Sunday, March 18, 2018

Supper of Love

"It was just before the Passover Festival.  Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.  Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end."  John 13: 1  (NIV)

What an evening.  Our son is home on leave for a few days before he deploys for roughly 7-8 months.  This will be our first deployment since our son joined the Navy.  I am not looking forward to it.  In light of this, our family has come together during these past few days to do one thing - celebrate our family love.  One way that this happened was at a beautiful restaurant about a week ago.  Around the table, our family laughed and relished in the fun of the evening - remembering things from vacations to embarrassing moments, all under the umbrella of love.  For this mama, my heart couldn't have been any more filled with love.  It was a few hours that I will remember for a lifetime, a meal filled with love.  Yet, as with anything in this earthly world, that moment came to an end and now it remains a wonderful memory.

During this Lenten season, it reminded me of when Jesus gathered his immediate earthly family, His disciples, around the table - the table of the last supper.  He knew the preparations that needed to be made and saw to every detail.  It was a cherished moment for Jesus.  It would soon be a cherished moment for the disciples as well.  That meal was filled with love.  

It was at that table that Jesus washed the disciples' feet.  It was at that table that Jesus declared the body and blood that would be shed for us all, the ultimate sacrifice.  To me, this meal is such an incredible depiction of Jesus' love.  That evening, as Jesus and his disciples gathered around the table, it was more than just to have a meal and reminisce about times together.  It was the meal that would carry on forever.  It was the meal that showed all of us Jesus' love in such a genuine fashion.  The body and blood that Jesus declared during that last supper wasn't just for the disciples.  The body and blood of Jesus is for each and every one of us.  

That table continues today as we gather for Holy Communion, knowing that we gather to receive Jesus' love through His body and blood.  When we gather for a meal with our families and enjoy the time together, the love we share, may we also remember the table of Jesus.  May we remember that as we gather around Jesus' table, there is such love shared there - the love He has for each and every one of us.  It is not just a memory - we can rejoice in that love each time we approach the Holy Table for this sacrament.  That is truly the Supper of Love.

Dearest Jesus, may we always be reminded of your agape love as we stand at the table of Holy Communion.  As we received your body and blood, may we cherish in our hearts the love you give to us, each and every day.  As we receive that holy meal, may our hearts be filled with joy.  In your holy name we pray, Amen!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Weighing Down

"Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up."  Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)

It happened as it has happened for several years.  People of New England see March 1st and we think "Spring is right around the corner".  Then Mother Nature has another plan for us and down comes the snow.  It is not different this year.  Typically, the snow in March tends to be "heavier" than the light puffy snow of December and January.  I am not a weather person, but I'm assuming that it has a lot to do with the warming temperatures.  Wet snow, though, means difficult times ahead.  Power lines are weakened by the heavy snow and power outages occur more frequently.  Along with the power lines, tree limbs and burdened with the heaviness of the snow and tend to break.

As I was driving past many broken branches after our March storm, it occurred to me that the heaviness of the trees from the snow is much like the heaviness that is in my heart many times when worry and guilt surround me.  As I worry about whether the plans I have made will come to fruition or if I have worked hard enough on a certain project or whether I have enough food for extra guests, the heaviness of my heart and mind increases.  Worry has always had that effect on me.  You too?

I find the same thing happening when I shoulder guilt.  When my choices go against what God plans for me, I have a great deal of guilt.  Guilty of what I should or should not have said.  Guilty of the actions that should or should not have been taken.  Guilty of the thoughts I should or should not have had.  

Guilt and worry can consume me.  It can take a cheerful heart and bring it to a very dark place.  It can take my focused mind and bring it to a constant state of flux.  It's amazing how these two words can move me from a place of joy to a place of pain.  Bottom line, guilt and worry weigh me down.  They sit on my shoulders like a ton of bricks.  The pain in my heart reminds me of all that I have done wrong or worry what won't go right.

How do we remove that weight?  We can't, but Jesus can.  He brings the good news, the cheerful word, that removes the weight that we carry and brings us joyful relief.  He "carries our burdens" and takes away our guilt and worry.  Jesus is the warmth that melts our snow and lifts our branches.  Only He can do that for us - let us be grateful for His saving grace.

Dearest Jesus, we thank you for always being there to remove the weight of guilt and worry and replace it with joy and cheer.  Only you can do that, Saving Lord.  Your grace covers us with warmth and brings us from darkness into the light.  Never leave us Jesus - may we always sing your praises.  Amen!

