The gifts are wrapped and the decorations and food are ready to welcome family, friends, and loved ones during this blessed time of year–the birth of Christ. Families have traveled by plane, train, or car to be with one another during this “wonderful time of year” and to renew and rekindle their relationships.
Recently, while talking to a new acquaintance, he mentioned that he had five children–all adults now but living in different states–who would all be together for the first time in many years. Distance and time were the biggest factors that were keeping his family from getting together every year during the holidays. Even though they all talked on the telephone throughout the year, visiting family and friends in person would be so much more fulfilling. You could see the person’s face, hear their voice, and see their emotional reactions on certain topics.
As we all celebrate the birth of Christ together (via in person, on the phone, text, email), let us remember “the reason for the season” and that as Christians we can celebrate the hope, joy, peace and love that this time of year brings to each and every one of us.
“Hope keeps the heart open to possibility, steady through change, and courageous in challenges ahead. It stands on faith…and that’s the strongest foundation of all.” –“God in Every Moment” by Bonnie Rickner Jensen
Merry Christmas and a very happy, blessed New Year.
L: Loving Lily. I Corinthians 13:13–“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (NIV)
Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of love:
A strong affection for another
Warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
The object of attachment, devotion, or admiration
Unselfish loyalty and benevolent concern for the good of another
Phrases associated with love/loving:
Love never fails
Our family grows on love
God is love; do everything in love
Love is a friendship set to music
Better to have lost and loved than never to have loved at all
A friend is someone who knows all about you, but loves you anyway
L: Loving Lily’s Story:
“Lily was so excited to begin sixth grade and she couldn’t wait until music class. Ever since she learned to play a guitar in elementary school, she had wanted to learn how to play the violin. So at the beginning of middle school, she hurriedly signed up to take violin lessons from the school’s music director. She noticed that there was also one other student in her class that signed up for violin lessons on the same evening after school. Her name was Anne and both of the girls were very excited to begin taking lessons and became very good friends in school that year.
As the year progressed and after the girls learned two difficult songs, the music director told the girls that they were ready to play with the school band during the school’s spring concert which was to be held in two weeks. Although nervous, they both agreed that they would be able to participate. However, Lily noticed that Anne seemed especially anxious about the concert but thought it was just nerves. Lily decided to ask Anne about it, and Anne confided that she wasn’t sure if she could play in the concert because her mother was ill. It was during their conversation that Lily learned of Anne’s situation at home.
Anne lived with her mother and little sister and her mother always worked the day shift at the local hospital as a nurse’s aide. She was always available to pick them up after school but a neighbor would pick up Anne on the days she had her lessons. Her mother had been sick for the past several months but managed to continue working. Because of the costs for her mother’s treatments, Anne’s mother wasn’t sure how much longer she could afford to pay for her daughter’s music lessons and thought that she might have to drop out before the end of the school year.
Lily felt heartbroken for her friend and told her mother Anne’s story. What if they could help Anne so she could continue taking lessons? What if they could raise the necessary funds for both Anne and her mother’s treatments? After all, Lily had learned that “God is love” in Sunday School class and that they were supposed to do “all things in love” for one another. Lily’s mother told her to pray and then write down any ideas that she could do to help raise the necessary funds for Anne and that she would also talk with her friends at the PTA meeting that evening.
When Lily’s mom returned from her meeting, she told Lily that God had answered their prayers. When the PTA heard Anne’s story, they all agreed to take the money from the PTA benevolent fund to help pay for the rest of Anne’s lessons until the end of the school year as well as some of the costs for her mother’s treatments.
The next day after school, Lily and her mother drove to Anne’s home and presented this loving gift to her mother. With thankful hearts and tears of joy from both Anne and her mother, Lily and her mom left thanking God for allowing them to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Lily and her mother showed unselfish concern for the good of another individual and the outcome was an “outpouring of God’s love” and a blessing that Anne and her mother received by their generosity.”
John 15:12 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Showing love to another is how God shows his love toward us and that “we will remain in his love if we obey his commands.”
Romans 12:9-10 also tells us that our “love must be sincere and to hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.”
In closing, let us think about the words from I John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” This is what we need to let others see in our lives: God’s love in us.
“Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.”–Helen Keller
“You can give without loving But you cannot Love without Giving.”–Amy Carmichael
I love you. I adore you. You’re amazing. Love ya. You are so awesome. I love you a bushel and a peck. Love you to the moon and back. Love you to the mountains and back. I’m yours. You complete me. You’re my angel. You’re mine. These are all expressions of love–love phrases–that many of us have said to one another to express our deepest feelings of “love.”
