The age old question …
We just had Valentines day and some would say love is chocolates, roses and cards.
When I was working in a florist shop I saw men scramble to get the expected things to show how much they cared for someone.
I challenge you to think of the question.
In the word we find the love chapter we have already read about: 1st Corinthians 13:
[Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.]
I value these words. In our throw away society where promises are not kept and vows are minimized, this is a challenge for us all.
I see love as a commitment and choice.
We are admonished in the word:
[So be very careful to love the Lord your God] Joshua 23:11
[Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life] Psalm 23:6
When we love; we love with a commitment and a joy towards someone to pray for them, walk alongside and encourage them.
Remember love is patient and kind.
At one point in time in my 50’s somehow I contracted the mumps, my face was very swollen and I was very ill, my husband would ask what he could do to help me feel better.
I was a complete mess physically and even emotionally.
I didn’t need someone to fix it because no one could, I just wanted calm, and quiet and restful days so I could recover.
He respected that. It is a love ‘decision’ to look beyond our needs.
When he had his knee replaced, it was major and I am not a good nurse and I don’t do well when waiting on others.
I had to help because he couldn’t do some things.
Love: In sickness and in health, because we choose to.
[I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.] Psalm 31:7
God had placed within each of us the capacity to love.
It is our choice but it is also a part of who HE made us to be.
If you have never read The Velveteen Rabbit book by Margery Williams I would suggest it. Love is spoken there.
What is love? it is looking beyond our own ‘broken places’ to help one another navigate this journey of life.
For no one wants to go on it alone.
The age old question …
Today, February 22nd would have been my mother’s 85th birthday.
She passed away two years ago from Parkinson’s.
I wouldn’t say we were close for we had many years of distance between us.
She was a single mom and she did what she could to raise the three of us alone.
There were three daughters, I was the youngest.
Times were not often easy, and she learned from her life experiences how to parent.
There wasn’t a lot of money available as we were growing up but our home was always nice.
We had food and even though it might not have been what we wanted it kept us comfortable.
She didn’t have child support or food stamps back in those days, sometimes she worked two jobs.
She was not what I would call a warm and fuzzy mom, didn’t overly dote on us or not overly affectionate.
I would imagine with the pressure and weight of being a single mom she didn’t have a lot of left over energy.
We had chores and we were expected to get them done. I know now it was her way of keeping her home nice.
We were not allowed to leave huge messes, or be lazy.
As I have grown into a mature ‘mom and grandma’, I realize we all pour out of the cups we were given.
If our life experiences are limited that is what we pour out, to others.
Not saying anything bad or negative just truth.
I was at fault many times as a mom too, when my own children were growing up.
We all make mistakes as we learn the job of parenting.
It is what it is. A truth we all carry if we are to be honest.
The years were hard for her, she had many deep heart aches.
She probably would fit more of a Mother ‘name’ and not so much mom.
Like dad was not the Father type, he was dad.
Life came back to her in full circle when in her mid years our dad came back into the picture.
They were married when they passed away. Loving each other in their old ages.
It was a love story that was fractured and then healed.
It was a nice to see the devotion between them as I watched and observed in the care home.
He lived in a setting that was not ‘his choice’ in order for her to be cared for properly.
That is love. That is healing. That is for better and worse, in sickness and in health.
Till death parted them.
Today would have been her birthday, a day to remember. Happy birthday Mother.
The word Good, means:
Of a favorable character or tendency, that can be relied on, virtuous, right, commendable as in a good person with good conduct.
(2): kind, benevolent with good intentions, of the highest worth or reliability.
We sing a song at our church that says, “you’re a good good Father, that’s who you are.”
Every time we sing that song in church it just touches me so deeply.
Maybe because I have very little memory of my own dad.
I wouldn’t ever call him Father, that did not fit his personality.
He was dad. He was grandpa and great grandpa, his name was Nick.
I often feel like I missed a lot by not having a memory bank that I can draw from.
I don’t feel I am less than others who had a wonderful dad figure in their life; just feel sometimes that it would have been nice to have that ability to ask him questions, or have that knowing deep inside, that I was ‘special’ to him as HIS daughter.
