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The Command to Love
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Love. It’s such a multitasking word. It causes us to see stars, fireworks, cupids, hearts, chocolates and flowers. It gives us breaking hearts, hurt feelings, fearfulness and pain.
Her heart was broken; the tears wouldn’t stop. What had been such an unimaginably beautiful beginning so many years ago had turned into a nightmare, involving not just her, but her children. Where was the love that was supposed to last a lifetime? Where was the faithfulness that was supposed to remain until death did them part? It was all gone. Everything was broken.
“Love one another. . .” so Jesus told His disciples after washing their feet on the very same night He was betrayed by one of His own disciples. Did His heart break, too? Did all the time He had spent with Judas mean so little to Judas that he could throw away the promises of Christ for 30 pieces of silver?
“As I have loved you.” Jesus’ love was more than a physical kind of love that men and women have for each other. It was more than the love of a mother or father for their children. It was more than the type of love one has for his friend or neighbor down the street. Jesus’ love was – and is – the kind that goes deeper and never ends. His love is the kind that forgives even those who break His heart, who break their covenant with Him, who walk away, who think they can do whatever on their own. His love is enduring, stronger than anything we can throw at Him, patient to the end. His love went to the cross where He laid down His life for His loved ones. His love was to the souls of us.
Our love may be able to break us and leave us devastated and cynical. Maybe our definition of love is not the same as God’s definition. Maybe it’s because we make love all about us instead of the other person. We think we’re thinking about the other person, but only so far as that person treats us well and we can love them without much effort.
When love becomes so corroded that hate replaces the emotion, what do we do? How do we even manage to love as Jesus loves us with all the pain and hurt in our hearts, in our lives?
Love is so much more than hearts and flowers, so much more than our feelings, so much more than us.
How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders.
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life -
I know that it is finished.
Words of Song by Stuart Towend and Composition by Larry Shackley "How Deep the Father's Love for Us"
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What Have You Done?
“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”
So many things we don’t really know, but we believe . . . We believe the sun will rise in the morning (or at least there will be clouds and an absence of darkness of the night); we believe our hearts will beat automatically and that our breathing equipment is going to work (O2 in, CO2 out); we believe the rain will fall, the moon will rise, the world will spin . . . how is that possible? Did we have anything to do with any of that?
The passage above could have easily been taken from the Book of Job in any of the sections where God was talking to Job, asking him if he, Job, had anything to do with the creation of the world or the miracle of birth.
However, Ecclesiastes is written by Solomon, the wisest man to have ever lived, bar none, and even he had no answers to explain the greatness of God or miracles performed by the Creator of all things.
“Faith – the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence (or conviction) of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.
“Faith – by grace we are saved through faith (that which we believe) – not by anything we have done, but through the gift of God’s Son on the cross and His resurrection.” (Paraphrased Ephesians 2:8)
The gift is given to us, free and clear – so that we can’t brag about anything we have done, because again, what have we done? Have we initiated the wind to blow? Can we make even one raindrop fall from the clouds? Can we control where an elephant in the wild gives birth? (Do we even know where an elephant in the wild gives birth?) Well, Someone does, and by faith (not understanding) in this great God and by believing all that God has done to keep us as His own, we reap the greatest gift ever given. Eternal life forever with our great God in Heaven.
Have you told your kids? What will happen to them if you don’t?
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The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper."
(1 Kings 19:11-12)
Good morning, Lord!
It's been a while since I've just sat and talked with you, taking time to just listen to Your gentle whisper. I was talking to my daughter the other day and she said, "What should I do when I grow up?" and I said, being the pro-woman that I am, "Whatever God tells you to do." Well, with any adult, that probably would have been a conversation stopper, but not with my daughter! "How do you hear God talking to you?" At 7:30 AM while driving to the CDC, that was a good question.
Fortunately, I'd had my half cup of hot caramel mocha with non-fat milk, and I said, "Well, you have to listen - like I'm listening to you." And when she started talking again, I interrupted her and said, "This is a good example of why we don't hear God answer us, because we always interrupt what He might have been trying to tell us and we start talking again. Sometimes, God takes a while to answer us, so we always need to keep God close in our hearts and minds and maybe remind ourselves that we're still listening to Him throughout the day."
As she looked at me and I looked back at her (we were at a LONG stoplight intersection), I said, "I pray for you all the time, that you'll be kind to others and help any of the kids in Summer Kamp who need a friend - even if that person has not really been nice to you. It's hard to be nice to mean kids (especially if they don't want to play with you), but you just listen and see if God doesn't give some words to your heart that will help and not hurt that person back. Maybe all that person needs is a friend and a little bit of love. And this I know for sure - God gave you a heart full of love - so you share that love with your smile and your kind words, and you'll grow up doing just what God wants you to do."
Thank You for the good morning, Lord!
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In the Beginning / At the End
This has been a season of crazy happenings, would you agree? I walk into other people's homes to do some nursing care, and I hear on the television:
- Two busses carrying youth from a church here in town to the Atlanta airport to catch a flight to Africa for a mission trip end up with one of the busses in an accident that kills one and injures most of the rest who were on that bus;
- President bashing, stories of questionable truths and stories so twisted that we don't know what to believe;
- Crimes of hate;
- Criminals caught and then police accused of using (unnecessary) force;
- Bridges blown up;
- Night clubs and concerts bombed; and then,
- (Try to) Have a good day.
It seems the stuff never ends - at least, not on that news channel. I wonder what would happen if the newscasters took just one day (maybe two, since no one would comprehend what happened for just one day) to talk only positively of things that were going on in the world. Surely there is something that is good.
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