Life Along the Way

A Daily Devotional

"Your Will Be Done"

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"Now Samuel said to all Israel: "Indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you."

1 Samuel 12:1

When we pray we either ask God to do what we think is best based on what we see, think, feel and want or we pray, "Your will be done" and trust that God has our best interest in mind always. The best prayer we can offer to God always will be, "Your will be done" and sadly that is not what the children of Israel did here in 1 Samuel 12. Israel up to this point had enjoyed God Himself as their king and yet somehow that was not enough for them. They wanted a king like the other nations around them and reluctantly the Lord grants their request. It has been well said, "God gives His best to those who leave the choice to Him" but when we demand our own way and God leaves us to make our own choices we never arrive at the desired end that we had hoped for and for good reason. We can't see the end from the beginning, only God can. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

We have a King over us, His name is Jesus! He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and wants you and I to enjoy life in His kingdom. Just like the Lord provided for the nation of Israel He provides for us too. Why would we look any place else than to the Lord? Just like Israel we rebel, we think we know best based upon how we see, think, feel and what we want so we ignore the instruction of God as if He is too distant to understand our current situation.

Thank God He knows us better than we know ourselves and doesn't just strike us dead when we reject His council or refuse to walk in His ways. No, loved one, God is patient and kind to us even in our stubbornness and rebellion. He loves us like a Father loves his son and instead the Lord chastens us in love. When we turn back to God He promises to be there, and just like He did for Israel, He will once again reign over us. God doesn't force His will upon us, as the God of love, God has given to us free will, the ability to choose whom we will serve. And prayer is where God loves that we make that choice known for it is in prayer where God communicates with His children and where we demonstrate our dependence upon Him.

Prayer is the proof of our love, and love is the fruit of prayer. If we love God we will seek God and if we seek God we will love God and in turn we will love His people too. Try it for yourself. Its been well said, "we can not hate those we consistently pray for" and its true as God changes our heart and in time we begin to take on God's heart as our own. It's a beautiful thing to see and here in chapter 12 Samuel is modeling a genuine faith by praying "Not my will but Yours be done" as he intercedes for the nation even though they are in the wrong in wanting what God does not. May you and I be like Samuel here when others live in rebellion to God, loving them still and praying for them all the while warning and admonishing them to come back and live under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ, our King.


"Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king."

1 Samuel 12:23-25

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"Redeeming Love"

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"Then she said, "Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day."


Ruth 3:18


As we read the book of Ruth chapter three we are reminded like Ruth is, that our redemption is worth the wait. When I read chapter three I am reminded of the words of Isaiah 40:31, "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." Maybe you are going through a tough time in life right now, and if so I pray you have people in your like who are like Naomi, a true friend who doesn't necessarily tell you what you want to hear but is motivated by love and wants the best for you and is willing to tell you what you need to hear for your good and even more important, the glory of God. As a person of Jewish ancestry Naomi knows the Jewish customs and laws and can help secure a hope and a future for Ruth. If only Ruth will trust her and listen.

If you are experiencing a hardship in your life right now let me encourage you to lie down at the feet of your Boaz, Jesus Himself and look to Him for your comfort. Bring all your burdens and lay them at His feet. I encourage you to cast all your cares upon Jesus knowing, He cares about you! Just like Boaz wouldn't waste any time in redeeming Ruth, God has not wasted any time in redeeming us. 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."

The book of Galatians teaches us that at just the right time Jesus was born into this world. Galatians 4:3-4 says, "Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law." Jesus didn't waste any time while He walked on earth. He was always about the Fathers business and when the time was just right as the scriptures teach us in Luke 9:51, "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem". Not even the suffering of the beatings He endured or the physical, emotional and spiritual pain of the Cross could distract Jesus from redeeming us and completing the work that He came to do. Just as the Bible tells us, He set His face like flint towards Jerusalem to make sure we could be assured a place in glory. Jesus did not rest until He secured a future and hope for all who would come to Him by faith. Talk about redeeming love! Thank you Jesus!

Just think, everything we have ever gone through in this life will be worth it one day when we get to heaven and our understanding is no longer limited by our finite minds. Don't be discouraged if today you appear to be going through a drought or a season of life that seems more like winter than it does spring time and harvest. Don't quit swinging your sickle, loved one, continue to glean the truth of God's Word as man can't live on bread alone. Determine to grow in your faith knowing that at just the right moment in time, and not a moment too late, Jesus will return for us and take us home to be with Him just like Boaz did for Ruth in our story here in the book bearing her name.

"But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine."

Isaiah 43:1

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"Lift Up Is Pulling Down"

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"And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god."

1 Samuel 5:7

As a follower of Christ you gotta love this story here in chapter 1 Samuel chapter five. In verses 1 through 5 we read, "Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the temple of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon's torso was left of it. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon's house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day."

"Our God is bigger than your god" you might say in speaking to non-christians about the gods they serve. There is none like our rock. What an awesome display of God's overwhelming power we see here in 1 Samuel chapter five. No matter how many lies the enemy tells you and me, he is a defeated foe! The book of Isaiah shows Lucifer falling from heaven and here and all through the bible we see Satan's kingdom falling time after time. Just another reminder that no weapon formed against you will prosper, beloved. Our God reigns! Hold onto that today as you will need it! 

Chapter five is a clear reminder that the idols, the false gods that men create with their own hands and raise up to worship will eventually fall. To live in rebellion against the Lord is like walking around like the idol Dagon with its head cut off. There is no life apart from our God, and the idols that men create as objects of worship only rob us of the life, the love, and the pursuit of true happiness that is found in Jesus Christ alone. Yes, there does remain a way that seems right to a man but its end brings forth death. The goal and the reward of the Christian life is to live in complete devotion to the one true God.

When I read chapter five I am reminded how easy it is for man to allow sin to coexist with God. I know that from the sin in my own life. Jesus told us that it is impossible to have more than one God in our lives when He said in Luke 16:13, "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (money)." Determine afresh today to stay pure in your pursuit of God, and ask the Lord continually in prayer to expose and destroy the things of darkness in our lives that are not pleasing to Him. Remember, one of the primary reasons for the incarnation we read in 1 John 3:8 is, "He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." Jesus was lifted up to pull the Devil down. The enemy has been defeated!

Knowing the above to be true, your job, and my job, isn't to go around everyday looking for idols to pull down per say, but just the opposite is true. Our job, our joy is to lift up the name of the Lord in every area of our life in worship to the King. The joy we have in this life, beloved, as true believers is the joy of living in complete surrender to God in each and every facet of our lives. To become a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to Him is the aim of our lives. When we focus on lifting up Jesus as we go about our day, He promised to take care of those things that attempt to rise up against us and Him in our path. Knowing Jesus has already defeated the devil, all that is left then for you and me to do is to exalt His name every chance we get today.

Remember Philippians 2:10, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth" Lets not miss the chance to bow our knee and lift up praise in His name today and sing His praises for the Great things He has done. If you don't want darkness in your life, walk in the light as He is in the light. What do light and darkness have in common? Not a thing! Lets not be idle in our worship of God, but rather, let the Word of God dwell in you richly today, renewing our minds and reminding us afresh that our victory is in Jesus. Draw close to Jesus, knowing as we do He will draw close to you. Oh, how the devil hates that. He can't stand to be in the presence of God so if you don't want Satan bugging you, stay close to Jesus.


"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

James 4:7

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"Repenting For The Joy Of It"

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"So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only. And Samuel said, "Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you." So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the Lord. And they fasted that day, and said there, "We have sinned against the Lord." And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah. Now when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines."


