Thursday, December 31, 2009

IN GOD WE TRUST

Yes, I realize that this did not actually come from God and perhaps the expression "on this day we believe God wants you to know" is assuming a lot, but they have a good message and I didn't feel any harm in posting. ~~~~ By the way, I'm going to be offline for a couple of days, so everyone, have a New Year blessed with God's graces. Have fun celebrating the New Year, but please be very careful and safe!! Much love to all!


On this day, God wants you to know...

... that joy will come when you pass on the love you have received. If you hoard love, it melts away. If you lock love, it breaks free. If you grab on to love, you end up holding an illusion. When you let love flower in its own way, it stays to support you. When you pass on love, it multiplies beyond measure.

DEEP THOUGHTS

Here is a little something that a friend shared with me today:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

~Frank Outlaw

ENCOURAGEMENT

Thank you, friends who have responded to my essay about "worry".  I am lifting up a very special need to God.  Please pray for me and this special need. I am very grateful for all of you.  I am using the following to give me strength and bolster my faith and confidence.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


Isaiah 41:10

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."



Deuteronomy 31:6

HEARTLIGHT



VERSE:

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

~John 3:3

THOUGHT:

"Fast away the old year passes ..." But we can be new and fresh and clean (cf. 2 Cor. 4:17). Kingdom people are those who have been born fresh and new through the power of the Spirit and the grace of God (cf. John 3:3-7; Titus 3:3-7; John 1:11). So as we close out the old year, with its good things and bad, achievements and failures, successes and disappointments, let's approach the New Year as Kingdom people. God's mercies are new every morning and our lives can be made new every day by the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Yes, we have been born again. But each sunrise offers us the opportunity to be made new, to live in a fresh new way, as God's grace rekindles our hopes and the Holy Spirit makes us new as we trust in Jesus our Lord.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, you are holy and righteous. I confess that as hard as I have tried and as much as I have wanted to be holy and righteous, without your grace and the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, I fail. Thank you for your forgiveness. Please make me new. As I stand on the threshold of a new year, please empower me beyond my weaknesses and besetting sins. Open my eyes to your work in the world around me and use me in your work of grace. Fire my passion to live fully for your Kingdom and my King, Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.

THIS DAY'S . . .




It is a vital moment of truth when a man discovers that what he condemns most vehemently in others is that to which he is himself prone.

~Unknown

~*~



I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.

~Psalm 118:17, The New International Version


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PRAYER

Psalm 25:4-7 (New International Version)

4 Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths;

5 guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

6 Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.

7 Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O LORD.

WORRY. WHO? ME?

I couldn't get to sleep last night. After taking my mom and dad to the airport yesterday, we came home and I began packing up all of the inside decorations while Lee worked in the garage putting our wreaths in bags and the outside lights in a storage container. I don't believe it happened just then, but later that the post-holiday blues began to creep up to me. I didn't even see them after I had vaccumed and washed the sheets in the guest rooms. I didn't see them as I ate a very light dinner, the first in a week ("light", I mean). I couldn't get to sleep. My knees ached something fierce yesterday afternoon. I rubbed them subconsciously and they felt swolen. I even had the thought, "if I could stick a pin in my knees, would all of what is aching drain away?"

I got into bed around 9 p.m. and turned on the television, which is more or less my habit. Lee came to bed around 10 p.m., I watched a little more television and felt that sensation of longing to sleep, so I turned off the set and hunkered down to slip into a restful sleep.

Sleep did not come. My knees ached, my skin itched, I tossed and I turned, but sleep did not come. Two hours later and after arguing within myself, I got out of bed, came to the kitchen and poured a glass of milk. I turned on the television and watched who knows what, I don't even remember what I watched. Was I walking in my sleep? I took some medication to relax me, got back into bed and eventually, sleep came.

I took advantage of having no reason to rise early. As per custom, the telephone rang and woke me. I looked at the caller I.D., but could not make out the caller's name. Suddenly, I heard the answering machine so I walked to the kitchen to listen. There I listened to the voice of a small child, a little girl, asking to come to my house and telling me "Thank you." At first, I thought it was my great-niece, Ava. But I looked at the telephone number and it belongs to someone I do not know. "Should I call them back and let them know they called the wrong number?" Now, I am worrying. I heard a man's voice in the background. Should I call them back?

This is how my mind works.  I am a WORRIER!  How do I stop this cycle?  I worry constantly . . . about my business, that of my children, their children, my friends . . . when will the worry end?  Why can't I be happy like "normal" people?  I called my mom.  She recited all that transpired after they returned home yesterday and what has transpired today.  She sounds perfectly content and happy.  I don't detect any "worry".  I talked to my sister.  We did our usual "analyzation" of people and circumstances that transpired over the many gatherings at my house over Christmas.  She sounds happy, not worried.  My husband came home from work.  He seems "normal", not worried.  Judge Judy is thrashing those plaintiffs and defendants, giving them what they must deserve, but she doesn't appear worried.

Worry is going to be my project for the New Year.  I just decided.  It is what plagues my psyche the most and I MUST learn to deal with it.  I spend entirely too much time worrying about others.  It is good and loving to be concerned (appropriately!) for others, but I am OBSSESSED!  That's it, "obssessed".  That word doesn't even sound good.  It sounds as if something is wrong, out of order, not normal or good.  I'm tackling worry and if you can help me, I would welcome any advice that is sound and logical. Now, I have hope. Hope that someone is going to respond, and hope in the fact that I've gotten this out in the open.  I'm not perfect.  I am a worrier.  Couple that with being a sinner, and then I worry about that, well, that's enough worry for one person.  I have my work cut out for me.

ONCE UPON A RECIPE

I'm joining Cathy at A Bit of Blarney in her Once Upon a Recipe, so be sure to check out her blog!




Chocolate Nut Chewies

2/3 C butter (unsalted)
2 C brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 C flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 package (small) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter, add sugar and eggs and beat.  Beat all dry ingredients and add nuts and chocolate chips before stirring flower and butter.  Mix and pour into a 9x13 sheath cake pan.  Bake approximately 25 - 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cut into squares.  These are delicious warmed in the microwave later!

THINK . . . .

To realize the value of a sister/brother: Ask someone who doesn't have one.

To realize the value of ten years: Ask a newly divorced couple.

To realize the value of four years: Ask a graduate.

To realize the value of one year: Ask a student who has failed a final
exam.

To realize the value of nine months: Ask a mother who gave birth to a
stillborn.

To realize the value of one month: Ask a mother who has given birth to A
premature baby.

To realize the value of one week: Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of one minute: Ask a person who has missed the train,
bus or plane.

To realize the value of one-second: Ask a person who has survived an
accident.

To realize the value of a friend or family member: LOSE ONE.

Remember... Hold on tight to the ones you love!

Time waits for no one; treasure every moment you have, you will treasure it even more when you can share it with someone special.