It goes to the core of who we are, to know that we were loved.
Often I would hear the comment “she is such a daddies girl, and I could not relate.”
What did that mean?
In my room I have a picture of a little girl sitting near a window holding a pink rose, waiting.
Waiting. For him to return. That is how I felt for many years. Wondering and waiting.
He left when I was young. I didn’t ever have that experience of his ‘voice’ as I grew from a little girl to a teen.
No affirmations of who I was and no way of knowing in his heart how he felt.
When we met in my adult years I was around my mid 30’s and it was both odd and surreal to see him.
Then he would come visit us at our home in the country and it was strange for me to look out the window and say, “Oh dad’s here.”
It was nice. We were casual. No formalities and no rules. We had a ‘quiet understanding.’
I wish now that he is gone I could look out the window and say, “Oh dad’s here.”
I wish that I could talk to him and tell him things I missed while he was here.
In the quiet of this rainy day, I miss him.
When I went into the dictionary I found these assorted words.
benignity, (a good deed or favor; an instance of kindness:) (a kind or gracious act) benevolence (desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness:) humanity, generosity, charity, sympathy, compassion, tenderness.
As we look at the many meanings of the word kindness I am reminded how easy it is to do all of them.
Let’s see what the bible word say’s about it.
It is found 56 times throughout the old and new testaments.
[But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,]
[“Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”]
[You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit] Job 10:12
[The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.]
[Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.] Colossians 3:12
Do we get it yet?
It is so easy even if one is not a believer, to be kind is something anyone can do. It takes little effort.
It requires little effort from us, and it seems like we are very blessed if we choose to be kind.
So often I see others not being kind and it is a great irritant to me, for I know there is no reason to not be.
Anyone can smile. Anyone can say a nice compliment. Anyone can hold a door open or offer to pay for a coffee.
As in everything what we do, remains a choice from our hearts towards one another.
It is a decision making. It really should become a lifestyle.
We don’t wake up and say to ourselves, “Today I am going to show kindness.”
No it should be so ingrained in us that it is as natural as breathing.
We have seen this quote more than once.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Plato
There is great truth in it.
Be kind because that is what makes you a wonderful human being.
Be kind because it is a gentle approach to others.
Be kind because it is NO excuse to be rude.
Be kind because some won’t expect it and be blessed by your decision.
Do you get it yet?
Be kind, it is a simple act of being human.
In the frustrated, often confusing world we live in, everyday we must decide how we are going to respond.
With a new President in office, there have been many people who unfriended friends, deserted relationships and even gone to the point of making bad comments or negative remarks on some blog writers sites or even facebook sites if one has one.
I used to be in grade school and it seems difficult for me to understand how grown adults can act sometimes.
We are not children.
In the New Testament it tells us: 1 Corinthians 13:11
[When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.]
This could go for a grown woman too.
We must not act childish like the ones who are yelling, screaming and criticizing what cannot be changed.
What is done, is done. Move forward and do what you can to be patriotic and proud of Our United States.
We really do have much to be proud of if we take a good long look.
I am returning to the love chapter in the New Testament.
In 1 Corinthians 13 it reads:
[Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best,
Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.]
In another version the same verses read this way:
[4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.]
I value the words, patient and kind.
When I worked in a pharmacy we always had one old gentleman come in for his medication.
He was grumpy and irritable and really hard to deal with. I often was the one who helped him.
When he came in the door, I smiled at him, which often set him off guard.
Then he would gruffly say, ‘I need my meds’.
I would get them remembering his name at the same time showing him common courtesy.
Then when he finished I would say as he left, “have a great day” and he would always answer, “what’s left of it.”
Just a feisty old man, but in time as I continued to be kind, he softened and his gruffish old mannerisms stopped.
He learned I would treat him the same every day no matter what his behavior was towards me.
I think in this ‘crazy’ world full of arguments, the best way to handle them is to be kind.
It would be a good thing for us to remember:
[Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence;]
Our next word is love. It is found in the bible 686 times.
Rather significant in the story of His love for us.