1 Samuel 7:4-7


When the children of Israel gathered together at Mizpah and drew water and then poured it out before the Lord it signified their repentance from sin. Most all of us have heard the expression, "I poured out my heart". That's exactly what the children of Israel were doing. Their hearts were truly broken before the Lord and they were genuinely sorry for the sin they had committed against God by disobeying His Word, so they poured out the water in humiliation demonstrating their sorrow and the sense of emptiness they felt. That's exactly what sin does to us, loved one; it leaves us dry and empty. Sin might be pleasurable for the moment in some cases, but in the end it brings forth death. Sin not only brings forth death, loved one, it sucks the very life out of us along the way. It's a slow death! We do well to heed the Word of God that says, "Flee temptation, resist the devil and he will flee". The Lord Himself promises us victory as we abide in Him. Trust Jesus!

There is an amazing truth revealed here in chapter 7 when the children of Israel gather at Mizpah to repent of their sin before the Lord. As they gather to repent, the Philistines gather together to fight against them. Isn't that just like the devil, beloved? When you and I repent of our sin and pour our heart out in confession before the Lord, we need to be aware, beloved, because the enemy of our soul is gathering to attack us.

Without fail, when we go to God with a sincere heart regarding our sin and confess it the Lord, the devil will come against us believing we are vulnerable to his attack. How wrong he is! That's why Satan comes against us when we repent. He doesn't want to us to feel the cleansing power of God, or the refreshing feeling we sense in our hearts when we have been cleansed once again. Just like the Philistines found out, the enemy of our soul soon discovers too, that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Satan can't approach God any time he would like so he works hard to keep us away from the Lord too knowing that in His presence is the fullness of joy. We need to be encouraged by the strength we will experience each time we truly repent before God as "A broken and contrite heart the Lord will not despise". It is true that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

The real joy for you and me in 1 Samuel chapter 7 is knowing that Samuel is a type of Christ for the children of Israel. He intercedes for Israel in the same way our Great High Priest Jesus intercedes for us. It's wonderful to know that today, right now at this very moment in time Jesus Christ is interceding for us at the throne of God! Oh, how I pray you find comfort and joy in knowing this truth. Take a moment and meditate on that fact today, that Jesus is praying for you, that you are in His heart and always on His mind. Enjoy as well the victory that only Jesus provides and continually experience the peace, the presence, and the power of God in your life as you continue to confess your sins to Him who has set you free from them. Don't hold onto your sins; take them to God in prayer leaving them at the feet of our Savior remembering always,


"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."


1 John 1:9

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"Choose Love"

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"Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations."

1 Samuel 8:4-5

It was C.S. Lewis who once said, "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened." If you ever wondered how the church of Laodecia that we read about in the book of Revelation got so bad all you have to do is look back at the choice they made. When the leaders decided they wanted a king to rule the nation instead of submitting their lives to God's ordained authority their fate was sealed.

Are you aware that every sin a person makes can be traced back to a single choice. In their choosing the children of Israel decide for themselves that they no longer wanted a judge to rule over them. Instead they decided they like the idea of having a king like the rest of the nations. Be careful what you ask for as you might just get it! Again, it was C.S. Lewis who wrote, "Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy." How soon we forget that God desires to be king in our lives since He is truly the King of Kings. Having The Lord as king was to their benefit as He alone is holy and righteous and He alone has their best interests in mind, always.

Being the God of love God gives us the freedom to choose Him. Without a choice it wouldn't be love. Though God is sovereign, and has no rival, He allows man the freedom to choose the object of his worship. God knows if we choose to bow our knee to anyone or anything but Him, we will never be satisfied and will only end up frustrated and under the hand of a taskmaster as Israel will soon discover. Israel forgets the privilege it is to have the Lord as God. Instead of being set apart to God the children of Israel prefer to blend in with the world around them and set themselves apart from God.

The call of God upon the children of Israel is the same call that is upon our lives too, remembering that the Lord said, "be holy as I am holy". As the church, the body of Christ we are called to stand out, not to blend in. We are to sanctify ourselves to God as Jesus sanctified Himself for us. Don't follow the crowd; follow the Lord. Don't look for ways to blend in, look for ways to stand out and to shine in the darkness. Take to heart the message of the apostle Paul to the church at Rome, as we too will be faced with many opportunities to choose this day in whom we serve. We can be conformed to the world or we can transformed into the image of Christ. God leaves the choice to us! Choose in love!

"…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Romans 12:2

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"Don't Fix Me… Just Hold Me"

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"Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me."

Matthew 26:38

I love my church family and the desire most have to live lives for the glory of God. We are constantly looking for ways to reach a hurting world with the love of Jesus. I don't know who it was in our Men's Ministry who coined the phrase, "Don't Fix Me, Just Hold Me" which means to the other guys in the group, "I don't need your advice right now, I just need your friendship, I just need to know that you care." That little saying has proven itself over and over again to be a great way to be a better friend to one another. And the good news is, it works in all relationships, not just men.

Hearing those words, "Don't Fix Me Just Hold Me" are refreshing to hear for the simple fact that often times in life we are fully aware of what we are struggling. Often times God is working in our lives in a particular area or we have just experienced a hardship or loss of some kind and what we need most from those close to us is their loving support, just knowing they are there for us speaks volumes to us. In the book of Job, I can almost hear Job speaking the words, "Don't Fix Me, Just Hold Me as Job's three friends when they first heard the news of his tremendous loss didn't try to fix him. When they got wind of the news they just dropped everything and they came to Job and sat by his side for days on end without speaking a single word. They cried with him and mourned his loss along side him but they didn't try to fix the situation by offering sage advice. That story provides for each of us an important lesson on how we can be a better friend.

Availability is sometimes the single greatest gift we can offer others, especially in their time of need. Think about it, loved one, what keeps any of us from helping others? I shared with our church family just this morning that selfishness is the enemy of our usefulness in advancing God's kingdom. Our busyness often times hinders us from getting involved in other people's lives. I remember a conversation I had with a pastor a number of years ago now who said unapologetically that if people wanted his help they could set up an appointment with him during his office hours placing the burden on them if they wanted his care. The way he saw it was, if people can take off time from work to go to the doctor he saw no reason not to make the members of his church schedule an appointment between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. if they really wanted his help.

I remember thinking at the time as he was speaking, is this what Jesus would do? I shared with him then that I thought he might need to reconsider his thinking on that for the simple fact that, "since people can't schedule all their pain, they can't schedule their need for an appointment conveniently between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m." As friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ we should all seek to be available for one another in times of need, understanding that in doing so we will be blessed with some of the most divine appointments God has to offer.

"Don't Fix Me Just Hold Me" is a basic human cry of our heart that can be met when you and I choose to "be there" for others. We don't need to worry about what to say, we don't even need special training. What we need most is a willingness in our heart to drop what we are doing, and to make ourselves available to those in their time of need. After all, isn't that what Jesus does for me and for you! Oh what a friend we have in Jesus, amen! I guess the question of the day might be, "what kind of friend will the world find in you and me?"

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."

Romans 12:15

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"Rest Stops"

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I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."

Psalm 91:2


Driving up I-5 to our daughters home in Northern California my wife and I pass by a lot of turn outs known as "rest stops". They advertise them along the road for travelers far from home. A "rest stop" is designed to be a safe place to pull off the road to catch some sleep, stop and rest on a long drive, maybe stretch and use the restroom if needed. At 58 years old I need "Rest Stops" more and more when my wife and I travel. I also see along the way those signs that say "next fuel (x amount) miles" and its obvious someone who has traveled the road before has placed that sign there as a warning if you don't have fuel you might not make it to the next gas station and end up stranded along the road. No one truly appreciates those signs unless they are unfamiliar with the area.

Did you know you have to work at rest? It really is true, friend. To rest properly it takes work. Behavior scientists tell us that the average vacationer doesn't start their vacation until almost 72 hours into their vacation because it takes time to convince ourselves we are actually on vacation from being on the go so much.

The children of Israel during their wilderness journey collected extra manna on Friday so they didn't have to gather any on the Sabbath so they could rest and devote that time to the Lord. Studies show that when people plan a vacation it takes one week before the actual vacation to plan for it and then the week to take the actual vacation and then a another week after vacation is over to fully recover from the vacation they just took. Vacations don't sound too much like rest from that study. Ha! I think that is why the Lord gave us a model for rest. God rested from all His work on the 7 th. day. He commanded the children of Israel to rest from their labor on the 7th day as well and when they failed to do so they were disciplined by the Lord with 70 years of captivity as repayment for each Sabbath they skipped over the course of 490 years. God knows we need rest, a day set aside to connect with Him and to rest from our own labors.

