The Month of Love

Before the month of February gets started every year, I see boxes of heart-shaped candies, ads for low-cost roses and cards depicting Cupid everywhere. I get ads in my inbox and see them online, too. In spite of this onslaught of advertising, I am thoroughly convinced that the world that doesn’t know Jesus doesn’t know what love is either. It saddens me that many people settle for a cheap substitution and never consider the real sacrifices that true love requires.

This Scripture verse goes along with what our pastor told us almost five decades ago when my husband and I were going through pre-marital counseling. He said, “Love is always choosing the highest good for the other person regardless of what sacrifice you have to make to do that.” His pronouncement has stayed with me through the years and has meant that in spite of our many difficulties and differences, Harry and I have stayed together for almost fifty years. We have learned to see things through each other’s eyes and make a concerted effort to make choices that will be for the good of our life partner. In today’s world, marriage has become a trial and error situation. If it doesn’t work out, you can always get a divorce and move on. That is not the way we approached our commitment to each other. We saw it as a covenant before God and have spent many hours praying about situations beyond our control that tested our relationship with one another. Regardless, we did not see marriage as a “if it doesn’t work out” proposition but rather as a promise before God to love each other in the way that our pastor described, choosing the highest good of the other person.

I don’t like all of the hearts, flowers and candy that attempt to romanticize a commitment that is taken seriously by God. Sure, they are nice surface things but the flowers die, the candy gets eaten, the card gets misplaced and the love that you felt for that one day or that one month fades quickly into the daily battles of everyday life. I prefer to think of love as a lifetime commitment, not a month of hearts and flowers, no matter how pleasant the latter may seem. I want the love that lasts through the mountains and the valleys, the one that says, “In spite of everything, I choose you.” My husband and I spent many years separated due to his military deployments, but not once did I doubt his love for me. His calls, letters and the cassette tapes he sent just so I could hear his voice when I was lonely showed his desire to fulfill his commitment to me and our children. So, a month of love is not for me. I prefer the kind that lasts forever, the kind that brings candy home “just because” or the kind that plants flowers outside of my window for me to enjoy for the entire season. Yes, the temporary things are nice, but the ones that are deeply rooted in God as the foundation withstand the storms of time, life and trials that we all undergo. It’s good to have someone to go through life with. Life is hard…it takes a lifetime of love to make it. Jesus set the example with His sacrifice and showed us the way to truly love.

May you each find the love that God has for you and the love that is meant to fulfill you in this life. Have a happy life filled with love!

Equality and Adoption

There is a lot of talk in the media these days about equality and making things right and reparations and all things divisive. In the Scriptures, I read what Jesus thought about equality and it has nothing to do with race or reparations and everything to do about sacrifice. And Jesus’s sacrifice unites instead of dividing.

Jesus is and was God, before the creation of the earth. He left His rightful place in Heaven to come to earth as a humble man, born into the family of a carpenter and one hundred percent human as well as one hundred percent God. His humility led Him to the cross and thank God for His sacrifice because it is through Him that we become adopted into the family of God. Jesus paid the “reparations” for all of us to be accepted by the Lord God.

We are not a servant in God’s household, but rather, we are His children, calling Him Father and able to cry out to Him freely at any time. That is what Jesus’s sacrifice provided for us. Jesus did not seek equality; He created it for us.

It is because of the Father’s great love for us that He gave His Son, thus making us all His children. Amazing love, indeed!

Have a blessed and wonderful day, realizing your status before God and how very much He loves you!

The Gifts Are Opened…Now What?

So, the day after Christmas and all of the gifts have been opened, exclaimed over and thanks given (I hope, at least) for the time and effort that the giver put into choosing the gift for you. In order to truly appreciate a gift, one needs to be aware of the effort and time that the giver put into the package that he/she gave you. Now, take that thought and apply it to the gift that God has given each of us.

The time God put into offering His Only Son as a sacrifice for our sins…well, He planned it since the beginning. So, more time than I have ever put into a gift, for sure! The effort God put into the gift…well, He gave up His Only Son for each of us to be able to have an eternal relationship with Him. Jesus left His home in Heaven and came to earth, suffered and did. That’s a lot of effort for sinful man, many of whom don’t accept or appreciate the gift. The gift of Jesus was costly and showed an unbelievable amount of love from the Father for each of us, His children.

So, now what? With gifts from family and friends, we express our thanks, sometimes write a thank you note and may or may not actually use the gift. With God, the gift is so wonderful that we need to spend time on our knees thanking Him for it and then we need to spend the rest of our lives dedicated to serving the One who made it possible for us to even exist, much less in a relationship with the Sovereign God and Creator of all. The what next part is giving our lives to Him so that He can then reach out to others who need to know about the gift that they were given but may not have received yet. It’s important that we carry through with sharing the testimony that God has given us so that others can know the same freedom, joy, hope, love, mercy and grace that we have. God sent His Son for all…an indescribable gift that should never be taken for granted but should always stir up thanksgiving and the urge to tell others about what God has done.

May you always know the peace and love that come with the gift of the birth and sacrifice of Christ! Have a blessed day, my friends.

