- SHEILA RHODES
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Here Comes the SON ~ ADVENT SEASON~
Let me start with a question- Why all the celebrating? Why are we so excited? Why do we fellowship, and get together with friends, relatives, and neighbors? Why all the trees and the trimming? Why all the tinsel and the glitter. Why all the decorations, the glowing lights and children being photographed with a fat man in a big red suit? Why all the shopping, cluttered malls and busy streets? You might answer “Duh, its Christmas Time… Santa Claus is coming to town.
Is all the rejoicing for Jesus the light to the world or is it for Santa Claus? What’s all the festive celebrating really about? Is it for the Savior or Santa? Let me ask a question… Are we AS excited about the arrival of Jesus Christ as we are about the arrival of Old Saint Nick?
Here comes the SON…
Luke 1:26 (TLB)
26 The following month God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin, Mary, engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David.
28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Congratulations, favored lady! The Lord is with you!”
29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.
30 “Don’t be frightened, Mary,” the angel told her, “for God has decided to wonderfully bless you! 31 Very soon now, you will become pregnant and have a baby boy, and you are to name him ‘Jesus.’ 32 He shall be very great and shall be called the Son of God. And the Lord God shall give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he shall reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom shall never end!”
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of God shall overshadow you; so the baby born to you will be utterly holy—the Son of God. 36 Furthermore, six months ago your Aunt[b] Elizabeth—‘the barren one,’ they called her—became pregnant in her old age! 37 For every promise from God shall surely come true.”
38 Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever he wants. May everything you said come true.” And then the angel disappeared.
Here comes the SON…
This is the month of Advent. How many of us really know what advent means? Advent means “to anticipate/ to prepare for the arrival of something important. ” It’s the beginning of the Christmas season… Yes, we are all waiting for the arrival of something important. But the question is; what’s the important thing that you’re waiting for? Are you preparing for Santa and all of the presents? Or are you anticipating the arrival of the King- Jesus, the Holy Son of God? I know you will agree with me that it’s not about “the presents”… It’s about HIS Presence!
A recent study showed that the most anticipated part of Christmas, is the receiving and giving of gifts. Hence, the commercialism of Christmas! Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with giving gifts, (especially if they are for me- lol!) Giving is a wonderful act of kindness, God reminds us in His word, that He loves a cheerful giver. However, we need to make sure giving gifts isn’t the main focus of our Christmas experience. Giving, in every way, must be a daily event not just a once a year, or special occasion act. A blessed life is a generous life, a shared life. Giving should be a daily experience, not a seasonal one.
Our primary focus this Christmas should be that of celebration and praise for the gift God has provided the world. He has given us a sacrificial lamb. His only begotten Son and in Him we have the most expensive and most precious gift offered. *Jesus is the perfect gift… One size fits all!!!
It is Jesus, the anointed One that brings distinction to this holiday season. That’s what makes it a Merry Christmas. I recently received an invitation and I would like to share it with you.
My Dear, As you well know, we are getting closer to my birthday. Every year there’s a celebration in my honor and I think that this year the celebration will be repeated. During this time there are many people shopping for gifts, there are lots of radio announcements, TV commercials, and in every part of the world, everybody’s talking about my birthday that is getting closer and closer. It is really so nice to know, that at least once a year, some people think of me.
As you know, the celebration of my birthday began many years ago. At first people seemed to understand and were thankful of all that I did for them, but now in these days, no one seems to know the reason for the celebration. Family and friends get together and have a lot of fun, but they don’t seem to know the true meaning of the festivities.
I remember last year there was a great feast in my honor. The dinner table was full of delicious foods, wine, pastries, fruits, and gourmet chocolates. The decorations were gorgeous and there were beautifully wrapped gifts. But, do you want to know something? I wasn’t invited. I was the guest of honor and they didn’t remember to send me an invitation. The party was for me, but when that great day came, I was left outside. I wanted to be with them and share their table and they left me outside.
