4 Steps to Live Loved and Love Lavishly

4 Steps to Live Loved and Love Lavishly

 

Nearly every night, my nine-year-old son snuggles up to my two-year-old daughter in her toddler bed and sweetly says, “Ella, can I give you a hug? Will you tell me, I love you Cole?”

Come on! Really??? Isn’t this stuff only in movies? Nope, I didn’t make it up for a good opening. That is my sweet boy! His daddy is raising him right!

However, this memorable moment gets shut down with Ella’s response.

With every ounce of terrible two rebellion in her pretty little ballerina body, she grimaces her eyes, flips her golden blonde hair, pouts her lip, and yells, “No!”

Honestly, part of me is relieved because, if practice makes perfect, those middle school boys will also get shut down. But the other part of me is like, girl, you don’t know how good you have it. The present, pure, and persistent love of your sweet brother.

The hard part to swallow is that each time I fail to realize and receive God’s invitation to live loved, I am Ella. Though I wouldn’t mind be a pretty little ballerina, I certainly don’t want to be a case of the rebellious, terrible twos.

So let’s review. His invitation is to learn to sit still and let his love saturate our souls. To live loved. But once we sit still, how can we let His love saturate our souls? How can we engage with our Father?

  1. Expectation
  2. Examination
  3. Experience
  4. Expression

Before we dive into the four “E’s,” let’s see where they are derived from in Ephesians 3:14-20.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the 15 Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit, 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Phew! That was a long one. Let’s walk thru the passage from top to bottom.

 1. Expectation

Prior to these verses, Paul, the author, was preaching that because of Christ, they, the Ephesians, could boldly and confidently come into the presence of God. With a bold passion and a heart of expectation, we then read he “falls to his knees and prays.” And as he claims the “glorious, unlimited resources” of God, Paul is expecting that with God’s power and Christ’s permission, we will be empowered to know and experience God’s love.

Like Paul, we need to approach our live loved times with a heart of expectation. We can expect to know and experience His love. His Word says he won’t fail us or abandon us (Joshua 1:5).  And promises that when we come close to Him, He will come close to us (James 4:8). Let it be our expectation to live loved.

 2. Examination

Two phrases in verses 17 and 18, “as you trust in him” and “may you have the power to understand” highlight the reality that coming to faith in Christ doesn’t mean we’ve arrived. That we’re done. That we cease to grow or be changed (Insert Handel’s Hallelujah chorus!). It is a process of submitting our attitude, actions, and understanding to the leadership of Christ. “As you trust in him” means our trust grows over time. “May you have the power to understand” implies that we presently don’t fully understand.

So when sit still in live loved times we should examine our attitude, actions, and understanding. Ask:

  • Have I let Christ make his home in my heart?
  • What am I trusting in other than Christ?
  • What hinders my roots from growing down deep into God’s love?
  • What weakens my roots from staying grounded in God’s love?
  • How does God want to widen, heighten, lengthen, or deepen my picture of His love today?

Let God’s tender Spirit reveal obstacles to experiencing His love so they can be dealt with and overcome.

 3. Experience

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.” Oh man, this one had me hung up for decades. Literally, nearly 2 decades. I could sing “Jesus, loves me” but I could not savor His love in the deep places of my soul. It took time to understand that realizing God’s love and receiving it were two different things. Certainly growing in an understanding helps, but this Scripture points out we won’t ever fully understand it. So the key comes in receiving, or experiencing, His love.

Unfortunately, we can’t just rub a lamp and out pops the genie on this one. But I am confident that as we come to our live loved times with expectation, asking the Spirit to examine what holds us back, we will begin to experience His love. You will need to find out how you most easily experience God. For me? It’s worship. For others it’s God’s Word. Nature. Community. Serving. When you are engaged in that “thing that helps you connect or feel His nearness,” ask God to help you experience His love.

In a recent conversation with a friend, she realized it was as easy as putting down the umbrella on a sunny day. If the sun is out but you are sitting under an umbrella. Just put the umbrella down. And feel the sun warm your skin.

 4. Expression

It’s a month from Halloween and already we see, hear, and smell Christmas in stores. So it’s coming! My children have already begun their Christmas list (Lord help us!), and I find myself wanting to scream at them, “But it is better to give than receive!” I remember trying that one out last year with a one, three, five, and eight year old. The oldest kid kind of got it, but the youngers just stared back at me as if I was talking crazy (Which on other occasions is a reality. You know I like to keep them on their toes. Its my calling to ensure our home is not boring.).

So what do you think? Do you feel alive when you give? Do you smile when you brighten someone’s day? When you share God’s love that has saturated your soul, do you feel more or less of that love in return?

Verses 19 and 20 capture the big idea of living loved. When we live loved we are made complete. Don’t miss that. Made complete. Whole. Full of life and power that comes from God. Why? To bring glory to God. To allow “His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more” than we could dare to dream. We are too experience His love, so we can express it to others.

We are to live loved and love lavishly.

Let’s sit still and let His love saturate our souls. But let’s not stop there. Let’s share it with a creation He cares so deeply about. Let’s not be Ella’s. Let’s be Cole’s. Let’s live loved to love lavishly in the present, pure, and persistent love of our Father.

May these lyrics by Brian & Jenn Johnson, For the One, be our prayer and vision.

Let all my life, tell of who You are
And the wonder of, Your never-ending love 

Till we talk again. My heart is with you and for you. But more importantly so is the Big Man’s upstairs. 🙂

 

If you think this post could encourage someone in your life, would you consider sharing on social media or sending it onto that person that popped into your mind. Thank you!

Keep an eye out for our theme in November: the impact of an attitude of gratitude and how we get there…in the meantime, let me know how you are doing and how I can be praying for you on my Facebook page or via the Contact Me page.

About Erin Nicole Thompson

Erin Nicole Thompson is a fun-loving and authentic momma to 4 littles, wife of a ruggedly handsome Pastor, and as she likes to think, the CEO of her home operations. She delights in worship, cooking with good music, the sweet faces of her sleeping children, adult conversations, and some quiet time at Starbucks. She loves to serve alongside, encourage, and equip young and seasoned women. Erin is grateful to be part of what God is doing at The Chapel, a multi-campus church in Northern Chicago-land where her husband, Dave, pastors the Lake Zurich Campus. Presently, she lives to dream and follow God as he writes her story.

  • Ever Moore

    This is awesome!!! Thank you so much for sharing.