Trading Up

When I was a child, one of our activities involved trading toys to neighbors for more coveted ones. I was a poor trader because I usually got the doll with the sparse hair or the “jacks” ball that looked like it had been chewed on by the family pet. I don’t remember how it all came about, but I do know that when I got home with my new treasures, I quickly put them away into the playroom because they were not what I wanted but they were what I got. In a similar fashion, my husband, an avid sports fan, tells me in great detail who has been traded up from one team to another and how it will or will not benefit the new team. I listen halfheartedly because sports do not interest me at all, but I have listened, making it possible for me to include that analogy in my thoughts today.

In exchange for accepting Jesus as Savior, you trade up. Instead of a broken heart, you have healing. Instead of captivity, you have freedom. And instead of darkness, you have light. Now, that is trading up! Jesus does not, however, promise that all will be easy on this new road. He simply promises that eternity is waiting and He will be with us through all of the difficult times. I traded my shame over my sin for redemption and belief in an eternal home where I can always be with the One who sacrificed His life for me. Jesus exchanged His home in Heaven for a home on earth so that He could sacrifice His life willingly to save each of us. He considered us a “trade up” and I’m so grateful that He considered me worthy!

Have a blessed day and enjoy the feelings of peace and security that come from knowing the Lord as your Savior.


Just about everyone is seeking some kind of treasure, a way to be rich without having to work hard. Whether it’s by pursuing sound investments, flipping houses or waiting impatiently for an inheritance, we want what we want and we don’t want to work for it. The truth is that we already have a treasure, but some of us don’t recognize it.

This treasure is the truth of God’s Word that we are supposed to freely share with others. It is the gift of eternal life that was freely given to us by the sacrifice of Jesus. We did nothing to deserve it and yet sometimes we just carry it around in our “jars of clay” instead of sharing it with others. Our jars of clay, that is our human bodies, are decaying daily, but the treasure of eternal life that we hold is renewing our inner soul in a way that is unimaginable for us finite beings.

Instead of always wanting more of the goods that the world has to offer, we should be content with the treasure that God has given us, a treasure that is so plentiful that we could share daily with multiple people and never deplete the supply. The truth about Jesus is not a lake but an eternal fountain, one of life and restoration.

Have a blessed day and may you recognize the treasure God has given you and be willing to share it daily with others who need to know Gospel.

Hannah’s Sacrifice

The story of Hannah in I Samuel is one that has many lessons to teach, about perseverance, faith and keeping your word. Today, I want to focus on what happened to Hannah, the vow she made and the sacrifice she made to keep that vow to God.

Hannah was one of Elkanah’s wives but she was distraught because she was barren. On an annual trip to the temple, Hannah cried before the Lord, silently begging Him to open her womb. Eli, the priest there, thought she was drunk but she told him that she was not drunk but in despair. He blessed her with a prayer that God would answer her prayer.

This is the vow that Hannah made. If God would only give her a son, she would give him back to the Lord for his entire life. Sounds like a hard bargain to me, but she made it and kept it.

Hannah did indeed have a son, named him Samuel and did not go with Elkanah to the temple the next year because she told her husband that she was waiting until he was weaned so that she could give him to the Lord, just as she had promised. Now, think about it. She had no children, gives birth to her only son and promises to give him back to the Lord. That is dedication! That is keeping a promise!

Follow through is always important and Hannah is a model of following through. Once Samuel was weaned, she took him to the temple and gave him to Eli the priest to train him. Samuel worships the Lord at the temple after his mother leaves him there. I don’t know about you, but when one of my children was in a different aisle in the grocery store, I used to panic, looking everywhere him/her until they were safely next to me again. I cannot imagine leaving my child with another man, one who is a priest, but nevertheless not a relative or someone you know well and then walking away, knowing that the child will grow up there, not with me. Keep in mind that Hannah had been barren and Samuel was her only child. Yet she keeps her vow and walks away.

As a well-known commentator named Paul Harvey used to say, this is the “rest of the story.” God blessed Hannah with more children: three sons and two daughters. He saw her willing sacrifice and that she fulfilled it and blessed her above and beyond what she had given.

Hannah’s vow to God was a sacrifice that I am sure that I could not make, but she did and the nation of Israel was blessed because of her great dedication to the Lord. I am not saying that God will always do for each of us what He did for Hannah, but I am saying that when you pray to God, pray with purpose, with wholehearted determination to be heard and to hear from Him. He does always hear and always answers, just not always in the way we expect. Hannah had her prayers answered and her dreams fulfilled because she was a dedicated servant of the Lord, one who prayed instead of becoming bitter and blaming Him for her troubles. I want to be like Hannah, willing to listen to God and His answers and to receive the answer that He gives, in His time.

May you each have a blessed day and may you be fully aware of the sacrifice that God made of His Only Son so that we could become His children.

A Day of Waiting

The somber day of Jesus’s crucifixion is done. The celebration of His Resurrection is yet to happen. What do we do on this Holy Saturday? Like the disciples, we wait. Unlike them, on that day after His death, we know that the future is bright because of His empty tomb. The disciples had to be terrified that they, the ones closest to the Messiah, would also be arrested, tortured and put to death. They scattered and hid because they had lost their shepherd. We have the hope that they did not have and know that Sunday is coming! We put our hope in God’s Word, waiting with expectation for the next great thing He will do in our lives to show His love for us. He already did the greatest thing possible when He sacrificed His Only Son for our sins. How can we not believe in His great love for us?