As followers of Jesus we don't have any particular day that God has said we are to rest. The Old Testament Sabbath was established between God and the children of Israel. New Testament believers learn that God has said that man was not made for the Sabbath but that the Sabbath was made for man. It's just smart to rest. Animals needed rest to perform in the fields. Hired help needs rest to perform their jobs to the fullest. Children and adults need rest to be alert at school and work. Yet, in America it seems we just go and go and go. Like the old saying regarding shopping, "Shop until you drop" most of us apply that same method to everything we do.

Of all the things the Lord has for you today loved one I am certain He wants you to rest in His love. Take some time from your labor and find a rest stop. Realize just like the signs on the freeways were placed there to communicate to people unfamiliar with the way that they need to rest, they need to make sure they have the fuel needed to reach their desired destination. Rest is important in that we don't know what lies ahead for us and where our journey of faith might take us. People who knew the way placed those road signs on the freeway to assist us when we travel. God knows that you and I have never passed this way before. God knows we aren't as familiar with the roads of life as we might think. That's why God tells us in His Word to stop, to rest and get refueled. Life is hard, loved one, and the road is long. Trust that God knows best and take advantage of the rest that is made available in Jesus Christ today, stop and smell the roses and enjoy some time alone, just you and Jesus!


In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

Psalm 62:7

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"Never Let Go"

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"And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand."


John 10:28

I never grow tired of the theme song from the movie, "The Guardian" as to me it could be a theme song for anyone who serves in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Reading Psalm 145 at our morning prayer time today I realize even more that if I am going to lay hold of that which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me I need to be the kind of man "who will never look back, will never look down, never let go." As I was praying this morning the Lord brought to mind men and women who have impacted my life by their faithfulness. Their faith is far from fickle. Their lives are refreshing to me as they faithfully serve the Lord not for a week or a month or even a year. My life is blessed and our church is blessed by their decades of service. As I look for common denominators in the rock solid saints I find men and women who "will never look back, will never look down, never let go." Their lives are like the song…

"Never Let Go"
by Bryan Adam's

Can you lay your life down so a stranger can live
Can you take what you need but take less than you give
Could you close everyday without the glory and the fame
Could you hold your head high when no one knows your name
That's how legends are made-at least that's what they say

We say goodbye but never let go
We live, we die-because you can't save every soul
You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back-will never look down
And never let go

Can you lose everything-you ever had planned
Can you sit down again-and play another hand

Could you risk everything-for the chance of being alone
Under pressure find the grace-would you come undone
That's how legends are made-at least that's what they say

We say goodbye-but never let go
We live, we die-because you can't save every soul
You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back-will never look down
And never let go-never let go
You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back-will never look down
And never let go

We say goodbye-but never let go
We live, we die-because you can't save every soul
You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back-will never look down
And never let go-never let go

Never look back-never look down, and never let go (song ends)


Jesus was this kind of man and I want to be this kind of man too. The bible says Jesus set His face like flint to Jerusalem and would not be deterred from fulfilling the ministry that glorified the Father when Jesus laid His life down for you and me. The bible says, "No greater love than anyone than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends." In a sense you can say Jesus never looked back, He never looked down and He never let go. My hope is that we know this in our own lives, that Jesus died for me and for you so that we could know He'd never let go. No matter what you are going through in life you are not alone, loved one. Jesus made a promise to you and Jesus always keeps His promises. Jesus said He would never let go if we would come to Him and trust Him with our lives. Just as Jesus promised, we are safe in His love as He is safe in the Father's love. That my friends is security!

As I read the words to the song this morning they take on a fresh meaning for me personally. When I read the following lyrics;

"We say goodbye-but never let go… We live, we die-because you can't save every soul… You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back-will never look down… And never let go- never let go… You gotta take every chance to-show that you're the kinda man who will never look back- will never look down… And never let go"…

Reading those words I am encouraged to be in the ministry, to be able to share the love and the hope that is found only on Jesus Christ with a drowning world. I am reminded again today that there is no price too great to pay to get to tell the world of God's amazing love. Yes, we live, we die, loved one, but we never have to let go because we are holding on to the One who promised us that He loved us with an unfailing love and that He would never let go of us. If we fall, we fall into the arms of the One, the only One who the book of Jude reminds us who is capable of catching us! So, hang in there and hold on to Jesus no matter what, remembering always that the reward is worth the sacrifice! We are saved and safe in Jesus love because He never lets go!

"My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand."

John 10:29

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"Unchanging Love"

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"Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised."

Song of Songs 8:7


Devoted love, unquenchable love, unstoppable love, undeterred love, against all odds kind of love, unchanging love, that is the character of God's love. Oh that you and I would know the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus. Have you ever really considered what the apostle Paul writes of in 1 Corinthians 13 when he pens the words, "Love never fails". There is only one thing and one thing only in this world that never changes and that is God Himself and that is so good to know and understand, especially on days when life hurts.

Writer and bible scholar C.S. Lewis who once said, "Though our feelings come and go, God's love for us does not." Listening to the worship song, "Unchanging God", I find comfort in God's unchanging love and I pray you do too. The song goes like this.

Faithful in the waiting You are
Always faithful in the valley You are
Faithful in the midst of hurt and pain
You are faithful

Your promises remain
Forever and ever
You won't fade away
You never, You never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God

Mighty in the battle You are
Always with me, You're the God who overcomes
Mighty You will raise me from the grave
You are mighty

Your promises remain
Forever and ever
You won't fade away
You never, You never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God

Oceans will rise,
Kingdoms will fall
But the word of the Lord stands forever
The sun will start to fade,
The world will pass away
But the word of the Lord stands forever
And the death will try to come
The perfect love is won
Cause the word of the Lord stands forever
The word of the Lord stands forever
Forever

Your promises remain
Forever and ever
You won't fade away
You never, You never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God

Your kingdom is forever
Your love will last forever
All glory, all honor
Unto our God forever (Song Ends)

Wow, what a beautiful song. Reading 2 Corinthians 1:20, I am reminded, "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." That is epic news for you and me if you consider how many promises there are in the bible. It has been calculated that in the KJV of the bible that there are 31,102 verses and when counted up we discover 7,487 promises of God made to man. Did you hear that, 7487 very precious promises we can hold on to and trust completely in and all because our God is unchanging and because of that His love is unchanging too!

That's why the greatest gift Paul says is love for God is love and because of that love never fails and even more, love has no end. We don't say of those we have lost, "I like them or I enjoy them but we can and do rightly say, "I love them" for love has no end. Not even death can break the bonds of love, actually in human terms it can strengthen it. But God's love is unique in that it doesn't suffer from highs and lows, like Him its unchanging.

The Word of the Lord stands forever, loved one, and no matter what, no matter how hard life might be today there is a promise that remains, God is unchanging and because of that His love for you and me remains true! If you find yourself in the midst of hurt and pain today loved one, let these words ring true over and over in your heart and soul…

Oceans will rise,
Kingdoms will fall
But the word of the Lord stands forever
The sun will start to fade,
The world will pass away
But the word of the Lord stands forever
And the death will try to come
The perfect love is won
Cause the word of the Lord stands forever
The word of the Lord stands forever
Forever

"Your promises remain
Forever and ever
You won't fade away
You never, You never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God
You will never change
You're unchanging God

Your kingdom is forever
Your love will last forever
All glory, all honor
Unto our God forever"

Many things in life will change, by choice or by chance but one thing never changes and that is the promise of God's love! Remember, nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus! The word of the Lord stands forever and God will not change for He is an unchanging God! Take comfort in knowing the promise remains!

