Friday, March 30, 2018

Love Poured Out

Love Poured Out
The human body sometimes reacts to great stress with a defensive redirecting of the blood that is known as vasospasm. In these times, blood vessels in the extremities shut down stopping the flow of blood to those areas. Blood-less, life-less cold spreads quickly into the areas affected.

Spiritually we sometimes see a similar phenomenon. Hurts in life cause us to withdraw from the pain. We turn inward and restrict the flow of the Spirit from the outward stresses. Both are human reactions. Both withdraw life. Christ shows us another way.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ faced horrendous distress. He understood the darkness of sin and separation from the Father that was soon to weigh upon Him. Yet in that garden—before any physically struck Him, Christ’s blood flowed out to a dying world. God’s Word tells us great drops of blood dripped as He prayed. Christ sacrificially lived before He died as the Sacrificial Lamb. He looked outward and upward, not inward. His life followed His gaze.

We, as Christians, live because He loved enough to refuse self-focused living. Forsaken by his closest friends, sold-out by a close associate, hated by His Father’s chosen people, Christ had every reason to ‘self-protect.’ Yet He pursued the Father’s purpose and brought life to all who would believe. We can choose to let that same life flow in us and by-pass ‘human reactions.’ Although Christ became human, He did not allow humanity to dictate His life. We must not either.

When a vasospasm incident passes, blood flows back into the afflicted regions with stinging pain. That pain brings life. In our spiritual lives, the pain of conviction brings healing through repentance. Restored to Life, we become vessels of life for others. Let us follow the example of our Savior who, though God, learned obedience through suffering. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly—let us embrace His purposes! —Billie Jo Youmans

Remembering Good Friday 2018

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, 
He was crushed for our iniquities; 
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, 
And by His scourging we are healed. 

~ Isaiah 53:5 (NAS) ~

Friday, March 23, 2018

Love, a Blessing, a Gift, a Choice

Love, a Blessing, a Gift, a Choice
"Here!" I grumbled to my husband as he hovered over my shoulder. "I'll just stop what I'm doing so you can have my computer. I'll go take a shower." 

"That is not love," I gently, plainly heard in my soul as I walked down the hall.

"Yeah, and it's childish too," I mumbled back. "Do you always have to be right, Lord? Can't I ever just complain and get away with it? No, don't answer that! I know! You are always right, and love is patient. Love is kind. Well, I don't feel either right now, whether I'm supposed to or not."

"Yet love is always patient, always kind," I felt Him whisper back, "never self-seeking, not easily angered. Love is offering up your computer without complaint when it's needed, thankful that your husband is willing to tackle the issues with your son's college software. Love is kindly, gently stepping aside so he can work."

"Hmmm" I sighed. 

"Love also keeps no record of wrongs, but rejoices in the truth. It doesn't justify or rationalize or spin the truth, but accepts correction, because I am love, and I love you far too much to leave you to your selfishness."

"OK, Lord, I give. You win. Love doesn't envy or boast or compare. It doesn't grumble or whine or complain, and — ouch! — it doesn't compete, which is exactly what I've been doing, isn't it? Competing with my husband? How could I not have recognized that until now? Oh, Father. I'm so sorry. Forgive me. I know better. Love doesn't compete in order to be loved in return, or esteemed or found worthy. Love doesn't strive to measure up in order to be accepted. Love accepts us as is, faults and flaws and all, because love chooses to love deeply from the heart, abundantly, sacrificially and unconditionally whether it feels like it or not. 

Oh, Father, thank you. Thank you for loving me enough to hold me accountable, for pruning my character in spite of the pain of the process, for forging my faith in the fire of Your all-consuming love." 

For love isn't proud, but selfless and humble. It is choosing to apologize and mean it, to forgive and forever let it go. Love is the incredible moment of birth and the final breath of life and every single moment in between — timeless and searing and deep, intense and tender and raw, severe and exquisite.

