Jesus is Risen! Hope for Today

This Easter, may you marvel at the amazing love that God has for you. He sent Jesus into the world to pay the price for your sins, so that you could live with Him forever. Jesus died on the cross, taking your sins upon Himself. He was buried.
After three days, Jesus rose from the grave.
He now sits at the right hand of God speaking on your behalf. 

May you rejoice and bask in the warmth of 
God’s amazing love for you.

God’s Love Acts: 25 Ways + MORE

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“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

The Bible tells us that God loves the world, that He is the world’s Creator, and that He delights in His creation, especially in the people He created.

God’s love is active, all-encompassing, and eternal.

Do you know God’s love? Continue reading God’s Love Acts: 25 Ways + MORE

The Love-Powered Marriage

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The word “love” is mentioned 551 times in the ESV version of the Bible, “wife” 384 times, “husband” 115 times, bridegroom 26 times, “bride” 27 times, and  “marriage” 27 times. Love and marriage must be important to God.
Marriage begins the Bible with the creation of Adam and Eve and marriage ends the Bible with the marriage Supper of the Lamb and His bride, the church.
The Song of Songs, written by King Solomon, appears in the middle of the Bible and is often referred to by devout Jews as the Holy of Holies.
God refers to Israel as His wife, and the church is called the Bride of Christ.
There must be something special about marriage.
Could it be a reflection of what our relationship with God could be … intimate, serving, living for each other, passionate, sacred, and holy?
Let’s look at a few Scriptures.

From creation to unity

After God created the Garden of Eden and put Adam to work to name the animals, Adam realized that he did not have a suitable companion.

That’s the way God works in our lives. He lets us work to direct our careers, our lives, our marriages, and our happiness until we come to the realization that there’s something missing in our lives … intimacy with God.

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:21-24
One flesh, blessed by God. Together, they walked with God in the Garden in the cool of the evening. A triune relationship: Adam, Eve, and God, walking together in unity, in perfection.
A honeymoon in Paradise.

From unity to separation

Then, the serpent deceived Eve. The serpent told her that she could be like God. He twisted the Scripture.
Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 
“You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5
Deceived, Eve ate.
Eve gave it to Adam, and he ate.
Immediately, they knew evil and saw that they were naked, and they hid from God.
The Fall.
Unity with God torn.
Tension in marriage created!
The struggle in life began.

From self-focus to love-focus

Tension in marriage creates a focus on ourselves and how we can make our lives more comfortable.

There’s an infatuation stage in marriage, isn’t there? Although we love each other, much of the first weeks are about the physical.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine;
your anointing oils are fragrant;
your name is oil poured out;
therefore virgins love you.
Draw me after you; let us run.
The king has brought me into his chambers.
Song of Songs 1:2-4
Notice that although the bride is focused on Solomon, the desired outcome is how he will make her feel good. The focus is on the Shulamite.
My beloved is mine, and I am his Song of Songs 2:16
As their relationship matures, the bride’s comment about Solomon shifts from herself to Solomon,
I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine Song of Songs 6:3
She’s now living for her husband.
When a friend asked Keith what the secret was to our 45-year marriage was, he said, “Each of us lives for the other.”
That’s the key, isn’t it?
Before thinking of ourselves, we think of our beloved.
A few weeks ago, Keith said, “Have you noticed that when you get up first, you make my tea before you make yours, and when I get up first, I make your tea before mine?”
Thinking of the other first.
It’s easy with tea, but it can be challenging when children are involved, the mortgage needs to be paid, home is half-way around the world, or a chronic illness interrupts plans.
It’s a constant struggle.
That’s where God comes in.
Remember the cool of the Garden of Eden?
The love walk.

From separation to unity

The Jewish marriage is a picture of the church’s marriage to Jesus.
Before marriage, the young couple became betrothed, much more binding than an American engagement. It was a contract as binding as marriage, and divorce was the only way to break the betrothal.
After the betrothal, the bridegroom went away to build a suitable room at his father’s home where the bride and bridegroom would live. While the bridegroom was building the room, the bride prepared herself and her belongings for the day when the bridegroom would come to take her to her new home.
The father of the bridegroom inspected the construction of the room and once he was satisfied that it was fit for the bride, he gave the son permission to get his bride.  The bridegroom gathered his friends, and they made a great procession to the bride’s home to take her to the father’s home for a week’s wedding celebration.
Does this sound similar to the story of Jesus?
The first time Jesus came to earth, He came to teach, preach, pay the sacrifice for our sin, and rise from the dead. Jesus became betrothed to His bride—the church.
He’s now in heaven advocating for us AND preparing our dwelling places.
When the Father tells Jesus that our dwelling places are ready, Jesus will come for us (the Rapture), take us to His home, heaven, and we’ll have a marriage feast—the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Like the biblical Jewish wedding, it will be for a week—seven years.
The Love Promise: Jesus is coming back for His bride, the church!

From Scripture to application 

Marriage IS important to God. It’s the story of Jesus. It’s your story.
We don’t live in the Garden of Eden. We live in a fallen world. That’s why Jesus came to earth—to make it possible for all who believe and trust in Him to live with Him forever as His bride.
We’re waiting on Him to return, to take us to our new dwelling place.
In the meantime, He gave His Word to us in the Scriptures, and He summed it up in Matthew.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

Love is a verb. 