TODAY'S SMILE

A little boy asked his father for assistance in repairing his broken wagon. When the job was done, the boy looked up and said, "Daddy, when I try to do things by myself, they go wrong. But when you and I work together, they turn out just fine."

~Unknown

~*~

Great analogy, huh. It's just like us: when we go through life without the Heavenly Father's help, things do not come together as they should. We run against all kinds of obstacles, or we make the wrong decisions, or we feel defeated and empty in our efforts. We NEED the Father in our lives. HE keeps us centered; HE helps us work through all things; HE helps us to make the right decisions; HE picks us up when we fall; HE never abandons us. We NEED the Father, and the greatest part is that HE loves us unconditionally, just as an earthly father loves his own children. HE always forgives, dries our tears, heals our wounded heart and soul, helps us get back on our feet and on the right path.

Thank you, Father, for forgiving me and for always being there waiting for me to ALLOW you into my life. You are at the center of my heart and my life.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I AM . . .

T - I - R - E - D, TIRED!



Christmas 2009 - Officially in the Book of Memories

Greetings dear friends! We had another memorable and happy Christmas with family and friends. For the last week we have been cooking, eating and entertaining family and friends. Mother and Daddy left today and returned home to Texas safely. It is such a joy to have everyone here, but the work of cooking and cleaning up after all the gatherings is a lot of work. I do this gladly. Mother and Dad are getting up in years, and although the gene pool blessed our family with longevity, you never know when the Lord is going to call one of us or more home.




Lee gave me a beautiful white gold crucifix, which I had told him was my most wanted gift.  Mother and Dad gave us the Christmas decorations outside, plus a wonderful new portrait of them.  My son and his fiance, Kerry and Amber, gave us portraits of them which are really great photographs, and my daughter and her family gave me a piece of Department 56 village buildings for my collection.

Mom and I spent time together doing the cooking and baking.  It was quality time.  I turned on the satellite radio to the Inspiration channel, which was playing all Christmas music, and she and I worked away while we both sang with the songs playing in the background.  We agreed that we work well together, and we gave one another a "high five" when we managed to have all of Christmas dinner cooked by 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Day.  Then we discovered that we completely forgot to fry the corn and decided to NOT cook the rolls when we remembered those as everyone was lined up to the buffet when we remembered them.  Five pounds of mashed potatoes were eaten, not leaving a speck, as well as ALL the green beans.  NO LEFTOVERS is good news to me because it meant less to pack away in the fridge.  Mom made something called a sopapia cheesecake, which I will be posting that recipe in the near future.  You talk about something GOOD!  You've got to try this when I get it posted.

We returned home from the airport today and went about tearing down all our Christmas decorations.  I've packed all the inside decorations and they are safely back in their respective places in the attic.  The local landscape company came and took down all of the outside lights, and Lee has them safely packed away in the garage.

One final thing was left and that was to find a new background for this blog.  As you can see, I found a very colorful one and I think I like it well enough to keep it up for a while.  I hope to become more creative with my blogging in the coming year, as well as keeping with the spiritual focus.

I thank God for this beautiful season and for the gift of those with whom we were able to share the joy of the birth of our Savior.  I hope and pray each of you had a good Christmas and that your new year will bring even more peace, love and joy all around you.  I wish you good health and much happiness, as well as many blessings every day of the new year.

HEARTLIGHT



VERSE:

He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

~John 1:11


THOUGHT:

Jesus came to his own things -- the world he had created and the land he had promised his people -- and his very own people didn't receive him. Sometimes we are blinded by our desires and dreams for Jesus and we really miss what he wants for us and from us. Let's not let the following be true in our lives. "Jesus came to me, but I wasn't ready to receive him. I had other things I wanted to do and other things I wanted to experience before I fully surrendered my heart to him." Each time we put off surrendering our will to Jesus, each time we push him away as Lord, we allow our hearts to harden and it becomes easier and easier to push him away. Now, while our hearts are still attentive to his grace, let's renew our commitment to him afresh and completely offer him our hearts and lives for his glory and grace.

PRAYER:

Holy God, I surrender my heart to your will. Precious Jesus, now more than ever in my life, I recognize you as my Lord and want to serve you with my life. Please forgive me for the times that I have resisted your leading or turned away from your demands. I know you left everything, and gave up everything, to save me. So now, please mold me into the person you want me to be and use me in ways that bless others and bring you glory. Amen.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Good Food for Thought

Colossians 3:12-17

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

~*~


I the occasion today to be reminded of these verses of Colossians. My cousin who passed on April 30th of this year was a fine example of this passage in the Bible. Audie wore a suit everywhere. He always wore a suit to work, even on "casual day". Audie passed out the church bulletins at Church.  One day,  friend from church called him one day and said "there's no need for you to wear a coat and tie; we're all dressing casual." Audie still wore his suit and tie. He didn't mind that he might be the only one there in a suit and tie. To him, dressing his outer body was just as spiritual as his dressing of his inner soul. "Clothe yourselves with love" for it is love that binds it ALL together."

By clothing yourself in Love, you are binding compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience all together.

Forgiveness is hard to do, but when achieved, it is an indescribable feeling.

Bottom line, if everyone in this world worked together, returned respect for that given, forgive whatever needs forgiven, give compassion freely and most of all, loving all, can you even imagine where we would be?

I love this passage and it was giving to me today by my Aunt, Audie's mother. Audie's wife had been pondering what to do with all of Audie's suits. She decided to have memento purses made for his mother and other close family members all from the fabric of his suits. This way, they would feel that they actually have a piece of him with them at all times. It was such a loving and compassionate things to do, even in her own grief.

Audie's favorite passage is committed to his grave marker, and I will leave it with you now. It is from Romans 8:28, and you may already know it well:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

No matter what befalls a person, God always, always works for the good of those who love him. You have nothing to lose, but EVERYTHING to gain. Living according to His purpose brings peace, comfort and the knowledge that we are working every day of our lives to this purpose, which is to live our eternal life with Him in the Father's Kingdom.

God bless you all.
Abbey

GREETINGS and THIS DAY'S . . .

Hello my dear friends! I trust each and every one of you had a very blessed Christmas.  The thing about Christmas is that it is twisted into such "fanfare" that takes away from the true meaning of this Holy Day.  There's no need for presents, but they are fun to received, and even more to give.  There is no need for lots of people around, although having people around does add to the festiveness of this Holy Day.  If you are alone and have no one, you can still celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  Ours' was a wonderful time, but more on that in aother post.  I welcome you all toward the beginning of a new year full of fresh starts, aniticipation, hopes, dreams and sureness.  Let's begin with This Day's Thought, Verse and Smile!

~*~


I know well there is no comfort for this pain of parting: the wound always remains, but one learns to bear the pain, and learns to thank God for what He gave, for the beautiful memories of the past, and the yet more beautiful hope for the future.

