The month of February is usually thought of as the love month. I have no deep words to share today. Just my special love wish for you…
The glow of the moon lit a path to the back door. He followed it from his workshop and went in the back door of the house. His projects always kept him busy. Sometimes, even into the night.
He unlaced his boots and dropped them in the corner of the kitchen, out of the way so he didn’t track in any more sawdust. She always fussed at him for tracking in more for her to clean up.
The house was quiet…and dark, except for a little, flickering light coming from the living room. He walked through the kitchen toward the living room and stopped.
There she was, basking in front of the fireplace. All cozied up in her favorite slipcovered chair. The light of the fire encircled a halo-like ring around his adored bride, as he liked to call her. Fitting, he thought, for one who was such a perfect creation of God.
Standing in the doorway, he stared at his beautiful wife. He noticed the effects of her heart’s pain had distorted the delicate features of her face.
She may not have been beautiful to anyone else. But to him? She was a knockout. He felt as if his heart would jump out of his chest with love for her. He just knew she could hear his heart pounding.
She’d been sitting by the fire, all curled up in her favorite blanket her mother made for her, waiting for him. Used tissues littered the floor around her.
She longed for his presence, for him to sit with her by the fire. Longing to be held and comforted. So she waited, silently. Knowing he would come. He always did.
She didn’t hear him close the back door. She didn’t even notice his soft sock-steps coming toward her. But there he was. Standing over her.
Startled, she looked up…and smiled a half smile at him. He smiled back.
He knew she was still hurting from recent events and wasn’t ready to talk. But he was there for her. Just. Being. There.
Without a word, he knelt down in front of her. He reached under the blanket and gently pulled out her fuzzy, bunny-slippered feet and removed the bunnies. He began to caress her feet as he tenderly held them in his callused hands.
The well of tears overflowed once again. The well she thought had been cried dry. But here came the stream of tears again. He was always so gentle and caring to her. Always knowing just what to do for her.
No one could ever love me like he does, she thought.
As if triggered by the foot rub, the words came gushing out, intermingled with deep sobs. All the hurt and pain rolled out with the strength of a fire hose.
He scooped her up and sat down on the couch, with her on his lap.
Oh, such sweet love! Such genuine, giving love. Truly captures your heart, doesn’t it? And that, my sweet friend reading this, is the love the heavenly Bridegroom has for His precious Bride…YOU!
You are that undeniable beauty, that adored Bride, the one who makes the Bridegroom’s heart pound with love.
When you sit by the fireside of pain, He will scoop you up and sit you on His lap. He will hold you close and comfort you with His warm love.
He will sit with you. And listen. While you pour out to Him all that is in your heart.
Know He will always come to your side when you need Him. You may not hear His footfall but He will always be there for you.
No one will ever love you like He does!
Do you hear it?
The sound of weeping?
The weeping of the Lord.
For the weak. For the tired. For the powerless. For the hurting. For the sick.
For the mean. For the conniving. For the hurters. For the sickening. For the prideful.
He loves. Period. He loves! All of us!
He forgives. He cleanses. He pardons.
He died to absorb, assume, consume, swallow up, acquire, take over, seize, embrace, purge, abolish, plead for, release, exonerate, exempt, acquit, absolve, deliver, clear, release, exculpate, free, vindicate…us from our sins!
He gives a new beginning.
What do we do with our new beginning?
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.” (2 Cor. 5:17-18 NLT)
Reconciling people to Him, as God “has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:18b NKJV)
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says reconciliation is an exchange, “a change on the part of one party, induced by an action on the part of another.”
The ministry of reconciliation! Katallagee. Restoration to divine favor, restoring the breach. Matthew Henry said that God “put himself into a capacity of being actually reconciled to offenders.” To put things right, not just between God and us, but between us and men.
But are we still offending?
If we are reconciled, new creations, how then do we offend God? Others? What is our behavior? What do we say to others that makes them…and Him…weep? What do we do that makes Him shake His head at us? What are we doing to offend the blood of the cross?
Sin no more. No more spewing lies or name-calling. No more hurtful words to cut another down. No more meanness and nastiness. No more hate.
“As I have had compassion on you, now have…”
“compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’” (1 Peter 3:8-12 NKJV)
“Haven’t I suffered enough?”
