The LOVE Test

 

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THE LOVE TEST – WE ALL HAVE TO PASS IT.

 WE ALL GET TO KEEP TAKING THE LOVE TEST AGAIN AND AGAIN.  

Are you able to LOVE like you’ve never been hurt?

Are you able to FORGIVE like you’ve been forgiven?

What is Love?  

Definition from Dictionary.com:

As a noun: a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. As a verb:  to have a profoundly, tender, passionate affection for another person.

Definition from The Bible:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

God is love.

 

About a year ago, I heard a great message on how to love and keep loving others after being hurt and wounded.  As a guest speaker at our church, Author and Pastor, Jentezen Franklin, spoke on the subject of his book entitled, Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt. This book covers several issues, including loving others through problems and pain, overcoming hurts and wounds, continually forgiving others, and remaining free from a spirit of offense.  Jesus told us, “…it is impossible that no offenses will come.”  If you haven’t already had to forgive and pass the offense test, get ready my friend, you will. We will all eventually be tested in forgiving others and releasing a spirit of offense. Every relationship worth fighting for encounters overcoming the love and forgiveness test.

This is what I refer to as the true LOVE TEST.  It’s often easier to love those who never hurt our feelings, never disagree with us and have not grievously harmed or abused us or one of our close beloved ones.

Jesus told us we are to love our enemies and pray for them.  Some of us can’t even love our friends or family members, and forgive and pray for them.  

Help us all, Lord.

Pastor Jentezen shares candidly in chapter one of his book about the pain and heartbreak within his own family and the resulting love challenges. We all wish we could say, “I can’t relate.” “I can relate too!” and very likely can you and MANY others in our world filled with the walking wounded.  The crushing and pressing of our pain and suffering brings a spirit of humility, gentleness, and anointing that brings glory to Our Father. Tested leaders, teachers, and preachers who have passed the testing and trials of life, and especially the LOVE TEST, by overcoming and remaining faithfully committed to The Lord have a powerful anointing. This brings glory to God, and this is evident through Pastor Jentezen’s ministry.

I agree with Pastor Jentezen, as we allow God’s love to heal our broken hearts, “Love wins.”  Shared experiences, including the unlovely ones, empower us with the capacity to empathize with the suffering of others.  As we are able to relate, open ears and hearts are more inclined to listen as we offer God’s love, help and healing.

Our lovely and unlovely journey when shared in transparency can help open a door of truth spoken in love that sets other captives free – ultimately leading us all on the highway of freedom.  

Freely loving and leading as we have been freely loved and led.

What have you been praying?  Are you like me?  Have you ever prayed a heartfelt prayer and thought later, “Oh, wow, I didn’t realize what I was asking.”  Did this prayer then lead  to, “Lord, I take that back“?  Seriously.  I am good with it now, but here’s one of my early 90’s prayers over me and my hubby that definitely brought on some love testing, “Lord, please use us for Your glory.” Get ready when you pray like this!  Amidst other spiritual growth opportunities, I’ve had to forgive and release my brother’s murderers, and some personal abusers, accusers and suers.  And, yes, some of the abusers, accusers, and even suers I was in close fellowship and relationship with at the time.

Yes, the blows of an enemy or a stranger we all find difficult to forgive and let go, but, sometimes, it’s those we love the most and those we are the most familiar with who hurt us the most deeply.  Forgiving the wounds of a close friend or family member are often the hardest love tests to pass and usually the ones we keep continually retaking – our lifetime love tests.  This happened to Joseph, King David and to Jesus – just to drop a few really big Biblical names who can relate to me and you.  Here are King David’s thoughts:

It was not an enemy who taunted me—then I could have borne it; I could have hidden and escaped. But it was you, a man like myself, my companion and my friend. What fellowship we had, what wonderful discussions as we walked together to the Temple of the Lord on holy days.  (Psalm 55:12-14 The Living Bible)

Hurting people hurt others.  Many have not opened up their hearts to The Lover of their souls to heal their wounds. Forgiving, releasing, and healing is only possible as we turn to and keep returning to The Lover of our soul, Jesus. Who of us have not been a member of the wounded hearts club at some point in life? The club no one joins willingly or desires to remain a lifetime member of.  Several of my close sister-friends have also encountered wounds and even betrayal from trusted friends and family members, as well as the sufferings of grief and devastating loss from the actions of others. How do we withdraw our membership and move on?  How do we pass these very challenging LOVE TESTS?

  • We avoid the temptation to pull away from God when we are hurting, and instead, press in closer to the God who is LOVE and focus on all His love and forgiveness for us.
  • We take time to receive the healing love of God for our lovesick hearts.  This is not just having head knowledge of God’s love, but a heart and soul experience of The Father’s healing love.
  • We avoid the tendency to isolate ourselves from other people who God brings alongside us to help us forgive and heal.
  • We ask God to help us not only forgive and release the offenses of others, but also to help us pray for those who have hurt us.

 

He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds. Psalm 147:1

God heals the broken-hearted, not a drug, another person, or a material possession or entertaining experience.  People say, “time heals,” but the passage of time only helps us forget and not recall the pain.

Time does not heal, God heals. God is the Lord our Healer.

ONLY by GOD’S GRACE CAN WE LIVE FREELY IN LOVE, and continue to forgive, release and remain offense free.  AS LONG AS WE ARE IN RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PEOPLE, WE WILL ALL ENCOUNTER some LOVE COVERS ALL, TOUGH LOVE, SACRIFICIAL LOVE, and COMMITTED LOVE TESTS.

God can heal our wounds and carry us through the fire looking like we’ve never been burned. This is how real gold is formed and how the glory of God is forged upon our humanity.  This is how we pass the LOVE test and how we then can reflect the unconditional LOVE of the God whose image we are created in.

When our earthly trials and sufferings do their perfect work, our hardened hearts are softened and awakened, and we finally begin to get a glimpse of others through our Father’s eyes of love.

Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.”  Corrie Ten Boom, Holocaust Survivor

“It is doubtful that God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” A. W. Tozer

The closer the relationship, the deeper the offense.  If I don’t care, you can’t hurt my soul deeply.  Paraphrased quote of Ron Carpenter, Jr.

Jesus passed the most difficult LOVE TEST of all.  

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8  

 

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15:13

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

 

Lighten up!:

Lord, I feel so full of your amazing love today, but I am about to get out of bed, so help me, Lord! Amen. {a paraphrased quote from Bible Teacher, Joyce Meyer}

Prayer Starter:

Dear God, Thank You for loving me with Your amazing unconditional love and demonstrating Your love for me through forgiving my sins and sending Jesus, Your only Son, to pay the price for all my sin debt.  Help me to receive Your love and the healing of my broken and wounded heart and soul.  Help me to freely give your love, mercy, grace and forgiveness to others as I have so freely received it from You.    

If I am going to err in an area, may I err by giving others more love and grace.

Verse References:  1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Matthew 5:43-44; 1 John 4:7-21; Luke 17:1; Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 136

 

For more information about Pastor Jentezen Franklin, check out:  www.jentezenfranlkin.org

To hear or view the message Pastor Franklin shared at Church of the Highlands on March 7, 2018, go to:  www.churchofthehighlands.com and click on “Media” and then “Message Archive” for the link.

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