Foundations are what we build upon. I operate with these foundational truths.
GOD LOVES ME. I am the object of His relentless affection, and He shows it tangibly. He loves hearing my voice and spending time with me. God’s love received brings a clear identity, and identity drives destiny. The most convincing expression of God’s love is the death of His Son, by whom I am saved for all eternity. Love is a verb, not a vibe. The psalmist said, “Show us your unfailing love, O Lord” (85:7). It is not testing God to ask Him to do that–so I do.
MY OBEDIENCE PLEASES HIM. We have told the kids, “Our love for you is unconditional. Your behavior won’t change it. Whether we are pleased with you is another matter; that is up to you.” Same with God. Disobedience changes the way He shows His love. It hurts. When I disciplined my children, they never said, “That was fun!” Holiness is a better option than happiness, because then I get happiness as a bonus. Love is proved more by obedience than by worship (I John 3 & 4). The first commandment calls me to put God first. Worship is loving God back. Love makes spiritual disciplines spiritual delight. This includes worship, Bible study, prayer, silence, giving, fasting, and exercise. Call it “temple maintenance.” A car lasts longer through regular maintenance; so does a body.
I AM HERE ON PURPOSE. The second commandment calls me to love others as God loves me. I am here on assignment, to advance the kingdom for the King. He now reigns, though in a hidden way through His people on earth. Love and the fear of God are primary motivators for service (2 Cor. 5:10). I need wisdom to do what God gives me. Before I die, I want to say like Jesus, “I did what you told me to do.” That is faithfulness. Take a risk–dare to dream!
SUFFERING IS GOD’S GIFT TO ME. It doesn’t change my outlook of God’s love. If He chooses or allows me to go through difficulty, I don’t question His love. I upgrade my confidence in His sovereignty. God’s love doesn’t always look like love, but faith-filled people know that “God works all things for good to those who love him…” Tension and trials work for my good. I am not talking about suffering that comes from my disobedience, although the discipline also works for my good. Life is harder than I thought it would be–and better!
THE HOLY SPIRIT MAKES IT HAPPEN. I don’t pull off the Christian life by resolve or grit but by the Holy Spirit. He writes the laws of God in my heart. He gives me the power to obey. It’s the mercy system, not the merit system. The fruit of the Spirit is developed by the Spirit, although I am involved in the process. The gifts of the Spirit are given by the Spirit’s sovereign working and in concert with my openness to receive them.
I LIVE FOR THE COMING KINGDOM. “Set your hope fully on the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:13). I live for what is not yet, giving me unfading hope and the ability to deal with the stresses of this life. Short-term pain–long-term gain!