To be honest, that didn’t really surprise me that much because in the last few years it seems all are closing their doors to me. Since I wasn’t invited, I decided to enter the party without making any noise.
I went in and stood in a corner and watched. They were all merry and having a great time, but to top it all, this big fat man all dressed in red wearing a long white beard entered the room yelling Ho-Ho-Ho!. He sat on the chair and all the children ran to him, shouting: “Santa Claus, Santa Claus”… as if the party were in his honor!
At midnight all the people began to hug each other; I extended my arms waiting for someone to hug me and do you know what?…. no one hugged me. Suddenly they all began to exchange gifts. They opened them one by one with great expectation. When they were all opened, I looked to see if, maybe, there was one for me. How would you feel if on your birthday everybody shared gifts and you didn’t get a single one. I then understood that I was unwanted at that party and quietly left.
Every year it gets worse. People remember to eat & drink, buy gifts, but nobody remembers me. This year I want it to be different. I would like it if- this Christmas you allow me to enter into your life. I would like it if- you recognize the fact that two thousand years ago I came to this world to give my life for you, as the most precious gift. Then, I gave my life on the cross, to save you. Today, I only want you to believe this with all you heart.
I want to share something with you. As many didn’t invite me to their party, I will have my own celebration, a grandiose party that no one has ever imagined, a spectacular party. I’m still making the final arrangements. Today I am sending out many invitations and there is an invitation especially for you. I want to know if you wish to attend and I will make a reservation for you and write your name with golden letters in my great guest book. Only those on the guest list will be admitted into the party. Those who don’t answer the invitation, will be left outside.
Once you’ve accepted my invitation, be sure to extend this invite to others… I’ll be waiting for all of you to attend my party this year…
See you soon…. I love you! -Jesus-
So I encourage you during this season of Advent to share with others the REAL reason for the season. Tell them that it’s not about Santa and presents and things… it’s about Jesus and the salvation that only He can bring!
Thank you Minister Vicki Fisher of Community of the Holy Spirit in Willoughby, Ohio, Wife of Pastor Chris Fisher and a Dear Precious Friend of mine for sharing this beautiful and insightful message on the true meaning of Christmas and ADVENT ~ May this message bring a clearer and deeper heart understanding of this Christmas season to all who read it.
According to the calendar, fall doesn’t officially begin until the end of September, but that’s much too late for my taste. September 1st marks the first day of autumn around my house and in my mind. That’s because I’m noticing the gradual changing of color on the leaves and the decorations in the stores. Stores are filled with Autumn smells, scented candles and beautiful Fall decorations right now. So, I’m getting in the mood to begin the decorating of my house for Fall. Never mind the fact that it’s still hot as blue blazes here in Georgia, I can enjoy my autumn-themed decor and pretend the mosquitoes and gnats aren’t swarmin’ just outside my kitchen door. Yep, decorating is about to go down ladies here at Sheila’s house. LOL
For the sake of a truthful heart here, I’ll need to let you in on a little secret…I’m decoratively challenged even though my family and friends would quickly disagree. I’m not really all that confident about the way I decorate for holidays but I do pour my heart and energy into it just because I enjoy the outcome. However; family seem to enjoy my little special decorative touches so that makes it all worthwhile to me. It’s getting just about time for my husband to go up into our attic to gather up all the dusty boxes of decorations that have been stored away for months. And, every year he says how much he loves what I do to make our home so inviting during the holidays for family and friends who stop by. He calls it “good balance” for him!
I have asked myself where I got this seasonal decorating thing from. Was it from my sweet mother growing up, my precious Southern Aunts or was it just something I seem to enjoy doing with every season that passes? Honestly, I don’t quite know when or how or why it all began for me but I do know that my house always smells like a candle shop no matter when you walk through the door. I just love little bright lights so decorating for me has to be with bright little lights, scented candles and lots of color for the FALL and Christmas season. I have all kinds of neat things displayed on my mantel and hearth. I have way too many Fall wreaths that I’ve bought over the years for inside and outside of my house. And, of course…those bright twinkling lights have to be intertwined among the colorful decorations. Without the lights, the decorations are not complete for me.