"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 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 created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 8:37-39

I LOVE YOU!


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"Thank You, Thank You, Thank You"

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"in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Have you ever thought if there was one thing that if you did it every day would change your life for the better? Maybe you have thought there can't possibly be one thing that I could do that would make that big of a difference in my life in just one day. The good news today is, there is! If you and I would just simply do this one thing every day consistently, our lives would be forever changed for the good. The Bible teaches us that being thankful, that having a heart of gratitude does in fact change our lives for the better each time we express it, be it to God or other people.

Try it today and see if it doesn't change you. Count the number of times you say, "thank you" today to God and to people. Romans chapter 1 makes it perfectly clear behind every creation there is a creator and every design there is a designer, where as James chapter 1 makes it equally clear behind every gift there is a giver! Romans chapter 1 teaches us that when people become thankless they open themselves for a world of hurt where just the opposite happens in the heart of a person who remains thankful. We open ourselves up to both be and receive a blessing!

Think about the people in your life who you enjoy blessing and doing things for or giving gifts too. I bet they are thankful. Think of the people who aren't high on that list and I am willing to bet they are most likely not very grateful or thankful. Yes, there is something magnetic about a grateful heart, there is power in a simple thank you that motivates us to want to do more! Don't forget the words of the half brother of Jesus who wrote, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17). It's true, that behind every creation there is a creator, behind every design there is a designer, and behind every gift there is a giver! God is the ultimate giver and today there will be countless opportunities for you and me to say thank you to the Lord and to those created in His image.

But don't be surprised if someone blesses you today and when you say "thank you" they humbly respond, "don't thank me, thank Jesus" because they too are living lives that are being lived out in humble appreciation for all He does. Just know today, loved one, I am setting out to count all my blessings today and I am beginning by counting you! Thank you for blessing my life like you do. For loving me and encouraging me as I set out to encourage, motivate and challenge you! My life is very blessed by you! And for that I am very thankful!


Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 136:1

I LOVE YOU!


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"Deeply And Completely"

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"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."

Deuteronomy 6:5


Love was definitely in the air this past weekend as my wife and I enjoyed some time away after I performed a wedding ceremony for a very special young couple in our church on our favorite beach in Cayucos. They are very much in love and they picked the perfect place to start their new life together getting married right there on the sand with the ocean as the backdrop to their ceremony. Everything was perfect! 


At the same time I was trying to minister to a family back home whose marriage is under attack. I was reminded throughout the weekend of both the power of love and the enemies relentless attack against it. As I was studying the book of Matthew and the spiritual condition of the world in the last days I was reminded that there will be a lack of genuine love exhibited just prior to the Lords return. I couldn't help but think we are living in those days.


Sometimes when I study I'll have music playing as it helps block out other noises that can often distract me. As I sat there reading and taking notes a song that was familiar to me was playing, an "oldie", a song that my wife and I heard at a concert many years ago came up on my phone. It was a beautiful love song titled, "completely", and as I sat there listening to it I thought about the words and how they were simple, yet complex. A lot like love.


I thought as the song played about the different levels of love, not so much the different kinds of love, but the depth of love. Most everyone knows that love comes in degrees too. The bible says that in the last days, "the love of many will wax (grow) cold". The song actually went along with what I was thinking about and is why it caught my attention. I began to examine the words to the song "completely" and to contemplate in my own heart and mind the word "completely" and what it really means. As I did I thought about it the word that kept coming to my mind was the word, "deep" so I looked it up in the dictionary. It said of the word deep,


Deep adj

extending from the surface downward or inward

extending a long way from top to bottom

extending a long way from front to back

extending a long way from a surface or boundary inward

standing or lining up in rows of a particular number

relatively far down, in, or inside something

coming from or reaching down inside the body


My favorite description for "deep" was number 10 on the list of descriptions which said of the word "deep" as an adjective, "intensely held, kept, or experienced." That was good but it even got better, or deeper as I read the description for the word "deep" as a noun. It gave the following definition,


The middle or most intense part of something.


As I listened to that oldie but goodie love song playing I found myself longing to be a man who loves deep, who loves "completely", with all my heart and soul. Are you aware that's exactly how the Lord wants you and me to love too? Honestly, that is how God created us to love. No holding back, "all in" you might say. When the Lord God chose a people He would call "Israel" to be His own special people He taught them His ways, He instructed them in how they were to relate to Him as God. In essence He told them that they were to love Him "completely". In the book of Deuteronomy chapter 30 beginning in verse 16 the Lord, through Moses, teaches the people to observe His ways to focus their lives on living and loving Him completely.


"…in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess."


Yes, loved one, God wants us to love Him completely, knowing when we do we will love others with that same kind of love, that same depth. God isn't into half-hearted love because half hearted love leaves us empty, never satisfied. God loves us completely and He calls us to love completely too. That's why Jesus said in Mark 12:29-31, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."


Choose today to love completely, to love deep. Don't hold back. Remember that love is a choice, not just a response. Love God and love others from the deepest place of your soul, from the source and not the surface. Give your best and not your "left over" as it were today. Read the words to the song "Completely". It's a love song for sure but today I'm making it my prayer. You can make it yours too!


"Completely"

Completely wanna give my love

Completely

I'd rather be alone than be in love just half the way

I want to find someone that I can trust completely

Wanna give my heart completely

To someone who'll completely give their heart to only me

And when I find that one

That's when I'll fall in love

Chorus:

completely

Not half but whole

With heart and soul

completely not in between

But everything

completely

That's the way it's got to be

The way I want someone to fall in love with me

Forever wanna feel the world

Forever

And know there'll be somebody there forever by my side

And when that feeling comes

That's when I'll give my love

Chorus:

completely

Not half but whole

With heart and soul

completely not in between

But everything

completely

That's the way it's got to be

The way I want someone to fall in love with me

It's all or nothing at all for this heart of mine

And I won't give up this heart till the day I find

Somebody who can be

Someone who loves me

Chorus:

completely

Not half but whole

With heart and soul

completely not in between

But everything

completely

That's the way it's got to be

The way I want someone to fall in love with me… (end of song)


Know today, loved one, you never have to be alone again. God loves you, completely! Have a wonderful day realizing that His love for you is both deep and complete!


"For God is love"


1 John 4:8


I LOVE YOU!

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"Do It Again God, Do It Again"

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"Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!"


Psalm 80:19

This last month I found myself watching many of the documentaries surrounding the events of 9/11. Though painful in many ways as human suffering is not something any of us enjoy the Bible is clear for those who desire to walk in love. "We comfort one another with the comfort that we ourselves have been comforted by God." Its important to the victims of 9/11 that we as a country never forget the events of that day.

I am endeared to those whose lives were forever changed that day when they lost a family member or friend and I completely understand their desire that we not forget those whose lives were taken in the worst terrorist attack on American soil in the history of the United States. One of the reasons we remember is so that no one who died or was impacted by the events of 9/11 would have died in vain. I thought a lot about all that has gone into remembering 9/11 and whats even more important for you and I to never forget is the power of God to change a human heart. Terrorism isn't going to be defeated by a military army but rather by an army of prayer warriors, men and women of God, young and old alike, from all walks of life joining together and asking God to do what we are praying the terrorists never do, and that is "Do It Again". If there is one thing I am certain of today its that America needs revival desperately and I believe its possible. We need to join hands and hearts and make it our daily prayer, "Do It Again Lord."

It was Saturday September 15, 2001 just days after planes were used in acts of terror against the United States of America on 9/11 that a prayer vigil was held for our country and Pastor Max Lucado wrote this prayer for the national prayer event,

Dear Lord,

We're still hoping we'll wake up. We're still hoping we'll open a sleepy eye and think, What a horrible dream.

But we won't, will we, Father? What we saw was not a dream. Planes did gouge towers. Flames did consume our fortress. People did perish. It was no dream and, dear Father, we are sad.