Love is a blessing, a gift and a choice, only possible because the great I AM, the One who IS love, Who always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, first and perfectly loved us, and His love never fails.  Cindee Snider

Father, teach me to love deeply from the heart, lavishly and without reservation, sacrificially and unconditionally, knowing it is only possible as I humbly, completely, transparently rely on You every step of the way. Amen.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Love Your Life

'Blessings crown the head of the righteous.' Proverbs 10:6

Love Your Life
Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to throw in the proverbial towel? Have you thought about packing one suitcase and hitting the road for parts unknown? What about locking yourself up in a closet with a flashlight and a pan of brownies and simply hiding out for the rest of the day?

Well, I think we all feel like that at least once in awhile! Sometimes life just gets a little too hard to handle. We don't always have supernatural strength to be Super Mom or Dad, and we can't always make that dollar stretch all the way to Hawaii, either. And then there are the demands of those outside of our own family, people, jobs, church, clubs, all the entities who just do not think you should have any 'time of your own'. Heaven forbid!

Our society has become a society of 'do this, do that, don't forget me, go here, go there, hither and yon, and most of all you better not be thinking of yourself but of me' these days! I mean, it's just plain old complicated. I can't please anyone, it would seem. Even the mailman thinks I leave the mail in the box too long! What's up with all that???

Well, I have good news, for you, and for me! God just doesn't see it that way! He knows what we go through on a regular basis, day in and day out. He knows how hard we try, and He knows how hard we fail. But He never fails. He always delivers, He always hears our cries, He always knows what we need, who we need, when we need, and how we need. He will meet ALL our needs!

One of the jobs God has to do, and maybe one of His favorite ones, is blessing the socks off of His children. That's you and me, in case you didn't know! He loves to lift us up, to encourage us, and to show us His love. He is not hiding out in the Heavenly Places.He is right there with you. He makes Himself known in nature, in the beauty of the day, and the shining of the sun, and in the graceful lull of a summer night's moon. He will meet our every need, just as the Apostle Paul stated in Phillipians 4:19. 'But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.' This is God's promise to the righteous in Christ.

Who cares what the world thinks? Why would we give a rip what the man down the street says about the color of our house? Whose opinion is REALLY important to us? If we are indeed followers of Christ, children of the Most High God, then His, and ONLY His, opinion is the one that we want and need. He is the one who blesses us, now and forever.

Because of the wonderful, loving, giving, blessing God we serve, we should LOVE OUR LIVES! We have more to laugh about, to enjoy, to share, to experience, than anybody else on this earth.

You have been given a gift. Nobody could wrap it better, no one could have it delivered in a more glorious way. You are loved and you are blessed. Now get out there and LOVE YOUR LIFE! —Lili Richey Willard

Friday, March 9, 2018

Love with a Believing Heart

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1 NLT)

Love with a Believing Heart
What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.

The young woman watched the hungry flames devour her temporary home as her young children clung to her legs. “We’re going to be okay,” Lori assured them as she wiped their tears away.

The hour was late, but the neighbors awakened by the sirens and lights, gathered outside their homes to watch the blaze. Lori’s street was usually quiet and uneventful. Most of the neighbors kept to themselves except for an occasional ‘hello’ wave from across their yards. Tonight was different. Dogs were barking, kids were shouting and parents were gathering to help Lori and her two preschoolers.

“Here, dear, wrap yourself and the kids in these blankets. These autumn nights are getting pretty chilly.”

“Oh thank you, Mrs. Davis.” Annie was shivering as Lori draped the blanket around her tiny frame and Jimmy pretended his blanket was a magic cape. Smiling Lori softly spoke, “I’m thankful to God that we made it out safely.”

As the firemen got the blaze under control, the curious crowd thinned out. Helen, an elderly neighbor from across the street, offered to take the children and get them to bed. “Yes that’s a good idea. Thanks so much.” Annie and Jimmy kissed their mom goodnight and followed Helen. From the upstairs window they saw their mom talking to one of the firemen. “Now children, try to get some sleep,” Helen said softly as she tucked them snuggly under an old patchwork quilt.