Just last year my front yard filled with “10” scarecrows, hay piles, pumpkins and fake black crows looked more like a North Georgia Fair display than anything. However; the grandchildren thought it was FANTASTIC and wanted to touch and hug every single scarecrow. Ha!
You know what? I think I just might have gotten a desire to decorate like this when I was a child. My parents would ride my sister, brother and myself around town to look at all the neat decorated yards and houses every single year. It never failed and I LOVED it. My aunts made their homes so special each Fall and Winter season too. That’s about the time I started noticing other homes. (Yeah, I am pretty observant ya’ll). Seeing all of my aunts’ homes, my friends’ homes and the many relatives who loved decorating….I got inspired I suppose. They seem to make FALL so inviting and exciting by the way they did things. Now, every year I pull out the boxes of decorations and go at it like a crazy lady until it’s done …every little decoration in place and the twinkling lights glowing.
Well, all these years later my house still doesn’t look like the homes that served as my inspiration. *Sigh* But, I’m proud to say that I’m no longer content with just being a “plain-Jane” either. Purposely working with the creativity ability that God’s given me I have managed to create my own little version of an Autumn wonderland. I’m sure no one will ever use the phrase “beautifully bedecked” to describe anything in my house, but I can say with confidence that it’s peaceful and enjoyable.
**Do you take the opportunity to celebrate the changing of the seasons by putting out a few decorations? If not, I’ve compiled a few ideas that will hopefully get your creative juices flowin’.
Start small if you have to, but start. Don’t let intimidation hinder you from jumping on the decorating train. It actually took me a few years to get started than I care to admit. I allowed the overwhelming thought of, “Where the heck do I start?!” to paralyze me with inaction. Overcoming that concern and purchasing my first front-porch pumpkin got me going. If I can do it, so can you!
Be creative. Of course, buying stuff at the store is the easiest way to go, but why limit yourself to someone else’s ideas? Think about what you already have at home that you can use. There are so many neat things at the Dollar Store that has helped me over the years in my own creations. I don’t always buy because that can also get pretty expensive. So, I’ve created on my own and have quite a few pieces saved from year to year that I purchased. I LOVE FALL and Decorating for the seasons of the year!
Don’t compare. This one’s a tid bit tough for me at times, especially since (as I’ve mentioned) the majority of my friends and family are beyond gifted in the art of creating beautiful spaces. Seriously, the homes of most of my loved ones could be featured in decorating magazines and I’m all like, “Look at my homemade picture frame thing!” But I can tell you from personal experience that you’ll be much more content if you can embrace your own creativity without comparing. Just be yourself and enjoy being creative and the end result when it’s all completed.
Shop Wisely. There is no shame in hittin’ up the dollar stores and thrift stores. You can get a whole buggy full of stuff for what you’d pay for one pretty door wreath at most stores in the mall. Hold off until the end-of-the-season clearances to shop the major retailers. You’ll score some great finds for next year at literally a fraction of the cost. 75% – 90% off signs are my favorite!
Store carefully for re-use. Store your decorations so you can use them again. If you pack them carefully they’ll look as good as new for years to come. By carefully preserving what you have and adding a few new items each year, you’ll have a look that your family will enjoy without breaking the bank.
Ever Found Yourself Brokenhearted? God is the Healer!
