Archive for the ‘Love’ Category.

Choose to Be Thankful

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good;  his mercy is everlasting;  and his truth endures to all generations.   Psalm 100:4-5

John MacArthur writes, “Thanksgiving grabs our attention, shakes the cobwebs loose and reminds us of all God’s most precious gifts.”

We plod through life, mostly oblivious. We don’t appreciate the vigor of youth until we lose it. We don’t celebrate the blessing of good health until illness strikes.  As humans we find it easier to mourn what we don’t have rather than celebrate the multitude of blessings we take for granted.

Let’s join Mr. MacArthur in shaking those cobwebs loose and being thankful.  Start with the basics.  Thank God for your life, for clean air to breathe and water to drink.  Be thankful for nourishing food, jobs and warm houses. Celebrate your friends and family. Consider those wonderful blessings that fill your life. The psalmist says a wise man heeds these very things.

Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord.  Psalm 107:43 NIV

 

Is My God Too Nice? by Faith Kimbler

 

The other day, Jack was mean to some kids that were visiting at our house.  After our company left, I discussed with Jack what had happened and asked him what he thought his punishment should be.  He was coming up with some hefty punishments that were over the top.  He mentioned execution and starvation to name a few.  He was worried and realized he had done wrong.  I talked to Joe about the situation and since we love Jack so much we talked about why he had been mean.  First, the kids were provoking him.  Secondly, he was having a horrible day to begin with and we should have recognized that before we invited people over.  Third, unable to find something to entertain himself, he was bored and ready for the company to leave.  Together we decided that we would not punish him for his reaction to things he could not deal with in the face of his autism.  I went back and told him “We have decided to give you grace and not give you a punishment.”  He looked astonished and immediately burst into tears and said “I didn’t expect that!”

Isn’t that how we all feel in the face of grace?

Since God made us all so differently and we are each unique, I wonder if He will judge us all differently and individually when we die.  Just like how we as Jack’s parents took his autism and circumstances into account when making our decision, I think God will be the same way with us. He might judge me using this “ruler”, but judge you using that “scale”.  And that other person over there, by some other separate measurement.  If he knows us as well as it says in the Bible, then He sees our hurts, our reasons for our sins, and our struggles.  I think maybe He thinks “No wonder she committed that sin.  I probably would’ve, too, in that situation if I weren’t God and I was a human in her circumstances.”  I think His compassion and empathy are bigger than we can imagine.  If His love is as big as it says in the Bible, then we can expect Him to surprise us with the greatness of His love.

I think when we die, God will meet us, hug us, and say,

“Wow, I’m impressed!  You made it through that life.  Fantastic job!  You put up with a lot and I saw it all.  I saw what that person did to you and said to you when you were a little child.  I saw how you struggled to overcome that the rest of your life.  I saw how you fought to keep from killing yourself every day during that really bad time.  I understand why you felt that way.  That depression is miserable.  I get it. You persevered and fought to love in spite of the overwhelming obstacles in your life.  I am so proud of you.  I kept track of every time you said something loving.  I saw every time you thought a gracious thought towards that person who hated you.  I counted every tear that fell in your pain.  And I cried two tears for every one of yours.  And when the pain was too great to even cry, I felt that same numbing ache that you felt.  But you survived!  You did it!  Did you hear me cheering for you?  Because I was.  Every single minute I cheered for you.”

I think we will be so shocked that we won’t be able to say a thing in response.  And He will continue to astound us.

“I know you think that you aren’t good enough.  I know you feel like you failed to love everyone perfectly.  But I never expected perfection from you.  How could I?  You are a human! Instead, I kept track of every good intention.  I added up all the happiness you felt for another.  I counted every kiss and every hug you gently gave away.  And when you were alone, I saw how you tried so hard not to beat yourself up.  I saw the temptations and their strength, but I also saw your resistance to fight the hate.  I saw how you spread light and laughter when you could.  I saw how you worked to protect those you loved.  I saw how you sacrificed to give to others.  I saw how you responded in love to those church people who spewed wrong things about Me.  I saw how you fought the fear in the middle of the night.  I saw every time you chose to do good instead of evil.  I heard every positive, helpful word you said.  And I am proud, so very proud, to call you my Daughter.  Now that you are so good at loving, we can spend the rest of forever doing just that!”

