Thursday, July 27, 2017

an act of love

I just read a story and saw a photograph of a sweet 98 year old husband, lovingly, feeding his wife ice cream at a Sonic. The story, of course, praised this act of love, as it was very hot outide. The person who took the picture, described how the man carefully place a towel over her and sat in the door of the car to feed her ice cream on a very hot day. It was a very sweet act of love that is often not seen today.
I love being married. My husband and I love each other very much.  He is a good husband and I do my best to be a good wife. As a married couple, one thing that is important to us is demonstrating God's love and purpose in our marriage. A few years ago, my husband and I spoke at a marriage retreat. There was a statement he made that I have never forgot. As we were discussing how marriage is a reflection of how God loves the church, my husband began to talk about how much God loves the church. That is how much a husband should love his wife. He said, that just as Jesus was willing to die on the cross by the hands of the very people he loved and was dying for, a husband should be willing to sacrifice and love his wife that much. He held out his arms and said, even if she turns and causes ultimate hurt, a husband should love his wife enough to forgive and continue to love her. He talked about a husband giving willingly and freely to his wife because he loves her and not out of expectation. It was about showing love, not what you get back. I then discussed how a wife is to accept that love and return that love back to her husband. One thing that a wife can do is to offer respect to the husband that God has given her. Biblically, a husband is to love his wife, but a wife is to respect her husband. That is one of the greatest gifts a woman can give her husband. When I spend my time and energy focusing on showing love to my husband and he focuses on showing love to me, both parties needs are met and the relationship is firm and secure. There is no place to demand anything of the other. This is where trust is formed in a relationship.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
Ephesians 5:25 NIV

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:33 NIV

Jesus loves us so much that he willingly laid down his life because of our faults and sin. He willingly died to set us free. He took our hurt and shame. He took our sins. He took all our weakness and failures and was nailed to that cross by the hands of those he loved.  All because of love.
What an amazing act of love and self-denial. What an amazing gift He gives us.  When I think about the gift of salvation that came from His sacrifice, I feel in awe and humbled. I did not deserve such a gift. Yet, because of His love, He gave it freely.  God gave His son freely and willingly, not to get something out of it, but to offer a gift of salvation and eternal life to those whom he loves.  

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

God is honored and respected by our love that is returned to Him. He does not demand our love. We offer it freely in return just because of the mighty gift of love he has given.  I would even say, even if God never did anything else for me, I would still love Him in return. The gift of sacrifice He gave to set me free and pardon my sins should be enough for me to forever dedicate my love and life to him. I should love him not for what I can get out of the relationship,  but for what He has already done. I should be fully focused on His ultimate gift and my purpose should be to bring Him glory for that gift. I did not deserve such a gift and my life  should  honor and respect that gift. Selfless love that is focused on Him, not selfish love wanting what ever I can get. As a forgiven soul, I can only love God for what he has done and trust that he loves me more than I can ever dream. He will meet my needs as He promised and will care for me deeper than anyone on this earth.  My actions, thoughts and deeds should all be done to show Him how much I love him for who He is and what He has done for me.

Love goes deeper and endures long. Love is selfless, caring and kind. Love brings hope and joy. A good relationship with Jesus is built on love. That is what I want most of all.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.
1 Corinthians 13:4‭-‬7 NIV

Friday, July 21, 2017

mission minded message

I was so privileged to get to attend the general conference for the A.B. of C. In Hot Springs.  I always leave there feeling like my spirit has been fed and refreshed. All the messages were wonderful.  One of my favorite days is getting to hear the missionaries give the reports and share about the mission works around the world.  I usually take copious notes to review later. As I sat down and began flipping through my notes this morning, I realized each missionary had a statement I had written down. Whether they planned to or not, God organized them into a great flow and message.

"Be an encourager."  -Bro. Eric Kirkendall

We need to encourage others. Speak words of life and blessing. Notice others needs and listen when they need to share. We can offer the love of God as we encourage others. We can speak words of life and hope to those around us and those whom we contact every day.

Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians  4:18

"Invest in people." - Sis. Karen Lanning

How do we share the gospel? We invest in people. Many people invest in things, but God cares about people. He sends us to preach the gospel, love others and help others.  We are to be His hands and feet. He invests in us, we need to do the same and reach out into others' lives.

