Archives for January 2015

I Want To Be Loved–Part 1

I admit it. I want to be loved.

Our hearts are wired to love and be loved.

Since we are two weeks and a few days from Valentine’s Day, I confess that it’s hard to walk into a store and not be reminded of my singleness.   It used to bother me so much. God sure did have to work on my heart to help me realize I’m being used in my singleness.

Guess what? I have some refreshing news!

No matter if you are married or single, you are loved because “God is love.” (1 John 4:16b NIV 1984). Jesus and His Love are really the cornerstone of Christianity.

Love is the divine glue that binds us together, giving us the freedom and deep desire to be more, to serve and love others, to do our best.

You know what Jesus said were the two most important laws to follow?

“Jesus replied: ‘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 the Prophets hang on these two commandments.“            (Matthew 22: 37-40 NIV84).

Isn’t it wonderful and such a relief to know that the two most important “rules” Jesus wants us to follow are to love Him wholeheartedly and love others. By the way, our “neighbor” is everyone.

Many of you may be familiar with the well-known “Love Chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13, often read at weddings. Let’s look at this passage carefully, differently and challenge ourselves.

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.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV84).

Now for the challenge. In this passage, replace your own name with the word “Love” and read it aloud. Whew. It’s a tall order. I sure do fall short of living this.

For Valentine’s Day last year I gave my precious Mom a card. Inside I  wrote her name in this passage. For those who know my beloved Mom, Maxine Jordan, she is June Cleaver and Jesus all wrapped up in one beautiful package. She lives this. She is love.

“Maxine is patient, Maxine is kind. She does not envy, she does not boast, she is not proud. Maxine is not rude, she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs. Maxine does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Maxine always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Maxine never fails.”

Dear friend, you are loved and you are love.  Let’s live it out loud. Let’s live love.

Stay tuned next Tuesday for Part Two of this “Love Series.”  I’ll let you know my confessions and how last Valentine’s Day changed my whole perspective on this romantic holiday…

 Reflect:

–How will you love more with your heart, starting today?

–Do you love the Lord? If so, do you love Him with your head or your heart?  Are you ready to love Him more deeply?

Renew:

–“May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You.” (Psalm 33:22 NIV84).

–“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God…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. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like Him… We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4: 7, 16, 17, 19 NIV84).

Recharge:

–Which people or strangers will you demonstrate love to this week?

–Open you Bible and read some daily from it. Feel the Love pouring forth on you.

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True Friends: Standing in the Gap

“Hold a true friend with both hands,” a wise, Nigerian Proverb says. So true… A true friend. How would you define a true friend?

One of the biggest blessings in my life, even life in general, is the cherished gift of friends. The Lord has blessed me with friends I can call on in a moment’s notice. And friends who, even when we don’t see each other for months at a time, we just pick up right where we leave off. Friends who stretch me, grow me, grow my faith. Friends who quietly stand in the gap for me in prayer.

I just read about a  friend to Paul in the Bible, a friend who I would love to more like. He’s only mentioned twice in the whole Bible and only in the book of Colossians. His name is Epaphras. Have you heard of him? Good, me either. He’s new to me.  What a cool, well-respected guy.

“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.” –Colossians 4:12-13 NIV

Isn’t that awesome? I love how he is “always wrestling in prayer for you”…I pray to be more like Epaphras for my friends and family.

In this shiny, new 2015, may we always be wrestling in prayer for others.  May we always strive to be like Epaphras.

Reflect:

–Describe an Epaphras in your life. Please comment.

–For whom are you a true Epaphras friend?

Renew:

–“You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” –Colossians 1:7 NIV

–“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” –Exodus 33:11 NIV

–“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” –Proverbs 18:24 NIV

–“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” –Proverbs 27:7 NIV

–“Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father…” –Proverbs 27:10a NIV

Recharge:

–Please pick up the phone or go see a true Epaphras friend of yours this week.

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Drops of Encouragement

Who was the last person who encouraged you? Who have you encouraged?

Would you believe a cough drop is the inspiration behind me asking those two questions for us to ponder?

Recently I bought an economy-sized bag of Hall’s cough drops and found a pleasant surprise. As I was about to throw away my Hall’s wrapper, I noticed the words “A Pep Talk in Every Drop” and the following:

  • “Don’t waste a precious minute.”
  • “You’ve survived tougher.”
  • “Don’t give up on yourself.”
  • “The show must go on.”

I smiled. What brilliant marketing! What wonderful encouragement! I’m so proud of Hall’s.  I will buy Hall’s cough drops just for this reason.

If a simple cough drop wrapper can make me smile and encourage me, imagine what encouragement precious you can offer someone, even to a stranger.

Encouragement is such a gift. It is even considered to be a “spiritual gift.” See below from Romans 12. A man in the Bible named Barnabas had a knack for encouraging people. In fact, his name means “Son of Encouragement.” (Acts 4:36).

Have you considered  smiling at the Target cashier and asking how she is?

Have you thanked your mom and dad for raising you well and sacrificing so much for you?

How about complimenting the lady in the  Chick-Fil-A with the well behaved children?

Or what about telling the adorable, little, elderly lady in the elevator how beautiful her scarf  is?

It might be the only positive reinforcement or encouragement he/she may get today. Today is your day to encourage, to be a Barnabas. Be encouraged, friend.

Hall's cough drop

Reflect:

–What is a recent example of someone who encouraged you or who you encouraged? Please comment below.

–How did that encouragement make you feel? Please comment below.

Renew:

–“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…if it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others; let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him to it cheerfully. “ –Romans 12: 6-8 NIV

–“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Romans 15:5NIV.

–“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” –1 Thessalonians 5:11NIV

PS. Happy, Shiny New 2015! Today is also a great day to print out my “Creating Your Personal Mission Statement Template,” which is free by simply adding your email address and subscribing to my weekly blog.  My personal mission statement is “Shine,” based on Matthew 5:16.

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