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About this series
He Holds Me Forever
Do you ever wish that you could experience love and relationships at a deeper level? For most of us, giving and receiving love in a healthy, God-honoring, and others-centered way does not come easily or naturally. Theresa Ingram shares her journey through broken relationships and a painful past that drove her to discover the truth about love and relationships, and how that discovery has set her free to love others and herself.More from this series
Do you believe that God sees something infinitely precious in your life? That when He looks at you, you are precious to Him? Do you believe that God wants to do good in your life? Well, this is what He says, this is what His Word says is true, but we must begin the process of recognizing the lies we believe and choose to replace those lies with God’s truth, what He says is true about us.
In Psalm 119:76 and 77 it says, “May Your unfailing love be my comfort according to Your promise to Your servant. Let Your compassion come to me, that I may live, for Your law is my delight.”
And we can only learn what God tells us about ourselves by filling our minds with His Word. I can’t express that strong enough. It’s only through the light of His Word that we can see who we truly are and we can look at our circumstances and how He would want us to see them.
In fact, this, His whole Bible, the whole Word is a love story. When I was starting to prepare these messages and I just, I wasn’t sure where to begin and what, was praying, Well, God, what do You want me to say? What do You want me to study? And as I was looking through His Word I realized the whole book is about God’s love. And I couldn’t teach the whole book! But the whole thing is about His love. And He wants us to be in His Scriptures so He can tell us how much He loves us.
And so, the steps to take is evaluate your own thinking patterns against Philippians 4:8. Think about this passage and think about, take the time, it takes a little work to stop and to think, Now, what am I thinking? Sometimes, things go through our minds and come out of our mouths and we don’t even think about it.
And so, I would encourage you to take some time, it’s not a bad thing to evaluate once in a while and see, What am I saying in my mind? And begin to catch those thoughts. And see, does it align? Am I saying things to myself that are true and honorable, admirable, lovely?
And secondly, is begin the process of replacing those lies with God’s truth. When you hear those negative thoughts and you are beginning to know His Word and what He says, then take that truth and replace those thoughts with God’s truth.
And the question to ask: Do I believe that God loves me unconditionally and always desires what is best for my life? Do I believe that? Do I believe that what I learned to think about myself during childhood from significant others in my life, circumstances, and my environment may or may not be what is true about me? You may be thinking things that aren’t true, but we can only find out as we look to God’s Word and see what is true.
Okay, so, the third closed window then is a believer who is building the foundation of their lives on worldly, temporal things instead of on God’s foundation and eternal things will have a hard time experiencing God’s love.
Hannah Whitall Smith calls this the “giant eye”. It’s me, focused on me. This person is consumed with themselves and what the world has to give to make them happy, significant, and secure. Consumed with themselves. They have a worldly mindset instead of a heavenly mindset.
Now, God tells us that we need to live in this world, but we are not of this world. He says this world is not our real home. Our real home is in heaven.
But now we live on this earth. We live here for a while and we have a purpose for being here. And we are set apart as God’s people, as His chosen ones to enjoy this love relationship with Him and be able to show that love to other people.
In 1 John 2:15 and 16 it says, “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and the pride in our possession. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God you will live forever.”
You see, when we build our lives on things of this world, then we are building it on a shaky foundation. It’s not stable. And the world that he is talking about here in this passage, it’s not the beautiful physical world that God created. He’s not talking about the trees and the ocean and the beautiful world that He created.
And he’s not talking about people. God loves people and He wants us to love people. But when he says, “Love not the world,” he’s talking about a world system that is created by Satan that is telling us that we don’t need God, who is trying to fill us up with other things and drawing people away from God.
And all these things that we see around us, they are one day going to pass away. They are not going to last. We know that. We see our bodies and how they waste away and how they grow old and the things we own and how they deteriorate.
