When they were younger, one of my kids’ favorite things were PEZ dispensers. Remember those? I loved them, too. I liked the sweet candies that popped out when you flipped the top up. PEZ candy was first created in the 1920’s. Did you know that in the 1960’s, some unusual candy flavors were featured? Have you ever wanted to taste chlorophyll flavored candy? Once upon a time, PEZ offered chlorophyll flavored PEZ. Yep. You also had the options of licorice, coffee, cola, or pineapple. I sure am happy they had grape, lemon, and orange by the time I got my first PEZ!
Today I want us to think about what we dispense. I woke up early one morning last week thinking about love and what God says about love. The first fruit of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5 is love. As children of God, this product of the Holy Spirit lives inside every believer and as we grow spiritually, the holy spirit gives us the power to reject our sinful desires and begins to work in and through us to make us look more like Jesus. By following the guidance of the holy spirit, fruit becomes evidence that we are becoming more like Christ.
Love is vital. It is indispensable. It is necessary to be effective in sharing love with others. Romans 5:5-8 says His love is poured out abundantly in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. That love is in us. Sealed by the Holy Spirit as we see in Ephesians 1:13. We should burn with the love of Christ, for without love, we cannot be effective in sharing that love with others, which is our entire reason for being here. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says, If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Without love, people tune us out. We become unimportant to them, untrustworthy, and invalid. To them, we have nothing of value to offer. This is why it is so important to be in constant communion with the Lord, in His word and in prayer. God’s presence breeds love, because God is love. Perfect love. And the closer we come to Him, the more consistently we feel His strength, His comfort, and His guidance.
I had the wonderful opportunity to lead worship at our Women’s Spring Retreat this year and it was such a blessing. I enjoyed it so much, but to tell you the truth, I did not want to go. When I was asked, I was in a deep pit of depression and had been for some time. Finding myself in this all too familiar place was embarrassing and I stepped away from anything where I would be in front of anyone because I didn’t feel like I had anything positive to offer. I feel like I make a mess of things. If I feel like I hurt someone’s feelings or make someone angry, fear and avoidance take over and I find myself in a pit. It took me several months to dig out of that pit and I was just starting to feel like myself again right before the retreat. I would like to share with you what I learned about God’s love as I walked that journey. Hopefully, it can help someone else.
One of my familys’ favorite movies is Star Wars. I’ll never forget one of the many times watching the series. Over Christmas break, we have been known to have a Star Wars movie marathon. You know that famous Yoda quote: Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I remember thinking, great, I’m Darth Vader! Lovely!
Seriously though. Fear brings torment. It really does. When we are tormented, there is no love in torment. It is actually quite ugly. When we are fearful, many times we are irritable. We lash out at the ones we love or at others. 1 John 4:18 says, There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out all fear. God’s love is inside of you. It is internal. His perfect love casts out all fear. Fear is going to come, but our response should be totally different than an unbeliever’s,
- because of our prayer life. We have a direct connection with God through His Holy Spirit living in us. Prayer should be our first response, not our last resort.
- because of our intimacy with God. He speaks to His children through His word and through His Holy Spirit, and through others.
We cannot afford to allow fear to have a resting place because that will impede the flow of God’s love through us. Our peace comes from God. We have to remember that God is still on His throne. What is true in the light is also true in the dark. God tells us in His word, I will complete the good work that I began in you. I will carry it on to completion and that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. We must focus on God and His promises for good things. Be still and know that I am God. The Lord says, “I’ve got you.” Whenever I start stinkin’ thinkin’, I have trained myself to stop in the middle of the negative thought and say, Whatever is true- okay Cindy, what is true right now? because I am worst case scenario girl. I am. Whatever it is on my mind that I am concerned about, I’ve already got it playing through in my mind and somebody’s gettin’ a tongue lashing. Well, hold up. I don’t even know what’s gonna happen. Do you even know how much time and energy I have wasted on worrying about how I think things are or aren’t? Oh my goodness! And, you know what? Even if sometimes things were the way I thought. She really was talking about me. They really don’t like me. The teacher really did forget to give Michael extra time and his grade is not good. Whatever it is, God’s got it and my worrying about it is not what I am called to do. One of my favorite songs right now is Like You Love Me by Tauren Wells. The first verse and chorus are:
My crazy thoughts trying to kill my groove
That’s when I hear a voice, whisper through the noise
That brings a bigger picture into view
I won’t forget it’s You who tells the sun to shine
Every worry, every night
Every second thought about tomorrow’s wasted time (Ay)
You light the stars and You paint the leaves, eh
You clothe the lilies with Your majesty
And You don’t even love ’em like You love me
No, You don’t love ’em like You love me, no