Love Is.

Love is a post-it note in a lunchbox.
Love is patience with slow drivers and cashiers.
Love is warm food on a cold day.
Love is returning your grocery cart.
Love is retrieving the piece of trash in the middle of the park.
Love is doing the dishes… again.
Love of others isn’t very fashionable.
Love is often lived more than it is spoken.
Love is given, not guilted.
Love is a choice.
Love often comes without flowers.
Love is thankful.
Love does not only take the form of chocolate and balloons.
Love is a gift.
Love does not always appear in handwritten love notes.
Love is felt… and seen… and given as we live our lives.
Love is HIM.
Love is here.
Love is today… but love is also tomorrow… and every day that comes after.
heart
“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it — not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives…” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (The Message)
“…No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. 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. 
Love never dies.
Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. 1 Corinthians 13:3-10 (msg)
We are loved. Happy Valentine’s Day.Following,
Ginger

Love NEVER FAILS.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-8]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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.  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.” 

Love never fails.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14, NIV

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:6-7, NIV

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. John 3:16, NIV

The one sure thing I can tell you about the coming weeks and year is this: God’s love never fails.  He promised His son, and His son He gave.

His love never, ever fails.

His mission does not fail.

His Word will not fail.

Immanuel means God with us… that God saves… and that our Father’s love never fails.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose… For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:28, 38-39, ESV

God’s love will not and does not fail.

He is sustaining the family reeling from a cancer reoccurrence in their vibrant son.

He is guiding the single foster mom as she opens her home to the children sent her way.

He is healing the father who just endured a second surgery for another round of yet a different cancer.

He is giving peace to families sleeping in hospital rooms, watching their children breathe with machines.

He is granting courage to the couple driving miles in order to adopt a third into their family of four.

He is watching out for the single mom who seems to always battle uphill for the care of her son.

He is moving in all of these situations that make it hard for me to breathe.

He is working in every challenge, every joy, every tear, and every moment.  He is with you today and He will be with you tomorrow.  His love will not fail.

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV

List out your need for His mercies this morning… every situation that steals your breath.  After each line write out Lamentations 3:22-23.  Soak in the words and let them move from your head to your heart.  Any time you feel ready to worry or despair today, recite the words of this verse and remember that God’s love never fails.

Love never fails.

Following,
Ginger 

Advent ResourceDona Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace) performed by Yo-Yo Ma.  I could listen to this delicate rendition with cellos all day long.  It calms my heart and focuses my mind on the simple lyrics: Give us peace… over and over and over.

Love ALWAYS PERSEVERES.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-7]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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.  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 perseveres.”

Love always perseveres.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  Matthew 1:18-25, NIV

I hate running but I’m spending a lot of time these days hitting the pavement and training for a big race.  Around my 4th or 5th mile my knees start hurting and my brain begins to tell me that I should probably just stop.  But if I stop at mile 5 in training, there is no way that I’m going to make it to mile 13 on the day of the race.

It’s always easier to quit than to keep going.  Perseverance is one of the greatest marks of maturity.  Continuing to press on even when things are difficult isn’t a natural human response.  Persevering in relationships when they are inconvenient or unpleasant… that requires a supernatural kind of love.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Luke 2:1-5, NIV

David Smith says that “Love continually pours itself out for others — not conveniently, but continually.

Nothing about Joseph’s role as Father was convenient.  He had every legal right to divorce Mary.  Jewish law even went so far as to say that Joseph could have Mary stoned for her illegitimate pregnancy.  When Joseph decided to listen to the words of the angel, he also made an active decision to love Mary as his wife.  He would adopt a son who was not of his flesh and blood.  He would care for a girl who was likely the talk of the town and the subject of constant rumors.  He would love them even if it cost him everything.  Note that he didn’t do this because Mary was “the one” or because he chose “the right person,” he loved his family because that’s what God asked of him.

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”  2 Thessalonians 3:5, NIV

Read all of 1 Corinthians 13 (again!) today.  Be sure to notice that you will not find any verses that say love is convenient.  It wasn’t convenience that caused the Son of God to enter the world as a child.  Convenience didn’t compel Him to walk this earth.  Convenience didn’t hold Him on the cross.  His love never, ever stopped.

Love always perseveres.

Following,
Ginger

Advent Resource: THE STORY- The Bible as one continuing story of God and His people.  I believe that the impact of the Christmas Story is felt and realized most deeply in the midst of the entire story of God’s Word!  That’s why I’m recommending The Story. “God goes to great lengths to rescue lost and hurting people. That is what The Story is all about—the story of the Bible, God’s great love affair with humanity. Condensed into 31 accessible chapters, The Story sweeps you into the unfolding progression of Bible characters and events from Genesis to Revelation.