When Lori walked over to Helen‘s, she already had a pot of tea on the burner. With genuine concern, she asked, “What will you do now, Lori?”

“I’ll pray, Helen.”

“Well, if you don’t mind me saying, it’s a little late for that. Guess your God was sleeping at the wheel to let such a thing happen.”

“Oh, Helen you’re wrong. He’s a good God and He was watching out for us tonight. If I hadn’t woke up when I did, we would have succumbed to the smoke. Don’t you see, an angel of God nudged me awake and I’m sitting here sipping tea instead of . . .” Lori’s voice grew thin as she imagined the worse. “Anyway, I’m grateful for His mercy and love.”

“Love? I don’t get it,” Helen said shaking her head. “You talk about your God watching over you, but now you’re homeless and your husband is still off doing his duty overseas. You have nothing left but the pajamas you’re wearing. Ya know, Lori, she said shaking her finger, I’ve never put much stock in things I can’t see. And I dare say, I’ve never laid eyes on God. How is it that you can sit here so calm when you‘ve just lost everything?”

“Because I love Him and I know He loves me and Annie and little Jimmy. He won’t abandon us in our time of need. You’re wrong when you say I have nothing, Helen. People that go through life without ever knowing their heavenly Father are the ones with nothing.”

“Well young lady, you have a strong faith, I’ll give you that.” Pouring more tea, Helen blew some gray wispy hairs from her face. “So you’re gonna actually expect God to make everything all right?”

“Yes, I am. He has a way of making things turn out just fine no matter how bad things seem at first. You’ll see.”

With some eye rolling and head shaking, Helen cleared the cups from the table and encouraged Lori to try to get some sleep. Grateful for the hospitality, Lori wearily climbed the stairs. Kissing their foreheads she scooted the kids over and slept in their bed. She wanted them close to her tonight. Dear God, thank you for your blessings today. Please keep Jim safe and bring him home soon. . .and help Helen see. That said, Lori gave in to the sleep she desperately needed.

Early morning calls to her family and husband kept Lori busy before the kids got stirring. Helen had left a note on the table inviting her guests to eat the muffins cooling on the counter. The shaky writing indicated she’d be home soon.

“Mommy, what clothes can I wear?” Annie asked coming down the stairs. It was as if she expected her mom to pull something out of the air. Jimmy didn’t care if he stayed in his pj’s all day. At only three years he was more interested in the tasty treats on the counter.

By mid-morning Helen came bursting in the room with bags from the local resale shop hanging from her skinny old arms. “I guessed at your sizes, but figured something was better than nothing at all.” She dumped the shirts, sweaters, jeans, shoes, and jackets on the table in various piles. Hope I’m not insulting you by going to The Bargain Bin, but I know the owner and she’s mighty fussy about what she takes in. Oh, and I picked up some new underwear and toiletries too, so you should be set for now.”

With tears filling her eyes, Lori threw her arms around Helen’s neck. “You’re an answer to my prayers,” she said.

“Oh, don’t start with that nonsense—just trying to be a good neighbor is all. With your family so far away, I figured I could step in and help. And you’re welcome to stay here as long as you need to. Truth be told, I‘ve often thought this big old house should have more than one old lady rattling around inside.”

Laughing, Lori accepted the kind offer and knew a part of God’s plan was unfolding as she spoke. Charla Diehl

Dear Lord, thank you for all I have. As I begin a new day, help me to recognize where you are working in my life. Help me trust in you completely for all my needs. Amen.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Love with the Love of God

1 John 4:7
Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

Love with the Love of God
If the question was raised, why must we love with God's love? This is because God is love and loves us all inspite of ourselves. God loved us when we didn't love Him in return. Even in our most rebellious days God still loves us. He is the unseen hand that is guiding, protecting and caring for us as well as providing all our needs. God loved us so much that He gave His best for us—His Son Jesus Christ.

That being said, we as children of God are encouraged to love all just as God does. There maybe times when our fellowman may act unkind to you; love them anyway. Why, because we are God's children who manifests His love at all times.

Let's love all because love conquerors all. Dr Willie B White