Unfailing Love

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Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
   your faithfulness to the skies.
 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
   your justice like the great deep.
Psalm 36:5

 

The unique and beautiful term David used in this Psalm to express God’s love was the Hebrew word  Hesed.  This is a very rich word; rich with depth and meaning and truth. Hesed  is considered one of the most important terms in Old Testament theology and ethics. It has three basic meanings which all interact together: strength, steadfastness, and love.

The word Hesed cannot be fully understood unless all three of the meanings are incorporated. Generally the word “love” carries a bit of light hearted, fluffy affection, but when we put love together with steadfastness and strength we understand the enduring nature of God’s Hesed – type of love, even toward those who seem weak or undeserving.

Hesed implies loyalty, mercy and generosity. It also infers personal involvement and commitment beyond what the law requires. For example, a husband and wife are legally bound to each other, yet their relationship transcends the legal document and represents a bond and commitment to each other. The prophet Hosea spoke of the Hesed between God and His people, “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD,” Hosea 2:19-20.

Not only does God demonstrate this enduring love and kindness, He wants us to know and  understand His hesed love for us. Consider the words God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah saying:

This is what the LORD says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness (hesed),
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:23,24

This Holiday season, my prayer for you is that you will experience the comfort and joy of His Unfailing Love for you.

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This blog is an excerpt from Unfailing Love. To learn more about this book and the $5 special this month click here.

 

Photo at the beginning of this blog is by Chris Meads on Unsplash

 

Light of the World

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Many years ago when I taught science, I enjoyed teaching my students about the spectrum of light and the rainbow of colors that appear when light is refracted.  Whether it is a rainbow, a sunset, a prism or cut glass, refracted light always reveals the same order of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet (Roy G. Biv). It’s unchangeable and consistent.

Isn’t it interesting how many of the characteristics of light seem to reflect certain attributes of God?  Just as the spectrum of light is unchangeable, so our glorious God is immutable and unchangeable. The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” It’s no wonder that the beloved disciple John uses the metaphor of light to describe God.

 

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

 

Darkness can’t overtake the light, but light drives out or dispels the darkness. Throughout scripture, light refers to holiness, purity and truth, while darkness is compared to evil and sin. God is completely holy and represents absolute purity. There is no sin in Him, not even the smallest portion. Darkness is a place where things are hidden, but when God shines His light in our lives, He not only reveals sin, but He also offers forgiveness through Jesus. He opens our eyes to see things we may have never seen before and guides us down a new path.

 

He lights up our spiritual eyes to see.

 

May we bask in the radiance of His love, as He lights our paths and guides our way through this dark world. This Holy season points us to Jesus – the Light of the World. As we enjoy the lights and splendor of Christmas let us joyfully reflect on the One True Light and turn our hearts toward Him.

 

Praise you Light of the World. Thank you for the warmth of your love and the light of your wisdom. Continue to lead us and guide us along Your path. Shine your light on the dark corners of our lives. Help us to shine your light so that others may know your love.

 

Photo by Charlotte Coneybeer on Unsplash

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A portion of this blog is an excerpt from my book Unfailing Love.

Love Came Down at Christmas   

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Untouchable – that’s how we could describe many of the  lives of the  rich, famous and powerful people in our culture today, whether we are talking about notable athletes, popular Hollywood celebrities or important politicians. With prominence comes isolation from the public, and a guarded distance from “normal people” – and understandably so. But that is not how God is toward us. He deliberately allowed Himself to be approachable, knowable and touchable.

Christmas reminds us that God is relatable. He didn’t choose to enter the world with pomp, popularity or great riches. He came as a humble baby, born in a stable and placed in a manger. He who was from the beginning, came to this earth as a touchable human being. The beloved disciple, John, so eloquently described the relatability of Jesus in the opening lines of his first epistle.

 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.

 I John 1:1-2

 

Oh the beauty of the Christmas story! Jesus chose to be seen, heard and touched. I love how John described Jesus as the Word of Life. Think about the power of our words. They reveal our thoughts and let people know what is going on inside of our hearts. Our words communicate the very essence of who we are. In a similar way, Jesus revealed who God is. Jesus communicated God to the world. Just as God used words to speak all of creation into existence, Jesus (the Word) brought salvation into existence. Jesus is the Word of Life. He was there at the creation of life and through Him we have eternal life.