It’s not going to last. God gives us things of this world to enjoy, but He says to be careful and don’t allow those things to consume your life. Don’t depend on the things of the world to make your life work. But He says to place your entire dependence in your heavenly Father who loves you and will give you all things, who is all powerful, who knows your future, who gives us all things to enjoy. “Love not the world,” He says, “but love Me first. Put Me first.”
Well, how do we love the world? We love the world when anything in our lives takes the place of God – anything – we are loving the world. It could be a person in our lives that takes the place of God. It could be a boyfriend, a husband, a child, a parent. It could be striving for financial gain or to have possession – the home – or to have nice things. It could be a career that’s taking the place of God in your life. It could be a ministry at church! You see, it’s good things. They are all good things. But they take the place of God in our lives. And these things become, or these people become what we are living for instead of filling all that need and finding all of our need in God.
And He tells us that He is a jealous God and that He won’t share His affection with another. You know, I thought about how many women love their children more than they do their husbands. Now, God wants us to love our children, but it’s out of that love relationship of the husband and wife that the children feel most loved and secure. But many women love their children more than they do their husbands.
And many husbands love their jobs and making money more than they do their wives. Now, it’s good that they provide for their wives, but she needs to know that she comes first, that she is more important to him than making money.
And you see what it does, when that happens, it breaks down the marriage relationship. It breaks it down. And so, that’s what it’s like when we love the world. You see, it breaks down the relationship with God. It’s putting other things before Him when all the time we can enjoy these things and we can love people more if He comes first. It makes a lot of sense when we think about it.
And so, how do we open that window then? How do we open that window? That we don’t place all of our value and things of this world? Well, we open it by surrendering our lives, all that we have and all that we are, to a Father in heaven, the one who is willing and able to give us all good things to enjoy.
And a believer who constantly surrenders to God will experience God’s love in their lives in an amazing way. It’s just how it works. You will experience it in an amazing way, even in the mundane of life in your day-to-day, because you’ll see God at work. You’ll see Him take up your cause when you need it. You’ll see your prayers answered. You’ll have a sense of His presence in your life as you go through your day. You’ll experience Him there.
And you will give the Holy Spirit freedom to work as you live a life that is fully surrendered to God. It says God’s love is shed abroad in our hearts with His Holy Spirit, through His Holy Spirit living inside us. We are His temple. He has chosen us to dwell in us.
And it’s the work of His Spirit in our lives that fills us up with the knowledge of God’s Word, with the knowledge of God’s love. And it’s His Holy Spirit that helps us grow in that and be aware of God’s love in our life.
And so, it makes sense that the more we live a surrendered life, giving up our lives to God’s control, the more the Holy Spirit has freedom to work and the more, if He has the freedom, the more we are going to experience the love of God, because His love is poured out in our hearts through His Holy Spirit.
And so, the key then to giving the Holy Spirit freedom, to giving Him access and control at every area of our lives is surrender. And surrender may seem like a negative thing. It sometimes sounds like it’s just giving up, and not doing maybe what we think we should do when in fact that’s not what it means at all.
Surrendering to God means to release. It means to take whatever we are holding onto, whatever we are finding our value in, whatever is holding us up and we release it to God, and we entrust it to Him. And when we give it to Him, it’s in a place that it’s safe. You see, if we hold onto it, we’ll mess it up. But if we entrust it to Him, to a place of safe keeping, then he will begin to work in whatever we surrender to Him.
And His will will come about. And we know what His will is. That it’s always good and acceptable and perfect.
And Hannah Whitall Smith, a quote again from her, she says, “To yield or to surrender means to simply sign over something to the care and keeping of another. To yield ourselves to the Lord is to sign ourselves over to Him. It means to give Him entire possession and control of all that we are and all that we own. We abandon ourselves to His care and take our hands off ourselves.” I thought that was a good description.
You see, it means to entrust what is valuable to us into the hands of a loving Father who says He will withhold no good thing from those He loves and a Father who will never make a mistake with your life. He will never make a mistake. We can count on that. But He can only do that as we yield to Him.
