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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Unfailing Love

by Max Lucado

“Love,” Paul says, “never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8 NIV).

The verb Paul uses for the word fail is used elsewhere to describe the demise of a flower as it falls to the ground, withers, and decays. It carries the meaning of death and abolishment. God’s love, says the apostle, will never fall to the ground, wither, and decay. By its nature, it is permanent. It is never abolished.

Love “will last forever” (NLT).

It “never dies” (MSG).

It “never ends” (RSV).

Love “is eternal” (TEV).

God’s love “will never come to an end” (NEB).

Love never fails.

Governments will fail, but God’s love will last. Crowns are temporary, but love is eternal. Your money will run out, but his love never will.

How could God have a love like this? No one has unfailing love. No person can love with perfection. You’re right. No person can. But God is not a person. Unlike our love, his never fails. His love is immensely different from ours.

Our love depends on the receiver of the love. Let a thousand people pass before us, and we will not feel the same about each. Our love will be regulated by their appearance, by their personalities. Even when we find a few people we like, our feelings will fluctuate. How they treat us will affect how we love them. The receiver regulates our love.

Not so with the love of God. We have no thermostatic impact on his love for us. The love of God is born from within him, not from what he finds in us. His love is uncaused and spontaneous.

Does he love us because of our goodness? Because of our kindness? Because of our great faith? No, he loves us because of his goodness, kindness, and great faith. John says it like this: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10 NIV).

Doesn’t this thought comfort you? God’s love does not hinge on yours. The abundance of your love does not increase his. The lack of your love does not diminish his. Your goodness does not enhance his love, nor does your weakness dilute it. What Moses said to Israel is what God says to us:

The LORD did not choose you and lavish his love on you because you were larger or greater than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! It was simply because the LORD loves you. (Deut. 7:7–8 NLT)

God loves you simply because he has chosen to do so.

He loves you when you don’t feel lovely.

He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, but God will love you. Always. No matter what.

This is his sentiment: “I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved” (Rom. 9:25 MSG).

This is his promise. “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself” (Jer. 31:3 NLT).

From A Love Worth Giving
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2002) Max Lucado

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 In Review

This year is almost over and I am taking a moment to reflect over the last 12 months. I name years before they happen and in 2008 I named 2009 the Year of Growth (as in personal growth for myself) and I was very excited about it. Well, it has been a year of personal growth and it was all tough stuff. I like to think of myself as being an optimist..but I am am so over 2009 and so ready for 2010 to begin. Oh and by the way..I have named 2010 The Year of Blessings.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Great Story..Merry Christmas

story...... makes you understand that things happen for a

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first
ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn , arrived in early October
excited about their opportunities. When they saw
their church, it was very run down and needed
much work. They set a goal to have everything
done in time to have their first service
on Christmas Eve..

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls,
painting, etc, and on December 18 were
ahead of schedule and just about finished.

O n December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving
rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.

O n the 21st, the pastor went over to the church.
His heart sank when he saw that the roof had
leaked, causing a large area of plaster about
20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the
sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning
about head high.

The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor,
and not knowing what else to do but
postpone the Christmas Eve service,
headed home. On the way he noticed that
a local business was having a flea market type
sale for charity, so he stopped in. One of the
items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored,
crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine
colors and a Cross embroidered right in the
center. It was just the right size to cover the
hole in the front wall. He bought it and
headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow.. An older
woman running from the opposite direction was
trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor
invited her to wait in the warm church for
the next bus 45 minutes later.

She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor
while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put
up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor
could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and
it covered up the entire problem area.

Then he noticed the woman walking down the center
aisle.. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor,"
she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?"
The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check
the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were
crocheted into it there.. They were.. These were the initials of
the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before,
in Austria .

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor
told how he had just gotten "The Tablecloth". The
woman explained that before the war she and
her husband were well-to-do people in Austria .
When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave.
Her husband was going to follow her the next week.
He was captured, sent to prison and never saw her
husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth;
but she made the pastor keep it for the church.
The pastor insisted on driving her home. That
was the least he could do. She lived on the other
side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn
for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on
Christmas Eve. The church was almost
full. The music and the spirit were great. At the
end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted
everyone at the door and many said that they
would return. One older man, whom the pastor
recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of
in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he
wasn't leaving.

The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on
the front wall because it was identical to one
that his wife had made years ago when
they lived in Austria before the war and how
could there be two tablecloths so much alike?

He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he
forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was
supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and
put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home
again all the 35 years between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to
take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten
Island and to the same house where the pastor
had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of
stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on
the door and he saw the greatest Christmas
reunion he could ever imagine.

True Story - submitted by Pastor Rob Reid
who says God does work in mysterious ways.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Do You See Him??

Do You See Him?

by Max Lucado

IT’S CHRISTMAS NIGHT. THE HOUSE IS QUIET. Even the crackle is gone from the fireplace. The last of the carolers appeared on the ten o’clock news. The last of the apple pie was eaten by my brother-in-law. And the last of the Christmas albums have been stored away having dutifully performed their annual rendition of chestnuts, white Christmases, and red-nosed reindeers.

It’s Christmas night.

The midnight hour has chimed and I should be asleep, but I’m awake. I’m kept awake by one stunning thought. The world was different this week. It was temporarily transformed.

The magical dust of Christmas glittered on the cheeks of humanity ever so briefly, reminding us of what is worth having and what we were intended to be. We forgot our compulsion with winning, wooing, and warring. We put away our ladders and ledgers, we hung up our stopwatches and weapons. We stepped off our race tracks and roller coasters and looked outward toward the star of Bethlehem.

It’s the season to be jolly because, more than at any other time, we think of him. More than in any other season, his name is on our lips.

And the result?

For a few precious hours, he is beheld. Christ the Lord. Those who pass the year without seeing him, suddenly see him. People who have been accustomed to using his name in vain, pause to use it in praise. Eyes, now free of the blinders of self, marvel at his majesty.

All of a sudden he’s everywhere.

In the grin of the policeman as he drives the paddy wagon full of presents to the orphanage.

In the twinkle in the eyes of the Taiwanese waiter as he tells of his upcoming Christmas trip to see his children.

In the emotion of the father who is too thankful to finish the dinner table prayer.

He’s in the tears of the mother as she welcomes home her son from overseas.

He’s in the heart of the man who spent Christmas morning on skid row giving away cold baloney sandwiches and warm wishes.

And he’s in the solemn silence of the crowd of shopping mall shoppers as the elementary school chorus sings “Away in a Manger.”

Emmanuel. He is with us. God came near.

It’s Christmas night. In a few hours the cleanup will begin—lights will come down, trees will be thrown out. Size 36 will be exchanged for size 40, eggnog will be on sale for half price. Soon life will be normal again. December’s generosity will become January’s payments and the magic will begin to fade.

But for the moment, the magic is still in the air. Maybe that’s why I’m still awake. I want to savor the spirit just a bit more. I want to pray that those who beheld him today will look for him next August. And I can’t help but linger on one fanciful thought: If he can do so much with such timid prayers lamely offered in December, how much more could he do if we thought of him every day?

From God Came Near
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1987) Max Lucado