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Greatest

"And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  And the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13

Here we are, at the end of our study of 1 Corinthians 13.  My goodness, it certainly has been a journey - one that I have deeply learned and cherished - and glad that I took with all of you.  I have always looked upon this particular verse as the highlight of this chapter.  By awakening all the other "nuggets" in this chapter, this now seems to culminate the thoughts of Paul so nicely.

We began in mid January, trying to focus in on how the aspects of this sought-after chapter could effect our lives.  We end with three words that define us as Christians.  When someone asks me why I am a Christian, many wonderful Bible verses come to mind - yet, this one seems to sum it all up so wonderfully.

Faith.  Many people have faith.  They may have faith in people, faith in idols, and even faith in their own Gods.  The faith that I have seems to grow stronger, grows deeper the closer I come to Jesus.  When I was younger, faith meant that I believed Jesus was my Savior.  I had faith and belief that He died for my sins.  Certainly, that hasn't changed over the years.  Where my faith has deepened is how I better understand ALL that Jesus did for me.  I look at the faith that He has in me.  Little old me.  With everything on His plate, He chooses to put His faith in me to live out His love.  This only strengthens my faith in His glory.

Hope.  More than a wish.  More than a desire.  More than a goal.  Hope in God surpasses all that.  Hope in God is not a wish, but a certainty.  Our hope is an assurance of what is to come.  Our hope is conviction of full redemption.  Our hope is summarized with a full understanding that God will always do what is right for us, even though at the time it may not seem right. "Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness."  The hope we revel in is deeper than anything we can imagine - for our hope is in God.

Love.  There has been so much written, shared, sung and discussed about love.  Yes, that could be a blog all in its own.  We can see love every day.  Love for a spouse, love for a child, love for a parent, love for a friend.  All of that can be seen, if we look closely enough, around us.  So how can love be 'the greatest'?  When the love we talk about circles around God, it is a different kind of love.  God's love to us is an "agape" love - a love that is completely unconditional and unselfish.  People say they have this type of love all the time.  Yet, we are human.  We don't have this all the time.  We do try to aspire to have this kind of love - and that it what God wants!  He wants us to "shoot for the stars" and show a wonderful "agape" love to those around us.  That is why it is the greatest!!

Oh how I could go on and on about these three cherished words.  I'm going to let YOU do that.  Think about these words, reflect on them.  See where these words take you each and every day.  I pray that this study has brought you to a deeper understanding of Paul, the Corinthians, God, and YOU.  Peace and love to all.

"Heavenly Father - thank you for the blessing to walk through 1 Corinthians 13 together.  You showed us the wonder of this chapter and all the special morsels you had tucked away for us.  As we depart from this study and enter the world around us, may we do so with hearts filled with great love - Agape Love - that will shine from within us.  For within us is you, our Holy Spirit, who can help us bring your love to all that we meet.  In your gracious and loving name we pray.  Amen!"

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Age and Knowledge

I look back upon my life and realize that I enjoyed the school process, the learning process.  I liked doing projects and reports.  I enjoyed trying to figure out problems and see where it took my mind.  I may not have realized it at the time, but looking back, I really did.  I believed that the more I learned, the more I would know.  I guess I've always seen knowledge as a lifelong journey (funny, I'm writing this in a hotel room so I can spend the next five days learning at a conference)!

I've also always equated the amount of knowledge with age.  The older we are the more we know, right?  I can't say that my equation has always worked.  There have been times when I have taken the knowledge I've acquired "along the way" and have put it to good use.  I'm sure you have as well.  Yet, I admit, there have been other times when I have NOT learned from the knowledge I have gained and continue to make the same poor decisions (especially surrounding my eating habits).

So we come to today.  It's hard to believe we are nearing the end of our study on 1 Corinthians 13.  I believe the verses for today really bring the immensity of what Paul has taught us on love and ensures we don't get "too full of ourselves".  It is these verses that remind me to have humility in knowledge.  Paul's teachings to the Corinthians on the capacity of love comes to these two verses.  He helps them (and us) to realize that in our current state, we may try to have the capacity to understand and act in a loving way.  Yet, our capacity to understand is not nearly what we might believe it is.

Here, Paul helps us to "put up a mirror" and reflect on what we truly know, what we truly understand, and how we truly live our lives.  By reading these verses, I have come to realize that what I might believe and act as a definition of love is NOWHERE NEAR the capacity of what I will see, learn and know when I see Jesus face to face.  So many times I think I "get it".  What this helps me to see is that I need to have humility in my learning.  I won't "get it" until I get into heaven. 