There is a ballet dancer who will no longer dance and a doctor who will no longer heal. A church has lost her priest, a classroom is minus a teacher. Cora ran a food pantry. Paige was a counselor and Dana, dearest Father, Dana was only three years old. (Who held her in those final moments?)

We are sad, Father. For as the innocent are buried, our innocence is buried as well. We thought we were safe. Perhaps we should have known better. But we didn't.

And so we come to you. We don't ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don't request it; we implore it. We know what you can do. We've read the accounts. We've pondered the stories and now we plead, Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord.

Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children, too, Lord. Do it again.

And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

You changed Daniel from a captive into a king's counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies. Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today, Lord. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.

Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary. What we saw here on that Tuesday, you saw there on that Friday. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Mothers weeping. Evil dancing. Just as the ash fell on our children, the darkness fell on your Son. Just as our towers were shattered, the very Tower of Eternity was pierced.

And by dusk, heaven's sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.

But you did not waver, 0 Lord. You did not waver. After three days in a dark hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord. Grant us a September Easter.

We thank you, dear Father, for these hours of unity. Disaster has done what discussion could not. Doctrinal fences have fallen. Republicans are standing with Democrats. Skin colors have been covered by the ash of burning buildings. We thank you for these hours of unity.

And we thank you for these hours of prayer. The Enemy sought to bring us to our knees and succeeded. He had no idea, however, that we would kneel before you. And he has no idea what you can do.

Let your mercy be upon our President, Vice President, and their families. Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience. Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain. Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.

And look kindly upon your church. For two thousand years you've used her to heal a hurting world.

Do IT again, Lord. Do it again.

Through Christ, Amen.


That's a wonderful prayer to be praying in these challenging days. "Do it again, Lord. Do it again!" In Psalm 80 the writer is asking God to do it again, to bless the nation of Israel who had turned from God and His ways and now was repentant and turning back to God. The Psalmist knows first hand the only hope the people have is for God to show them the same grace He had in the past. Only God Himself was capable of turning their darkness to light, to reverse the curse their evil deeds had caused. But would He?

The Psalmist is crying out to God to do it again and to cause He face to shine on the nation as he knows by faith what we have come to know in reality, and that being Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever! God is not only a blessing God, He is a forgiving God too! When we come humbly before the throne of God in prayer, broken and contrite, God not only promises to forgive us our sin but as well He promises to restore our soul. Salvation has three tenses, past, present and future. God has forgiven us our past sins, He forgives our present sins and promises to even forgive our future sins and all because of the precious blood of His Son, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Yes, loved one, if God did it once He can and will do it again! If you need forgiveness of sin today cry out to the only one who is capable of both forgiving your sin and in turn causing the blessings of heaven to rain down on you as He causes His face to shine upon you. Yes, loved one, if God could do it once, He can do it again! Lets join in prayer for ourselves, our families, our friends, as well as our country and this world! Revive us oh Lord!


"God be merciful to us and bless us, And cause His face to shine upon us. Selah"

Psalm 67:1

I LOVE YOU!


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"Refreshing Confession"

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"It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem."

2 Samuel 11:1

This is probably one chapter of King David's life he wishes never made it into the history books for us to read. Those who are chosen to lead in the kingdom of heaven live in glass houses. God doesn't cover up our sin, He does far greater. First He judges it and if like David we are seeking His heart He forgives and forgets it as He removes it from us, which is far better.

In 2 Samuel chapter 11 we get to look behind the scenes as it were in much the same way a jury of our peers would sit and listen if charges were brought against us in a court of law. Since it is David's life we are viewing here like an open-heart surgery, we don't get to emotionally involved. We can drop our own defenses and learn what went wrong and how the wrong was ultimately made right.

We see right off what went wrong. Wrong place, wrong time as David the king of Israel and commander of the Lord's army he should have been with his troops at war in the springtime but he in the neglect of his duty, the king was left with idle time. You know the old saying, "an idle mind is the devil's playground", and its true. Doing nothing has led countless numbers into serious trouble. Boredom is a great tool in the hand of the Devil regardless of your age. David fell to the tricks of the Devils trade, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life always lead to sin and David took the bait, line, hook, and sinker! That David, a man after God's own heart is susceptible to the snares of the wicked one should be a reminder to you and I to stay focused on the Lord and to never let our guard down.

When temptation comes our way we need to learn the lesson here from David's failure. Don't think for a second you can resist temptation because the bible says you can't. Flee the temptation is the only source of victory. Like the guy who prays the Lord would give him strength on his diet as he passes the donut shop and prays, "Lord, if you don't want your servant to have a donut today then make sure there is no parking spot in front of the donut shop…amen". The guy was overheard later that day telling others that God must have wanted him to have a donut that day because on the seventh trip around the block, low and behold there was an empty parking spot right in front of the donut shop. It must have been God! Flee temptation, friend, don't keep driving around your temptation testing God. If you do…you lose! Oh, how David wished he had fled as well.

David's self indulgence leads him into greater sin, sin has a way of leading us into greater sin, as sin is blindness and it reveals the true state of the heart of man, not the heart of the man of God. We have a sin nature, a nature that wars against our spirit, and we must fight and not pull back from the good fight of faith and not give into our flesh. David's lust moves to adultery, and from adultery to deceit, from to deceit to deception and from deception to death; and all because man is depraved without God ruling our heart. It truly is a downward spiral if there ever was one.

We can stop the downward spiral of sin and death in our own lives by crying out to God and confessing our sin to Him. Learn the lesson David learned from what he did "dodo" here. He tried to cover his sin when he should have been confessing it. Yet because of the great mercy of God David came to know God's healing grace that we first read of in Psalm 51. I pray you know God's mercy too, that when we confess our sins to our faithful God He is faithful not only to forgive but to wash us clean and make all things new.

Sin is a downward spiral where life in Christ is just the opposite. Life in Christ is upward and onward! Read what David discovered about the grace and mercy of God and what happens when we turn from our sin and seek His forgiveness. It's a life changing moment that we can enjoy again and again as we learn to bathe in His love!


"Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."

Psalm 51:1-2

I LOVE YOU!


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Never Stop Wanting

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"What is it you want?" Jesus asked"


Matthew 20:21


As I read this verse above I began to think, what would I ask for if Jesus asked me what I wanted. My mind went wild. I remember thinking, Lord; don't ever let me lose my passion, my desire. Studying for a Marriage Conference I'm going to be sharing at I read a statement in a book on marriage that stuck in my mind. It said, "Their marriage had the passion of oatmeal". I couldn't help but laugh because I love oatmeal but when you think about it the statement is sad. I know oatmeal is good for you but I must confess too that if I eat it the way my cardiologist prefers without the brown sugar it is rather boring to me.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, "The greatest enemy to holiness is not passion but apathy." One of the greatest dangers you and I will encounter in this life is the lack of wanting, the lack of desire. Its been well said that you can't help the man or woman who wants nothing in life. Many a marriage falls prey to the lack of passion, the lack of wanting, and ultimately, the lack of desire. And not just marriages, many of our lives as well. People lose their passion and when they do they also lose their hope, and ultimately, they lose their life. Sad but true.

There is a story in 2 Kings 13 about the prophet Elisha and king Jehoash who was king of Israel at the time. The king's enemies were pressing in and he knew that the prophet was close to dying so he went to Elisha and asked for help. Elisha told the king to take some arrows and strike the ground and the king did as the prophet spoke. It says Jehoash struck the ground three times then he stopped. Elisha rebuked the king saying he should have struck the ground five or six times and not just three. Had he kept hitting the ground his enemies would have been defeated as the striking of the ground symbolized the kings heart in battle and it showed his heart to be passionless, meaning that the kings heart simply was not in it battle, he had no passion to win.

There is a great lesson about life to be learned here. Never stop! Don't Quit! Never stop wanting, loved one, don't lose your passion for living, and for loving. Don't ever give up on your dream no matter how long it takes or how long you must wait. It was God Himself who created within us hearts with longings, with deep desires to be pursued. Commitment is only good when it is expressed and the best way to live out your commitment is through desire. Lets put it this way. Almost all women love to receive flowers but no woman likes to receive flowers as an act of duty. If I would have given my wife flowers on our anniversary and when she thanked me I said in response, 'there is no need to thank me, I had too, its our anniversary" I might has well have given her a tumbleweed.