Having a broken heart over the loss of a relationship, a close family member or dear friend leaves you in a pile of grief, many questions unanswered and lots of disappointment. When someone you love, admire and respect is suddenly gone from your life… grieving can easily consume you. Sometimes you are forced to accept what you can’t explain. You may even notice that you replay the events like a jury reviewing the evidence but it’s all “after the fact” and pointless. Maybe you’re waiting for someone to come and rescue you, or maybe you’re feeling resentful because nobody appears to understand your pain. I’ve learned over the years that only the Lord can heal this kind of deep pain. Whether it’s a fractured relationship, a sudden and unexpected death or some gut wrenching experience, God and God alone, is in the business of healing broken hearts. Men are not God. They can’t restore what life has stolen. Their words of sympathy are hollow compared to God’s merciful presence. Maybe you didn’t deserve the treatment you got or the disappointment you have experienced because of someone else. However; has it occurred to you that perhaps the Lord just by-passed all the interns and brought in the head surgeon Himself to heal you? “…He Hath Sent Me To Heal The Brokenhearted…” (Luke 4:18) When you have reached the point of surrendering to Him these painful hurts and disappointments, He is right there to bring His healing to the innermost parts of your heart and life.
David said, ”He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness…” (Ps 23:3) Before God can lead you on, He has to restore you and heal you – so be still and let Him work in you. Until you’ve been restored, you’ll only speak out of the unhealed areas and unresolved issues in your life. In other words, you’ll find yourself speaking “death” and you don’t want to do this. That’s why He’ll beckon you to lie down in green pastures and by still waters, so that you can drink of His presence and be strengthened by His word.
Today, He’s calling you to Himself and saying, “Anytime you’re ready – the healing will begin.”
AS A BEAST GOES DOWN INTO THE VALLEY, AND THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAUSES HIM TO REST, SO YOU LEAD YOUR PEOPLE, TO MAKE YOURSELF A GLORIOUS NAME (ISAIAH 63:14)
Do you know what it is to experience and to enjoy the benefits of “real rest”? Most people do not know what “real rest” really is and that it is available to them. To enjoy the benefits of “real rest,” there has to be a way to give one’s problems or needs to someone else to handle. God has made a way for us to give Him our problems and also to lead us to a place of rest. He does this through the work of the Holy Spirit, but only if we allow Him to work His plan in our lives.
It is evident, as you think of your own life and of the many people you know, that God’s people need rest. Most agree on that point; however, many fail to realize that God has provided a rest for them.
Just as God leads the beast down into the valley to rest like scripture tells us in Isaiah 63:14, He desires to lead His people to a place of rest. Your place of rest will no doubt be different from others’ place of rest. When we are ready to yield ourselves to Him and turn our problems and our frustrations over to Him, He is ready to receive them.
Many times during their wilderness wanderings, God provided a place for Israel to rest. However, where and when to rest was always His choice. God knows the best time and place for us to rest.
Two principles of a Spirit-led rest are important for us to remember. First, it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to rest. The leading to that place of rest is a part of His work in our lives. Second, as we receive that rest, it brings honor to God and glorifies His name. God desires for us a proper rest. Only as we yield to the Holy Spirit can we find that place of rest in Him. “Rest is a brilliant way to plug up all the gaps. It fills you, giving you confidence and an inheritance. Rest is a major part of your renewal. When you live in a place of rest, you are so God-conscious that renewal is a constant.” ~ (Graham Cooke)
Always remember that the number of hours or days that we rest is not the issue here. The real need is for us to be led by the Holy Spirit into that place of rest from which God will be glorified.
My prayer today Lord ~ There are many who find themselves tired and weary and in need of rest. May Your Spirit lead them to that place of safety where they will find rest. And above all else, may your name receive the honor and glory. Amen!
My time sharing with Robin at my kitchen table was such a JOY. She is an amazing lady with an “Extraordinary Gifting.” I know you will enjoy listening to this interview with Robin and learning a little more about her and how the Lord leads her artistry. If you would like to see more of her paintings, you can check out Robin’s Facebook page.
