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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

LOVE, Ever New!

        What a joy when I hear my husband say, “I love you!”  How many times have we have spoken these words in 65 years?  Our love story never ends. We see God’s plan in our love.  We are committed to each other because of God’s love. Sometimes my “I love you,” is answered now with a “Thank you!” 
         Some search to find expressions of love through the years. A gentle hug, roses and chocolates, a kind deed, and then I remember where loves come from – God is Love! (I John 4:8b) When we receive God, we truly find Love in our hearts, pouring out to care for others and serve others.
         Everything we know about love comes from God. The way we love is a pattern after God’s love.  His love is steadfast and unfailing.  Love is not a happenstance, it is a commandment. 
         Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Matthew 22:37-39.
         We wonder, are we to love the person who puts us down, disagrees with us, and the one who doesn’t appreciate us at all?  Yes, love that one!!!
         That is way too hard!  Love is being vulnerable. We can be and will be hurt, rejected and humiliated.  Yet, we continue to love, for in doing so we glorify God. We forget our purpose is not to glorify the ME, we carry around, but our Lord God.  Psalm 147:12-14 - Glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he has strengthened the bars of your gates and blessed your children within your walls. He sends peace across your nation and satisfies your hunger with the finest wheat.
         In answer to the question, Who do you think you are? John 8:53. Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me.” You say, ‘He is our God.’
         If we will not, cannot love God, we lack the quality of humility before the One who made us!  Love is a gift from God.  He loves us unconditionally.  Marketers sell us many products to make us more lovable and appealing. They can only deal with our outward appearance. They promise to make us appear young again. Yet we are destined to become old. It is God’s plan.
         One day someone declared me wise and I wondered why.  I looked in the mirror and saw the beginning of wrinkles, thinning gray hair and wondered if that equals wisdom?  I am the same inside as I was yesterday and the day before. Wisdom in us comes alive through humility and understanding of God’s Great Love.  Wisdom doesn’t descend upon us through potions and pills, but from the everyday giving of ourselves to living in God’s way of Love.  His love is Ever New. Love comes from praising God, renewing our minds, living in Him, and giving our hearts fully to God.
         The faithful love of theLord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23.  This is my hope.  In eternity past, the present, and eternity future, our Lord God is ever the same. He loves you and He loves me.  How do I know? 
         “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his One and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.  Love begins with a relationship with our Lord in that He changes us, fills us, and we give Him the glory.
         In every situation in life, I realize God has a purpose for each of us. When I seek for understanding of His Grace I receive His Peace.  Each day brings another way to live and grow in the love of God.  Understanding His Great Love, Ever New, gives me stability and confidence for the challenges of the day. Each day, Jesus continues to express His love as an alternative way of living to me. All that is left for me is to make a choice.
         Jesus, What a Beautiful Name.  The lyrics I first heard brought me to tears of joy.
         You were the Word at the beginning – One with God the Lord most High
         Your hidden glory in creation – Now revealed in You, our Christ.
         You didn’t want Heaven without us – So Jesus, You brought Heaven down
         My sin was great, Your love was greater – What could separate us now?
         What a wonderful Name it is – The Name of Jesus Christ my King
         What a beautiful Name it is – Nothing compares to this
         What a beautiful Name it is – The Name of Jesus. (Fraser/Fielding)

         What is Love?  The first seven verses of I Corinthians teach us how to love and why it is important! 
         If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.  If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

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.


Tuesday, February 07, 2017

In His Presence

        What is it about the touch of a hand, a warm hug, a smiling face filling our hearts with peace and joy? As we celebrate our sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, we hold hands and listen to the old hymns of faith in the confines of my dear husband’s room.
         The overwhelming joy of being together is enough.  Time stands still with memories of celebrations past when we needed to ‘go’ and ‘do’ to celebrate.  It was difficult to leave this room that held our love and our memories of times past.  The future? We leave this to our Father in Heaven.  The joy of my dear husband’s presence stayed with me as I travel back home, alone.  And yet, I am not alone.
         Like a flash of lightening, I realize God’s Presence is one hundred-fold more precious. In prayer, listening for God’s voice, expecting the return of Jesus at any moment, and knowing His presence. I read His Word and learn of His promises of Hope, and I realize the truth of the verse from Matthew 28:20b - And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. This hope is not if – it simply is.
            The gift is finding His Presence in others I meet.  Their hearts are gifts of encouragement and faith to me.  How do I know?  How does faith begin?  Psalm 16:7-9, 11 - I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.
            The Old Testament is filled with the stories remembering those who learned the truth of our Lord God and believed. A search for truth in this world is battled by cynicism and doubt. God is truth.  Hebrews 11 is filled with the roll call of the faithful, and the why of their belief in God.
         John 20:25 tells us, Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.  As one who loves to read – this intrigues me.  There is no end to ‘knowing’ Father God, Jesus His Son, and The Holy Spirit.
            In the summer of 1979, I witnessed the death of my earthly Dad.  At his celebration service, our family walked down the aisle singing, For I Know Whom, I Have Believed, Dad’s favorite hymn.  One of his grandsons recently shared, he remembers his Grandpa’s favorite song, and notes that every verse begins – I know not why, how, what and when.  Yet the chorus answers each time: But “I know Whom I have believed, And am persuaded that He is able, To keep that which I’ve committed.  Unto Him against that day.” (Daniel Whittle)
         These first seven (completed number) words of the chorus say it all!  I know whom I have believed!” When we have the presence of Jesus in our hearts and minds, our life focuses on pleasing Him with our motives, hearts, minds and our actions of love. 
            God’s Presence is not contained in a building but shines from each loving heart that believes. This Presence surpasses any pleasure of earth.  God’s Loving Presence is contained in every raindrop that falls, every sunbeam lighting our way, and every breeze dancing through our hair.  We see and hear, the presence of the Lord is all around us.  His Presence is enough. When our world ends with ‘ME’, we are blinded to the presence of God.
         There is no greater love – than a man would lay down His life for a friend are included the lyrics coming from God’s Word:
     This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.  John 15:12-14
     God’s Presence is found in knowing peace in our heart.  As we pray for concrete answers to prayer – often the answer to our prayers is peace.  This peace is unexplainable, grace-filled, and a loving response to know our Lord God answers and is with us.  He always answers in His time, in His way, for He sees, not the immediate, but the far-reaching Kingdom of God. 
     Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.  Colossians 3:14-15
     Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.  Hebrews 12:14
     But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. James 3:17
     Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.  All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.  Jude 1: 24-25
    You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 16:11
     Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Ephesians 3:12


