Unfailing Love

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Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
   your faithfulness to the skies.
 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
   your justice like the great deep.
Psalm 36:5

 

The unique and beautiful term David used in this Psalm to express God’s love was the Hebrew word  Hesed.  This is a very rich word; rich with depth and meaning and truth. Hesed  is considered one of the most important terms in Old Testament theology and ethics. It has three basic meanings which all interact together: strength, steadfastness, and love.

The word Hesed cannot be fully understood unless all three of the meanings are incorporated. Generally the word “love” carries a bit of light hearted, fluffy affection, but when we put love together with steadfastness and strength we understand the enduring nature of God’s Hesed – type of love, even toward those who seem weak or undeserving.

Hesed implies loyalty, mercy and generosity. It also infers personal involvement and commitment beyond what the law requires. For example, a husband and wife are legally bound to each other, yet their relationship transcends the legal document and represents a bond and commitment to each other. The prophet Hosea spoke of the Hesed between God and His people, “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD,” Hosea 2:19-20.

Not only does God demonstrate this enduring love and kindness, He wants us to know and  understand His hesed love for us. Consider the words God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah saying:

This is what the LORD says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness (hesed),
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:23,24

This Holiday season, my prayer for you is that you will experience the comfort and joy of His Unfailing Love for you.

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This blog is an excerpt from Unfailing Love. To learn more about this book and the $5 special this month click here.

 

Photo at the beginning of this blog is by Chris Meads on Unsplash

 

5 Principles for Overcoming Discouragement

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Discouragement can seem like an unscalable wall at times. It hits each one of us in different ways, whether it is losing a key client or setbacks with a major project or frustrations with a family member. How do we strengthen our resolve and keep going? Here are a few life principles to adopt:

Celebrate Small Victories. Sometimes the big picture can be overwhelming, so let’s learn to take incremental steps forward and celebrate the little victories along the way. Create a few simple daily goals that are doable and move step by step in a positive direction.

Change the focus.  Life looks pretty bleak if we only focus on our problems. Let’s stop looking at what we can’t do, and consider what we can do. There is always a bright side, but we must be looking for it. Let’s make a deliberate effort to concentrate on what can be done and the possibilities ahead of us.

Be flexible. When we are fixed on only one outcome, we open ourselves up to defeat. Let’s be willing to adapt and adjust to Plan B. Could it be that “B” stands for Better?If we consider a variety of scenarios, it allows us to adjust our goals and broaden our horizon.

Ask Questions. Discouraging situations also bring opportunities for growth and learning. We can ask questions such as, “How can I do better next time?” “What can I learn from this?” “How can I help others as a result of this?” “Are there other people I need to seek out for counsel or help?”

Have patience. Let’s face it, waiting is hard, but if we persevere we will find that we become stronger and more courageous as we wade through deep waters. Victory, success and change take time. Hang in there and remind yourself that most things get better or easier over time. Even if our circumstances seem like they won’t change for a while, the good news is that we can grow and become better in the process.

Most important, let’s remember that we are not alone. There are others who have gone through similar tough times. We can reach out to them for advice, and we can find encouragement from their example. We can also find strength and hope in our faith that God will give us the courage we need one day at a time.

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For more about overcoming challenges, check out Karol’s book, Positive Leadership Principles for Women   n sale for $5 this month.

Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

Choosing Happy

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Have you ever considered the ingredients that tend to make people live with a negative and grumbly attitude? Not too long ago I discovered a humorous list of “The 10 Commandments for an Unhappy Life.” It serves as a reminder of the choices we face every single day: Will we embrace both the gifts and the challenges life brings, or will we complain and be miserable through the process? Will we be people with a purposeful and positive mindset or people with a “poor me” mentality? Here’s the list:

10 Commandments for an Unhappy Life

  1. Thou shalt hold onto bitterness, hatred and anger.
  2. Thou shalt never get too close to anybody. Keep all of thy relationships on the surface level.
  3. Thou shalt wear a glum expression on thy face at all times, and guard against laughter.
  4. Thou shalt inflict blame and condemnation on all who disagree with thee.
  5. Thou shalt complain about the small stuff, forgetting the bigger picture.
  6. Thou shalt think of thy own needs and focus on thyself rather than thinking of the needs of others.
  7. Thou shalt hold regular pity parties, inviting others to join thee.
  8. Thou shalt not take a break, exercise or relax. Never allow thyself to be still, pray or meditate on truth.
  9. Thou shalt expect the worst in all situations, shame those around you and dwell on the feebleness, faults and fears of others, while never seeing thine own.
  10. Thou shalt attempt to control every situation without flexibility. *

 

I don’t know about you, but in the great adventure of life, I want to experience joy in the journey – not misery in the muck! I want my life to move in a positive direction and bless others, and I think you do too. Let’s be honest, no matter what our circumstances or background look like, we can choose our attitude and outlook in life.