THE LINES OF PURPOSE IN YOUR LIVES NEVER GROW SLACK, TIGHTLY TIED AS THEY ARE TO YOUR FUTURE IN HEAVEN, KEPT TAUT BY HOPE. (COLOSSIANS 1:5 MSG)
Have you ever asked yourself this question, “What on earth does God intend for me to do with my life?” I honestly think that one time or another in life we all have asked this question. It’s an easy question to ask, but for many of us, a difficult question to answer. Why? Because God’s purposes aren’t always clear to us. Sometimes we wander aimlessly in a wilderness of our own making. And sometimes, we struggle mightily against God in an unsuccessful attempt to find success and happiness through our own means, not His.
Almost six years ago, my husband and I knew our thirty year season of pastoral care, ministering, counseling and teaching at the local church we had given our lives to was coming to a close. The Lord was leading and directing our ministry and life down an entirely different path. However; little did we know at the time what kind of direction that path would take or look like. Talk about a scary place to find yourself when you’re in your sixties. It was a journey led completely by the Holy Spirit. It was a journey of many doors being “slammed shut” and a few being opened. It has been a journey of knowing that they are called to us and us to them. And, one that has taught us some pretty valuable lessons. Oh yes, I asked the question many times to myself…”What do you want for me and for us to do in this life for you Dear God?” It was a very tender, sweet and yet humbling time as my husband and I sought the Lord daily and almost hourly for direction. This journey has been one of priceless learning lessons and tremendous growth and understanding of the ways of God and His leading. We’ve learned how to completely trust Him and to lean not on our own understanding. His ways certainly are not the ways of man. As you draw near to Him, He will help to get you into the “NEW SEASON.” We are living proof of this.
I learned through the days, weeks and months we endured the “not knowing” for our future that suffering reveals character. As my husband and I searched for God’s will for our lives, those words have become even more evident to us. I learned that suffering in the “not knowing” didn’t produce character but was revealing character. Amazing isn’t it? I am so grateful that God is still in the business of reaching down and lifting people out of difficult situations. I learned that you REALLY CAN always write a “NEW CHAPTER” to your life – don’t remain in the chapter you’re now in when God is moving you forward into a brand new chapter and season. Take His hand and let Him lead you! We have taken this experience in our own life and come through it as Gold. Our ministry, Destiny Navigators (www.DestinyNavigators.org), is now to other churches, leaders and people and we are seeing the hand of a mighty God at work. We have experienced FREEDOM as God leads us ~ a Freedom like none other. This FREEDOM has produced some pretty awesome life changing experiences and encounters in a Spirit Led life and ministry for us.
Only God’s chosen task will ultimately satisfy. Do not wait until it is too late to realize the privilege of serving Him in His chosen position for you. In the very place where God has put us, whatever its limitations, whatever kind of work it may be, we may indeed serve Christ. How do I love God? By doing beautifully the work I have been given to do, by doing simply that which he entrusted to me, in whatever form it may take. His life is our light … our purpose and meaning and reason for living! Psalm 32: 8 – “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you. I will give counsel.”
Sometimes, God’s intentions will be clear to you; other times, God’s plan will seem uncertain at best. But even on those difficult days when you are unsure which way to turn, you must never lose sight of these overriding facts: God created you for a reason; He has important work for you to do; and He’s waiting patiently for you to do it. And the next step is up to you. Get involved in your own life!
MY PRAYER THIS DAY ~ Dear Lord, You are the Creator of the universe, and I know that Your plan for my life is grander than I can imagine. Let Your purposes be my purposes, and let me trust in the assurance of Your promises. Amen!
Back in October of 2013, I rolled over and looked at the clock. It was another day. Beyond all reason and rationality, I slid out of bed and removed anything that might contribute even the slightest ounce as I headed to the scale for my weekly weigh-in.
I thought, “Maybe today will be the day the scale will be my friend and not reveal my secrets. Maybe somehow overnight the molecular structure of my body shifted and today I will magically weigh less.”
I yanked off the warm socks I had on my feet and took off anything that could possibly contribute to even an ounce of weight gain – hey, every stitch of clothing has gotta weigh something you know. – But, the scale didn’t change its mind even after the second time of stepping on it. It was not my friend this day.
