January 21, 2018

When Love Was Born

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Starlight shines
The night is still
Shepherds watch from a hill
I close my eyes and see the night
when Love was born

Perfect child gently waits
A mother bends to kiss God’s face
I close my eyes and see the night
when Love was born

Angels fill the midnight sky, they sing
Hallelujah, He is Christ our King

Emmanuel, Prince of Peace,
Love come down for you and me
Heaven’s gift, the Holy spark
to light the way inside our hearts

Bethlehem through your small door
came the Hope we’ve waited for
The world was changed forever more
When Love was born

I close my eyes and see the night
when Love was born

 

This Week…LOVE (Advent, week four)

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Merry, blessed Christmas to each of you!  How encouraging it has been to read the Seeking Him devotionals each day during this Advent season focused on the themes of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.  The Scriptures and the encouragement shared have reminded me of God’s goodness and helped me to prepare my heart for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

We all know how easy it is amidst all the hubbub—the list-making, and shopping, and baking, and caroling, and visiting, and wrapping—to be distracted from the true importance of the season.  Jesus’ birth changed EVERYTHING.  His first coming as Emmanuel, God With Us, redeemed the past, gave purpose for that present time, and hope for the future.

…while we wait for the blessed Hope—the glorious appearing
of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness
and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:13-14

This week, Ahmee, Ann, Cynda, Laura, and Tina have helped us to keep our focus on the love that Jesus’ birth showed to mankind.

For God loved the world in this way:
He gave His One and Only Son,
so that everyone who believes in Him
will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

*    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Laura wrote in God’s Love Abounds that “If we love God then we should show that same love to our neighbors. We should be helping our neighbors when trouble hits as well as during the good times. This is showing godly love.

Loving God means knowing God.
Knowing God means showing it through prayer and service to others.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7

In God’s Banner Over Us is Love, Ann reminded us of the truth about LOVE.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Jesus gave us the commandment to love one another as He had loved us. And for us to show that we are His disciples we must love one another.

Christmas is also a season of love—a season to give and a season to care. Therefore choose someone you can bless with food items, clothes, etc., as an act of love. God freely gave us His Son. We should also freely give what we are blessed with!

Cynda shared in Love Is Action of God and Jesus’ proven love for us.  She wrote, “Christ made the ultimate sacrifice, knowing all the while we were not worthy.  He came for us because He loved us.  Romans 5:8 (NLT) makes that clear – ‘But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.’ And 1 John 3:16a (NLT) ties it up in a neat little bow: ‘We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us.’

This year for Christmas I want to focus not only on the miraculous birth but also on the love that was made real in a tiny manger in Bethlehem. I want that real love to flow through me to those around me. I want His love and His light to shine through me.

That’s the reason He came.
That’s the reason for Christmas.
To put love in action.

Ahmee wrote in Love Is A Choice the following.  “Love is—and will always be—an action. Therefore, since love is a verb and requires us to do something—it is a choice. Love will always be a choice. You choose to love your coworkers when they annoy you. You choose to love your boyfriend or your spouse, even when you don’t agree. I fear the day our actions are no longer something we choose to do, and are simply things that happen. Until that day, though, you choose.

As John said in 1 John 3:18:

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other;
let us show the truth by our actions.

And Tina reminded us of Jesus’ perfect example of love in No Greater Love.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13 NIV

Ponder those words. Do you have a friend that would do that for you? You know that you do. If you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, He has already paid that price for you. You see, Jesus knew from the Creation of man, that His Father meant for Him to come dwell among us, to be an example of how we should live in this broken world. God knew it would be better for us to see how to live a perfect life. And Jesus is the example of living a selfless life.

 *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Thank you, ladies, for reminding us and compelling us to be loving as we have been commanded AND enabled to be!  As you have prayed with us this week, may our prayer today continue… 

Father, we thank You for the love that You have for us.  Teach us, Lord, to love one another as Christ has loved us.  Help us also to practice love not only in this season but all the days of our lives, Lord.  Thank You for showing us Your love through the birth and death of Jesus.  Without Him, we would not know You or be able to show Your love to others.
Thank You for sending Your son Jesus to live among us.  Thank You for the many times You give us to live for You.  Please let Your love flow through me each day but especially during this wondrous time of year.
Lord, may we come to understand and embrace love as an action. Let us show Your love to the world.  Let us strive to show this type of love to all. We as the Church are Your example of how love functions. Christ is Your ultimate example of love.  May You receive all the glory and praise!  We love You!!!  And pray these things in Jesus’ name, amen.

No Greater Love

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Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
John 15:13 NIV

Ponder those words.  Do you have a friend that would do that for you?  You know that you do. If you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, He has already paid that price for you.

You see, Jesus knew from the Creation of man, that His father meant for Him to come dwell among us, to be an example of how we should live in this broken world. God knew it would be better for us to see how to live a perfect life.  And Jesus is the example of living a selfless life.

We are blessed to know God and His Son. Not all that are called accept true life.  Not all that accept true life follow Him.  All we can do is pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We can pray for their acceptance,  and we can pray for our ability to accept them, not judge them.  We all have to keep our thoughts and actions in check. We get so busy with life that sometimes we forget to check in with our Father. We can change and begin to seek our heavenly Father more.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us,
not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.
He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
Whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that, having been justified by His grace,
we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things,
so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves
to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Titus 3:4-8

 *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Father, thank You for sending Your son Jesus to live among us.  Thank You for the many times You give us to live for You.  Jesus, we thank You for interceding on our behalf every day….even when we don’t deserve it.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love In Action

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Christmas—the time of year our focus shifts to the birth of Christ.  That Holy baby Boy born in a manger.

This year, I have been thinking of it in a different light.  This year, God has been speaking to me about love.  Christmas is when unconditional, self-sacrificing, all-forgiving love was shown to us.  Christmas is when the ultimate Love came to earth in human form.

Christmas is love in action.

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son,
so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 HCSB

Who does that?  Who gives up their one and only Child for a group of stubborn, stiff necked people?  And it was voluntary!  Look at John 10:18 HCSB…

No one can take My life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily.
For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.
For this is what My Father has commanded.

Christ made the ultimate sacrifice, knowing all the while we were not worthy. He came for us because He loved us.  Romans 5:8 (NLT) makes that clear – “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”  1 John 3:16a (NLT) ties it up in a neat little bow:

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us.

This year for Christmas I want to focus not only on the miraculous birth but also on the love that was made real in a tiny manger in Bethlehem.  I want that real love to flow through me to those around me.  I want His love and His light to shine through me.

That’s the reason He came.
That’s the reason for Christmas.
To put love in action.

 *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Father, thank You for putting love into action all those many years ago.  You have shown us what real love is.  Please let Your love flow through me each day but especially during this wondrous time of year.  In Your Holy name I pray, Amen – so be it!

Love Is A Choice

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So, I have heard it said that love should not be a choice, and, that if you have to “choose” to love someone then that was not love.  I’ve also heard it said that love is not something you have to work at.  I have heard it said, too, that love is something that when the good feelings are gone, the love is gone.  I’ve heard it said that love is supposed to be all rainbows and sunshine.

I disagree with all these statements.  Here are facts that I know about love:

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.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I can understand how reading this passage would make one think that love is a feeling. All of those words have some sort of feeling attached to them.

Here’s the deal, though.  Love is—and will always be—an action. Therefore, because love is a verb and requires us to do something—it is a choice.  Love will always be a choice.  You choose to love your coworkers when they annoy you. You choose to love your boyfriend or your spouse, even when you don’t agree. I fear the day our actions are no longer something we choose to do, and are simply things that happen. Until that day, though, you choose. Look at what choosing to love does:

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ
to be holy and without fault in His eyes.
God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family
by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.
This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.
Ephesians 1:4 and 5

In a perfect world, love would be perfect.  Those we love would not hurt us and bad things would not happen.  In a perfect world, love would be all rainbows and sunshine. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world.  Therefore, what God created to be simple and natural and easy, now comes to be through much effort.  We cannot passively love and feel like we are making an impact on those we say we love.  What is passive love?  Are they just words we speak? Say “I love you,” and yet, no evidence is seen of this. We have all heard, that actions speak louder than words.  Love as actions speak louder than love as words.

As John said in 1 John 3:18:

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other;
let us show the truth by our actions.

   *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Lord, may we come to understand and embrace love as an action. Let us show Your love to the world. Worldly love may be fickle and pass with time, but Your love is an everlasting love. Let us strive to show this type of love to all. We as the Church are Your example of how love functions. Christ is Your ultimate example of love. So, let us shine. Let us penetrate the hearts of the world and our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us love. Let us love.  Amen.

God’s Banner Over Us is Love

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He has brought me to His banquet hall,
And His banner over me is love.
Song of Solomon 2:4

There is this song that we used to sing in Sunday school…

  ♫ ♪ ♫ Behold what a manner of love that the Father has given unto us
That we should be called the sons of God   ♫ ♪ ♫

Back then I could not understand what I was singing; but now that I am saved I do understand that God’s love for us is SO great.  He gave us His begotten Son so that we should not perish (John 3:16).  His will for us is to have eternal life.

God’s love is wide enough to embrace all persons (1 Timothy 2:4).  God gave His Son as an offering for sin on the c\Cross.  The atonement proceeds from the loving heart of God.  It was not something forced on Him (Romans 8:32).

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1st Corinthians 13:4-8

We see this is the demonstration of God’s love to man, and since we are also created in the image of God let us also exercise it.  Jesus gave us the commandment to love one another as He had loved us.  And for us to show that we are His disciples we must love one another.

Christmas is also a season of love—a season to give and a season to care.  Therefore choose someone you can bless with food items, clothes, etc., as an act of love.  God freely gave us His Son.  We should also freely give what we are blessed with!

   *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Father, I thank You for the love that You have for us.  Teach us, Lord, to love one another as Christ has loved us.  Help us also to practice love not only in this season but all the days of our lives, Lord.   This we ask in Jesus name.   Amen.

God’s Love Abounds

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Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7

In the last week, many parts of the world have been in turmoil.  Terror has stricken many people in our Allies across the world.  The world is in chaos, and it is going to get even more chaotic as the prophecies of the Bible come true.  However, as the world starts to wither, there are people out there who are still showing love during the thick of the trouble.

When Jesus was born, the world was a whole lot quieter than it is now.  The only real chaos that was facing Mary and Joseph was the fact that they had to report to Bethlehem as Jesus’ birth neared.  They were required to be counted as part of the Roman census.  Just Mary being pregnant by the Holy Spirit had already made life chaotic!  Joseph loved Mary, but he was going to divorce her because of the pregnancy.  However, God’s love and Joseph’s love for Mary saved Mary and Jesus. Jesus was given an earthly father—one that God approved of from the start.

As the world continues to live in chaos, there are people who are following Mary and Joseph’s example.  They are showing God’s love through the turmoil of life in today’s violent and noisy world.  In Australia and across the world, people are praying for and helping those who have been effected by this week’s tragedies.  People here in the United States are trying to help those that are less fortunate through donations and sponsoring families to help them have a good holiday season.

God loved us so much He sent His son to live among us and to die for us. If we love God then we should show that same love to our neighbors. We should be helping our neighbors when trouble hits as well as during the good times. This is showing godly love.

Loving God means knowing God.
Knowing God means showing it through prayer and service to others.

 *    ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing us Your love through the birth and death of Jesus.  Without Him, we would not know You or be able to show Your love to others.  We would not have the ability to love. In this season of hope, peace, joy, and love, please bless those who need it the most and show Your love in ways that we can’t imagine.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Joy of the Season

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Each week during the season of Advent, our blogs will focus on a central theme which is associated with the coming of Christ—His Advent.  This final week’s theme is JOY.  Christians throughout the world celebrate Advent.  Some light candles or sing songs; some give gifts or  hang wreaths.  All of these are simple joyous ways of extending the celebration of Jesus’s coming beyond a mere 24 hours on December 25. Our prayer is that these devotionals throughout this season of Advent would help you to celebrate His first Coming and anticipate with the peace and joy of His second Coming.

* * * * * * *

The definition of Joy: “…the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; the expression or exhibition of such emotion gaiety; a state of happiness or felicity bliss; a source or cause of delight”

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold,
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Luke 2:10 (ESV)

I can just imagine the awestruck look of the shepherds when they saw and heard the Angel of the Lord right beside them. Then seeing and hearing the heavenly host singing praised to God about the birth of His son Jesus! I would think that not many people had ever heard the voices that are God’s exclusive choir. We have the opportunity every day to share the joy of God’s love, mercy, and grace.

During the Christmas season, we need to focus on what is real about this holiday—celebrating the birth of Jesus and what promises He brings to us, His people. As we celebrate this Christmas season, let us find new ways to bring Christ back into our homes. This can be done by reading the Nativity story, or asking the younger children to act out the story at home and by singing praises to God our Father.

Be sure to share the joy of receiving Christ into your heart with others. Write down your testimony and prepare to share it with others. You may be surprised of how much your story could inspire others to believe—or better yet—to rededicate their life to God. We each have our journey that began at birth. We have walked out things in common with each other but some things will be unique to our own lives. Who knows if God had us walk through those circumstances to come through and be able to help others with similar situations…?

Joy is ultimately a choice, just as forgiveness is a choice. We each have a decision to make. Belief and trust in God will allow us to make changes in what we do and think and say in our everyday life. Joy is an inward change and one that was greatly hoped and prayed for when Jesus was born several thousand years ago.

Let’s pray.  Father, thank You for loving us enough to send Your Son, Jesus, to become one of us. Thank You for wanting to show us the kind of relationship You have desired with us since You created Adam and Eve. We each search for that relationship that only You can give. You will always complete the void in our lives.  We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.