~Max Muller

~*~



And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

~Deuteronomy 10:12, The New International Version

~*~



One ship drives east and another drives west
With the self-same wind that blows.
‘Tis the set of the sail and not the gale
That tells us which way it goes.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we journey along through life;
‘Tis the set of the soul that determines the goal
And neither the calm nor the strife.

~Unknown

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

HEARTLIGHT



VERSE:

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

~Luke 2:6-7

THOUGHT:

Jesus entered our world in the most normal of ways for a child: the time came, his mother gave birth, he was wrapped in soft cloth, and he was placed in a crib. Only this was the Son of God who was born. His crib was a corncrib where animals ate, not a baby’s crib.
His room was a stable because there was no room for him. It wasn’t just normal; it was common, even below average conditions for his birth. Can you imagine? The Holy God who created everything enters our world as a baby to share our way of life as one of us. Why? He loves us and wants us to come home to him. Incredible! Incredible story. Incredible love. Incredible God!

PRAYER:

O LORD God Almighty, how can I ever show you how much the gift of your Son means to me? I am struck with wonder and joy that you should love me in this incredible way. Please accept my praise and adoration for both you and your Son. Praise to you, loving Father, for your indescribable gift! In Jesus' name. Amen.

THIS DAY'S . . .


In thanksgiving, I dedicate todays Thought, Verse and Smile to Adoro te Devote



Lost Christmas

Why wait till Christmas time again is here?
Why spend those precious hours in hectic ways
Doing the things that you could do all year
And let the noise of whirl of festival days
Drown out the angel's song? Why not take time
To lift the eyes to candles in the sky;
To walk some silent night, while carols chime
And hear the hush of wings brush softly by?
Take time to mediate: to catch the spell
Of childish trust, that simple faith you knew
When love was everywhere, and all was well...
The gift you lost may now come back to you.
Seek not for Christmas in the busy mart
But cradled somewhere in a trusting heart.

~Rachel Van Crème

~*~



Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And May said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.


~Luke 1:34-38, The King James Version

~*~



The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.

~Burton Hillis


Monday, December 21, 2009

DAILY REFLECTION

Our Lord does not come down from Heaven every day to lie in a golden ciborium. He comes to find another heaven which is infinitely dearer to Him -the heaven of our souls.



~St. Therese of Lisieux

DEEP THOUGHTS

I just had this thought while spending over an hour and a half reading the blogs that I follow .... "here is another enormous blessing!"  To my blogger friends, those whom I follow and those who visit and post, you are each an enormous blessing in my life. Each of you brings a certain something special that is just "YOU", and I want you to know how very thankful I am that I have made your friendship.

Pray for me and my family, as I pray for you and yours.

Merry Christmas,
Abbey

MONDAY MORNING


"Monday morning, you sure look fine ...." Fleetwood Mac

GOOD MORNING FRIENDS! I was up early because I have those really bad dreams if I wake and then go back to sleep.  I was having a bad dream when I awoke to Lee's alarm clock.  He got out of bed and I laid there a few minutes, deciding that I would get up and get my coffe to avoid any more bad dreams!

One more day until my house is filled with people who are all coming together to celebrate Christmas Week.  I'm really gliding into this Christmas, having begun my preparations early.  I have delayed cleaning my carpets until the last minute, so that is my project today.  I will give the baths a good going over, but on this past Saturday, you would have found me on my knees in my master bath with a clorox and soapy water mix, brush in hand, cleaning the white tiled floor.  Boy does it ever look better!  I felt inspired to do some really good, deep cleaning but after Christmas, I will be going through dresser drawers finding all the things I shoved into them so that I could put Christmas decorations in their places around the house! Everything will APPEAR in it's place and a place for everything - that's the point!

On Saturday, Lee was in his shop in the garage doodling.  He made some coasters to put a couple of large potted palms from the patio on so he could roll them around the garage out of the way.  We ended up sitting in the garage together, listening to Steely Dan and Dave Matthews Band on the boom box while he had a cocktail and I had a beer.  Question: Do pastachio nuts have less fat that other nuts?  Lee said so when he came in with them, and I nodded in affirmation; however, I didn't tell him that I had read just the opposite. I had "a few".  Maybe it seems odd that we would sit in the garage, a small space heater for warmth, and chat, and it was.  Trust me, the oddity of it didn't go unnoticed; however, I also entertained the thought that it was a "different" kind of special time.  Just Lee and me talking about this and that.  Sometimes couples need to get out of their normal routine and try something different. Just going to the garage where he was working, taking down a chair and sitting there while he worked, watching him, talking, it felt good and special. Never to wonder what small things will satisfy a body because you never know. No grand ovations here. Just time together.

I am making beef tips and rice and a green bean casserole (special request from Hannah) for dinner tomorrow night when everyone arrives, and Christie is going to make a side dish to bring as well.  I never know how many will be here; my sister was non-commital so I just throw out the invitation saying "they'll be here for one week; come whenever you want."  Que será, será ....

Mom asked me to not do the BIG grocery shopping until she got here.  She wants to help, and I appreciate that.  She will be joining me in the kitchen during the holidays.  She LOVES her kitchen and spends all her time there, cooking and baking.  It seems there is always a need somewhere, whether it be her neighbor down the street who is confined to a wheelchair, or for the people at Dad's office, or a friend family who has lost a loved one.  She'll find a recipient, you can bet on that, because she loves baking and cooking.  This will be mine and my mother's special time together.  We'll chat a lot and share confidences, and lots of love.

Christmas Eve will have people coming and going, so we will have some food prepared and for the taking as people drop by for some Christmas cheer.  I've taken Christmas bouquets to my grandmother's grave, and those of Lee's brother and father, and maternal grandparents. Dad will want to go to my grandmother's grave, and it is near where my cousin was buried last April, so I will take them there to see the new marker, which is lovely.  I like to visit the ones that have passed away from us, say a few words of remembrance and a prayer for them, AND I ask them to pray for me as well,

I have a lot of other things on my mind that I won't get into, the things that are going on in the background that are worrisome.  All I can do is pray for those concerned because there is so much that is out of my hands, 

To think that in four short weeks, my fourth grandchild, Cooper, will come into this world.  His arrival is expected around my birthday on the 21st.

Everyone, have a blessed Christmas week.  Smile when your eyes meet another's, say hello or "Merry Christmas" more than usual; you might make a huge difference in someone's life.

Blessings,
Abbey

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A HISTORY LESSON

I watched a very interesting segment on 60 Minutes this evening.  Morley Schafer traveled to Turkey, to Instanbul.  He spoke to the Head of the Orthodox Christian Faith.  I need to do more research, but if you didn't see it, you missed a good one.

Did you know that Instanbul was, centuries ago, 'Constantinople'? According to the Head of the Orthodox Christians, Christianity actually began in this country, not in the Holy Lands.  Over time, the Muslim government has systematically snuffed out the original Orthodox Christian Faith by, for example, closing the school where future priests were educated.  It has been sloed for thirty-eight years!  However, great care has been taken of the school and the classroom are exactly as they were the last day the school was open.  They are in hopes, albeit almost futile, that the Muslim government will give them permission to re-open the school (highly unlikely).  It was closed initially because the Muslims wants to rid the country of this faith and fill it with the Muslim faith, which has also been in existence for centeries, too.