Vowing to do better, exercise, eat healthier, and make good choices, I headed to the kitchen only to have my resolve melt like the icing on the warm cinnamon rolls my husband had just pulled from the oven. Oh, who cares what the scale says when this roll speaks such love and deliciousness. Those were my exact thoughts as my taste buds were in “over drive.”
My graving was to eat two and a half cinnamon rolls but I resisted. I decided tomorrow would be a much better day to keep my promises to eat healthier. But tomorrow wasn’t the day. And, neither was the next or the next.
I knew I needed to make changes. I’m not getting any younger and my body size surely isn’t shrinking either. Why does everything on my body keep going south I thought? Neither did I want to continue to hear from another doctor that if the weight were off my joints, my knees wouldn’t hurt so much and walking would be easier. I knew what needed to be done but oh, how I hated the thought of what I HAD TO DO to make it all happen. This wasn’t really about the scale or what clothing size I was; it was about this battle that raged in my heart, emotions and mind. I thought about, craved, and arranged my life way too much around food and my weakness had become fast food places. So much so, I knew it was something God was challenging me to surrender to His control. Surrender to the point where I’d make changes for the sake of my spiritual health, perhaps even more than my physical health. I did not like what was happening to me.
I had to get honest enough to admit it: I relied on food way too much but, not as much as I relied on God. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t crave food more than I craved God. Food was my comfort. Food was my reward. Food was my joy. Food was what I turned to in times of stress, sadness, and even in times of happiness. I couldn’t believe what had happened to me.
I knew this battle would be hard. But through it all I determined to make a huge change for healthier living and rely on God, rather than food being such a focus. Each time I craved something I knew wasn’t part of my healthy eating plan, I used that craving as a prompt to pray and ask the Lord for His help in this mission to become healthier. Trust me ~ I craved a lot. So, I found myself praying a lot at times.
Sometimes I would be in the car all alone and just wanted to stop by a fast food place for a quick burger and fries. I lost count of the times I would correct my own thinking by saying, “No, you don’t! You’re on a mission to get healthier physically and spiritually. You have many years ahead to live life, serving the Lord in ministry alongside your husband as well as enjoying family and grandchildren.” Oh yes, sometimes I felt like crying in the process and I most certainly did shed some tears. I gave myself permission to cry at times, just like the psalmist in Psalm 5:1-3, “Give ears to my word, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”
And that is literally what I have done each day since early October of 2013. I’ve laid my requests for a “healthier me” before God and waited in expectation weekly as the pounds slowly are melting away. For the first time in years, I’m actively involved in a weekly exercise program and have a wonderful husband and friends who have become a constant support and encouragement to me in this journey.
Then, one morning it finally happened. I got up and for the first time in a long, long while, I felt incredibly empowered, motivated and encouraged. I still did the same crazy routine with the scale and making sure no socks were on my feet. The numbers on the scale are slowly coming down and I’ve noticed that my heart and outlook on life has changed drastically from five months ago. One day of victory tasted better than any of that food I’d given up ever could. I had waited in expectation using prayer and a made up mind to endure to the end. That was my guide and I am seeing a change in every area of my life now.
I can’t promise you there won’t be any more tears or struggles because I happen to know there will be. And I can’t promise the scale magically drops as quickly as you wish it would. It probably won’t. But it will be a start. I’m doing this for Me, My Family, the Grandchildren and God because I want to stick around for many more years to come ~ A really good start to a “Healthier Me.”
If you continue to visit my blog, “Sheila’s Heart” over the next several months, I MIGHT …just MIGHT… tell you how much I’ve lost by the summer months!
But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus
(2 Timothy 3:14, 15).
As you know, parents play an important role in the spiritual development of children. Timothy was discipled by his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois (2 Timothy 1:5). The faith of Lois and Eunice had been communicated to Timothy while he was still a small child. Several years later this faith and commitment to Jesus Christ were a reflection of the faith and commitment of both his mother and grandmother. Our children need to see us as parents, grandparents and church leaders commit ourselves to communicating our Christian life, faith and heritage to them.