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

"Your heart must go somewhere. " -Pastor David Penrod

Our heart must feel compassion  and love. When we hear about a need, especially in missions or around us locally, we should have a heart that reacts and responds. Our heart should be filled with the love of God and pour out that love in the form of compassion and response to the need as much as we can. We can offer to help meet a need or connect with someone who can. We can pray as well.  What is your heart loving, things or people? Our heart holds treasure dearly. What is your treasure? We need to have the heart of God for people.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21

"Be refreshing to others." -Sis. Mary Mitchell

We must consider how we talk and act. How we treat others reveals what is in our heart. Do we refresh others or bring them down? Are we complainers, gossips,  hurtful, or are we lifting up others? What are we offering to others?  I was challenged by this. I want to refresh others. I want to walk in a room and when  I walk out, leave those there feeling like they have been given a cold glass of water. I want them to feel refreshed, not dragged down by my words, attitude, or presence.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.
Jeremiah 31:25

"The Holy Spirit flows naturally." Bro. Steven Tolman

When we get in tune with God with daily relationship, His Spirit can flow  through us and operate naturally. We will respond to Him and follow His leading. We will be ready to do the work he as for us and His will is accomplished. We should allow the Holy Spirit to flow and operate as He sees fit. This is when miracles take place, when souls are reached, when needs are met, when God is glorified.  That is the true life-giving flow a Christian should have pouring from their lives.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
John 7:38

These messages challenged me and renewed my mission. I hope and pray we all can purpose our daily walk to the flow of the Holy Spirit: to encourage, invest, love and refresh. May our hearts belong to God and His body. May we find that we are purposed to follow God's  heart for those around us and around the world. May all we do glorify our Father in heaven.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

thankful for the blood

This week, I have encountered many statements about blood. I have seen a life suddenly and shockingly end because of the loss of blood. I have seen life beginning because of the flow of blood. I smashed a mosquito full of blood it had just taken. I bandaged a bloody finger. We sang worship songs about the blood of Jesus.

It is firmly established that life is in the blood.

When a woman gets pregnant, one of the first things that happens is part of the cells bury into the uterus  for the establishment of the placenta and umbilical cord. The placenta is how the blood flow is established. Through the placenta and umbilical cord, nutrients and nourishment are transferred to the baby from the mother. Little hair like structures called villi reach into the mother's blood to transfer the oxygen and nutrients without actually allowing the mother's blood to mix with the baby's blood. It is an amazing process.

We, as human beings, must have a healthy blood flow throughout our bodies to keep us alive and healthy. When there is a problem and blood begins to leave a body, life is at risk. Blood flow must be maintained within a body to keep it living. That is why major injuries can often be deadly. If there is bleeding, the blood is flowing out, and with it, the life of a person. If blood flow is cut off from one part of the body, that part will die.

There can also be troubles within the blood. Blood is what delivers oxygen, and removes many toxins. It defends the body from infections and from foreign materials. It is the transport system for oxygen, toxins, hormones, water, proteins, sugars, etc.  It helps us fight infections and keeps us healthy.  My aunt died many years ago because of a disease called aplastic anemia. This is when your body stops producing enough blood cells.  This is difficult to treat as your body is not receiving what it needs, nor able to get rid of toxins efficiently, nor effectively. Without new, healthy blood cells, the body cannot maintain a life giving flow.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
Leviticus 17:11 NKJV

Without blood, our natural bodies cannot live. Life is in the blood, from the early beginnings in the womb, until the last moment before death.
Spiritually, we cannot find life without the blood of Jesus. He sacrificed his life so that we might be able to live.  He gave it willingly to atone for our sins. Leviticus 17:14 says that the blood sustains life. In the Old Testament, a blood sacrifice was required on the altar. In the New Testament, Jesus became that ultimate sacrifice so that we might find eternal life.

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Hebrews 9:11‭-‬15 NKJV

His blood covers our sins and redeems us from the darkness of sin and death and restores true life.

in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:14 NKJV

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23 NKJV

His blood sustains us and delivers us. His blood brings us life: nutrients and oxygen to live, and removes  our sin: toxins that destroy us. His blood is what flows to provide new life for our spiritual man. Without Jesus' blood, our spirit is dead and lifeless. It is hopeless and cannot survive. Spiritually,  life only comes through the blood of Jesus being applied to each soul. That is why we sing about the blood of Jesus washing us white as snow. That is why we can praise when we know our sins are cleansed because of His sacrifice. Jesus laid down his life because we owed ours for our sinfulness. He instead took all that upon himself and allowed his life to flow out of his body, down that wooden beam and into the earth. Right into creation. Right into the very earth from which he had created human beings. He allowed this so that we might be able to be redeemed and forgiven. He wanted his beloved creation to be restored and given back the life He intended at the beginning. Sin had entered and destroyed any chance of the true purpose. Only his life-giving blood could restore life. Thank you, Jesus, for your blood.  Blood gives life.
His blood once applied, can defend us and protect us. It's continuous flow in us will work to make us healthy and sustain us. It will protect us from attacks of the enemy, continue to work on removing impurities and sinful nature, and bring forth new life and strength. His blood will provide the spirit with the nutrients it needs to live and be sustained. Oh how precious is the blood of Jesus.
Blood is life in the physical, natural body and life for our spiritual body. I am thankful for the blood of Jesus. I am thankful for life.