Unfailing Love
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Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
   your faithfulness to the skies.
 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
   your justice like the great deep.
Psalm 36:5

Sometimes it’s hard to understand or experience God’s love. The unique and beautiful term David used to express God’s love was the Hebrew word  Hesed.  This is a very rich word; rich with depth and meaning and truth. Hesed  is considered one of the most important terms in Old Testament theology and ethics. It has three basic meanings which all interact together: strength, steadfastness, and love.

The word Hesed cannot be fully understood unless all three of the meanings are incorporated. Generally the word “love” carries a bit of light hearted, fluffy affection, but when we put love together with steadfastness and strength we understand the enduring nature of God’s Hesed – type of love, even toward those who seem weak or undeserving.

Hesed implies loyalty, mercy and generosity. It also infers personal involvement and commitment beyond what the law requires. For example, a husband and wife are legally bound to each other, yet their relationship transcends the legal document and represents a bond and commitment to each other. The prophet Hosea spoke of the Hesed between God and His people, “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.”[i]

Not only does God demonstrate this enduring love and kindness, He wants us to know and  understand His hesed love for us. Consider the words God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah saying:

This is what the LORD says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness (hesed),
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:23,24

This Holiday season, my prayer for you and your family is that you will experience the comfort and joy of His Unfailing Love for you.

 

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This blog is an excerpt from Unfailing Love. To learn more about this book and the $5 special this month Click Here.

 

Love Came Down at Christmas 
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Untouchable – that’s how we could describe many of the  lives of the  rich, famous and powerful people in our culture today, whether we are talking about notable athletes, popular Hollywood celebrities or important politicians. With prominence comes isolation from the public, and a guarded distance from “normal people” – and understandably so. But that is not how God is toward us. He deliberately allowed Himself to be approachable, knowable and touchable.

Christmas reminds us that God is relatable. He didn’t choose to enter the world with pomp, popularity or great riches. He came as a humble baby, born in a stable and placed in a manger. He who was from the beginning, came to this earth as a touchable human being. The beloved disciple, John, so eloquently described the relatability of Jesus in the opening lines of his first epistle.

 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

 I John 1:1-2

Oh the beauty of the Christmas story! Jesus chose to be seen, heard and touched. I love how John described Jesus as the Word of Life. Think about the power of our words. They reveal our thoughts and let people know what is going on inside of our hearts. Our words communicate the very essence of who we are. In a similar way, Jesus revealed who God is. Jesus communicated God to the world. Just as God used words to speak all of creation into existence, Jesus (the Word) brought salvation into existence. Jesus is the Word of Life. He was there at the creation of life and through Him we have eternal life.

This week, I want to encourage you to reflect on I John 1:1-2. Think about the love God communicated to the world through His Son Jesus (the Word of Life). Perhaps you are familiar with the words of the old hymn first published in 1885 (written by Christina G Rossetti.

Love came down at Christmas,

Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, Love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

 

For the next few weeks, I want to continue to focus on the theme, “Love Came Down at Christmas.” How joyful to fill our hearts and minds with the love of God and to allow His love to flow through us during the Holiday season and throughout the year!

 

A portion of this article is an except from my book, Unfailing Love.

 

Photo by Roberto Nickson (@g) on Unsplash

Encouraging Thankfulness
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This month as we set aside a day to gather together and offer our thanks to the Lord for all He has done in our lives, let’s renew the habit of making thankfulness an everyday part our lives.  When we choose to deliberately focus on what we are thankful for, it changes our outlook in life. There is something to be glad about in every situation, but we need to be looking for it. That’s what thankful people do – they count their blessings rather than wasting time grumbling and complaining. Let’s be intentional about gratitude every single day and usher in the holidays with a joy-filled heart.

 

Here are 10 ideas to spark and inspire a grateful heart for both you and your family. These are simply suggestions, not another burdensome list. Keep it simple and just apply a couple of these in order to start a new Thanksgiving tradition.