If you think that this makes God too nice, then you have got it exactly right!  He IS too nice!  He can be as gracious and loving as He wants if He’s God, can’t He?  My version is nothing compared to what it will really be like when you see Him face to face. There’s a verse about every knee bowing at the end.  I think that we will be  so taken back by His love and compassion for us that it will drive us to our knees.  No one will be able to stand in the face of so much love.  And like Jack, we will say with tears and disbelief, “I didn’t expect that!”

The Body of Christ

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

  I Corinthians 12:27 NIV

Most groups exclude someone.  Even “open” clubs may exclude women, men, children or another segment of society.  Groups gather around a common goal—and not everyone shares the same interests.

Imagine the glory of an organization where everyone fits in:  old, young, male, female, babies, children, teenagers, smart, not-so-smart, rich, poor, beautiful, plain, sick, healthy, athletic, couch potatoes, handicapped, married, widowed, happy, sad, successful, broken and every other category of the human race you might imagine.  I’m talking about the Body of Christ, that glorious bride of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m the first to admit that I’ve struggled with the Body of Christ at different times in my life.  I didn’t always recognize my place or purpose, and didn’t value the fellowship.  Lately I’ve grown more appreciate.

The Body of Christ is bigger than a single denominational church, extends beyond geographical locations, and is larger than any dogma.  It is the universal church, that group of blood-washed believers who stumble and fail as they follow their king.

To think that the God of the Universe chooses imperfect humans to do his work on earth astounds me.  I don’t begin to understand but celebrate the wonder of it.

During this Advent Season we celebrate the coming of Baby Jesus to a broken world.  Let us look beyond the infant in the manger and also celebrate the Bridegroom who will one day return to claim His bride.  You may not feel comfortable in a traditional “church.”  Don’t give up.  It’s not too late to find a place of fellowship where you can be a part of this Body.  It’s the perfect fit for every member of the human race.

 

Fearless!

There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  I John 4:18  NIV

A young schoolboy hears his name over the loudspeaker, commanding him to come to the principal’s office.  The voice sounds stern and angry. You can imagine his feelings of dread, fear, and confusion.  He searches his mind for offenses he might have done as apprehension rises to near panic.  He drags his feet as if he were going to his death.

Now consider that young schoolboy again.  Only this time, the principal is his dad.  The voice, that familiar voice so comforting and reassuring, calls his name over the loudspeaker.  His father ate breakfast with him, drove him to school, and just that morning told the boy how much he loved him.  There is no fear of punishment. The boy leaps to his feet and with great joy goes to the office to see what his father needs of him.

The loving relationship drives away all fear.

A loving father corrects his child but does not pour out his wrath upon him.  In a loving relationship, problems are dealt with as they arise and the lines of communication are kept open.   If you are his child, you can rest assured that God is not angry with you.

Lord, help us to relate to you as a child to a loving father.

The Light of Love

It was not by their sword that they won the land nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.  Psalm 44:3

Recently I saw a young man look at his wife with such tenderness that it brought tears to my eyes.  It was an unguarded moment in a crowd of people and I just happened to glance their way as he looked at her.  His eyes melted and face relaxed into a wonderful smile of true delight.  It was as if all the love he had for her spilled out onto his face.

That is how God looks at you.

He looks at you and counts your successes rather than your failures.  He sees you not only as you are, but also as you will be.  He knows you mess up but loves you anyway.  He delights in you and looks forward to your time together.  He likes you.  As a loving father, he takes pride in your accomplishments and comforts you in your losses.

With such love from your heavenly father, you can face any battle with confidence.  You will overcome, not by your strength, but His.  His face is alight with such affection for you that another watching would weep for the wonder of it.

Lord, in this busy day let us feel the light of your face and realize your great love for us.  Amen.