Love taught the multitudes, fed the 5,000, calmed the sea, healed the sick, touched the leper, opened eyes to see, and raised the dead.
Love watches the football game and learns about the rules and players even though she doesn’t enjoy football.
Love escorts her to a musical even though he doesn’t enjoy the musical.

Love is a choice. 

Love looked down from the cross and asked the Father to forgive those who nailed Jesus to the cross.
Love prays for God to bless a supervisor who is unreasonable.
Love washes the dishes for her even when she snaps at you.
Love sneaks a love note in his lunch container even if the night before he came home, ignored her, and plopped down in front of the television.

Love is a story.

The love story is Jesus emptying Himself of His glory for one purpose: you. He loves you so much that He denied himself to live and die for you. That’s love, and marriage is a dim reflection of this love story.
The marriage love story is a journey of remembering the sacred connection to Jesus and living for the other as Jesus lived for us.

How are you living your love story?

My prayer

Father, thank You for Your incredible love story. Thank You that You have created a reflection of that love story in the creation of marriage. Help us to remember that connection, and empower us to treat our marriages as holy and our spouses as special creations customized for us. Fuel our marriages with the power of Your love, grace, and mercy. Thank You, Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Please share your love story in the Comment Section and Tweet this post.

Where is God’s lovingkindness leading you?

Colored RoseAll the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth

It is a great and awesome thing that God gave Himself, so that men and women would be able to live with Him forever.

Declare His lovingkindness in the morning and His faithfulness by night!

The Lord is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
The Lord is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.
All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord,
And Your godly ones shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power;
To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts
And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations. Psalm 145:8-13

Lovingkindness leads us to the manger.
Lovingkindness leads us to the foot of the cross.
Lovingkindness leads us to repentance.
Lovingkindness leads us to thanksgiving.
Lovingkindness leads us to proclaim His mighty works.
Lovingkindness leads us to say, “Come, Lord, Jesus.”
Lovingkindness endures forever.
Blessed be the name of the Lord!

My prayer:

May you be filled with His love to overflowing; may you abound in His peace that passes all understanding; may you bless others widely as you live out the hope that is in you.

Is God your strength? Sing for Joy!

Calla Lilies
Sing for joy to God our strength;
Shout joyfully to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song, strike the timbrel,
The sweet sounding lyre with the harp.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
At the full moon, on our feast day. Psalm 81:1-3
Father, the God of our ancestors, the God of the Israelites, I praise You. I lift my voice towards heaven, and sing You a new melody. I clap my hands and lift my hands. You alone created the marvelous light. You hung the moon and the stars in the heavens to light our darkness. We set aside a feast day to celebrate what You have done for us.
Indeed, when we waited upon You, You said:
You called in trouble and I rescued you;
I answered you in the hiding place of thunder Psalm 81:7
You led the Israelites by the hand into the Promised Land, and You lead Your children, Your followers today into the promises You have for us.
Thank You for Your steadfast faithfulness, lovingkindness and Your own dear Son, Jesus, the Messiah.
Sing for joy to God our strength!
Share the joy … tell the readers how God is leading you.

Smiling toward heaven and eternity

Jordan River Mama’s about to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land … Heaven with all the Glory of the Lord

About a year ago, I took a six-week course to become a volunteer in the No One Dies Alone program. If patients have no one to be with them while they are actively dying, volunteers who have received the training and are available sit with the patient, pray with the patient, read to the patient, talk with the patient if the patient is able, and hold the patient’s hand if wanted.

I have a folder in my car ready at a moment’s notice with guidelines and instructions, the book Urgent Whispers, tips, Scripture, and paper and pen. I’ve also prepared a playlist of iTunes hymns and praise music just for the time I might need it.

Little did I know that God was preparing me to sit with Mama as she prepared to look into the face of Jesus.

I’ve read Urgent Whispers; I’ve held her hand; I’ve whispered Scriptures describing heaven to her; I’ve kissed her, I’ve rubbed her head, and I’ve played the hymns and praise music for her.

I had planned to minister to the dying. I had planned to minister to Mama.

Yet, I did not anticipate the blessings I would receive from her as she lifted one foot high toward heaven with her tiptoes on earth.

Sitting with Mama caused me to reflect upon her legacy. Her family is her life. While I wasn’t always there for her, she was always there for me.

Mama and Daddy taught me the value of their commitment to each other … until death did they part … 53 years after they wed.

Always a lady, she taught me the power of image and reputation. She did not instruct me. She showed me through her life. Even in assisted living, she has been known for the lady that she is.

God is central to her purpose. Her family recognizes it; her friends see it, and the staff in her assisted living facility understand it.

Streams of health care providers have been through her doors to kiss her, tell her they love her, and tell her “Goodbye.”

Mama lived her talk: “Patience, Pluck, and Perseverance.”

Patience in waiting upon the Lord to take her home.

Pluck in choosing a path of relationship building.

Perseverance in stepping out in strength and dignity even in pain.

 Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. Proverbs 31:25

Mama, you have blessed many beyond measure, and you are smiling at a future filled with the Glory of the Lord and rewards unimagined. Enjoy eternity. I’ll join you in God’s timing.

My prayer:

Father, thank You for the hope that you have given the world, and thank You that Mama has walked this world with strength and dignity. Thank You that she is smiling at the future. May we all walk this world with strength and dignity as we smile at the future.