 

  1. Write down 5 things you are thankful for every morning.
  2. Send a thank you note, text or email to a friend or family member, telling them what you appreciate about them.
  3. Forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against and thank the Lord for His forgiveness of your sins through Jesus.
  4. Give a thank you gift or flowers to brighten the day of someone who has been a blessing to you..
  5. Thank a member of the armed forces with a card or gift.
  6. Make a list of the things you can be thankful for in a challenge you are currently facing.
  7. Call your spouse during the day, just to say thank you.
  8. Create a space somewhere in the kitchen for everyone to write their list of blessings.
  9. Play and sing praise and worship music throughout your day.
  10. Pray together as a family at night, thanking the Lord for His blessings.

 

Finally, here are a few verses you may want to post around your house or memorize:

 

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

 

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.  Psalm 106:1

Who do you believe?
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It has been a sad week in our nation as we all ask the question, “Who do we really believe?” This scenario is nothing new in life. As parents, we may find ourselves trying to piece together the truth when our two darling children tell two very different tales. In other cases, spouses may dispute over, “He said; She said.” Or a co-worker may make a claim about another co-worker, leaving doubts in everyone’s mind.

How do we discern the truth? Is it possible to know which story to believe? As I look at what is happening in Washington, I want to draw a few principles we can apply to our lives  as moms in general, as well as the situation at hand.

  • Make decisions based on the facts, not feelings or what we want the outcome to be.
  • Listen carefully to both sides. We must learn to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
  • Pray for discernment and wisdom. Pray for the truth to come to light. Pray for conviction in the hearts of those who are telling lies.
  • Don’t be afraid of the truth.
  • Don’t scream and shout, especially when you don’t know the whole truth.
  • Don’t ignore a person’s pain. Listen, comfort and help.
  • Never ruin another person’s honor or reputation based on gossip, hearsay or half-truths.
  • If you are a victim, seek help and talk to someone. Walk through the grief with the help of another. You are never alone. God sees your pain and heartache, and there are people who can help you heal.
  • Be careful to never falsely accuse another person. Fabricated accusations not only damage the accused, but harm those people who are true victims. Crying wolf with deceitful allegations does a disservice to women in general, as people will tend to distrust future sexual assault victims.

Finally, trust God’s justice. Even if we think truth did not win out – God knows the truth. His justice is better than man’s faulty decisions. Don’t let anger take over your attitude. Listen to David’s words in Psalm 37 and allow them to calm our heart no matter what life brings.

Don’t worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
 He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

 Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
or fret about their wicked schemes.

 Stop being angry!
Turn from your rage!
Do not lose your temper—
it only leads to harm.
For the wicked will be destroyed,
but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

Photo from Unsplash

Simple Joys
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This past week, we were blessed to have my 2 ½ year old grand-daughter staying at our house. We visited parks, played at the pool, colored pictures and discovered that life is filled with countless simple pleasures. As adults, we often allow our worries, cares, hurts and disappointments to muddy the waters, and we easily lose sight of the fact that there are many reasons to smile. So let’s revisit some of our childhood cheerfulness and take a few cues from these little ones.

Life lessons from a two year old:

  • Take time to see (and I mean really see) God’s creation – the magnificence of a flower, the wonder of a bug, the fun designs in fluffy clouds.
  • Smile often. Smile big. Allow yourself to be happy. Bring joy to others, by giving them the gift of your smile.
  • Cry when you are sad. We all need to release our tears and grieve at times.
  • Do a happy dance now and then.
  • Forgive quickly and completely and move on.
  • Make new friends where ever you go.
  • Be truly happy to see others and hug them like you mean it.
  • Use your imagination. Allow yourself to be creative. Dream big dreams. Keep hope alive in your heart.
  • Play. Find something you enjoy (a sport, a hobby, an activity) and do it with gusto.
  • Remember, the best activities are the simple ones. Collecting leaves on a walk, making pretend pancakes at the park, reading Green Eggs and Ham (again), playing “House” under the kitchen table, making a fort out of a large box, all remind us that we don’t need a lot of elaborate or expensive things to experience joy in life.
  • Love well and laugh often – the best lesson of all!

 

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