The Priest took Morley to the most beautiful, and oldest Cathedral in Instanbul.  It has been in existence for over 17 centuries!  The paintings on the ceilings and walls are breathtaking, in one, Jesus' eyes seem to stare right through you no matter where you walk in the sanctuary.

Lastly, Morely was taken by hot air balloon, YES, hot air balloon to a very unusual place of landscape.  It is difficult to describe, but the walls and crevasses are formed like puffed rolls down the sides of mountains, butted up to one another.  They ventured into a valley and one could see the hand-carved doors and windows into the earth.  Morely had a guide and she took him into one of these doors on the side of a mountain and inside was a beautiful chapel, complete with the Christian painting on the ceiling and walls of Christ, The Blessed Mother, of Jesus ... all preserved for hundreds of years to the time of the New Testament.

Now I'm wanting to go to Turkey!  I still want to go to Italy (first) and go into the catacombs beneath Vatican City.  THAT will surely be a treat!  It's on my bucket list, so I HAVE to do it!

Here is the beginning of some of the history of this area from The Catholic Encyclopedia:


The Christian Cty
It has quite lately been established that Byzantium received its new name of Constantinople as early as the end of 324 (Centénaire de la société nationale des antiquaires de France, Paris, 1904, p. 281 sqq.). Nevertheless, the solemn inauguration of the new city did not occur until 11 May, 330; only after this date did the Court and Government settle permanently in the new capital. It was soon filled with sumptuous edifices like those of Rome; like the latter it was situated on seven hills and divided into fourteen regions; in the matter of privileges also it was similar to Rome. [Continue reading here]
Blessings,
Abbey

Breaking the Law!

Lest there be any question as to breaking the law (sin) and where you will receive forgiveness just for the asking . . . but, do not forget the Ten Commandments and keep them holy in your lives!


VERSE:

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.


~Acts 13:38-39

THOUGHT:

Law couldn't do it. Animal sacrifices couldn't do it. Piety couldn't do it. Religious practices couldn't do it. Only Jesus can bring full forgiveness of sins. Only Jesus can make us fully righteous and holy. Forgiveness and righteousness come through him.

PRAYER:

Holy and Righteous Father, God Almighty, I confess that your Son is my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. I thank you Jesus for being my Lord and paying the price for my sins. I ask, blessed Holy Spirit, that you help me fashion Jesus' character and compassion in my life. In Jesus' name I ask for this blessing. Amen.

"The Man Behind Christmas"




The following excerpt was taken from "This Week's Sermon: The Man Behind Christmas", by Roger Wilson.

~*~
Jesus came into this world, knowing what it would cost him. He took on the burden of our sins that we might be made pure.

"For this I came into the world," he said in John 18:37.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta Said this about Christmas. "It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you . . . yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand." Yes, Christmas is much more than a baby being born... Christmas is hope and infinite joy and reaching out to others and love.... Mostly love...

Christmas can be summed up in these words...For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This man Jesus who felt all the same things we do felt the nails go into His hands on the cross... He felt each and every blow of the hammer when they nailed His feet to the tree.... He felt the pain of our sins as He died in order that we may live...

This man who bled just like we do was more than a man, much more... This man was Our God, Our Lord and Savior... He gave His life as an atonement for our sins...What are you willing to give Him this morning?

"A GIFT FOR JESUS"

What can I give Him,
As poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring Him a lamb;
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him?
I’ll Give my heart!

Give Him your heart and you will find that He has already given you His.... Offer Him your heart and see if He doesn’t fill you with His love.

May God grant you:
the light of Christmas, which is faith;
the warmth of Christmas, which is love;
the radiance of Christmas, which is purity;
the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice;
the belief in Christmas, which is truth;
the all of Christmas, which is Christ. Amen


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Adoro te Devote: Accepting Our Defects.

This is a marvelous and uplifting post.  I urge every Catholic reader to visit and read Adoro te Devote: Accepting Our Defects

THE HOLY BIBLE

“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven”

~Luke 1:76-78

HEARTLIGHT

The "Thought" following today's Psalm is a good reminder and a lovely thought to keep in your mind and remember as you go about your daily lives. Learn to seek God everywhere you go and in everything that you do.  Can you see the Lord God? He is EVERYWHERE! 

At this time in the Advent Season, imagine yourself living in the time that our Savior was born, imagine the Blessed Mother being fully with child, riding atop a donkey far away from her home and anything familiar, to the place that she would give birth to the Son of God. What enormous faith she had to have had! The Blessed Mother is our compass leading us all to our rebirth in God's Kingdom.



VERSE
:


Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

~Psalm 80:19

THOUGHT:

In the days of Jesus' birth, there was a group of devout and lowly people who still looked for God's redemption. They knew that salvation could not, and would not, come without great cost -- not just to themselves, but also to God. Isaiah had hinted about this in his Servant Songs (see Isaiah 53). They had experienced it in their own history. So with honest hearts, they confessed that they didn't have the power to bring salvation and deliverance. This power had to come from God and had to be released to people who were seeking God's transformation in their lives. They needed to ask God for it! They needed to seek his face, his presence, in their daily lives. So must we!

PRAYER:

O LORD, God of heaven and earth, Ruler of all creation, I praise you. I praise you for your power and glory. I praise you for your wisdom and creativity. I praise you for your mercy and righteousness. I praise you because you alone are worthy of my praise. O LORD, you alone can bring me full salvation. Please, shine your face upon me. Please, make your presence known in my life. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Friday, December 18, 2009

FROM THE BLUES TO COOKIES!

It's raining cats and dogs here in the South, and it's not that cold, but being out in the rain makes it colder, damp.  I awoke at 7 a.m., and looked around my dimly lit bedroom to find that my husband had left for work.  That always feels very strange and not-quite-right.  He always kisses me and I hug him when he leaves, which is 5:30 a.m., but apparently I slept right through it.

Lee said something to me recently that really made my heart warm.  I had been upset with him about something, and the next morning I guess he thought I was mad and he kinda slipped out the room whispering, "bye-bye, bye-bye," maybe hoping I was awake and would asked him for my good-bye hug and kiss.  I was in that "twilight" and I heard him, but I couldn't rouse myself awake.

When Lee came home that night, we had dinner and were talking and he just blurted out, "I hate to leave without kissing you; I don't feel right if I don't kiss you before I go."  Do you know how much that meant to me?  It meant a lot, better than him even saying "I love you".  It was "I love you" all wrapped up neat with a big beautiful bow on top!

The rain today brought a gloomy haze over the earth, and it poured and poured from the heavens.  I had coffee as I usually do, and then my mind went to "Things To Worry About", where it lingered too long and all these worries popped up. I felt like crying, but I didn't know why. 