John Piper in his book Desiring God wrote, "Dutiful roses are a contradiction in terms". Duty reduces desire to a drill. It is well said, "A woman doesn't want to be an object of duty, she wants to be desired". I think that is true about most everyone, men and women alike. And guess what, the good news of the gospel is, each of us are deeply loved and wanted by God. I like what A.W. Tozer wrote when he said, "God waits to be wanted" and if that is true with God it must be true as well about men and women who were created in the image of God. God isn't seeking dutiful relationship from His creation, what God is seeking is a love affair with us. God is seeking to be sought by us. We all seek the one we desire and many times in life it's that deep desire that sustains us in our deepest trials.

Let me ask you today, friend, what is it that you really want in this life? What is your burning desire, what is your passion that gets you out of bed each day? Don't let your desire become a duty, keep them as your delight because if you don't eventually your life will be ruled by the desires of others. C.S. Lewis wrote, "We can only have hope for what we desire, No desire, no hope". You can have desire and yet not hope for it but you cannot hope for something you don't also desire. God desires relationship with us and we know the depth of that desire in what is referred to as the "passion of the Christ", the last week of our Lord's life here on earth where He suffered, died, was buried and rose again for us! Talk about passion, talk about desire!

Oh, that you and I would know we are desired today, loved one. I'll close with this thought, its a scene to play over and again in your mind. It's from the movie, "The Last of the Mohicans" where Nathaniel says to Cora, "No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you". Now there is a man whose life is driven by passion, by hope and desire. May you know today, beloved, in the Gospel's you and I represent Cora and Jesus is our Nathaniel. You are wanted, you are sought after, and you are unquestionably desired!

"I have loved you with an everlasting love"

Jeremiah 31:3

I LOVE YOU!


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Defining Moments

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"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 13:35


Everyone's lives are marked by defining moments; you know the ones, those moments in our lives that changed our lives forever. Some would finish the statement above saying, "some for better others for worse" but in the Lord we know that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purposes. There is an old saying that says, "God never wastes a hurt" and it's true, beloved. God doesn't set out to hurt His children and it's not His goal but He can and does take even our hurts and turns them into blessings if we will allow Him too. That's where faith comes in.

As I think back over my life and the defining moments I have faced, I recall those things that served to make me and to brake me, the things that happened to make me who I am today. Can you recall a defining moment in your own life? For some it's conquering a fear, for others it's passing a test, or surviving that first job interview? For some people the greatest moment of their life, their defining moment as it were was getting married, or having a baby. Those are defining moments for sure. Defining moments mark all of our lives. No matter what our age, each of us has experiences in our lives that have shaped us, changed us by changing the way we see the world and ourselves. From first steps, to first dates, to first kisses, the most defining moment in our lives is when we discover that we are loved. Oh how I hope you realize that today, my friends, you are so very loved.

I was going through some "Chicken Soup" books last night and came across a quote by Mother Theresa that said, "The greatest disease is not TB or leprosy. It is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love."

Love is the greatest defining moment in each of our lives and the second is the exact opposite, hatred. Love and hate are the two greatest factors that define who we are and what we become in this life. Love and hate are strong motivators and yet we do well to remember that the bible reminds us that the longest lasting and greatest of gifts is love. The power of love is transforming.

As I was reading in Matthew 7:1-6 regarding judging others a song came to my mind because of its lyrical content. In the song are the lyrics, "There is no one here to judge you I only love you" and the song goes on to say, "Promising forever knowing that this moment might be all we ever find." It reminded me again of the power of love and its power in defining our lives and changing us for the good. The apostle Paul writes in Romans 8, "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 created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." God did not send His Son into the word to judge the world but that through His Son, through Jesus Christ our sins could be forgiven and we could experience eternal life.

Love is what motivates God to work on our behalf and it's His love that works in our lives to define us, moment by moment. Of all the moments, those defining moments that you and I will ever experience in this life none will compare to the moment when we realize that God loves us, that Jesus Christ died for us and rose again on our behalf and is working now in us and for us.

Oh how I pray you have a defining moment today, a moment so real, so true it transforms you forever. A moment when your heart and soul grasp the fact that you are loved, that you matter, that your life counts, and that God cares about you. Don't let the world define you, spend time with the Lord today, listen for His voice and the words He speaks to you from the pages of your bible. God is for you, He will always be for you and it's His love that will transform you from glory to glory! Rest in that today, loved one, rest in the arms of love!

"The Greatest gift is love"

1 Corinthians 13

I LOVE YOU!


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"Why Me?"

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"Look on my right hand and see, For there is no one who acknowledges me; Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul."

Psalm 142:4


I was going to title this devotional, "Why Bad Things Happen To Good People" but that title seemed too long and overused, so I settled for "Why Me?" From the prayer requests I receive weekly and conversations I am privileged to have with those who are seeking help and encouragement while wading through their personal struggles I understand the confusion most of us feel when we have been dealt a painful blow in life. If we are honest, more often than not our first thought is, "why me" when bad things happen and because God knows us so well He provides in advance the support we are in need of from His Word.

Flip to James 1:2-4 and you will find in God's Word the purpose of trials when Jesus half brother James penned these words, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." I appreciate what the author of my "Book of the Month" wrote regarding the impact of trials in the lives of God's kids, "People who are becoming love understand God guides us into uncomfortable places because He knows most of us are too afraid to seek them out ourselves." So true! Some of us might be "gluttons for punishment" as the old saying goes but that doesn't mean we like pain. We know we need to change, and most of us want to change but when changing involves hurt, most of us again prefer it in really small doses, and I mean really small.

If there is one thing I wish I could share with every person going through a painful experience in life its this. Never forget that God doesn't allow trials to happen to mess with our heads; He uses life's circumstances to shape our hearts. God knows difficulties and hardship and ambiguity are what cause us to grow closer to Him because its in the midst of our trials we are reminded of our absolute dependence upon Him. 

So then, here is the million dollar question for the day. How do we know when a trial has served God's purpose in our life? What I have learned from my own trials is this. We know we are growing in our faith and that the trial we are in is shaping us the way God would have it when we are able to say to God "why not me" instead of "why me" when we fall into various trials.

Nothing encourages me more than talking with someone who has gone through a life altering experience and who shares with me how looking back after the wounds have healed and the dust of the impact settled they can say without hesitation, "I wouldn't change a thing." Only a person who has seen the hand of God first hand, and has known the comfort of the Lord like they had not previously known can say that. It's hard to complain and say, "why me" when the trials we have gone through have helped us to grow closer to the Lord and to become more dependent upon Him. After all, isn't that the goal of our lives, to love and trust God more? My hope and prayer is simple. May each of us be able to say in advance of the trials we will face in this life say, "why not me" knowing that the Lord Himself will be right there with us every step along the way, and when we come out on the other side our lives will be a more bright and clear reflection of Jesus!  


"being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ"

Philippians 1:6

I LOVE YOU!


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"Want To Be More Loving?"

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (and He remembers them no more).

Psalm 103:12


When my kids were growing up someone came up with the concept of AYSO soccer where the focus they said would be on participation and not keeping score, (so they said). The organizers said it was supposed to be about all the kids getting equal time to play, and not about wining and losing. Unfortunately the kids figured out really quick this did not reflect the real world. And you know what? The kids kept score even when the parents did not. If the organizers didn't want the kids to keep score they probably shouldn't have put any goals on the field for them to kick the ball into. Not that it would have made any difference. The goals are there for one reason, and that is to score! The kids could have just played keep away, but then that wouldn't have been soccer would it.