But what is love? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines love as (noun):
strong affection for another arising out of kinship of personal ties (i.e. maternal mother)
affection and tenderness felt by lovers
affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests
an assurance of affection (i.e. give her my love)
the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration
unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another (i.e. the fatherly concern of God for humankind; brotherly concern for others)
a person’s adoration of God
This week my husband took me to see the new “Downton Abbey” movie. I asked him a couple of days before it was to begin showing in the theater if he wanted to see it, and he would always say “not really.” But by Friday morning (the opening day of the movie), he asked me if I wanted to go to the first afternoon showing. I gladly jumped at this invitation and afterwards he mentioned that the movie had a slow start, but by the end of the movie he felt “an emotional attachment” for it.
My husband decided out of his love for me that he would give up whatever he felt was deemed more important on his to-do list that day to take me to see the movie that I couldn’t wait to see. Throughout the 50 years that we have been married, he never ceases to surprise me by giving unselfishly–even if it means sitting through a movie that he didn’t want to see in the first place–just to make me happy. To me, this is love.
Throughout the scriptures, God’s Word tells and shows us what love is all about:
John 15:12: “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.” (NIV)
I John 3:1: “How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.” (NIV)
I Corinthians 13:1-3: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (NIV)
I Corinthians 13:13: “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (NIV)
I John 4:16: “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (NIV)
John 3:16: “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.” (NIV)
I Corinthians 13:4-5: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.” (NIV)
Jesus admonishes us to love each other as much as He loved us. When Jesus was asked in Matthew 22:36: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied in Matthew 22:37-39 that we are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments (vs 40).” (NIV)
John 15:13: “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (NIV)
Jesus laid down his life for us all. Now this is love.
May the Lord bless and keep you and make his face to shine upon you and give you peace and love in showing others the kind of love that God shows us. Be kind, be compassionate, be grateful, be forgiving. We only live once and the time to love is now!
On Tuesday, February 14, we will be celebrating the “love holiday”–Valentine’s Day. We have heard that “love makes the world go round”, “love and marriage come together like a horse and carriage”, and “all we need is love”; but what does the dictionary have to say about love: The Oxford Dictionary gives the following definitions:
“Love: 1) An intense feeling of deep affection synonyms: fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy 2) A person or thing that one loves synonyms: beloved, loved one, love of one’s life, dear, dearest”
Husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, and family and friends try to surprise one another with a special gift on Valentine’s Day in order to try and show/express their deepest feelings of love for that person or persons.
In Corinthians 13:4-8, Christ shows us His definition/teachings of what love truly is:
“Love is patient Love is kind It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude 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. Love never fails.”
He sums up the chapter by saying (verse 13):
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
I don’t know about you, but whenever I read Jesus’ words regarding what love actually is and what it means to me as a Christian, I am immediately examining my heart and life so that I can truly show this kind of love to others each and every day. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I let the “little things” bother me and I am not thankful for all that Jesus has blessed me with. However, I get down on my knees and ask His forgiveness if I have wronged someone or said something rude. We are not perfect. We are on a journey in this world and if we show the kind of love that Christ has shown us, then this world would be a better place. All we need to do is remember to ask for His help.
As we celebrate Valentine’s Day this coming week, remember to show our family/friends/loved ones that we love and care about them and how we can always “protect, trust, hope, and always persevere” because “love never fails.”
In “Thank Heaven for Coffee (and other little pleasures)” published by Barbour Publishing Inc., we are reminded of the following scripture:
A CUPFUL OF LOVE “God has poured out His love into our hearts”–Romans 5:5 (NIV) Since we have been so loved, let us not neglect sharing that love with others even in the simple offering of a cup of joe.”
This is officially Christmas week and it is half over. Today my daughter, along with her dad and I, took the two grandsons off to Woodbridge, VA where we ate at a Denny’s Restaurant and then stopped by Hobby Lobby for some last minute gifts.
There were numerous cars on the road and even Denny’s was very busy. In fact, it took a lot longer to get our meals than normal. Guess everyone was out shopping and got hungry so they all stopped to eat as well!
It was a fun morning and Gryphon, and I got to watch the movie, “Minions”, in the car on the way up and on the way back. We also enjoyed the Christmas decorations and lights that adorned outside houses and businesses. The baby slept most of the time on the way up, in the restaurant, and on the way home. Gryphon fell asleep just before we got home but awoke after we went inside, and he didn’t want Nana or Pap (as he calls Roger) to leave either. So sweet to watch him interacting with his Pap!
In the hustle and bustle between shopping, parties/dinners, and additional church services this week, it is easy to forget that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Does Christmas come but once a year? Technically, it does to many people during this time of year. But let us not forget to celebrate and be giving throughout the entire year as well. We need to support and encourage each other all year long and not just during one week in December.
Let us continue to show the love that God has shown us not only to our friends and family in the new year, but may we also be made aware of the needs of those around us and show them love and kindness throughout 2017 as well. May you feel blessed as you open up your hearts to others. Jesus taught us to “love one another as He loved us” and may we also do the same.