In the next few weeks on this blog, I plan to examine the principles of a positive person. Even if you are the “cup half empty” sort of person, you can begin to change your attitude and thought-life today. Let’s take some time to look over the “10 Commandments of an Unhappy Life” and consider any of the qualities that may apply to our own attitudes. Let’s also make a conscious decision to reverse our thinking and start a new pattern.

If you were to write, “10 Commandments for a Happy Life,” what would you include on the list? I’ll show you my list next week.

 

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The positive message from this blogpost can be found in The Power of a Positive Woman.  To learn more about Karol’s encouraging books Click Here

 

*The 10 Commandments for an Unhappy Life” was adapted from Edward Rowell & Bonnie Steffen, Humor for Preaching and Teaching (1996)

Photo by nick beswick on Unsplash

Childlike Faith

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Being a grandparent is a blast! In the last few weeks, I’ve played with puppets, run through mazes, slid down slides and experienced the awe and wonder of observing elephants at the zoo all over again. I love the simple joy of a child’s heart.

Interestingly, Jesus said that the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children. Think about the attributes of little children.  They tend to:

  • Live with faith.
  • Love generously.
  • Depend on their mommy and daddy.
  • Be filled with wonder.
  • Laugh freely.
  • Cry when they are hurt.
  • Require grace.
  • Ask for what they want.
  • Persist.
  • Believe, hope, dream.

Jesus’ words had a bit of a shock-value to the religious leaders of the day. The pompous, rule-following Pharisees prided themselves on their own self-righteousness and personal perfection, while children were considered undeserving and lowly. Perhaps that’s exactly why Jesus chose a humble child as His example of what a follower of Christ really looks like.

Reflect for a moment on the simple and pure faith of a child. Isn’t it wonderful to think that it is this kind of faith that brings us into a relationship with God and transforms our lives?

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What about you?  In what ways do you reflect a childlike faith as you come to your loving Heavenly Father? Take a look at the list above and consider what qualities you want to develop as you trust in Jesus and walk your journey of faith.

Laugh

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We know that laughter is good medicine emotionally speaking, but evidence reveals that there are physical benefits as well. A number of years ago, Norman Cousins, famous editor of Saturday Review, was told he had a severe case of an incurable, progressive, connective tissue disease.  He decided instead of sitting around allowing the pain to take over, he would become proactive in his health care management and especially his attitude.  One of the things he decided to do was to obtain copies of old shows and movies he had always enjoyed like “Candid Camera” and Marx Brothers films.  He also decided to read humorous books.  He reported that 10 minutes of genuine belly laughter would relieve his intense pain for hours.

While Norman was in the hospital he started a routine of watching movies, laughing, sleeping, watch movies, laughing sleeping and so on.  After a while he was moved out of the hospital because his laughter was disturbing other patients, but he continued his treatment with astounding results.  Using massive doses of vitamin C and a tremendous amount of laughter every day, he experienced a gradual withdrawal of his symptoms and eventually regained most of his freedom of movement.  You can read his entire story in his book, Anatomy of an Illness (Bantam Books, 1981).

What are some ways you can be intentional about laughter in your own life? Sometimes it comes down to a choice. When you make a mistake or something frustrating happens, find a way to laugh rather than despair. When someone says a discouraging remark, respond with a little chuckle and a positive comment. Opportunities to laugh are all around us, we just need to be looking for them. And always remember, never laugh at people, just laugh with them.

Finally, remember to smile often. Studies show that smiling elevates our mood. I like to think of smiles as gifts we give to other people to uplift their day. It’s not about how you feel as much as it is about making someone else feel better. Be honest with your emotions and grieve when you need to, but don’t miss the many invitations to smile that show up on a regular basis. As Valentines Day approaches, may your days be filled love and laughter, as you enjoy life and lift up the people around you.

 

 

Photo by Allie Milot on Unsplash