I called my children, and I could tell they were wondering, like, "yea? Sooooooo ... why did you call?" kind of thing, but I didn't want to say "I'M DEPRESSED" or "I'M WORRIED ...." ... Abbey, push, push, push harder, get past it .... "Just be careful out there driving, the rain is coming down so hard and you know how people drive in the rain ... just be careful ... I love you ..." ...

Thankfully, I pushed myself into turning on some Christmas music, and I got every present wrapped and placed under our tree, even one for my son's dog, Jersey Girl. My mood had change for the better and I don't know at what precise moment it happened; I'm just glad it did. I decorated the guest room where my mom and dad will stay while they are here. I don't usually do that but I have really been in a festive mood this Christmas, and I wanted them to feel festive even in the confines of their bedfroom. The other guest room has also been readied for my stepsister and her husband who are coming from St. Louis for a couple of days.

Thus far, I've pretty much taken care of spring cleaning early.  I'm really particular (what the politically correct call "anal") about my home and how I entertain guests.  I'm ahead of the game this year and that helps. My next immediate thought?  "COOKIES!". I want to bake cookies .... so I am off to make some Snickerdoodles and some chocolate chip cookies.

Thanks for listening ... writing was cathartic, even though it may not make much sense to you.  Have a blessed day, whatever you are doing.

THIS DAY'S . . .

This Day's Smile is one for a thinker! Blessings, all!



Contentment comes when we remember that what God chooses is far better than what we choose.

~Unknown

~*~



But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

~Isaiah 40:31, The New King James Version

~*~



True humor springs not more from the head than from the heart; it is not contempt, its essence is love; it issues not in laughter, but in still smiles, which lie far deeper. It is a sort of inverse sublimity, exalting, as it were, into our affections what is below us, while sublimity draws down into our affections what is above us.

~Thomas Carlyle

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Do You Feel God's Presence?

More and more I am experiencing that unexplainable awe feeling that tells me that the Lord is near.  It comes mostly when I am praying, and my body grows goose bumps by itself without me telling it to.  I do feel at these times that the Lord is there and He is taking my prayers onto Himself and releasing me from the worry, which is why I am praying to Him.  I kept humming the tune to this hymn and so I went to look up the actual song.  I love singing, and I can get away with it during the Celebration of the Mass.  Here is the song that is on my heart today:

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place

I can feel His mighty power and His grace
I can hear the brush of angels wings
I see glory on each face

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place

In the midst of His children the Lord said He would be
It doesn't take very many, it can be just two or three
And I feel that same sweet spirit that I felt often times before
Surely I can say I've been with the Lord

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place

There's a holy hush around us as God's glory feels this place
I've touched the hem of His garment, I can almost see His face
And my heart is overflowing with the fullness of His joy
I know without a doubt that I've been with the Lord

POSITIVE THOUGHTS



The opening lines of the Old Testament convey that ''God'' and ''good '' are essentially synonymous , so know that when you feel good , that's akin to saying that you feel God .

~*~
In response to the comment from Rebecca, I decided to add my own observation about this statement.

It is certainly something that one can ponder ... if you feel good, then Thanks be to God. God is all good, and vice versa, good is all because of God. God created everything and He intended for everything to be good. God is all about GOOD, He is GOOD and everything the He emits is GOOD.


Those are my thoughts ...

HEARTLIGHT



VERSE:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things
which are not seen are eternal.

~2 Corinthians 4:17

THOUGHT:

Life can be very tough. Eventually, our bodies are going to die. In the process of living, we're going to face some very difficult circumstances and going to experience some awful pain. But, as bad as life's hard realities can be, we are headed for an eternal glory beyond our imagining. Life's difficulties simply can't compare to the glory that awaits us. Our pain is temporary. The things that cause our pain are temporary. The treatments, the prescriptions, the therapies, the surgeries, the setbacks are all temporary. All these things that we have seen and experienced are passing. But our eternal glory, our indescribable bliss, that wonderful future that we cannot yet see, is eternal ... forever ... ncorruptible ... and reserved for us, God's precious children!

PRAYER:

Dear God, my Abba Father, please be with me during the painful and difficult passages of my life. Help me keep my heart fixed on what is unseen. In addition, dear Father, I want to pray that you please be present in the lives of the following people I love ... Please grant them healing. If not healing, dear Father, please pour your love into their hearts through the Holy Spirit and give them rugged perseverance and indestructible hope. Help them see your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

HEARTLIGHT

In this Advent Season, today's Heartlight is a very timely verse. Are you sleepwalking through life? Do you take your life for granted?



VERSE:

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

~1 Thessalonians 5:6

THOUGHT:

So many sleepwalk through life. They never are awake enough to really live. But we are not going to do that with our lives! We are alive because we know Jesus has come and not only brought us life, but he has also showed us how to live. So we are going to be alert. We are going to be self-controlled. We are going to be fully alive, because we know Jesus' return is imminent and our day of salvation and deliverance is near.

PRAYER:

Forgive me, Heavenly Father, for the times that I have lost my sense of urgency to live for Jesus. Use the Holy Spirit within me to arouse my passions to serve him with my eyes wide open and my heart set on great and heavenly things. I know you can, and will, do more than I can ask or imagine, but please, awaken me to dream great dreams and imagine great things for your glory. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Prayer Request



Dear Friends in Christ,

I ask for your generous prayers for the repose of the soul of Laura Crandall Brown, wife to Walter, daughter to Jim and Cecilia Crandall, and sister of Emma.  Laura courageously battled ovarian cancer for a little over a year and lost her battle this past Monday night.  Laura was very brave and courageous, not giving in even at the end.  Her faith was exemplary, and she discussed where she wanted memorials to be made in her memory after she was gone.  Laura was a child of God through and through.

In this most Holy Season, my heart aches deeply for those who have lost loved ones.  This Holy Season will always behold an empty place for those who passed during this time.  Through praying not just for the deceased, but for comfort and peace of heart of their remaining loved ones, our Loving Father will, over time, turn those memories into happy remembrances.

So I ask for your prayers for Laura, AND all of those she loved whose hearts are breaking today.

Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon them;
And may all the souls of the faithful departed
through the Mercy of God,
Rest In Peace. Amen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

HEARTLIGHT



VERSE
:


And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

~John 1:14

THOUGHT:

Jesus is God's message. It wasn't a message contained in a book or given in a vision, or revealed on a mountain to only a watchful few. No, God's message was human flesh, bone, and blood. God's message came and lived among us. He faced our hardship, got our dirt between his toes, felt our disappointments, struggled with our temptations, suffered our treachery, and bled our blood. Yet living in our world, God's message brought us more than truth; he delivered us from death by God's grace.