Discipling children begins with example. Children need God-honoring examples of Christian living. They need to see their parents worship both corporately and privately. Children need to see Mom and Dad respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit in making daily decisions. They need to see family members demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in everyday family life. Parents need to demonstrate their belief in spiritual gifts by discovering and deploying their gifts in meaningful ministry in the local church.
Spiritual instruction isn’t confined to the Sunday school classroom. Life is filled with teachable moments. Parents must constantly be looking for opportunities to share their faith, whether worshipping, working or relaxing.
Finally, prayer is essential. God promises a meaningful experience to our children (Acts 2:39). As parents we need to cling to the promise of God. We need to pray daily that our children will give their heart to Jesus and be filled with the Holy Spirit from childhood. Instruction and prayer are imperative to growing children who will love, follow and serve Christ.
As parents, we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to set an example for our children to instruct them in scriptural truth, and to intercede for their completeness in Christ.
My heart cry is for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and help us to love, guide, and train our children. My friend, Pastor Debbie Lanier, spoke my heart cry recently when she wrote ~ “Whatever gets celebrated in our lives gets replicated. I choose this day to celebrate the active work of God in my life and family. Oh, how I love Him!”
If we celebrate the active work of Christ in our family and life, our children and grandchildren will replicate this same expression of faith and the ways of Christ in their own lives over time. We live it out by example through our faith and actions.
Grandparents are not just elderly moms or dads who dote over their little grandbabies. I’m a grandmother and love every single second of it. There’s just no sweeter love than that of a grandchild. For those of you who are grandparents, you know exactly how I feel. It’s such a JOY isn’t it? I’m sure you WILL lavish excessive attention and affection over them!) There’s a reason you’re called a “Grand”-Parent. “Grand” means “having more importance than others.” Your parenting is at a higher dimension than
when you were young with children of your own. You have a Grand Imperative that God sets in your heart. The older we grow, the more precious life becomes and the more attention MUST be given to the Next
Generation…and the Next…and the Next. It’s an Imperative …a mandate from God!
Who else has the life-experiences, wisdom, and knowledge like a Grandparent who loves the Lord? Who else has the heart to intercede for the Next Generation like a Grandparent who knows their time on earth is limited?
Proverbs 26:6 says ~ Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it.
OUR LITTLE GRANDCHILDREN… OUR JOYS!
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, Love is in the air!
I wanted to know the “real” definition of Love, so I looked it up in the good ol’ Webster’s dictionary. And to my surprise, there were over 10 definitions of the word love, but the best one, out of all of them, was: “Holding your opponent at a score of zero in the game of tennis.” Well, that’s not right!
The one that truly stuck out to me the most was: “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties, like a father loves his children”. Then, the Holy Spirit brought this scripture to mind: “And, I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”(2 Corinthians 6:18)
Speaking of scripture…Did you know that Love is mentioned in the bible nearly 700 times? And why do you think that is ~ Because it’s important!
The Greek defines Love in two ways:
Phileo: A brotherly type of love. Not just saying “I love you brother”, but, loving others with a “Christ-like” love. 1John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.”
Agape: This love is represented by God’s love for us. It is a non-partial, sacrificial love probably best exemplified by God’s provision for our rebellion: “For God so loved (agape) the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) The gift of God’s son as a provision for sin, was given to all humans, regardless of who we are. God’s love is unconditional.
“I will love you unconditionally!”
Following in my parents footsteps… I would like to share with you a little story about unconditional love:
Jt liked at all. Johnny loved Valentines Day and every year he looked forward to it. He would start early and make his list. He would look for special valentines for each schoolmate on his list. But, it seems that all of these efforts were useless because he never received a valentine from anyone. Another valentines day rolled around and he had his special cards ready to go.