Have a blessed day as you reflect on the sacrifice of the Lord and wait for the celebration of the Resurrection Day.

Jesus’s Sacrifice

Since it is Holy Week, all of my devotional material is focused on Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection, just as it should be, of course. In keeping with that theme, that is my focus this week.

There is absolutely nothing we could ever do to be righteous enough to stand before the Lord on our own merits. We were not saved by our own works but rather by the sacrificial blood of Jesus. But He didn’t stop there. He also renews us daily by His Holy Spirit. Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior means entering into a relationship with a God who held out His hand to us first, expecting nothing in return, and who made the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. I think that often when I plan to do something for someone, my selfish thoughts first go to how a certain action will affect me. God just sent His Only Son to die for us, without a single selfish thought.

Our response to the sacrifice of Jesus is to devote ourselves to doing good. No, good works don’t save us! Jesus does! The good works are our response to having Him live in our hearts. Our lives are only productive if we are meeting the needs of others instead of only focusing on self.

The excuse that many use for not doing good is that others will ridicule us because of our position as Christians. A younger me shied away from helping others publicly because I didn’t want anyone to notice me. But Jesus was not ashamed of me when He went to the cross willingly. There is nothing that I can do for others to ever compare to what Jesus did for me. So, ridicule is nothing. Being called names online…nothing. Being ostracized from certain unbelieving family members…nothing. Yes, my beliefs might be considered radical to some. After all, I believe in a risen Savior who died that I might live eternally with Him! But isn’t that what His sacrifice on the cross was all about? His entire life was focused on doing God’s will and fulfilling the destiny that He knew God the Father had established for Him. Can I do any less than seek God’s will and do it, regardless of peer pressure?

May you have a quiet day of meditation and reflection about all the Lord has done for you and all He is still doing for you daily. God bless you!

God Has a Plan

These days, it’s hard to pick up a newspaper or turn on the news for only a few minutes without getting discouraged. There is so much evil in the world that it seems to be overflowing with it. Now that war has begun in Europe, it seems that the vile things that man does to other men is indescribable. Nevertheless, in my devotional this morning, God spoke clearly to me that He is in control and He has a plan.

Have you ever started your day with your hours all planned out? It’s a long “to do” list and you proudly check off things as you accomplish them. Then, there are the days that you have the list, you have the plan, but you don’t get to check off anything because you are just trying to make it through the day. Have you ever thought about the fact that God, the Sovereign Lord, does not have those kinds of days in which He gets discouraged and nothing seems to go right? He makes the plan and carries it out. In fact, He makes the plan before the plan needs to be made.

A case in point is Jesus. There was a whole system of sacrifice established in the Old Testament and described in great detail in the Book of Leviticus. A lamb without blemish. Blood on the altar. Take away the sins. All the columns were checked. But it wasn’t enough. Even before the foundation of the earth, God had a plan to save mankind from our sinful natures, once and for all. His plan was Jesus! Before I knew that Jesus died for me, God had already provided Him as my Savior.

I like the part in this verse that says I was still a sinner. God didn’t wait for me to get my act together and complete a “to do” list of things to accomplish before I could be saved. His plan was Jesus…already made. Done! Finished!

Now, back to the scenario of war in Europe. This verse is my prayer for the brave Ukrainian people. But it is also my prayer for anyone facing a formidable enemy. Instead of thinking about the power of the enemy, consider the power of our God who is beside you and who already has a plan. When Elisha’s servant was downhearted in II Kings 6 because he saw how great the enemy was, Elisha prayed for God to open his servant’s eyes. The prayer was answered and the servant saw a host of angels prepared to fight the battle. We don’t always know what God’s plan is, but we can rest in the absolute certainty that He has one, and it’s good.

I have read this verse many times because waiting is just not something I’m very good at. But today is the first time that I paid close attention to the middle part of the verse. It says to be brave and courageous. We are not supposed to cower away from the world and events that cause us fear. Instead, we are to bravely wait for the Lord, knowing with all of our being that He has a plan. And it’s a good one!

Andrew Murray was a pastor and author, most known for his missions work and establishing churches in South Africa. I saved this quotation from one of my devotionals last year and when I read it again today, I knew that it would be useful for my current blog. We limit God because we put Him into a box of humanity, thinking that He can only do so much because that is what we can do. God, however, cannot be fenced in. He is everywhere, all-powerful and capable of doing anything. So, today, as you pray over your to-do list or pray for the people in Ukraine, be bold in your prayers. Be brave! Know that God is hearing and will answer them. Perhaps His timing is different than ours would be. Most likely, that is true. That’s because God is always on time, He knows the best time to answer, and He has always and will always be there for us. Why? Because He loves us and He has a plan. And it’s a good one!

God bless you as you go through your day and may God show you part of His plan for you and encourage you today with that knowledge.