“Love one another; as I have loved you.” (John 13:34b NKJV)
Do you hear it?
The sound of weeping?
The weeping of the Lord?
He is moved with compassion. Be moved likewise.
If we were each created in God’s image and likeness, then how do we justify speaking against God’s creations?
Unfortunately, we use our tongue “to give thanks to our Lord and Father and also to curse our fellow-man, who is created in the likeness of God.” (James 3:9 GNT)
Why do we do this? “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts?” (Matt. 9:4 NLT)
Jesus said, “Out of the mind come evil thoughts…and speaking evil of others.” (Matt 15:19 NCV) Speech that is injurious to another’s good name.
Jesus also said, “A good man’s speech reveals the rich treasures within him. An evil-hearted man is filled with venom, and his speech reveals it.” (Matt. 12:35 TLB)
So, what wiggles its way out of your heart, tickles your vocal chords, and jumps off the end of your tongue? Is it the rich treasure of complimenting and encouraging others, or is it the venom of speaking gossip and negativity?
God is very particular about how we treat His body parts, His sons and daughters. Malachi asked, “Don’t we all come from one Father? Aren’t we all created by the same God? So why can’t we get along?” (Mal. 2:10a MSG)
Why can’t we get along? How is it possible to love God and hate Him in others at the same time? How do we not love all parts of Christ’s Body? It would be like this: Do our eyes hate our polished toenails for being prettier? Do our teeth covet the gold in our ears? Are our hands jealous because our feet sport new coverings?
That may sound silly, but when Christ lives in others, they become a part of His body. So how do we not see them as vessels containing His Holy Spirit, unless the snarling monster of self raises its ugly head to block our view?
If we speak against or criticize another, gossiping behind his or her back, we “will be fighting against God’s law of loving one another, declaring it is wrong.” (James 4:11b TLB)
Jesus admonishes us, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34 NLT) To love is a commandment, not something we choose to bestow only on everyone, not just a select few. And not when we feel like it. Godly love is an act of the will, not a feeling.
The Lord once said to me, “Do not wound My Heart by saying unkind things about those I love, things you could not say to their faces.” Wow! We grieve the heart of our precious Lord by what we say about the ones He loves, which includes everyone.
One day, Paul witnessed the stoning of Stephen. As the Jewish leaders took their religious stance, fingers tightly clutching their stones of condemnation, Paul stood there, as one of the crowd, watching, while he held the garments of the other witnesses, making it easier for them to hurl the stones of pharisaical piety that ended Stephen’s life.
Paul, then the worst of all persecutors of Christians, encountered a blinding light on the Damascus Road as the Lord surrounded him and asked why he was persecuting Him.
Paul asked who He was and the Lord said, “I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:5b NKJV) In persecuting the Christians, Paul had persecuted the Lord Himself.
Paul had to lose his sight before he could gain his vision.
So, let’s make this a personal application…Is there a stone of judgment or revenge clutched tightly in your hand? Or do you stand holding another’s coat while someone else throws sanctimonious stones or gossip gravel at another person?
May we treat others as we would treat Jesus…with love and consideration. Let nothing that others do to you alter your treatment of them.
***Updated old post
I’ve been listening to and reading some things lately that seemed to follow a theme. For instance, a friend’s book that I just started to read, Body Tithe. A devotional for spiritual and physical fitness. Matthew Pryor, the author, was my guest poster not too long ago.
And our church is doing a great series on money and, of course, tithing is part of it. (Whether or not you believe in tithing, it is a topic that needs to be studied and prayed over.)
But this is not about your body or your wallet. It’s about your heart.
I guess the Lord used these things, and others, to make me ponder the thought He dropped into my noggin: Heart Tithe. And no, I don’t mean we give the Lord just 10% of our heart.
We are to…
* love Him with our whole heart.
* seek Him with our whole heart.
* trust Him with our whole heart.
* obey Him with our whole heart.
* serve Him with our whole heart.
But do we really do that? Do we love the Lord, our Beloved, with all our heart, seeking Him, trusting Him, obeying Him, and serving Him with all our heart?
