Tag Archive: love


December 20, 2012
Long Walk Part of Gift
Sharon Jaynes

Today’s Truth
“Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2 NIV).

Friend to Friend
An African boy listened carefully as his teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day. “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship for each other,” she said.

When Christmas day came, the boy brought to the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked as she gently fingered the gift.

The youth told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless.

“Why…why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift.”

I just love that story. During this holiday season, I watch as people scurry about swiping those plastic cards through the credit card machines faster than a speeding bullet. And yet, God has already shown us that the most precious gifts cannot be bought or sold. “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).

The magi also knew about the joy of giving. While they gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the Christ child, they also gave another gift…a long walk. We don’t know how far the magi traveled, but we do know that it was a distance that took months, perhaps years. Their long walk was part of the gift.

I wonder how far we are willing to go to worship Jesus…to bring our gifts to him. I wonder how far out of the way we will go to praise him. Do we only give to Him when it is convenient or easy? Or do we give what He wants most – a portion of ourselves, our very lives.

I think the little African boy had the right idea. The real gift wasn’t the shell; it was the sacrifice he had to make to give it.

Let’s Pray
Dear God, thank You for the gift You gave us through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  I pray that I will keep gift-giving in perspective this holiday season and give gifts from the heart rather than the pocketbook.  Help me to see that a “long walk,” or a portion of myself, is the greatest gift of all.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

When Love Trumps Anger

October 26, 20l2
When Love Trumps Anger
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth
“My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” – James 1:19-20 (NIV).

Friend To Friend
“I’m a terrible mom!”

Do you ever say these words? I do. I did that day. The day I was working in my office, minding my own business, when my oldest son threw a paper airplane at the back of my head.  Not one to normally welcome an air attack, I gave him the stern “mom voice,” and asked him to stop messing around. I told him to give me some private time so I could get some work done. He agreed, and turned to leave. Surprisingly, he then jumped around and threw it at me again!  Well, let me tell you, my grace-o-meter was reading pretty low at this point!  I barked like an angry dog.  “What in the world do you think you are doing?  I just told you that I needed to be left alone so I can get some work done!  Stop it!”

“But Mom, there’s a message on the plane,” he tenderly replied. “Read it.”

As I unfolded the airplane made of orange construction paper, I saw this message written in pink marker:  “Mom, I Love You.” His affectionate declaration was followed by a few X’s and O’s. You know: hug, hug, kiss, kiss. Pure precious. Big fail.

“Nice!” I said to myself. “Loser-mom strikes again.”  I had scolded my son and reacted out of frustration with an unkind tone. All the while, my son was trying to communicate love to me.

I felt horrible. Time seemed to stand still as I started to beat myself up.

Shame began to fill my heart, but as it did the Spirit of God within me gently nudged – reminding me that condemnation is not from Him … that His conviction was purposed to spur me on toward choosing a godly response.  So I chose love – God’s love alive in me.  As I chose God’s better way, the grace way, His love trumped my anger.  It’s weightier.  Praise God!

I called my son back into my office, and apologized for my behavior.  I welcomed this tall, lanky teen to sit on my lap and told him that – while I’m not particularly fond of airplane attacks, especially while I’m working, I am fond of love attacks.  We held each other and had a very sweet moment.

As Preston and I hugged, God reminded me of this principle: When we allow His love to trump our anger, we are able to experience restoration in relationships.

My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:19-20 NIV).

The Bible tells us that we are to be slow to anger.  It is a lesson that I am still learning.  Now, that doesn’t mean we should never be angry.  Jesus exhibited righteous anger in the Jerusalem temple when he drove out the merchants that were buying and selling there.  Righteous anger is permissible.  We should be angry about sin and injustice.  But when we respond to others in anger, it becomes our sin.

Got any relationships that are in need of restoration?  Is there any anger, unforgiveness, or bitterness in your heart that might be gaining a stronghold in your life and keeping you from God’s best?  The benefits of allowing the love of God to trump the anger in your heart are tremendous, but the application can be very challenging.  We can’t overcome our natural, sinful tendencies to react, and overreact, in anger alone.  We need God’s help.  His strength will meet us at our need when we call on Him.  The Holy Spirit will help us to respond in God’s strength, not our own.

Call on His strength today.

Let’s Pray
Holy Father, Thank you for leading me in Your way of grace today. I need Your help!  I confess my anger/bitterness/unforgiveness right now with _______________.  Please forgive me.  Please bring restoration to the relationships that have been affected by my anger.  Help me recognize when I over-react or when I respond in anger that is ungodly.  Give me the strength to respond in love – to be slow to speak and quick to listen – so that You can be glorified through my behavior.
In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Longing to Be Loved

June 15, 2012

Longing To Be Loved
Gwen Smith

Today’s Truth
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Friend to Friend
Every once in a while one of my children surprises me with unexpected sweetness. Like most children, my kidsare sweet on a regular basis, but I’m talking about a special, take-my-breath-away sweetness that creates a time capsule moment for my mommy heart. A moment that I will cherish forever.

I had one of those special conversations with my middle child, Hunter, when he was nine year-old. It was bedtime. Teeth were brushed. Jammies were on. Prayers had been prayed. The smell of shampoo lingered from his freshly showered head as I brushed a stray hair from his eye. That’s when he initiated “project: unexpected sweetness” with an innocent question: “Mommy, do you know what I love?”

“What do you love, Hunter?” I asked quietly.

“I love being loved,” he said thoughtfully. “Yep. I really love being loved.”

As I lay beside him in the dark room I could scarcely process the vastness of his statement. It was the simplest of thoughts, delightfully honest, yet one of the most profound and insightful statements I’d ever heard come from his lips. From his heart.

When he spoke those four little words, “I love being loved,” he communicated several things to me:

· He had a deep longing to be loved.
· He knew he was loved.
· His love tank was being re-filled as I tucked him in.
· His greatest need is love.

Like Hunter, our greatest longing is also to be loved… to feel safe, adored, and content in love.

I don’t know where this devotion finds you today, but I sense God nudging me to tell you that He loves you. Completely. Perfectly. Eternally. (Yes, I’m talking to you!) He knows your name, He knows your heart, He knows your circumstances, and He hears your prayers. He loves you and desires for you to rest in His love.

God’s love is not based on performance or beauty. It’s not based on position or abilities. Many times we mistakenly think that if we could just do this or that better – that God would love us more. That if we just hadn’t done this or that – God would love us more. The truth is this: God will never love you more or less…no matter what. His love is complete and you are the object of His heart. Savor the special sweetness of God’s love for you today. Linger on thoughts of His affection for you.

But don’t take my word for it – take His! The Bible tells us that God’s love for us is unstoppable, unsearchable and unbreakable: “…that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

No matter what you’ve believed in the past, choose by faith to believe this now: you are valued, priceless, and adored by God. “Take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19, MSG).

When you embrace the deep love of Christ as a personal reality, you gain traction for powerful, meaningful living that begins with forgiveness and continues on in truth and grace. Go in His love today. Be assured of it. Share it. Be changed by it. Change others with it.

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