[But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.] Psalm 33:18
[May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.] Psalm 33:22
[Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.] Psalm 36:10
[Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me.] Psalm 40:11
[By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.] Psalm 42:8
[But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.] Psalm 59:16
Are you getting the picture of HIS love for us?
[Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.]
[Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!] Psalm 66:20
This show us HE CHOOSES to love us. It is about HIM and His desire for us to be near Him.
[You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.] Psalm 86:5
[But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.]
Psalm 136 tells us His love endures forever 26 times. Twenty six times, His love endures forever.
It is worth repeating. For we must know and understand HE is a God of love and He has compassion for those who ‘love him.’
[Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.] Proverbs 3:3
I find this very special, bind them around your neck, as a reminder… always.
[The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.] Jeremiah 31:3
It is so appealing to me to hear he draws us to him, with unfailing kindness. Have you ever met someone who is very kind?
You can’t help but want to be with them, and hang out with them. Their gentleness draws you closer.
He is like that for us when He says, “I loved you with ever lasting love.” It is deep and meaningful.
[For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.]
I hope you get the point and realize God has done so much in order for US to find peace and a home within His arms of love for us.
How incredibly wonderful. How great is the Father’s love for us.
The word hope is in the bible 144 times.
It is powerful for us to think about for without hope one feels empty and void.
[God brings death and God brings life, brings down to the grave and raises up. God brings poverty and God brings wealth; he lowers, he also lifts up. He puts poor people on their feet again; he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, Restoring dignity and respect to their lives—] Ist Samuel 2:6
I love it when it says he rekindles us with fresh hope.
That means ‘new’ never used or never given to anyone but you.
[God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him, so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life.] psalm 62:5-6
Everything I HOPE FOR comes from him, it leaves breathing room for my soul, isn’t that beautiful?
Read it again and say it out loud.
Everything I hope for comes from him…from who? The God who loves you.
[“Would you mind if I said something to you? Under the circumstances it’s hard to keep quiet.
You yourself have done this plenty of times, spoken words that clarify, encouraged those who were about to quit.
Your words have put stumbling people on their feet, put fresh hope in people about to collapse.
But now you’re the one in trouble—you’re hurting! You’ve been hit hard and you’re reeling from the blow.
But shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now? Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope?] Job 4:1-6
Even the encouragers need hope sometimes and even a heart to heart challenge to press forward.
[I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing.
I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.] Jeremiah 29:11
What a beautiful and amazing promise.
I think hope is like water to a dry and wilted spirit.
Often I will water my plants when they are almost laying down and looking really parched.
I put them in the sink, soak them and an hour or so later they are standing strong and steady.
Hope does that for us.
[When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself.
Enter the silence. Bow in prayer.
Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.] lamentation 3:28-30
I like it when it says ‘wait for hope to appear’.
That means it will. Always. Come to your rescue.
[I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:] lamentations 3:21
Yes we must keep a grip on hope. Cling to it like a life line.
God also knows our stories.
[“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.”] Jeremiah 17:9-10
He knows our heart conditions could not flourish or grow without HIS intervention and or protection.
Then He responds as we move forward.
[God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.] lamentations 3:24-25
He says we wait in quiet. We learn from silence, and we listen.
I love this final promise and I have experienced it myself so I know it’s true and possible.
[Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.] Proverbs 13:12
Faith is mentioned in the bible 458 times.
[Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith] Isaiah 26:2
The nation that keeps faith, just like our ‘United States’ which was founded on faith and slowly coming back to it.
[so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power] 1st Corinthians 2:5
We cannot stand firm on the words of man, we must hold tight to the words of God.
[Be on guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.] 1st Corinthians 16:3
Jesus talked about faith whenever he could. Using it as a lesson, as a teaching tool, as an example for us.
[He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.] Matthew 8:26
[“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”] Luke 8:25
It is fascinating to me that even after all the time they spent with him they still didn’t get it.
[He said to his disciples, “why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”] Mark 4:40
So don’t be hard on yourself if you struggle with it, others did too.
He showed us over and over it is an act of ‘trust’ and also a matter of the heart.
[Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.] Matthew 9:22
He would often ask someone, “do you want to get well?” because it is a choice, to choose a life change.
It is life altering and something we must ask ourselves too, the same question.
Another example of his teaching when in the process of healing a man.
[Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”] Matthew 14:31
It is a trust issue. Can he really heal me, and can I do what he is asking?
I think we all struggle with it.
The not knowing if healing is possible and also not knowing what life would look like if things were different.
[For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God] Ephesians 2:8
It doesn’t come from us because God knew our hearts and our minds were constantly doubting and unsure.
He encourages us to believe and to hold onto it with all of our hearts.
But it is a choice for us. He doesn’t force it.
Faith is a choice. Just as we know the air that we breathe keeps us alive.
Faith keeps us safe if we choose to accept it.
It is powerful. It is life changing.
[I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.] 2 Timothy 4:7
It is something to strive for, just as the word encourages us.
[And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.] 1st Corinthians 13:13
faith is just hope with wings
[I’ll refresh tired bodies; I’ll restore tired souls. Jeremiah 31:25]
The word restore is in the bible 36 times.
In Galatians 6:1-3 it says:
[Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself.
You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed.
Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.]
In the time we are in with the post election there has been too many words said and too much hurt done to those we should be helping.
I have experienced it myself and was disappointed in some behavior that I heard and saw. We must save our critical words.
As my grandson said tonight, who is age 6, “when my brother tries to rat on me I just say, zip it up.”
Moving his hand is a zipped motion across his lips.
Adults can learn the same thing.
The time we are living in has caused more friction, more hatred, more conflict than I can ever remember.
We must restore our friendships with family and friends.
The election is over. Get over it. We have a President who was voted in and whether you like it or not.
HE is in to stay for four years. Pray for him. That would be a great start.
In the book of Titus it says:
[It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that.
It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit.
Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously.
God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives.
And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.]
I love it when it said ‘we had nothing to do with it’, like spoiled children wanting our own ways but God makes the effort to change us from the inside out, for that is where our heart is and that is where change begins.
The word refresh is in the bible 21 times.
[Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing! Proverbs 25:13]
[He’s giving you a teacher to train you how to live right — Teaching, like rain out of heaven, showers of words to refresh and nourish your soul, just as he used to do. Joel 2:23]
I love to search out words and find the many ways the bible uses them for us to cling to.
It is healing to know there is so much evidence of God’s love for us and his determination to not leave us in a sad and empty place emotionally.
It is a promise. We do not walk this life alone. He is a guide and hope.
This verse has been playing over and over in my head.
[I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3]
The context of the verse is about Israel but I think we can also allow it to mean the same for us.
Many times we have failed God and many times He remained faithful to us.
Many times we have not done what we know is right or required of us yet He is steadfast and sure.
Let’s break this down, to what we can learn from this verse.
Everlasting means: lasting forever; eternal: incessant; constantly recurring: wearisome; tedious: eternal duration; eternity: the Everlasting, God.
Now read it again slowly and take it into your heart as you read it.
I the Lord God, love you,(insert your name) with an eternal, incessant, constant, over and over with eternal duration, lasting forever tedious wearisome love.
He doesn’t get tired of us OR frazzled by our lack of relationship with him.
Isn’t that a wonderful warm fuzzy promise?
It is constant. Nothing we do can change that. Nothing we do will erase HIS love for us.
It is about choice too, it is purposeful.
I have loved you therefore as a result of that love for you I will remain faithful.
It is powerful. I hold onto it when I feel unsure.
Nothing is required of me for me to receive his love, other than for me to accept it truth.
The almighty, all powerful, all knowing and eternal God loves me.
The other part of that verse when talking about Israel it says,
[when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from afar.]
I thought of the prodigal son story when the son came into his presence the father met him.
God made it known they were not alone. He saw them at a distance and welcomed them.
In the message version it shows us another perspective.
[Israel, out looking for a place to rest, met God out looking for them!
God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
Expect love, love, and more love!
And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again]
He was looking for them just like He looks for us.
What a wonderful exciting promise.