character and actions on a daily basis.   

Blessing speaks God’s shalom over a person.  Shalom means more than peace; it connotes well-being, wholeness, health and prosperity. 2 You can begin this by laying hands on your spouse’s head and praying Numbers 6:24-26: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (NIV)

When you make it a daily habit to bless your mate and speak life to him/her, I promise you will be less likely to desire to speak another word of death to each other, and it will strengthen your relationship beyond your imagination. Let that blessing be the oil of gladness poured over your mate, daily. (Pam)

1 &2.  Dr. Larry and Judi Keefauver, Seventy-seven Irrefutable truths of Marriage (Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.)

Love’s Work

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18 NJKV)

This is one of my favorite scriptures that has inspired me to trust and stand, so many times, in faith toward God’s promised devotion to His family. The love that I’m are talking about here is God’s love for those who have dared to receive Christ as their personal Savior. It was His love that allowed Jesus to come and be our personal sacrifice for sins we could not atone for ourselves. 1 John 4:19 expresses that “We love Him because He first loved us”. The love that is perfect is God’s love for us and not our perfect performance because we all know none of us is perfect. Fortunately, God, in His love, has promised to help us do the things He desires us to do such as love Him and our fellow human beings.

When we begin to understand just how much God loves us with a perfect love, we find that it expels, cast out, and drives out fear. Fear involves torment and thoughts of punishment, which is the enemy of faith. If we have fear of God’s intentions, it is because we have not been made complete in His love. We must allow love to work for us by banishing fear and promoting faith in God. This is love’s work. Faith (that is, faith in God’s Word) is what releases God’s power and strength in our lives.

When we face situations that tend to promote fear, we must remember God’s committed love and declared devotion to His children. The very thought of the level and quality of His love should inspire confidence, not in ourselves but the God who loved us first and promised to stand with us and never forsake us. Fear, in the face of understood and received love, must retreat. In the absence of fear, faith will grow as we pursue a knowledge and loving understanding of God’s commitment to us through His Word.

Why is this one of my favorite scriptures? Because I make mistakes, missteps, errors, and outright sinful decisions; but when I remember I am loved and can ask God to first forgive me and then, through faith in Him, help me to live victoriously obedient to His will.

Love will keep fear away from us and allow faith to operate, making overcoming power and strength available to us. Ask Him to make you perfect, mature, and complete in His love. (Adrian)