In heaven, our eyes will be opened, our mouths will truly speak, and our hearts will be filled with the enormous gift of love that God has bestowed on us.  It is only then that we will truly have the knowledge and that we will truly understand.  Yes, we might learn more things and understand more "earthly" things as we grow older - but the TRUE understanding is coming only when we leave this earth.  How glorious that day will be when we meet our maker face to face!!

Dearest God, help us to be reminded that as time passes, the knowledge that we acquire is only that of this earthly state.  It won't be until we see you face to face that we will truly understand all that you have given to us - truly understand the richness of your love.  What a day that will be!  

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Never Failing

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (NIV)

A new bride walks down the aisle.  Through all the pomp and circumstance, she sees many of her dreams come true.  The day is perfect and everyone enjoys the festivities.  We move on to the honeymoon, a time of romance and relaxation.  The couple returns home and begins their new life together.  Sounds pretty wonderful to me.

I believe every young woman who gets married walks through those emotions as she "ties the knot".  She believes that the love she and her new husband have will last a lifetime.  I know I felt like that when I walked down the aisle at 25 years of age towards my first marriage.  Life was full of wonder and excitement.  Yet, life changed.  It got harder and harder.  As the years rolled by, the love that I saw for us as we walked down that aisle long ago changed dramatically.  Without going into details, love had failed - in many different ways.  

1 Corinthians 13 was read at my wedding.  It was said in front of all those gathered - love never fails.  Yet, thirteen years later, love had failed, in a very difficult way.  I look back upon that time and I can remember talking with God and asking him, "You said 'Love Never Fails'.  What happened?" over and over again.  As I walked through that time in my life, it became clear to me.  I'm not God and neither was my spouse at that time.  Our love isn't perfect, our love does fail.  

I love these verses together.  After the bold statement of verse eight, Paul begins to share with us all the things that do fail.  Prophecies will cease.  Tongues will stop talking.  Knowledge goes away.  Prophesies, tongues and knowledge are things that we cannot know fully.  There is no way anyone in the world can know everything, speak in all tongues and share what is to come fully.  

There is only one that that is totally complete, the love of God.  Our earthly love and the way that us humans look at love is never complete.  Although we want to say that we love unconditionally, we all know that there are times when the unconditional love fails.  We are sinners.  It is impossible for us to achieve.  Yet, it is God's love that is pure and sanctified.  It is God's love that is complete.  It is God's love that never fails.  When we walk on the path of God's love, we experience what He has for us - our future, our hope, our dreams, our faith.  On that path, we can feel God's love stir inside of us through the Holy Spirit.  On that path, we find the peace of God's love.  

May we, as Christians, bring God's love to all that we come in contact with.  Understand that our love is not perfect and it may fail.  With God, though, all things are possible and so is the love that will not fail.  

Dearest Lord, help us to understand love through YOUR eyes.  May we constantly realize that our imperfect selves will also fall short of the love that never fails.  Yet, God, may we read Paul's words and understand that the parts of what we know will become full when we look at love through you - through you that, because you have loved us, gave your only Son as a ransom for many.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Sunday, February 11, 2018


"It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  1 Corinthians 13:7 (NIV)
"Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (KJV)

As we continue to move through 1 Corinthians 13, we come upon this verse.  Today, I've included two versions of this verse as the second may be one that we hear most often, yet, my heart was touched by the first version.  So let's explore.

Paul continues to teach us about the depth of love.  The word protect, or bears, looks to the person we are loving.  Although that person may not act in a loving way, we will protect those indiscretions and will bear them in our own heart - not sharing them with others.  I see this as immediate forgiveness, for we are protecting that person's character and bearing their sin in our heart.  In this context, I see this as two people who love each other.  I am forever grateful and blessed that my husband loves me in this manner.  He keeps my sin in his heart, not throwing it back in my face or sharing with the world.  He bears all things!

Moving on, we come to trust - belief in the person we love.  How many times I have said, "You have my trust until you do something that takes that away."  WOW - take that statement against what Paul is trying to teach and I'm a HUGE failure!  We speak a lot about trust in our society today.  There are many powerful business books that speak to that exact philosophy of ensuring trust with others.  Often, it is discussed that once someone loses trust in you, it is hard to get it back.  Paul begs to differ.  If you have true love in your heart - you will always trust, always believe in the positive things of a person.  Self reflection moment?  It is for me!

Hope is one of my favorite words in the Bible, and in life.  Hope brings a desire for something to happen with a strong sense of trust that it will.  Isn't that where love comes in?  True love, deep love, shares a hope for a strong relationship.  Hope that is steeped in love brings ever-standing forgiveness.  This isn't easy and sometimes isn't always healthy.  If the love is founded in God and shared between two people, hope for the future will bring the trust that is forever.  I strongly believe that our God works His best miracles when we have hope, the type that is grounded in love.