And so, then the steps to take to open this window is to build the foundation of your lives on God’s Word. Here we are again, back at His Word. We can’t get away from it, because it’s the only stable foundation that we have.
The things we build our lives on sometimes, like houses or jobs or people or looks or success, possessions – they are not a stable foundation. But God’s Word is. In Isaiah 48 it says, “The grass withers and flower fades, but the Word of God stands forever.” Lives forever! It’s a stable foundation.
And so, the second thing we do then is to seek His will in everything that we do to come before Him and to ask Him for whatever it is you need. Ask for His will to be done. And we will just be amazed at what God will do.
And then number three is to choose by faith, and it is by faith, that we sign over every area of our life to the Lord. And as we surrender, as we yield our lives to Him, we hand it over to a place where it’s safe and He will take care of all of our needs.
And so, the question to ask then is: can I, today, quit trying to run my life my own way and surrender everything to God, the true lover of my soul, and allow His Spirit to have freedom to work in every area of my life?
Okay, closed window number four is a believer who listens to Satan’s lies and accusations about God’s Word and God’s character will miss the signs of His love. Now, in Revelation 12:10, it tells us that Satan is the accuser of believer. That he is always fighting against those who follow God. That’s what he does.
In 1 Peter 5:8 it calls him our adversary. It says he is our enemy. And ever since the beginning of mankind with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, all through the Bible when Jesus was tempted in Matthew 4 in the wilderness, and even up to today in our lives, Satan is trying to draw people away from God. And he tells us, he tells us God isn’t good. He tempts us when we are tired and we are vulnerable. He tells us that God is not going to keep His promises to you. He’s not going to do that. He won’t help you. He’s not going to give you good things. He’s holding out on you.
And then he also tempts us, not only when we are tired, but he tempts us when we are doing great, when we are just on the mountaintop. And he tempts us to become prideful and to start trusting in ourselves and thinking, Oh, you know, I really did a good job! I have really good abilities in this area. And we start thinking that we did it instead of trusting in the Lord.
His Word says, “I try to remember that there is nothing I can do without Him.” That He does everything in my life and I need to trust in Him for that. Well, in Genesis 3:1 to 7 it says, “Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the Lord God had made.” And he’s talking about Satan here.
And Satan says, “‘Really?’ he asks the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?’ ‘Of course we may eat it,’ the woman told him, ‘it’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God says we must not eat it or even touch it or we will die.’”
See, she knew what God said. But then Satan says, “‘You won’t die,’ the serpent hissed, ‘God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil.’ The woman was convinced. The fruit looked so fresh and delicious and it would make her so wise. So she ate some of the fruit. She also gave some to her husband who was with her. Then he ate it too. At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they strung fig leaves together around their hips to cover themselves.”
You see, from the very beginning of mankind, Satan questioned God. He questioned God’s Word. And he said to Adam and Eve, he said, “God didn’t really say not to eat of any of the fruit, did He?” He didn’t really say that.
And he questions God’s character and His goodness. And he says, “You won’t die!” God is holding out on you. You’re not really going to die. God really doesn’t want what is best for you. Don’t listen to that. And so, he deceived Adam and Eve in the garden.
And the result of that was a tragedy. It was a tragedy because for the rest of their lives, they experienced pain and suffering and broken fellowship and a blemished earth and shame and blame and fear and death.
It was a tragedy. And Satan and his demons probably thought, Boy, they really got God this time. They really took care of things. But little did they know that God already had a plan to bring His people back to Himself. He already had a plan to redeem His people.
And since the fall of mankind until today, God has been pursuing His people to bring them back into a love relationship with Him – ever since that time – because He says His love for us is so severe. It’s so great that He would sacrifice His Son to die on the cross to bring us back into a relationship with Him that we would be His very own.
And so, how do we open that window? How do we not listen to those lies? Well, we come against Satan’s lies by prayer and by claiming the truth of God’s prayer. Pray specifically against the accusations of Satan and pray that God would increase your knowledge and awareness of His love for you.