If you listen to kids talking after the game they would immediately say, "we won" because they knew that they had kicked more soccer balls into the opposing teams nets. And like I said, even if you would have removed the goals they would have come up with some means of keeping score. Behavioral scientists remind us we are legislative by our very nature, meaning we are inherintally judgmental in that we keep score for just about everything from games to the faults of others. If we can keep a record for it, we do. Who doesn't love statistics? Four out of five people reading this devotional today are going to be blessed by reading it, ha!

If you have ever prayed, "Lord make me a more loving person" its probably safe to say that some where in the back of your mind you recognized that you are in one degree or another a "score keeper" and not in a good way. By "score keeper" I mean you keep records of the wrongs done to you. The very opposite of what love does and why we pray and ask God to help us to become more loving in the first place, so we keep score less. I recall a quote that said, "We are never more like God than when we forgive and never more like the Devil when we don't." 1 Corinthians 13, the "Love Chapter" in our Bible gets read at more weddings than probably any other single portion of scripture because it clearly communicates what each of us desires deep within our relationships. In just a few verses we have God's definition of what true love is, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV).

Though He has perfect memory God has chosen not to keep score when we wrong Him, ourselves and others. Because He loves us so much He gave His Only Begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him can know that the records of our wrongs have be erased, forgiven completely, never to be brought up again, publicly or privately. That's known as the Good News of the Gospel, or at least part of it anyway. Only those who are walking in love can forgive and forget, and not keep score any longer. Love is the fruit of God's Spirit in us.

We are never more like God when we love and never more like the devil when we don't. Choose to be imitators of Christ today! Choose to not keep score when you are wronged. Not keeping score doesn't mean to "let it go", it means don't keep a record of wrongs to begin with. Remember, love keeps no record of wrongs. Love then isn't something we choose to do "after the fact", love is what we are doing before, during and after we are wronged. Love is a way of life. Like the author of my "book of the month" wrote, "love is not something we do, love is what we are becoming".

"If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also."

1 John 4:20-21

I LOVE YOU!


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"Really?"

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"I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it."

Psalm 81:10 


I've been taking my time reading through my "book of the month" trying to absorb each page like my favorite after shave lotion. I am seeking to allow the Holy Spirit to rub the truths I am learning deep into my heart until all that remains is a fragrant aroma of Jesus. 

The author was writing about serving people through acts of kindness, preferring them in love. He wrote, "It's this simple: I want people to meet you and me and feel like they've just met everyone in heaven." I don't know about you but I haven't done a very good job of that throughout my life and I guess thats one reason I picked the book to begin with. I wasn't necessarily looking for something to read that I agreed with but rather something I struggle and need help with. I'll be the first to admit I need lots of help in loving people like Jesus loves them.

I decided I would take God at His Word when He moved the writer of Lamentations to pen, "This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:21-23). Have you ever wanted a "do over"? That might represent a moment, a day, a season or even a lifetime. I am so glad God has planned a "do over" into every morning. You and I can start fresh every day! We don't have to drag our failures forward, we can rise up and begin again. 

My motivation began as I recalled reading a story about evangelist D.L. Moody who went to bed one night without sharing Jesus with someone that day so he arose from bed in the middle of the night and went looking for the first person he could share with. That person just happened to be a police officer who wasn't really interested in what Moody had to share. But Moody had met his self imposed vow to not go a day without sharing Christ so he went home and back to bed only to be awakened by this same officer at like 4:00 a.m. frantic that he was unsaved. He wanted Moody to pray with him to receive Christ and he did.

I didnt set a goal to share Jesus with someone every day as I felt that I would just fail and was just trying to imitate something God had led D.L. Moody to do. God was simply prompting me to love someone, anyone with the hope of making them feel like they had just met everyone in heaven. My opportunity wasn't planned, it was divine. God set it up, not me, so He gets all the glory. I was just filling my vehicle up with gas when I noticed a young man in his late twenties sitting on the ground outside the gas station/convenience store. 

I heard him talking to a couple of customers who entered the store before me while I was filling my vehicle but I couldn't make out the conversation. I assumed he was asking for either money or food but I couldn't tell. I didnt have any need to go into the store but I chose to go over and strike up a conversation. I like bikes and he was sitting next to a bicycle so I said, "nice bike" and he replied saying something like, "yeah it gets me a round." I proceeded to ask him if he was hungry to which he stated that he was. I invited him to come with me into the store and get something to eat. We went to the back of the store to the beverage section and he reached in and grabbed a cold ice tea in a bottle. I thought that was kind of strange since it was tea without sweetener in it. I thought at first he got it for me which would have been a real Jesus moment since I had not told him thats what I buy, same brand and all. As it turned out he wasn't getting it for me, it was for him. I looked at him I said, "would you like something else to drink too?", to which he responded with a surprised look on his face, "Really?" I said "yes, really" and he grabbed the largest 'Monster' brand energy drink he could find.

Next I said, "do you want a sandwich or something?", to which he responded once again, "Really?". I laughed and said, "Really." He didnt grab a sandwich but instead he went for the biggest burrito they made. His hands were full now but I said to him, "would you like some chips to go with that" and yes you can guess what he said, "Really?". Again I replied, "Really". He started to reach for a bag of chips and as he did I said, "you might want to go to the back of the store by the drinks as I noticed thats where the big bags of chips were" as I had seen a rack of them as he was selecting something to drink. You'll never guess what he said to me next? Ok, you guessed it, He said, "Really?" This time I told him I would not have mentioned it if I wasn't offering. He walked back and grabbed a big bag of chips and by this time he was carrying his selections like a new born baby trying not to drop anything.

He placed his items on the counter and the cashier began to ring them up when I said, "Hey, you didn't get dessert! You might want to check out the candy bars or something" and for the last time he said to me, "Really?". Even the sales clerk was smiling now when I responded back, "Really." The cashier bagged up the items and we headed back outside where I began to ask Him questions like if he believed in God because I wanted him to know that it wasn't me but that God who had purchased the items for him, I was just the "delivery boy". We talked for awhile and then I asked him if I could pray for him. Afterwards we shook hands and as I was walking away he was just sitting there on the ground smiling from ear to ear. Yet, I don't believe he was smiling half as big a smile as I was. Really! Loving others like Jesus loves them, expecting nothing in return satisfies like nothing else. 

As I was driving home the Lord established a goal for me. Unlike D.L. Moody who couldn't go to bed at night without sharing God's plan of salvation with someone, the Lord impressed upon my heart to make it my goal each day to seek to love someone, anyone in such a way that they are so blessed that their response becomes, "Really." And what I mean by "Really" is that whoever the Lord leads me to share His love with on a day to day basis, my hope is to leave them believing they have met everyone in heaven that day. How I'll know is when they say, "Really?" after being loved with the love of Jesus. Hopefully now it makes sense why Jesus said, "By this all men will know you are my disciples because you have love one for another." It would be much easier to just read people "the 4 spiritual laws" than it would be to love them unconditionally. 

Pray for me and I'll pray for you with this goal in mind today. May every person we meet today be left thinking they just met everyone in heaven after their encounter with us. May they be so overwhelmed by the goodness of God all they can say is "Really?" To God be the glory!


"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"

Romans 2:4

I LOVE YOU!


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"How To Spot A Christian"

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"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

John 13:35


Reading my book of the month yesterday the author wrote, "We don't need to go on "mission trips" any longer. Jesus' friends never called them this. They knew love already had a name. Just look for opportunity to love people in Jesus name." I couldn't have agreed more as I thought back over the years and how many times have we sent people on "mission trips" all over the world who upon arrival back home would share without realizing it that they just returned from a "Mission Trip" without saying a word to the people they came in contact along the way about the love of God we have in Christ Jesus. I'm pretty sure there had to be people on the bus ride to the airport who didn't know the love of God. Or how about the numerous people they came in contact while shopping for supplies for their trip. Think about all the waiters and waitresses and check stand people that need Jesus too. Oh, and don't forget the people who work in the airport. There are literally hundreds of opportunities to reach out and touch somebody there, to love them in Jesus name.