Love ALWAYS HOPES.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-7]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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.  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…”

Love always hopes.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14, NIV

“But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:30-37, NIV

Forty-two generations of hoping.

Nine months of waiting.

One teenage girl.

One eternal promise.

Mary teaches us all what it means to hope.  She hoped in the words of an angel who said the impossible would happen.  She hoped in a God who had chosen an unassuming Nazarene to bear the Messiah.  She hoped that this baby would bring hope to all.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:22-25, NIV

Perhaps you are hoping for answers or resolutions in the coming year.  Perhaps you too wait in expectation to see what this season will bring.  Might I remind us to turn with Mary and fix our gaze on the child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in the manger?

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12, ESV

Are you crushed by circumstances?  He is your hope.
Are you worried about upcoming situations?  He is your hope.
Are you stinging from wounds?  He is your hope.
If only for this one moment today- take time to stop.  Gaze at the Nativity scene in your home or even locate one in a neighbor’s yard.  Look at the Messiah and take a deep breath of hope.  Imagine His first breath of life and find hope in knowing that His life gives YOU life.  Take heart, the King has come.  Take hope, the answer is here.

Love always hopes.

Following,
Ginger

Resource

Advent Resource: The Christ of Christmas: Readings for Advent by Calvin Miller.  These 31 days of readings and Scriptures will invite you to rest in the presence of God throughout the Christmas Season and the whole year.  “Revisit the Manger… the miracle… the meaning.”

Love ALWAYS TRUSTS.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-7]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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.  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…”

Love always trusts.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
“But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.  We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:18-22, NIV

I had lunch with an old friend this week and she asked me about what I’m learning about love through marriage.  In essence I responded with “love always trusts.”  I realize that the world that we live in makes it really hard to desire this aspect of love.  Many of us enter relationships awaiting the other person to prove they are trustworthy.  Obviously we have been given intelligence to help us garner our emotions and make decisions, but I believe the overwhelming principle behind “love always trusts” is that love is graceful… it’s full of the grace we’ve been given through God.

Rather than assuming the worst, I’ve learned to assume the best about my husband. This was a huge light-bulb moment for all of my friendships and relationships.  Just because someone doesn’t behave or respond the way that I think they should doesn’t mean they don’t love or care about me.  I have yet to benefit in the long run by getting all huffy and bothered.  Giving a strong dose of grace to a situation can do wonders in keeping a small thing like giving me advice on how to brown onions from exploding into, “YOU DON’T THINK I CAN COOK?”  Love trusts that the other person is for me.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19, NIV

How can we learn to love by trusting others and thinking the best of them?  We continue to follow the example set before us.  Jesus loved us even in the midst of betrayal.  His grace makes loving others possible.

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7, NIV

Prayer: Lord I trust you.  I love you.  Would you help me to obey you by loving others?  I find myself fearful of being hurt and worried by the pain others can inflict.  Would you help me to be wise, but also to begin to be faithful in loving others by giving them my trust.  Show me how to do this, Lord!  As I prepare my heart for your Son, let me also fling it wide to love those around me.  In Jesus’ Name… Amen

Love always trusts.

Following,
Ginger

Advent ResourceHow in the World to get ready for Christmas?  A beautiful post by Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience.  “This will take time. This will take waiting. I must make space for these….”

 

Love ALWAYS PROTECTS.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-7]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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.  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

Love always protects.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
“…The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land. 
In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it— one from the house of David— 
one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness.”  Isaiah 16:4-5, NIV

pro·tect
verb: To defend or guard from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.; cover or shield from injury or danger.

In making the declaration that love always protects, Paul leaves me without an out.  For now love doesn’t just protect when it’s convenient or when it’s safe to do so.  Love ALWAYS protects.

During youth group on Sunday night we talked about what it means to love our neighbor.  The biggest challenge for most of us was giving up control over our schedules and comfort.  I want to help and protect others on my own terms, but God’s love and example calls me to more.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10, NIV

Thankfully we have a God who makes good on this promise.  God’s love always protects.  Now He has asked for us to do likewise.  We are to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him (Micah 6:8).

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“…Learn to do right! 
Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”  Isaiah 1:17, NIV

Choose to actively protect the oppressed this week.  If you are looking for a way to defend the cause of the vulnerable, please read Carey’s post over at Cravings for details on how to protect, love and become a Freesetter.

