Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My New Blogsite

My blogsite is moving due to technical issues, and I'm also giving it a new name! Living Loved will now be known as BeLoved, as this is my constant encouragement to all my readers: Live Loved; Be Loved; Remain in His Love; However you say it, the meaning is the same. You are deeply loved! But it can be easy to forget when trials, discouragement, sin, or the weariness of life get you down.

God lovingly calls us His Beloved Ones, and the affectionate name literally says: BeLoved. His love is not only given and shown to us; it must also be received. God's love for you is meant to be experienced and trusted in every day.

My blog format will remain much the same as I share various Scripture passages, encouragement, stories Jesus told, and the words He spoke. I welcome your comments and invite you to continue to receive my posts by email by subscribing to the new site:


"Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him." (Deut. 33:12)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Beloved Ones

"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields them all day long, and they rest between His shoulders." Deuteronomy 33:12

There is a story that Jesus tells in Luke 15 about a flock of sheep. There are 100 sheep in this flock, and one of them is missing. Jesus asks those who are listening what they would do if this was their flock of sheep. Would they leave the ninety-nine to go look for the lost sheep? He doesn't really give them a chance to respond and goes on to share the best possible scenario: "When he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors and says, 'Rejoice with me! I have found my lost sheep.'"

It's not difficult to identify Jesus as the shepherd. He calls Himself the Good Shepherd in John 10.  "I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me...I lay down my life for the sheep."The greater mystery in this story lies with this question: Who are the lost sheep? Jesus identifies them as sinners who need to repent. But that can be difficult to define.

Or maybe I should say, that can be difficult to define accurately. I think we're all pretty good at pointing out "sinners who need to repent". The Pharisees and teachers of the Law were good at this too and did it often. In fact, it was their observation that Jesus was welcoming and eating with sinners that prompted Jesus to tell several stories about "lost" things: Sheep, coins, and sons. But what was it about these things that made them lost? 

Simply put, they were not where they were supposed to be. It wasn't so much about behavior as it was about location. The sheep was alone—away from the shepherd. The coin was missing. It wasn't where coins were usually kept. Its value was in jeopardy. 

And the sons? One was away from home, away from his father and his whole family. And the other? He was there in body, but not in spirit. He was living in his father's household, doing what was expected of him, but he wasn't enjoying it.

We generally label those we call "sinners" by their behavior. But I don't see Jesus defining them in that way. It's not about what they are doing or not doing; it's about where they are. Is the sheep close to the shepherd or out of his sight? Is the coin in a treasured place or is it missing? Is the younger son near his father or far away? And is the older son near his father in a physical sense but distant in his heart?

Jesus isn't really teaching about lost sheep or coins or sons. He's using them as illustrations to teach about something greater. And He wasn't teaching the "sinners", He was teaching those who saw themselves as "righteous". If He would have spoken more bluntly, I think He would have said something like, "These people you call sinners are coming to me and listening.  I'm excited about them! I'm welcoming them with open arms because that's why I'm here! They understand what I'm saying about God's mercy and love. But you? Not so much. I want to be excited about you too, but I can't be, not yet. Not until you understand My love. Not until you change your thinking (repent). Not until you get to where you need to be. Not until you let Me rescue you. Not until you enjoy being God's child."

In Deuteronomy 33, God says, "My beloved ones rest secure in Me.  They rest between My shoulders."  They are at rest. They are at peace. They are lost sheep who have been found. They are lost sons who have come home. They are precious to Him, and they know it.  

They are near Him and secure in His love. They have nothing to prove. No where else they would rather be. And no fingers to point, because they have their eyes on their loving, merciful, and faithful God.

They are His, and they are loved, and that's enough.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

So Loved

For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son…

Do you have a favorite Christmas carol? Do you know it by heart? If so, take a moment to sing it to yourself. Why is it your favorite? Is it the tune, the words, the meaning?

Whether it's a silly song or a serious one, it's probably easy to sing without thinking too much about what you're singing. You may not even know what it means or the history behind it, but that doesn't stop you from singing along.

Familiar Christmas songs, Christmas traditions kept year after year, and the gifts given and received often become so familiar, it's easy to overlook how special they are. Sometimes it takes a change, where certain elements are missing, to realize how much a part of our celebration they have become.

Perhaps you have experienced this: the year your family had to go without a tree, gifts, or some-one. If you haven't suffered such a loss, take a moment to think about what you would miss at Christmas—a little, and a lot. 

I don't bring this up to put a damper on your holiday. Quite the opposite, actually. Like a festive carol that puts you in the Christmas spirit, I want to share words from the Bible that remind us what Christmas is all about. John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  If this is your first time hearing this verse, keep reading, and if it's so familiar you could say it in your sleep, you might want to listen in too, because I'm willing to bet you need to let the words go a little deeper.

God so loved… Because God loved everyone so much, He sent His Son, Jesus, to display His mercy...

Just think about that! I mean, what else could God have given to show how much He loves us? It's not like He didn't have other grand things to choose from. He could have given us each our own galaxy. He could have given us magical powers to fly. He could have given us rivers of chocolate and mountains of ice cream. But instead of going for whimsical gifts, He chose the most precious thing to Him. Not something He could wave His hand and create in an instant, but something irreplaceable. His most precious possession. Something that said, This is how much I love you. You are so loved.

You might be asking, 'But what is Jesus to me? Why is that such a great gift? No offense, God, but a new galaxy sounds pretty cool—or the house I've always wanted, an unending closet, a pool in the backyard…'

Yes, those things would be nice, and if you take time to think about it, He's probably given you a lot of good things—more blessings than you could think of before finishing this blog. But what makes Jesus so special? Why is He the best gift of all?

When Jesus came, His purpose was to proclaim God's love: His compassion; His nearness. God wasn't far away. He wasn't out of reach. He wasn't like a busy parent who is never home. He isn't like Santa who brings gifts at midnight but is gone in the morning. He is real and never more than a prayer away.

Like Christmas that wouldn't be the same without your favorite song, gifts, or your family, life would be very different without God's love. If Jesus never came, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be here; but if we were, there would be no hope for the future, no comfort in sorrow, no happiness to be found anywhere, no love in our hearts. This world would be a very dark, horrible place. There would be no reason to sing, "Joy to the World".

The prophet Isaiah said, The people walking in darkness have seen a great light…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:2,6)

You see, when God sent Jesus, He was giving us Himself; His presence; His unconditional, unending love.

This Christmas I pray you will take that into your heart like never before. God could not have given you a greater gift, so believe it. You are so loved.

The LORD delights in youHe will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. (Isaiah 62:4,5 NLT)

Photos by Rick Jernberg, Dany Sabadini;