Pray about that! And it says in 2 Corinthians 10:3 to 5, “For though we walk in the flesh we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare of not of the flesh but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” There are our thought patterns again. It’s amazing how much that plays into how we live and how we act and how Satan tempts us.
And he says to stand against this opposition, to stand up against it. And Satan might whisper in your mind and he would say, Oh, you have so much to do today. You better hurry up! You better get busy. You’ve to get this done! You can pray later. Oh, do it tonight. Or it can wait until tomorrow.
And then he says, Well, why don’t you just take this situation into your own hands. God’s not doing anything about it. What do you think needs to be done? Why don’t you do it? But God says, you know what He says? He says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”
But when Satan whispers in our minds not to pray, You don’t read the book, you can’t understand it anyway. And God says, “Seek the Lord, seek Him first with all your heart and He will give you all things.” To put Him first.
And Satan may say, Oh, you hear that whisper in your mind, you know, those people have been so unkind to you. Look how they treated you. I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t help them out. I wouldn’t say kind words to them. They don’t deserve to hear that.
God says in His Word, He says, “Love your enemies.” It says, “Do good to those who hurt you, to those who mistreat you.” And so, we need to know God’s Word to come up against the lies that Satan would put in our minds. And when you hear those little thoughts and you think it’s just you, it’s not. We have an enemy who wants to draw us away from God. And he will take any measure that he has to do that. And so, the steps to take then is to stand firm against Satan’s lies. In Matthew 4, when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus took the offensive, for every lie or part truth that Satan spoke to Jesus, Jesus responded with the truth, with the real truth in God’s Word. And so, we need to know His truth.
And the Scripture says, “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” He has to flee. He has no power. He has no power against God’s Word. And then the second thing is for every doubt, pray a prayer. When you begin to doubt, start praying right away. Don’t let those doubts mull around in your mind and get you discouraged.
The Holy Spirit is dwelling within us and God says because His Spirit is within us, we have that same power that raised Christ from the dead. You think about that!
In every person in this room is the power of God. That same power that raised Christ from the dead is inside you. And we gain access to this power through prayer. We draw upon the resources that God has already given us through prayer. And so, we need to pray, and we need to ask God to protect us from Satan’s lies. And we need to pray, and we need to ask God to help us believe how much He loves us, and to believe His truth.
In Ephesians 3, “When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan,” Paul says, “I fall to my knees in prayer. And he prays that from his glorious, unlimited resources that He will give us mighty power. And he says, “And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your heart, and I pray that you will understand as all God’s people should how great His love really is.” And so, we need to pray. It’s through prayer that we unleash the power of God in our lives.
And it’s through prayer that God’s power is directed at whatever situation we are praying about. It’s an amazing thing. And we inherit that as part of being God’s child.
And so, the questions to ask is: do I constantly listen to Satan’s lies that cause me to doubt God’s goodness in my life, His love for me, and the truth of His Word? Am I listening to that? You need to think about it.
Well, like the gentle breeze that was blowing in my bedroom window, God’s love is there all the time. His love is there, whether we open the window or not. But He wants us to open the window. He doesn’t want there to be anything in our lives that would keep us from experiencing His love.
And I don’t know near all of you, but there could be some here who are like me when I was that young single mom and you are hearing about God’s love, but you didn’t know how to find it and you wanted to know God and you’re here and you’re searching and you want to know Him. And I just want to tell you that today can be that day for you, like it was for me. That you don’t have to sit through a service and not experience anything and walk out discouraged. But today, in your heart, you can tell God that you’re sorry, that you’re a sinner, and that you’ve not been close to Him. And you can ask Him to come and to live in your life. And all you have to do is invite Him in and the Father who already loves you and has loved you ever since before you were even born will take up residence in your life, will make you His child and you will begin to experience His love as you read His Word, as you walk with Him, and as you share that love with God’s people.
And so, if there’s anyone here today, today could be the day that when you walk out of here you can walk out knowing and experiencing how much God loves you.