“Freeset is located in Calcutta, India, helping to free women from human trafficking by providing them employment with dignity through sewing bags. Every woman is provided medical insurance, retirement, daycare for their children, classes to learn how to read and write, and three times the wage they would receive “in line.” Join us every day December 1-12 in Freeset’s Freedom Tour of 12 Days of Freedom with Freeset and become a part of the freedom story. Watch our video, shop our bags, change lives.”

Love always protects.

Following,
Ginger

Bach

Advent ResourceAdvent Cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach.  I find myself aided in times of prayer by the sweeping sounds of Bach’s choral music.

Love REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-6]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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.  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.

Love.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
   because the LORD has anointed me
   to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
   to proclaim freedom for the captives
   and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
   and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
   instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
   instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
   instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   a planting of the LORD
   for the display of his splendor.”  Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV

We discover today that not only should we not delight in the downfall of our enemies, but it is made clear that we should rejoice when that person now walks in love.

It’s tempting to harbor anger, to desire justice… but Paul challenges the Corinthians to congratulate others for the evidence of success in their lives.  We should rejoice when the truth is made known.  We are to seek the best for our neighbor, even if we find them lacking.

“Love is never glad to hear bad news about another person. Love never says, ‘Well, they finally got what they deserved.’  Love is never happy to hear that a brother or sister fell into sin.  Love does not enjoy passing along bad news. This certainly goes against the grain of modern life. We all know that “Bad news sells” and that good news goes on page 75. That’s why they put those supermarket tabloids right by the checkout counter. We all want to hear the latest juicy gossip about our favorite celebrities. 

True love isn’t like that. It turns away from cheap gossip and unsubstantiated rumors. And even when the rumor turns out to be true, love takes no pleasure in the misfortunes of others. Dr. Ray Pritchard

GULP.  Anyone else feel convicted?

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 3-4, NIV

We should never be joyful over someone’s sin. Instead we should rejoice when they walk in God’s ways.  If this feels anything but natural, you are not alone.  I’m challenged today to let my love be without hypocrisy.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9, NASB

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” Romans 12:14 NLT

Pray that your heart would soften to this challenge today.  Ask for an extra dose of compassion- that you would see even those who mistreat you as deserving of your love.  Pray that God would let the message of the Gospel wash over you all day long.  Let His Truth be the fuel for love.

Love rejoices with the truth.

Following,
Ginger

Manger

Advent Resource: God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  This book comes highly recommended by one of my nearest and dearest friends.  Becca’s desire to savor the mystery of the season causes me to want to pick up every book she reads… this one by Bonhoeffer especially!

Love does NOT DELIGHT IN EVIL

[1 Corinthians 13:3-6]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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.  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…”

Love does not delight in evil...

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
In love a throne will be established;
            in faithfulness a man will sit on it-
            one from the house of David-
one who in judging seeks justice
and speeds the cause of righteousness.”  Isaiah 16:5, NIV

That love does not delight in evil seems pretty straightforward.  I wasn’t sure what I could use to unpack this scripture when it happened…

Yesterday I was driving in my car down a stretch of road that has been under construction for the past few days.  I now know ahead of time that the three lanes of traffic are going to have to merge down to one and that the posted speed limit will jump from 45 to 25 in a matter of feet.  But not everyone knows that.  Apparently the Escalade that tailed me, zoomed around me, and then cut me off wasn’t aware of the new traffic situation.  I don’t think the Escalade noticed the speed limit signs either.

I also happened to know that in another hundred feet or so a nice police officer would be waiting to make sure everyone was obeying the new signs.

Folks, I’ll be honest with you… I was GLEEFUL of this fact.  I spoke aloud in my car.  “Oh, by all means cut me off.  Hurry on up.  You have a date with Mr. Officer!  Hurry!  HURRY!”

As those words escaped my lips I began to think about my attitude and my actions.  While love doesn’t delight in evil, love also calls us not to delight in the downfall of my enemies.  I know this, and yet I pretty much choose to ignore it.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8, NIV

Delight: A feeling of extreme gratification aroused by something good or desired.

Evil: Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction: the social evils of poverty and injustice.

Although you and I might not feel as though we have delighted in evil, we are all guilty of moments when we gratify in the injury or suffering of another.

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.  In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:43-47, The Message

He sets it out for us:  “When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.  This is what God does.  He gives his best…”

Make a firm effort to respond today with prayer rather than delighting in a downfall.  Pray that God would change the hearts of everyone involved and your attitude.  Thank Him that He always gives us His best.

Love does not rejoice in evil.