Off he went to school protecting his cards so they would be spotless upon his arrival. As he boarded the bus and was out of his mother’s sight, tears filled her eyes and soon they were cascading down her cheeks. Oh, how she dreaded his coming home after school, knowing he probably would not get a single valentine. She prayed for him all day long and soon the bus rounded the curve and came to a stop in front of their house. Johnny came out of the bus and she heard him say, as he came up the path, “not a one”. Her heart broke. Then again she heard him say, “not a single one.” She didn’t know what she was going to say to him. As he approached her his expression changed to a great big smile and he shouted these words… “not a one, I didn’t forget a valentine for a single one.
Love is not about what we receive, but what we choose to give.
The boy in that story gave regardless of what others give. This is the exact kind of love that God shows each and every one of us.
He loves us unconditionally. To say God’s love is illogical is an understatement! Let me explain… Apostle Paul says God’s love “is so great that you will never see the end of it, or fully know or understand it.” Let me ask you a question, and answer honestly… Is there any good reason why—based upon your talents, family background, good works and deeds, personal magnetism, status or anything else—is there any good reason why God should love you? Tell me how it makes sense, based upon who you really are, why God should love you? Yah, I can’t think of any reasons either.
Remember, our love isn’t like God’s love at all. We are only human! The people that we choose to love are people who will love us back! The way we love is not the way He loves. Did you love Him before He loved you? Did you pursue Him before He pursued you? Did you seek Him before He sought you? I think not! ~It simply does not make sense! That’s the point! An example of this is God’s love to Israel. It didn’t make sense either. The big question is, “Why would God commit himself to a group of people He knew would not be faithful to Him?” Would you go into a relationship knowing the other person won’t be faithful to you, will betray your love, and leave you for others? Would you choose someone you know won’t be thankful for what you do and will not give the love and support you show? According to our way of thinking, God’s love is irrational. It doesn’t make sense. And to be honest, I am kind of glad it doesn’t make sense, because if He loved the way us humans love, we would be abandoned after the first time we sinned. And I don’t know about you, but I fall short quite often. In fact, the bible says that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. There is not one of us in this room that is sinless. And that’s what is so great about God’s unconditional love, he loves us in the good times and the bad.
God’s love is unconditional. It doesn’t have disclaimers hidden in the fine print! It doesn’t have rules and regulations. God doesn’t say: “Thou must go to church for at least 2 years and read ye Bible 50 times then I will love you” His love is not a love we earn, it is a love we already have.
You have always been the focus of God’s unconditional love. The focus has been you, because sin separates us from God.
Romans 8: 35-39 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced 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.”
God’s unconditional love forgives, heals, mends, restores, and brings us back into full relationship with Him. A major purpose of God’s love for us is to show that we are never alone; we are never unloved. Now that we are approaching Valentine’s Day, when many of us realize we don’t have a Valentine or perhaps we celebrate “Single Awareness Day” ~We must remember that we have a Valentine every February 14th and every day after that, for the rest of our lives. And that valentine is our Heavenly Father! He loves us more than any Valentine in the world!
Now I want to give you the opportunity to tell God how much you love him and how you want to be His Valentine. We are going to pass out a piece of paper, so you can write a love letter to God. I encourage you to thank Him for his unconditional love and tell him why you love Him right back!
**Hannah is the lovely daughter of Pastor Chris and Minister Vicki Fisher from Willoughby, Ohio. Hannah attends Malone University and recently wrote this insightful Bible Study teaching for her school dorm and presented it in her home church, Community of the Holy Spirit, last Sunday. I am so impressed (in the best kind of way) with the depth of Hannah’s Spiritual and Heart insight about “LOVE.” Hannah so beautifully stated~ “Unconditional Love from our Heavenly Father is THE BEST VALENTINE any of us could ever receive!” Thank You Hannah for sharing this wonderful heartfelt teaching with all of us on “Sheila’s Heart.”
I love you Great Big! 🙂