PRAYER:

Almighty God, thank you for speaking in the past through your prophets. Thank you for inspiring godly men to give us your Scripture. Thank you for making the proclamation of your Word powerful today through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. May I hear your truth in each of these areas. Most of all, Father, I praise you for speaking your clearest, most profound, and most accessible message in Jesus. Because of Jesus, I know you love me, I know you have cleansed me, and I know I will share heaven with you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and may my gratitude be seen in the quality and character displayed in my life. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

THIS DAY'S . . .




Life is not given to us that we might live idly without work. No, our life is a struggle and a journey. Good should struggle with evil; truth should struggle with falsehood; freedom should struggle with slavery; love should struggle with hatred. Life is movement, a walk along the way of life to the fulfillment of those ideas which illuminate us, both in our intellect and in our hearts, with divine light.

~Giuseppe Mazzini

~*~


There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand.


~Proverbs 19:21, The New King James Version

A Good Day, Indeed, And It Isn't Over Yet!

I read my post from early this morning . . . I was on a roll, wasn't I?  The longer the spoke, the greater the tire, so I'll just move on.  I did have a good day, but my patience was tried.  I think we came out even and none the worse for the wear. 

My daughter called at 7:55.  I was totally alarmed because the last time I had looked at the clock this morning was 6:40 and I thought to myself, "I'll go and get ready around 7."  I was stunned when I realized I had lost an entire hour (and thus my early post didn't get the proof-read it needed).  I was out the door in 20 mintues, picked up Christie and Hannah, who was still croupy, and off to Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  I think every office in the area was having a Christmas breakfast - they were slammed.  I felt rushed and ate entirely too fast, Our hair appointments took two hours (a little more than it should, but I am my stylist's first appointment, she's always late and then she has to have a cup of coffee in the back and get herself together before she begins work! It's exasperating but I've used her for a very long time and she is very good!).  From hair salon to Wal-Mart near home for a couple of last minute things, I dropped them at their house and came on home.

It isn't over yet.  Lee has a Union meeting that he wants to attend this evening, so Christie, Hannah and I are meeting Kerry, my son, and his fiance, Amber at Dale's for dinner.  Most of my readers won't know Dale's from snails, but they have a lot of meat items and then you pick two or three veggies to go with.  EVERYTHING they serve is awesome and the vegetables are delicious.  I live in the South, and veggies are big down here, the green kind, like green beans, turnip GREENS, collard GREENS ... which reminds me, my mother had a friend from Iowa.  She talked with a norther accent and she said one time, "what are these things you call GREENS? I've never heard of GREENS."  And when we put them in front of her, she turned her nose up at first, but after one bite, she loved them.

Tomorrow, I have not one thing on my calendar so I will be spending it at home, wrapping gifts and beginning the lists for each day as to activities and meals over the holidays when we will be hosting my parents from Texas and my step-sister and her husband from St. Louis.

I am going to post Heartlight and This Day's, so let me get to it!

Another Busy Day Ahead

Will you please pray for me and my family? We all have our crosses that we must bear, and without going into details, I want to just ask for prayers for my family, that God will give them enough wisdom and compassion to make good decisions in their lives, including moi, of course.

I have another busy day ahead today.  I was up at 5:30 a.m., I've had my coffee and I will get some Christmas gifts ready to mail before I leave the house.  My daughter and I have back-to-back hair appointments (gotta get all coiffed for company - tee hee hee!), and more stops for additional Christmas items that we have not yet purchased.  I really need to go to the grocery store by the end of this week to avoid the onslaught next week.  However, some items must be purchased fresh, but at least I could get a lot of the staples in the cupboard.

I am curious as to the opinion of my bloggers friends about the Tiger Woods situation.

I will give you mind first, just to be fair.  As usual, the news hounds have taken this very sad and PRIVATE ordeal to the inth degree in journalism. Amazing, another report just popped up on Fox!  This is a very sad time for this family, and it is Christmas, a time when everyone should be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, which is for most people the happiest time of the year.

I don't watch a lot of news, and I don't read anything in the newspapre except the "lighter side".  My disgust with the news media in this country continues to grow.  And what does this say for us as human beings?  WE buy into all of this, people make a lot of money publishing this type thing, and the story keeps growing because "people want to know."  Why do people want to know things that are sad, gorrie, embarrassing, tragic?  America is a sadistic society.  I have said it many times and I will keep saying it.  I am terribly disappointed in society as a whole, that we as human beings would feed off of the misfortunes of others.  It is extremely sad and I just won't do it.

I pray for the Woods family, that our Heavenly Father with guide them through this difficult time.

Not to forget all of the women who have come out in the news professing their affairs with a married man!  This is shameful to the inth degree!  If I were in their shoes, first, I would never have the affair, and second, I would not come forward and tell the world that I committed adultery, unless?... Unless I thought I was going to gain something from it?  These women (I cannot refer to them as "ladies") came out one by one, I feel, because they saw others coming out and each one is looking to sell her soul for fifteen minutes of fame.

Lord help us all.  This is just ONE example of how sadistic our society is, of the moral decay that has taken hold of people as individuals, and that it is spreading like wildfire. 

I can recall from my childhood forward people like Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, and the great Walter Conkrite, and a few others who reported "news", not tabloid fodder.  These men and some unnamed women had dignity and grace, and they reported the news to the people of this country with the same.  Topics such as "did Marilyn Monroe sleep with the President?" were delegated to whispered gossip, which was bad enough in and of itself.  Gossip is evil, hurtful and the Word of God strictly prohibits this and discusses the ramifications of anyone who engages in gossip.  It is a sin.

I apologize because I become all worked up when I begin to talk of the news media in this country.  I have little respect for it as an institution.  The best I can do is to read what little news I feel affects me and my corner of the world and leave it at that.  I read magazines such as People, Vogue and Vanity Fair, which is my favorite because of its extensive articles on people and other places.  I like the style of their articles, as I do Vogue.  I find them to be factual and informative without being "gossip trash".  I also read Southern Living and Cottage Living. 

The best way to wind this up is to just say, "and that's my diatribe for today."

Blessings to you and yours today and every day!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Morning


Good morning, everyone! I was up at 5:30 when my husband was leaving for work.  I always feel better when I get up really early, like I don't miss any of the day, but I do not normally get up this early.  I'm trying to make it my routine.

We had a fairly uneventful weekend.  My granddaughter had a basketball game but ended up not play in the second half because she didn't feel well.  Oh no, not another virus to spread around their house. Bless their hearts, when one gets somethingm, everyone usually ends up with it.

The quote of the week last week came from my 9 year-old grandson when he was staying with me (because HE was sick) and he says, "You look so 'sophisticated' sitting there typing on your computer."  SOPHISTICATED?  I told Christie about it and she said, "I know; they all use big words like that and they don't know what half of them mean." That was funny!

Remember those less fortunate than yourself in your prayers, especially during Advent and winter seasons.  There are thousands of people who are homeless and it's going to get colder before it starts to warm again.  Remember those who are serving our country and their families.  Pray for the safety of the unborn and an end to abortion of innocent human beings who are living and have a heartbeat!