Following,
Ginger

Advent in Color

Advent Resource: Praying in Color Advent Calendar.  Check out Sybil MacBeth’s blog posts on using color to pray this Advent.  This isn’t a product to purchase, but something you can start today with items in your home!

Love KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-5]

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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.  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 keeps no record of wrongs.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
 He had no special beauty or form to make us notice him;
       there was nothing in his appearance to make us desire him.
 He was hated and rejected by people.
       He had much pain and suffering.
 People would not even look at him.
       He was hated, and we didn’t even notice him.
 But he took our suffering on him
       and felt our pain for us.
    We saw his suffering
       and thought God was punishing him.
But he was wounded for the wrong we did;
       he was crushed for the evil we did.
    The punishment, which made us well, was given to him,
       and we are healed because of his wounds.
He was beaten down and punished,
       but he didn’t say a word.
He was buried with wicked men,
       and he died with the rich.
    He had done nothing wrong,
       and he had never lied.  Isaiah 53:1-5, 7, 9 NCV

Love keeps no record of wrongs… but I certainly do.

I’ve been there.  I’ve been hurt by another person deeply and have wanted to hold onto that anger and bitterness.  At times I’ve wanted to release it, but always seem to head back into my wounded corner.  We aren’t called to forgive someone because God enjoys seeing us miserable.  On the contrary, He knows that holding that kind of bitterness in our heart will only hurt us and deny HIS power!  Anne Lamott puts it this way: “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the other person to die.”

God sees you right where you are.  He has not looked away from the bullying or wrongs that you’ve experienced.  He longs to see you find healing and comfort through forgiveness.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him…” Lamentations 3:22-25, NIV

Can we all shout “Amen” to that?  His compassion for our wrongs is new every single morning.  We have been forgiven much, so now we are called to forgive much.  Wrongs are not a part of love because love works to make things right.  Love looks forward rather than backward.  Love is not consumed by grudges.  Love focuses on the Example, rather than our failures.  There is no scoreboard.  We have all failed miserably and yet been given the Crown of Life.

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18, NIV

Pray this prayer and ask that God would keep you from allowing past wrongs to dominate your heart:
Lord, give us discernment to recognize bitterness in our lives.  Help us to overcome this harshness with a heart of forgiveness, seeing your presence in every person.  We cannot do this of our own strength.  Help us to release and forgive.  Teach us to love as you love.  Amen.

“Relationships don’t thrive because the guilty are punished but because the innocent are merciful.” Max Lucado

Love is not easily angered.

Following,
Ginger

Resource

Advent Resource: God Came Near: Chronicles of the Christ by Max Lucado.  A beautiful book that paints a unique picture of the humility and humanity of the Incarnation.

Love is NOT RUDE.

[1 Corinthians 13:3-5]

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 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.  Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude…

Love is not rude.

TRUTH TO BELIEVE:
 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
   my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
   and he will bring justice to the nations.
 He will not shout or cry out,
   or raise his voice in the streets.
 A bruised reed he will not break,
   and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
   In his law the islands will put their hope.”  Isaiah 42:1-4, NIV

When someone cuts me off in traffic I want to scream awful things at the driver.
When a salesperson takes something out of my hands with a curt, “excuse me” and then hands it to another customer, everything inside of me wants to give her a piece of my passive-aggressive mind.
When my husband continues to ask questions that I don’t know the answer to I want to answer sarcastically.
When someone is late to a meeting and hasn’t bothered to call I want to put them in their place.
When I’m in a hurry I don’t really feel like holding the door open for the person playing with their phone.
Sometimes I just want to keep talking on the phone while I check out at the store.
Sometimes I desperately avoid making eye contact with someone because I don’t want to talk.

There are many ways and opportunities to behave rudely, but here’s the thing: love avoids all of those options.

When we act out of love rudeness isn’t an option.  No matter the frustration, love grants the power to erase rudeness.

HOPE TO CLAIM:
“In contrast [to rudeness], love slows down to acknowledge the worth of others. Love sees the opportunity that interruptions can give to help others and to be of service to them. Love puts yourself in the position of those who serve you. Love tips generously. Love is appreciative of what others do for you.” –Ted Schroeder

One of the antonyms of rude is actually kind.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  If love isn’t rude, then it’s kind.

CHALLENGE TO EMBRACE:
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Mark 6:31, NIV

Oftentimes rudeness seeps out when we are sleep-deprived or stressed.  Take time this morning to go off by yourself and get some rest.

Following,
Ginger

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Advent Resource: “Song of the Stars” by Sally Lloyd-Jones GIVEAWAY information right HERE! (Entry to the drawing closes on Thursday night, December 8th.)