Scripture tells us…
* “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40 NKJV)
* “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13 NKJV)
* “With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Ps. 119:10-11 NKJV)
* “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5 NKJV)
* “I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart.” (Ps. 119:69b NKJV)
* “Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” (1 Sam. 12:24 NKJV)
Do we follow all that or do we merely tithe, so to speak, our love for Him, giving Him a piece of our heart, a small portion of our time, tithing our seeking, our trust, our obedience, and our service to Him?
Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21 NKJV)
Is the Lord your heart’s treasure? Have you given your Beloved a Heart Tithe or your Whole Heart?
The human heart craves…
…strength to cope
…a leader to follow
…shelter in the storm
…security for the day
…protection from evil
…joy in spite of turmoil
…provision for all needs
…power to fight the enemy
…recognition of achievement
…fulfillment for its emptiness
…to be loved, unconditionally
…safety from all that would harm
…soothing for the frustrations of life
…to be accepted, without reservation
…refreshment in those parched times
…courage to step out when fainthearted
…tenderness when the world is unlovely
…confidence and calm when fear attacks
…to be understood, without condemnation
…the right spouse, job, school, friendships
…comfort in times of stress, grief, and affliction
…a guidance counselor to find the designed path
…encouragement for those days filled with woes
…to be welcomed Home into the Everlasting Arms
…an intimate relationship with the Love of the universe!
And yes, there are times when the human heart is contrary and desires the wrong things, seeking in confusion. A right heart craves to beat in perfect harmony with the Heartbeat of the Beloved.
Crave the Love that is offered in that intimate relationship. Crave that oneness. Crave the Love that is above all others. Crave the Love that loves you beyond belief.
Don’t feel like it? I hear some souls sinking. But I don’t feel loved.
Perhaps you’ve been grieving over some loss in your life. Perhaps you’ve been wrongfully accused of something or hurt in some way. Perhaps you’re feeling very discouraged right now. Perhaps you have negative feelings about yourself or negative thoughts bombarding your mind.
Perhaps…well, whatever your perhaps may be, your heart is wounded. Your eyes spill over with stress-induced tears from a broken heart.
Well, I’m here to tell you that feelings change but the truth of God’s love does not. The truth is…God loves you with a love that can still any storm, win any battle, override any tension or discomfort, soothe any pain, comfort any hurt, calm any fear, encourage any heartache, and will always uphold you and share peace and joy with you.
You, the one He loves truly. You, the one for whom He died. You, the one to whom He yearns to be close. You, the Lord’s espoused, His intended, His precious companion for all eternity. You are His precious heart’s desire.
He rejoices over you with mirth and pleasure. He spins around in excitement over you with shouts of joy and songs of praise! (Zeph. 3:17)
“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect.” (1 John 4:16-17a NLT)
No matter what circumstance is swirling around you, you are loved and you will be okay. If your life is falling apart right now, you’ll be okay. Even if all looks dark and dreary, you’ll be okay.
Let me encourage you, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not… YOU. ARE. LOVED. Each. And. EVERY. Day. No matter what!
The only one you truly need to make you feel loved is the Lord. He will never leave you, nor abandon you. And that, my sweet friend, should fill your love tank to overflowing!
May your craving be filled with that special, tender fulfilling Love!
***A remixed rerun. 😀
She stared out the window of the cheap motel room. For now, it was all she could afford on her disability check after new owners threw her out of her apartment.
A flurry of snow blew sideways outside the window. She shivered. Heat struggled to escape the pipes, causing her to tug at the sweater she had retrieved from the trash bin.
The tracks she had made earlier in the snow as she walked back from the corner mart were now covered. From the pan on the hot plate arose the aroma of hot chocolate, transforming the stagnant air in the room to something a little homier.
Alone. Her husband left her for someone else. The weight of her failing relationship with her daughter punctured her heart, as if a scalpel had ripped open her flesh and spilled out her life’s blood onto the tattered and grimy carpet.
Many did not care to help, and those who did care could only help a little, while others just weren’t able to give her the financial help she needed.
Her eyes pooled with tears. Though normally upbeat and thankful in all things, she now felt just as worn out as the old sweater wrapped around her.
Christmas! Bah! Humbug! she thought. Christmas, this year, would be non-existent for her.