Oh my, it is 6:40 a.m. and I just heard the first school bus stop near my house to pick up students!  Wow, that is early.  This means they will ride the bus for almost an hour and a half before they are dropped at school.  I am so thankful that my daughter does not work and is able to take the grands to school herself.

I'm waiting long enough to call my mom in Texas this morning and get a couple of her recipes.  I have a busy day ahead of me and I have a rather ambitious list to accomplish.  Lee and I left out to do some small shopping as we're nearly finished with our Christmas list for this year, but when we approached the exit for the mall, we moved over two lanes and just went on by!  I can do this during the week when it's not so busy.  I don't think the economy is hurting the numbers of people shopping, but perhaps they are buying less, just as we are.

I already have my husband's gift and was waiting until today to wrap it.  His will be the first under the tree!  I love to make him wonder!

I best get started.  I hope all of my blogger friends have a blessed and joyful week.  If you're going to work, drive safely.  If you're staying home, spend an extra few mintues in prayer each morning!

Blessings,
Abbey

P.S. Why is everyone jumping on Mark Ingram for getting emotional when he won the Heisman this week?  It shows me that he is human.  People will pick on anything to make more news.

Verse for Today

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Colossians 3:17, King James Version


Everyone, have a beautiful day!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

HEARTLIGHT

Today's Verse from Heartlight is at the top of my list of favorites!


VERSE:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~Romans 8:38-39

THOUGHT:

Nothing could keep Jesus from coming to save you and me -- not the distance between heaven and earth, not the difficulty of an unexpected pregnancy for his unmarried mother, not a city full of travelers and parents tired from a long journey, certainly not a maniacal king who sought to snuff out his life, not jeering mobs crying crucify him, not disciples that abandoned him, not soldiers that mocked him, not a scourge that raked his flesh, and not a cross that claimed his physical life. So what makes you think he would let you go or give up on you after his love has captured your heart?

PRAYER:

Abba Father, help me understand your love more fully. Give me strength to overcome the doubts Satan has tried to plant in my heart. Bless me with your gracious power and transform me out of my own weakness into a useful tool for your service. Keep my eyes fixed on the Lord whose hand will not let the waves claim me or let my own doubts destroy me. In Jesus' mighty name I pray. Amen.

In God We Trust

On this day, God wants you to know...

... that the voice of God is best heard in silence. All too often loud events and daily busyness cloud your vision of God. Take some time to slow down; let there be silence, let there be peace. Calm your mind and let your inner voice re-emerge from the silence. Allow yo...urself to see visions, allow yourself to dream dreams; and you may hear the voice of God reaching out to you.







This Week's Sermon

This week's sermon on God's Love is lengthy, but I hope you will take the time to read it all.  In this Advent Season, if each of us can touch one person with our love, then every one of us has made a difference in another person's life.



"God Is Love"
by Scott Bayles

There’s an old song that says, “Love is many-splendored thing.” The very concept of love is one of the most permeating themes in the world today. The Beatles sang about in the sixties. Their message to a hurt and frightened world was, “love is all you need.” According to Amazon.com, there are at least 32,507 books currently in print with the word “love” in the title (over 145,000 that deal with the subject of love) and over 11,000 popular albums/CDs with “love” in the title. If you were to do a google-search on the internet, you’d discover at least 121,000,000 web-sites that that use the word “love” as one of their key words. It’s deniable, how important love is to our culture—to any culture really.

But with all this information available, love has become a very confusing subject. When I watch TV, check the internet, or scan magazines in the checkout lines, it’s clear that our society has a very poor understanding of love. Not long ago, I heard about a single mother with two school age children. This mother had a busy social life—too busy, in fact. When the children got in the way of her fun, she loaded them up with cough medicine. With the kids drugged to sleep, she and the boyfriend of the day were free to do whatever they wanted. Now, I venture to say that if the authorities were to intervene to rescue those children, that woman would protest, “I love my children!” But is that really love? With humanity so confused about love, who is to say what love is?

The answer is—God! One of the simplest and yet most profound definitions of love is found in 1 John 4:8. John, who by the way was known as the apostle of love, wrote, “God is love.” Those three little words ought to fill our hearts with warmth and hope. If those words are true, it makes all the difference in the world! But we need to understand this rightly. “God is love” does not mean that “love is God.” In other words, love does not define God; rather, God defines love. Much of what we call “love” in modern America bears no resemblance or relationship to the holy, spiritual love of God. So it is important that we dig a little deeper into this passage to discover what God’s love really is. In this chapter, John indicates four characteristics of God’s love for you and me, the first of which is that God’s love is a personal love.

• A PERSONAL LOVE

John begins this section of Scripture by saying, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8 NLT).

I think the overriding impression of these two verses is that the love of God is personal. God’s love causes us to know Him, and Him to know us. I think that A.W. Tozer said it best: “The love of God is one of the great realities of the universe, a pillar upon which the hope of the world rests. But it is a personal, intimate thing too. God does not love populations, He loves people. He loves not masses, but men.” Powerful messages that we can take to people today is that God loves them. Every individual person is important to God, and He loves each one. G.K. Chesterton understood this truth when he said, “All people matter. You matter. I matter. It’s the hardest thing in theology to believe.”

When teaching His disciples, Jesus said, “Aren’t five sparrows sold for two cents? God doesn’t forget any of them. Even every hair on your head has been counted. Don’t be afraid! You are worth more than many sparrows. I can guarantee that the Son of Man will acknowledge in front of God’s angels every person who acknowledges him in front of others” (Luke 12:6-7 GWT). Isn’t that amazing!? There is not a single bird that falls from the sky without God’s notice; and how much more important are we than a few birds? So much more import that God even knows every hair on your head.

While some of us may have a few more hairs than others, the message the same: God loves you and He knows everything about you. God’s love for us is personal. Jesus illustrated this again when He said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15 NLT). The image of shepherding is lost on many American’s today, but when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem, shepherding was as common as farming is in this part of the country. One of the outstanding characteristics of good shepherds was that they knew each one of their sheep by sight and often by name. And so Jesus says, “I know My own.”

God’s love is universal, but it is also individual. As Augustine put it, “He loves each one of us, as if there were only one of us.” The first characteristic of God’s love is that it is personal. But also, God’s love is a proven love.

• A PROVEN LOVE

In the next couple verses John says, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (1 John 4:9-10 NLT).

God’s love for us was “manifested” (NKJV), or proven to us, through the life and death of Jesus. You see, love is a verb; it requires actions, it’s demonstrated through behavior—and the love of God is no exception. The Bible says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT). Have you ever heard the parable of the pit? There are a few variations of it, but someone once put it this way:

A traveler fell into a deep pit and couldn’t get out. Several people came along and saw him struggling in the pit. The sensitive person said, “I feel for you down there.” The reflective person said, “It’s logical that someone would fall into the pit.” The interior designer said, “I can give you ideas on how to decorate your pit.” The judgmental person said, “Only bad people fall into pits.” The curious person said, “Tell me how you fell into the pit.” The legalist said, “I believe you deserve your pit.” The IRS agent said, “Are you paying taxes on this pit?” The self-pitying person said, “You should have seen my pit.” The Zen Buddhist said, “Just relax and don’t think about the pit.” The optimist said, “Cheer up! Things could be worse.” The pessimist said, “Be prepared! Things will get worse.” Jesus, seeing the man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the miserable pit.