The book went on to say, "Instead of saying you're a missionary, why not just go somewhere to learn about your faith from the people you find there and be as helpful as you can be? The neat part is most of the people I know who go on "mission trips" are already doing exactly that. We don't need to call everything we do "ministry" anymore either. Just call it Tuesday. That's what people who are becoming love do." So simple when you think about it. Ministry may best be defined then as, "Loving people in Jesus name today. Any place a Christian goes. Everyone we meet."

We don't have to wait to go on "Mission Trips" any more! Every day is our opportunity to love people in Jesus name. Jesus didn't say people will know you are a Christian by how many times you can share the "4 spiritual laws" with someone. Jesus said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). The best way to share Jesus with people then is by loving them. That's how Jesus got peoples attention. If we go anywhere today we are most likely going to come in contact with people which means we are going to have an opportunity to love them if we so choose.

Let me ask you the same question the Lord asked me. What would your day be like if you knew that you had an opportunity to run into Jesus today during your travels? Would you be excited? As I was studying Matthew's gospel it hit me. You and I do have a chance to come in contact with Jesus every day and not just from spending time in prayer and in God's Word. Jesus said in Mathew 25:35-40, "for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'" Did you notice Jesus didnt say, "you did it for Me" but rather, "you did it to Me". There is a huge difference. There is the "ah ha" moment!

Much of what I and other well intending believers have mistakenly done in our service for God is to misunderstand who we are serving. I use to think when I did something for another person it was me doing it for them, helping out the less fortunate in their time of need. Even my motive I discovered was impure as somewhere in the back of my mind I would think, "I don't really want to do this but I'll help them in hopes that if I ever am in need someone would help me out" not realizing that our serving others is merely an investment in ourselves, something like a savings account. I never realized that when I gave someone food I was in reality giving it to Jesus. I never made the connection that when I bought someone a soda or water who was thirsty that it was any big deal until I realized that every time I did so, it was as if I had bought the drink for Jesus Himself.

Now getting the chance to serve others and to love them in Jesus name has taken on a whole new meaning. Everything is a big deal now! No longer do I see my self in any place of superiority doing something for the less fortunate. Now that my eyes are opened to see that every person I have the privilege of loving in Jesus name by providing them water or food, clothing or shelter is actually an encounter with God Himself, serving has never been the same. The biggest change for me is motive. God has changed my heart. I am no longer burdened but honored for the chance to serve Jesus. I'm not proud but privileged that God would even allow someone like me to serve Him.

Just think, loved one, today you and I have a chance to serve Jesus by loving on thirsty and hungry, naked and sick and imprisoned people knowing that when we do we are doing it to Jesus. And here is some more good news, we don't even have to go half way around the world to do so! We can start right where we are and just love on the people around us and every place we go, anywhere the Lord leads us today!


"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

1 John 4:11 


I LOVE YOU!


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Remembering 9/11… "It Seems Like It Was Just Yesterday"

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"But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

2 Peter 3:8

Today September 11 marks the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country, and like many of you I too choose to remember those who lost loved ones on that fateful day or as a result of the attacks. Even today, 17 years later, many of the first responders are suffering from terminal illnesses they contracted at ground zero. Whenever I am confronted with human suffering I find myself opening my bible to the book of Job. It seems in studying through the book of Job I come to understand better the problem of pain and grief associate with death, suffering and grief and the difficulty we have to simply just "move on" as some suggest we do when dealing with the death and loss. We must not forget that human beings were not created to comprehend death as we were hard wired by God for life eternal. Death only came into the picture because of the fall of man.

After watching stories of survivors from 9/11 and listening to family members and friends share about their loved ones whom they lost that day I was not surprised when I heard many of the testimonies use the exact same phrase to describe how fast 17 years goes by. Seventeen years might be a long time and yet for many 9/11 families little progress has been made in healing the deep emotional tears of the soul that came with losing someone you love so suddenly, without any time to gain a sense of stability before the crushing news is received that they are gone.

The older I get the more I grasp how amazing the human mind is in its ability to both protect and preserve moments, "frozen in time" as it were with such intimate detail when a person receives the news that their loved ones has been killed suddenly. It's like time stops and yet, even amidst the shock and the chaos, our feelings experience a sort of numbness when tragedy strikes the heart and soul, and the mind seems to work almost independently preserving memories into a special album in the heart I like to call, "It seems like it was just yesterday".

Many of those who were directly impacted by the events of 9/11 and who were willing to share their grief with the world would say one after another during their interview with reporters, "It seems like it was just yesterday" as they recalled the pain and shock that the terrorist attacks brought upon their lives. The events of the day and those that followed are just as real today, seventeen years later as if it happened just yesterday. Like most who watched these made for television specials my heart just ached as I listened to the numerous documentaries that have been created to mark the anniversary of 9/11 each year.

As difficult as it can be to share in others grief its important that we do (Its biblical. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4) as each of us at some point in life will be faced with the loss of a loved one, some injury or pain or disease that will alter the course of the life we had hoped for, the one we had planned. What makes 9/11 so unique is how many people suffered the same exact loss at the same moment in time. That only magnified the pain as America stood in horror as the events unfolded right before our eyes making that sense of hopelessness all the more difficult to process. Because so many in our country witnessed the events live on television the scope of the tragedy became national. We suffered a national tragedy together. No two people suffer alike, but all of us have suffered because of the events of 9/11. No one should ever have to suffer alone. And the good news of the gospel is, because of Jesus not one of us needs to.

As I prayed for those families touched by this tragedy the Lord spoke something so clearly to my heart as to why so many used the same exact statement to describe their feelings on the anniversary of 9/11 when they said, "it seems like it was just yesterday". As I thought about it more I realized It wasn't just the pain of the loss that made the day seem still so fresh in these peoples minds. No, on the contrary, something greater than the pain was preserving their memories. It was their love for the one that they had lost that made it seem like it was just yesterday to them. That's right, love.

Love is the reason it seems like just like yesterday, because love remembers. Love has this uncanny ability to take a snap shot with the heart and soul and permanently capture it so that we can recall it on a moments notice. Its why the victims of 9/11 could so easily and vividly recall the events surrounding the fateful day even though with the memory comes tremendous pain. Love is passionate and like it or not passion involves pain. It's why C.S. Lewis penned the words, "Why love if it hurts so much." Yes, loved one, true love involves pain and as well, true love chooses to remember.

In making the point in my own heart the Lord quickened to my mind the story of Jacob and Rachel in the book of Genesis. Remember that Jacob loved Rachel and as the bible says the 7 years he served to earn her hand in marriage (which turned out to be 14 years) seemed like, "just a few days" or you might say, "like it was just yesterday" to him because of Jacob's love for Rachel. Love is so much more than a feeling, for it is love that sustains us when nothing else will and its love that preserves the memories of our lives like no scrap book can. Love allows the heart to take pictures to preserve memories beyond space and time and is why someone can say 17 years later or even more, its seems like it was just yesterday. Think about two old friends who have not seen each other in years. How easy it is for them to catch up and how the memories of days gone by come flooding right back in leaving both to proclaim "it seems like it was just yesterday". Yes, beloved of God, love remembers and its love that fills the gap of space and time. Love really is eternal.

Imagine heaven for a moment today and how it's going to be one day when we (who have placed our hope in Jesus Christ) are all gathered together before the Lord forever. No clocks, no calendars, nothing pressing us, never again needing to say, "goodbye". As we listen and we share with one another and all the saints gathered there I can just imagine the thought that will fill our minds as we laugh recalling only the happy times of our lives, "it seems like it was just yesterday". Oh, the power of love and its ability to not only remember and preserve but to empower us forward in hope. It was Alexander Pope in his, "An Essay on Man" who wrote the words, "Hope Springs Eternal" and its true but even more so, "Love Springs Eternal" because love never forgets because love never fails! Not in this life nor in the life to come.

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

1 Corinthians 13:13

I LOVE YOU!


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