As she stared out the window at the lone street light on the corner, glowing in the night through the blasting snowfall, her thoughts drifted off to another time and another place. Back to a time when, as a missionary in another land, she was invited to dinner by a family living in a small, rundown hut.
The dirty carpet beneath her feet reminded her of their dirt floor; the streetlight glowing in the night reminded her of the only light in their hut, a small candle half burned away.
In her mind, she could see the kids running around the hut happily playing chase; she could hear their laughter. She also recalled the father and mother joyously praising God for all they had. She remembered their love and tenderness as they shared a meager meal with her. A slight smile began to replace her frown.
Her feelings of self-pity and discouragement felt like hot liquid draining from her heart, running down her legs and right out her toes, while grace and love spilled back into her from heaven’s lap, coursing through her veins.
Forgive me, Father, she sighed.
The meaning of Christmas flooded her soul. She imagined another cold night with a bright light, the night Mary gave birth to Jesus and a glowing star lit the way to His presence.
She remembered the Reason for the Season…Love. The Love of God. Love came down in a pink earth-suit, bringing new birth with Him.
Staring at the streetlight and the falling snow, she started to hum. As tears streamed down her face, a smile gently spread across her face and the words to the song tumbled out…
Silent night, Holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.
Mumbling “the dawn of redeeming grace,” she lay down on the old mattress, grateful for a warm place to stay. Praying for a better tomorrow and vowing to help another less fortunate than she on Christmas day, she fell asleep.
~Depressing, huh? Not everyone will have a merry Christmas. This happens all across the world. With differing circumstances. Know anyone like this? I do. Though I’m not able to help her financially right now, I pray for her every day…many times. And I know the Lord will bless her mightily for her faith.
But Christmas is still a joyous time; no matter what is going on around us. It is a time of giving. The birth of Love. If you know the true Reason for the Season, be sure to pass on this Love to others. All. Year. Long.
That’s what Jesus came for. That’s what He died for. Love!
May there be a glowing star in your dark night to light the way to His presence, and may you have a Love-filled, Redeeming-Grace-filled, and Joy-filled Christmas!
***Hope you don’t mind a Christmas rerun from 2013.
As I was searching for something in my files, I came across a portion of my book I felt the Lord wanted me to share. It’s taken from Ready or Not…Here He Comes! (renamed and yet to be published).
This comes from a chapter on preparing ourselves as we wait for the Lord’s return. He left us with the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20a NKJV)
But what does commission mean? Since the Bible does not use the word commission as such, the English definition means to entrust a person with supervisory authority, duty, or power, putting one in charge or in readiness for active service, sending one out on a mission, the authority to act in another’s name, and so on.
It comes from the word commit and its root word comes from two other words meaning together send. In other words, it is a co-mission.
God sends out those who are in agreement with Him. We work in His name and in agreement with His commission of authority, in co-mission with Him.
But what if we truly believed in doing this?
When we faithfully rely on God to work His gifts in us for the benefit of others, we will see His power and glory manifested. As my most favorite of all verses says, “Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 AMP)
If we only believed—full-fledged, all-out, unhindered, unlimited, unconditionally, wholeheartedly, thoroughly, vigorously, boldly, powerfully believed—to carry out those greater works, to fulfill God’s calling, boy, would we, and the world, be surprised!
God has always used those who are willing to be His instruments for the working of His miracles. Besides the familiar names of those who have worked miracles in years gone by and those of today, many serve in anonymity behind everyday faces, being tucked in out-of-the-way places around the world. These knee-worn saints believe in the power of God and act on it in obedience, seeing miracles as the result.
Some last thoughts on our co-missions. If we combine several translations of Ephesians 1:22-23, it might say this, “God has placed everything under the power and authority of Christ and has set Him up as Supreme Head of the Church, giving the Church the benefit of His power and authority. For the Church is the body of Christ, who fills it with His Presence.”
If we “have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority,” (Col. 2:10 NIV) then, we, as the body, are to be obedient to the Head, and “as He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17 NKJV) Or so we are supposed to be.
The Head gives commands for the body to act and waits for it to respond, but the body behaves as if the Head is cut off at the neck. Hands refuse to give. Feet avoid the guiding footsteps in the sand. Deaf ears tune out the Word. Short-sighted eyes see only worldly offerings. Tongues spew out the venom of criticism, hatred, and judgment.