The point is—it doesn’t do any good to talk about love and compassion without demonstrating it. God demonstrates His love. He’s proven His love for us.

There is an old story about a man by the name of John Griffith, who lived in Oklahoma in 1929 and lost all he had in the stock market. He moved to Mississippi where he took a job as bridge tender for a railroad trestle. In 1937 he was involved in a horrific accident. One day his 8 year-old son, Greg, spent the day with his Dad at work. He poked around the bridge-tender office and asked a myriad of questions. Then a ship came through and John opened up the draw bridge. After a moment or two he realized his son wasn’t in the office and as he looked around, to his shock, he saw his son climbing around on the gears of the draw bridge. He hurried outside to rescue his son but just then he heard what he knew was a fast approaching passenger train, the Memphis Express, filled with over 400 people. He yelled to his son, but the noise of the now clearing ship and the oncoming train made it impossible for the boy to hear him. And all of a sudden John Griffith realized his horrible dilemma. If he took the time to rescue his son the train would crash killing all aboard, but if he closed the bridge, he would crush his son within the gears. He made the awful decision, pulled the lever and closed the bridge. It’s said that as the train went by, John could see the faces of the passengers—some reading, some even waving, all oblivious to the sacrifice that had just been made on their behalf.

So many of us do the same thing to God. We wave as we pass Him by, never give a second thought to the sacrifice He made on our behalf. Like John Griffith, God allowed the jaws of death to close in on His Son. And thousands go by oblivious and indifferent. But there is one tremendous difference between the two. Unlike the Memphis Express that caught John Griffith by surprise, the sending of Jesus was not a panic move; it wasn’t a spontaneous decision. It was planned. Jesus’ death was not the result of jealous Jews or hard hearted Romans. It was the result of a loving God, who in His wisdom, said there was no other way. Jesus chose the nails, to demonstrate just how far he was willing to go to win your heart.

First, God’s love is personal. Second, God’s love is proven. Third, God’s love is a perfection love.

• A PERFECTING LOVE

The Apostle of Love goes on to say, “No one has ever seen God, but if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is made perfect in us” (1 John 4:12 NCV).

Since God’s love is already perfect, the phrase “His love is made perfect in us” actually has to do with perfecting us. Another translation says, “But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us” (NLT). the word translated perfect actually means maturity or completion. In other words, God’s love completes us; it makes us whole, and gives significance to our lives. Without the love of God, we would never be complete. There would always be something missing. God’s love—as with all true love—is meant to foster the personal growth and development of the one He loves. That also tells us that God’s love is not selfish; He is genuinely looking out for our best interests.

One of the most powerful and hope-filled promises of the Bible comes from Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV). God wants good things for us. Everything that God does in your life and mine is for our own good. That’s what agape love is all about—wanting and doing what is best for another person. And remember, God’s goal for your life is to make you like Jesus, to give you a heart like His, and transform you into the best possible version of yourself. And that’s what God’s love does when we let it into our lives—it changes us from the inside and makes us better than we ever could have ever imagined.

When I was a teenager I worked at a local Showplace Theater. I was part of the cleanup crew, so I saw the last five minutes of every movie that came out that year about a hundred times. One in particular that always stood out was the 1996 movie, Jerry Maguire, which became famous for one particular line at the end of the movie, where Tom Cruise makes this impassioned plea to Renée Zellweger. Finally, he tells her what she’d been waiting the whole movie to hear: “You complete me.”

It’s one of my favorite scenes from any movie. It gets me every time; but, it’s misleading. In reality there is no other relationship we can have on earth that will truly make us complete; none other than the love of God.

George Matheson knew all about that. He was only fifteen when he was told that he was losing what little eyesight he had. Not to be denied, Matheson immediately continued with his plans to enroll in the University of Glasgow, and his determination lead to his graduation at age nineteen. But as he pursued graduate studies in theology for Christian ministry he did become completely blind. His sisters joined ranks beside him, learning Greek and Hebrew to assist him in his studies. He met a beautiful girl and asked her to marry him. He pressed faithfully and optimistically.

But his spirit collapsed when his fiancée, unwilling to be “chained” to a blind man for the rest of her life, broke their engagement and returned his ring. He never married, and the pain of that rejection never totally left him. Years later, as a well-loved preacher in Scotland, his sister came to him announcing her engagement. He was happy for her, but his mind drifted back to his own heartache. He comforted himself by thinking of God’s love which is never limited, never conditional, never withdrawn, and never uncertain. In that moment he wrote the hymn, O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.

O love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths it flow
May richer, fuller be.

Truly, God’s love never lets go. It gently lifts us out of the muck and mire of sin, to reach unimaginable spiritual heights. But lastly, God’s love is a preserving love.

• A PRESERVING LOVE

Finally, John announces: “And furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now tell all the world that God sent his Son to be their Savior” (1 John 4:14 TLB).

God did not send His Son to die on the cross just to prove that He loves us, but to save us. God’s love for us is one that wants to preserve us—to save us and give us life. Jesus, driven by his limitless love, came into this world to become our Savior!

“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). Because of God’s love (and only because of God’s love), our lives can be preserved for all eternity.

S.L. Bastian once wrote about a certain kind of spider that builds its nest in the branch of a small tree or bush. Within this delicate enclosure the baby spiders are hatched. If the nest is disturbed in any way, the little spiders will rush out in fright. Immediately, the mother goes to their side, but she is alerted to their potential danger in a most unique way. Each of the young ones has a thin silky strand attached to it, and all of these strands are joined to the body of the mother. When the babies are threatened by an enemy, they naturally scurry off, giving their lines a sharp tug. This is instantly felt by the adult spider, and within seconds, she pulls them back to the nest where they are protected from harm.

Long ago, the prophet Hosea said that we are linked to God with cords of love, cords that cannot be broken (Hosea 11:4). The gentle cords of His eternal love bind all our hearts and hurts to Him. When we are ready to flee from the dangers of sin and Satan, our God, our Father, will be right there, ready to save us from death and give the gift of eternal life.

Conclusion:

With so many different concepts of love—so many different takes on this powerful four letter word—it is comforting to know that Christians need not be confused: “God is love.” God’s love is personal, proven, perfecting, and preserving.

Invitation:

If something’s been missing in your life, or you sometimes feel unloved, Jesus invites you to experience the soul-changing love of God. It is only by the love of God that this life takes on real meaning, and we can find purpose in living. So wherever you are in life, know that God’s love is available to you.