Perseverance seems to be a word that everyone has endured.  To see something or a situation all the way through is a strong sense of perseverance.  Many of us have persevered trials and tribulations in our life.  Yet, as it relates to love, it can take on a very different view.  Our love can be tested by many things.  During those times of testing, we can wonder if love is worth it - if THIS love is worth it.  Persevering during these times shows each other the type of love that is present.  It is this love that makes those difficult times bearable, almost taking us full circle.

Wow, Paul certainly has challenged us with this chapter!  Last week, he helps us to understand what love isn't and now shares with us what love is.  Under either viewpoint, I have realized that as much as I deeply love my family and friends, I still have work to do.  The power of all of this comes from the love we have for Jesus.  As the Holy Spirit penetrates our hearts, Jesus fills us up to have the type of love Paul yearns for us to have.  The words protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres have one commonality - the word ALWAYS in front of them.  May we pray that our actions of love continue to focus on always.

Dearest Jesus, how the words of Paul continue to creep into our hearts and minds.  Understanding more deeply the way we should love has impacted me in so many ways.  The deep commitment he asks us to make helps me to see the way you, Jesus, ALWAYS love me.  Your forgiveness of my wrongdoings, the trust you have in me, the hope that I will change and the perseverance to never let go of me helps me to see how I need to love others.  Thank you, Jesus.  Amen!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

What Isn't Love?

Many times I have had people ask me, "What does that mean?"  It might be in relation to a concept or words I shared.  When I reflect on those moments, many times it is easier for me to explain what that particular concept isn't.  Sometimes, explaining the opposite is less complicated and more straightforward than defining what something is.  I feel that way with our verses for today.

The first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13 explains why love is so important for our lives.  Now, the tough part comes - what exactly is love.  I have to share, when I have delved into this chapter before I have always focused on what love is - patient and kind!  Although I struggle with patience, and think I'm kind most of the time, it wasn't until I began really reading the other words that the REAL struggle began.

As I read through the words listed, I began to cringe.  Oh my Heavenly Father, the very many times I have acted with what I THOUGHT was love in my heart, but my thoughts and actions were far from that.
  • Envy - The time that I envied another person's success.  Looking back, they worked hard for that success, but my heart and thoughts were far from that.
  • Boast - Didn't I have a right to share with others all the goodness I had.  The answer?  NO, I don't have that right - for all the goodness I have is not of MY doing, but that of God's doing.
  • Pride - Pride, my arch enemy.  Although I have worked on the boasting, there is still pride in my heart.  "Look at what I did!"  Yes, those words have even come out of my mouth - especially with my husband (for just the smallest of efforts).  That's not love.
  • Dis-honoring others - My mouth has spilled its unfair share of gossip over the years.  There is nothing loving in that.
  • Self-seeking - If I don't look out for me, who will?  The answer, GOD WILL!
  • Easily angered - Can we just leave this one with those two words?  Those times are too numerous.
  • Record of wrongs - Holding all the times when someone has "wronged" me produces so many negative experiences, not for the one who has wronged me - but for me.  I am the one who suffers with the negative feeling.  Forgiveness is love, and Jesus certainly shows us how to forgive.
  • Delight in evil - Some people call it karma.  Others call it fate.  Still others say, "they deserve it".  Truth is, when bad things happen and we rejoice in that - it's not love.
To look at what love is can give us all, self included, a sense that "I've got this covered."  Yet, when we explore the words Paul gives us as to what love does NOT encompass, the blanket is thrown off and the real behavior is exposed.  Looking at all those words above, is there hope for me?

God knows there is hope for me!  The wonderful news is that He provides us so many wonderful examples of how love can continue to grow - in my words, in my actions, in my thoughts, and in my heart.  God loves me enough to give me a second, third, fourth . . . .chance.  We need to show that kind of love in everything that we do.  It's not about this earthly viewpoint of love.  It's about shining God's love.  Now that we know what isn't love, let's get ready for next week, and see what love is!

Dearest Jesus, you gave Paul such wonderful words to fully explain to us what love isn't.  When we look at those words and hold up a mirror, we know that there have been times when we haven't truly lived out your love.  We hid behind words, actions and thoughts that were less than true love.  Help us, Jesus, to expose those times when we live out love falsely, and help to turn us around to be true vessels of your love to others.  In your name we pray, Amen!

About Me

My photo

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.