God called the church to accomplish good works, not to sit on its judgmental pews! As Paul said, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10 NIV)
So, if God has done enumerable miracles, signs, and wonders through many others and He doesn’t play favorites, don’t you think He will do the same through us, because He has desired to touch others through us? Haven’t we told Him we are His vessel to use as He sees fit?
However, if we have all the wonderful gifts of God but we do not have love, as Paul said, “it profits [us] nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:3b NKJV) Or others.”
What could we do today if we only loved and believed?
I started out pondering furniture makeovers. Pondering always leads to deeper contemplation and inner application.
I subscribe to numerous DIY/design/decorating sites and get their emails. It amazes me what they can do to renew, convert, revitalize, restore, repurpose, or remodel a home, a piece of furniture, or some item. Especially, when they take a piece they purchased or rescue an orphaned piece from the side of the road, one that is worn out, faded, or old, and they give it new life.
When something gets old and loses its luster, has pieces missing or scars from dents and scratches from lots of use, or even abuse, I love seeing it transformed with loving care into something new.
I love makeovers of any kind:
The deep, personal application? The Lord does the same makeover for us…in so many ways. When we lose our luster, or pieces of our heart are missing, or we have scars from lots of use or even abuse, He transforms us with His loving care.
Paul told the Corinthian church, “Now all of us…are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.” (2 Cor. 3:18 Voice)
*He takes our blackened heart and creates a new one…
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Ezek. 36:26 NLT)
*When our heart is breaking, He comforts us and mends our heart…
“What a wonderful God we have – he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.” (2 Cor. 1:3 TLB)
*When our heart is empty, He fills it with His mercy, hope, faith, peace, and joy…
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13 NLT)
*He also fills our heart with His love…
“We feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Rom. 5:5b TLB)
And we must share that love with others…
“You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.” (1 Peter 1:22 NLT)
Need a makeover?
Love never fails.”
As the love series comes to an end, we find Paul sandwiching the list of love-nots between the love-does. The first love-does, Paul said, is “love suffers long and is kind” (verse 4 NKJV). And now, on the flipside, we see the love-does list.
First, let’s look at the Greek definitions.
Bears means to roof over, to cover with silence as to endure patiently, to protect or keep by covering, to preserve, to keep secret, to hide, conceal, to bear up against, hold out against, to endure, forbear.
Believes means to have faith, to be persuaded, have confidence in.
The word for hopes means to expect or anticipate, to actively wait with joy and confidence for God’s fulfillment.
Endures means to stay under or behind, remain, to undergo, bear trials, persevere, abide, have fortitude, show endurance.
The word for fail means to fall, to perish, to come to an end, disappear, cease, to reduce to inactivity, of descent from a higher place to a lower place.
* covers the faults of others, preserves the integrity of others, bears patiently
* has faith and confidence, persuaded of the truths of God’s Word
* expects and waits for God’s fulfillment
* perseveres in all circumstances
* because it never ceases.
The Amplified states it so well, “Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].”
Paul told the Corinthian believers, “If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.” (1 Cor. 13:7 TLB)
Love, whether for a spouse, a child, a relative, a friend, or a neighbor, bears, believes, hopes, endures ALL THINGS. “Love will never become obsolete.” (1 Cor. 13:8a Voice) “It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.” (1 Cor. 13:8a Phillips)
Paul told the Roman church, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” (Rom. 12:9a NLT) We fail so often to love others as the Scriptures exhort us, with the true, godly agape love.
Peter tells us how, “Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble.” (1 Peter 3:8 Msg) And Paul adds his instructions, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Eph. 4:2-3 NLT)
Therefore, “Let all that you do be done with love.” (1 Cor. 16:14 NKJV) If we do not act in love, we are, as Paul said, noisy gongs. And we gain nothing if we are not loving. (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
If you’ve missed any of the previous posts in the love series, you can find them here:
* Love Suffers
* Envy, Envy, Thy Name is Poison!
* Do You Suffer from Perpereuomai or Phusioutai?
* What is Unseemly Behavior?
* Been Provoked Lately?
* Whatcha Got on Your Mind?
* What Do You Rejoice In?