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

In the Name of Jesus

      Visiting my husband of sixty-five years, I kissed him and asked, Do you know who I am?  He said your voice is familiar, but he didn’t have a name.  “Emily, your wife,” I responded.  He said, “I was hoping so!”  What is in a name?
      When we visited, he began praying brief prayers, ending each one with, “In Jesus’ Name!” He ended with a declaration, “I love you, Lord Jesus!” He might not remember me after sixty-five years of marriage, but He remembers the Lord of Life.
       Is it because he was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) or is it because God implanted eternity in his heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  I give thanks to the Jesus and can feel His Smile, as Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
    When the aid came into the room to apply lotion to my husband’s dry skin, Ed said, “God bless you!  Thank you!”  From the depths of Lewy Body Dementia and a heart of love, God has given him a ministry pointing to Jesus. This is a blessing to all who will hear.
       I smile as I listen to Ed’s voice.  Because of the disease Ed has, I am seeing and hearing his heart, God sees and hears.
       Have you wondered about the many names of God and the meanings of these names?  Here are a few of my favorites that describe the One we follow, in the link above:  
·      ELOHIM[el-oh-heem]: God “Creator, Mighty and Strong
·      EL SHADDAI [el-shah-dahy]: “God Almighty,” “The Mighty One of Jacob”
·      ADONAI [ˌædɒˈnaɪ; ah-daw-nahy]: “Lord
·      YAHWEH-JIREH [yah-way-ji-reh]: "The Lord Will Provide
·      YAHWEH-RAPHA [yah-way-raw-faw]: "The Lord Who Heals"
·      YAHWEH-ROHI [yah-way-roh-hee]: "The Lord Our Shepherd"
·      EL-OLAM [el-oh-lahm]: "Everlasting God"
       Names have meaning to God. He knew us before we were and chose us.  Oh, to belong to Jesus so that all we do is done in the Name of Jesus, He, who loves each of us!  We often wonder what our names mean.  My Dad once told me, “I can’t give you much, but I give you my good name. Guard your name in the way you live.”
       When we are baptized in The Name of the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit, our name is enhanced.  We become more than we were before we became an Ambassador of Christ.  Do we honor His Name with His love in our lives?  Or, do we defame His Name and his Gift of Grace?  Do we use His Name to curse others or show his love to others?  Do we love our enemies and pray for them?
       It is not important what others or Facebook says we are, but it is most important what God says who we are.  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. Romans 5:11.
Now when I say, In Jesus’ Name, the power of God shakes me to the core. 
       Jesus taught His Disciples how to pray, written in Matthew 6:9-15. 
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.  May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.  If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.   But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins
         Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.  May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 
         How can this be?  We are sinful people, excusing our sin by saying, “Just this once, A little won’t hurt, or I’ll wait until tomorrow to pray, to live for Him…”
         The time to love and serve others in the name of Jesus is now.  The time to actively pursue a peace that gives joy in the Name of Jesus is now. The time to pray and chase away the evil one in the Name of Jesus is now.  The time to mend our ways and let Him heal our souls in the Name of Jesus is now.
         The head that once was crowned with thorns, is crowned             with glory now.
      The one who wore our sin and shame, Now robed in                   majesty.
      The radiance of perfect love, Now shines for all to see.
      Your Name, Your name is victory. All praise will rise.
        To Christ our king, Your Name Your Name is victory.
      All praise will rise To Christ our King! 
   On the way to Jerusalem, many people spread their coats on the road for Jesus. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  Some of the people were walking ahead of Jesus. Others were walking behind him. They all shouted, “Praise to the Son of David!  ‘Welcome! God bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Praise to God in heaven!”  Then Jesus went into Jerusalem. All the people in the city were confused. They asked, “Who is this man?”  Matthew 21:8-1
   “Jesus told us to go and speak to the people. He told us to tell them that he is the one God chose to be the Judge of all who are living and all who have died.  Everyone who believes in Jesus will have their sins forgiven through his name. All the prophets agree that this is true.” Acts 10:42-43
   Your faithful love is better than life, so my lips praise you. By my life, I will praise you.  In your name, I lift my hands in prayer. When I sit down to satisfy my hunger, my joyful lips hunger to praise you! Psalm 63:3-5
   You are great and do amazing things. You and you alone are God.  Lord, teach me your ways, and I will live and obey your truths. Help me make worshiping your name the most important thing in my life.  My Lord God, I praise you with all my heart. I will honor your name forever! Psalm 86:10-12
   Those who win the victory will be pillars in the temple of my God. I will make that happen for them. They will never again have to leave God’s temple. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God. That city is the new Jerusalem. It is coming down out of heaven from my God. I will also write my new name on them. Revelation 3:11-12