This week, I want to encourage you to reflect on I John 1:1-2. Think about the love God communicated to the world through His Son Jesus (the Word of Life). Perhaps you are familiar with the words of the old hymn first published in 1885 (written by Christina G Rossetti.

 

 

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, Love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

 

For the next few weeks, I want to continue to focus on the theme, “Love Came Down at Christmas.” How joyful to fill our hearts and minds with the love of God and to allow His love to flow through us during the Holiday season and throughout the year!

 

A portion of this article is an except from my book, Unfailing Love.

 

Photo by Roberto Nickson (@g) on Unsplash

10 Ideas to Inspire Gratitude

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This month as we set aside a day to gather together and offer our thanks to the Lord for all He has done in our lives, let’s renew the habit of making thankfulness an everyday part our lives.  When we choose to deliberately focus on what we are thankful for, it changes our outlook in life. There is something to be glad about in every situation, but we need to be looking for it. That’s what thankful people do – they count their blessings rather than wasting time grumbling and complaining. Let’s be intentional about gratitude every single day and usher in the holidays with a joy-filled heart.

 

Here are 10 ideas to spark and inspire a grateful heart for both you and your family. These are simply suggestions, not another burdensome list. Keep it simple and just apply a couple of these in order to start a new Thanksgiving tradition.

 

  1. Write down 5 things you are thankful for every morning.
  2. Send a thank you note, text or email to a friend or family member, telling them what you appreciate about them.
  3. Forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against and thank the Lord for His forgiveness of your sins through Jesus.
  4. Give a thank you gift or flowers to brighten the day of someone who has been a blessing to you..
  5. Thank a member of the armed forces with a card or gift.
  6. Make a list of the things you can be thankful for in a challenge you are currently facing.
  7. Call your spouse during the day, just to say thank you.
  8. Create a space somewhere in the kitchen for everyone to write their list of blessings.
  9. Play and sing praise and worship music throughout your day.
  10. Pray together as a family at night, thanking the Lord for His blessings.

 

Finally, here are a few verses you may want to post around your house or memorize:

 

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

 

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.  Psalm 106:1

Three Surprising Benefits of Gratitude

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We’ve always known that there are multiple benefits to being a thankful person. This week, I want to highlight three areas that I found to be inspiring and motivating. Hopefully, as we examine these benefits we will each take more deliberate steps to change our thinking patterns and focus on the good in our lives.

Less Stress – Neuroscience has discovered that thankful thoughts actually produce pleasure in the brain. Numerous other studies show the reduction of stress when we intentionally focus on what we are thankful for on a regular basis. One study even demonstrated that people who are grateful tend to sleep better.  And did you know that stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people? That’s enough to keep me motivated!

Humility – When we turn our hearts upward in thanks to God, we are recognizing all that we are and all that we have comes from Him. Pride on the other hand, says, “I did it myself,” and tends to ignite ego-centered and self-righteous thought patterns. A grateful heart acknowledges that our source of wisdom and strength comes from God – He is the one who gives us the gifts and talents to do what He has put us on this earth to do.

Better Relationships – When we are thankful, gracious and humble, we are more likely to demonstrate patience and self-control toward others. We tend to see the best in others rather than complaining about the worst in them, when we actively practice gratitude. Probably the most obvious reason grateful people have better relationships is because they are more delightful to be around. Who enjoys company with a Negative Nancy? One CNN report confirmed, “Couples who exhibit thankfulness tend to be more committed to each other and are more likely to remain in their relationships.”

Living a life of gratitude brings out the beauty in each of us. Let’s make it a daily practice to give thanks by writing at least five things we are thankful for in a journal every morning. The more specific and sincere, the better! Instead of simply writing, “I’m thankful for a great day yesterday,” write, “I’m grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with my best friend yesterday – shopping, laughing and walking around at the mall together.” We each have the power to change our focus. November is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf, don’t you think?

Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash