OUR GOD WHO SAVES US

January 4, 2016

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward men appeared, not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” (Titus 3:3-6)

We can praise our God who saves us because He is kind, full of love and mercy. We can be thankful that He doesn’t save us by our works of righteousness or good deeds; because we’ve all messed up so many times that the balance would be severely tilted – and not in our favor!

Our God who saves us knew that we could never measure up to His perfect standard. That’s why “He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Let’s praise our God who saves us today because of His mercy that we receive through Jesus!

(Join me every Monday in a quest to know God better in 2016)

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THE BEST GIFT

February 27, 2014

“My son, give me your heart.” Proverbs 23:26

Our oldest grandson will be seven in a few days. Last week was his mommy’s birthday, so they came to our house to celebrate the occasion. When his mommy was well out of earshot, Jehiel called me over to the sofa, where he was sitting, noticeably distressed. I sat down beside him.

“What’s up, buddy?”

“Lola, do you have a surprise for my mommy? I don’t have any money, so I couldn’t buy her a birthday present. I don’t have anything to give her.” His voice was tinged with sadness.

At that point, I was nearly in tears beside him, wondering how to address his concern.  “Well, tell me something. Did you make a birthday card for mommy?” (What kid that age doesn’t ?!?!?) He assured me that he did. “You know what?” I continued, “I’ll tell you a secret. That is by far the very best thing you could ever give mommy. All mommies love the cards their kids make. When your daddy was a boy, he always made me birthday cards. And so did Aunt Denise and Uncle Dino. It didn’t matter that they didn’t give me any gifts. Those cards were the best gifts I ever got. In fact, I still have some of them.”

With that explanation, Jehiel perked up and seemed to be convinced that his card was, really, a valuable gift for mommy.

That incident reminded me of what God wants of us. If he doesn’t have our hearts, God doesn’t care about our gifts. He would rather we love Him – and express that love to Him – than any other gift we could give Him. After all, He owns everything anyway. So what can we give Him, besides our heart?

As I mused these things, I prayed that one day little Jehiel – and all of our grandkids – would understand what we adults often need to be reminded of: all God wants, really, is our heart!


LOVING GOD

February 14, 2013

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5.

What does it really mean to love God with that level of commitment and intensity? The Apostle Paul’s description of love in 1st Corinthians 13 might give us some insight. Let’s read that famous essay on love with a focus on loving God. It might look something like this:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but don’t love God, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but don’t love God, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but don’t love God, it profits me nothing.

If I love God, I am patient and kind.
If I love God, I do not envy.
If I love God, I do not parade myself; I’m not puffed up;
I do not behave rudely; I don’t seek my own benefit,
I am not provoked, I think no evil.
If I love God, I do not rejoice in iniquity, but I rejoice in the truth.
If I love God, I bear all things, I believe all things, I hope all things, I endure all things.
God’s love to me never fails…how much do I love Him?


“She’s My Princess”

October 16, 2011

Yesterday was “Sweetest Day”. Thinking about that, I was reminded of something I witnessed a few years ago.

It was a several weeks before Dad and Mom celebrated their 69th anniversary, their last one here on earth. It seemed like not so long before, both were vigorous, healthy, strong and purpose-driven; yet by then, their days were long as their physical strength was giving way to the weakness that accompanied their age. Mom’s body was in her wheelchair most of her waking hours, while her mind was usually very far away. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s were becoming more evident, accompanied by severe hearing loss and failing eyesight. Many times she didn’t recognize us; her children and her grandchildren, who were always so dear to her, were strangers to her. But she knew Dad! Whenever he was out of her sight, she was quick to ask: “Where’s George?” She would settle down again when she knew he was still close, perhaps in the next room. Dad, on the other hand, still had a very sharp mind, but his body didn’t respond the way he wanted it to. Never known to be very verbally expressive, we always knew that Dad’s love for Mom ran very deep. No one would dare doubt that! Several times in the previous months she had fallen, and he, also captive in a weakened body, had tried – unsuccessfully – to pick her off the floor, injuring himself in the attempt. She would wake up often during the night, use all her effort to get out of bed, and inch her way over to him, and grab his big toe to see if he was still there. Reassured that he was, she would shuffle back to her own bed and go back to sleep. She asked him over and over again: “When are you going to take me home?” although they were in the same home they had lived in for over 60 years. Patiently, he answered her every time: “We are at home! This is our home.” Although the home was the same, the days marched slowly by in a world that was so different than the one they lived in years gone by.

            That was the scenario. During one of our visits they were sitting next to each other, which wasn’t unusual. Because of her Alzheimer’s, Mom couldn’t care for herself, but their caregivers always did an excellent job of keeping her combed, clean and well dressed. That day, she had a pastel colored sweat suit on, and her long white hair was well-combed into a granny-style topknot. Her cheeks were rosy and her smile genuinely sweet, reflecting the contentment that she felt. I commented to Mom on how nice she looked. Dad didn’t miss a beat as he beamed from ear to ear and emphatically declared: “SHE’S MY PRINCESS!”

Dad probably never knew it, but tears welled up in my eyes. It wasn’t “Sweetest Day”, yet they were still very much in love. I still choke back the tears as I remember what a meaningful lesson that they taught me that day on the solid, “I’ll always love you no matter what” kind of love he showed Mom, and the serenity in her eyes as she silently smiled, resting in that assurance.

 


WHO DO I LOOK LIKE?

December 3, 2010

Karla and I trying to catch up on the last 30+ years took time out for a picture.

Separated by thousands of miles and several decades, my friend Karla and I were privileged to spend an afternoon together not long ago. Trying to cram thirty years into four hours wasn’t easy! We barely scratched the surface. Of everything we talked about, one thing that Karla said stuck in my mind. She mentioned that after so many years of marriage (35+) we tend to think like our mates, talk the way they do and…even look alike. Maybe that’s why someone called me Mrs. Jorge a few days ago!

We’ve all heard the old proverb that “A man is known by the company he keeps”. The Bible confirms this concept in several places. Immediately Moses comes to mind. We read that he spent a lot of time with God, “as a man speaks to his friend”, and his proximity to the Lord was evident, even on his face! (Exodus chapters 33 and 34)

Solomon, the wisest man in history, wrote that “He who walks with wise men will be wise.” (Pro. 13:20)

In the New Testament, Jesus told His disciples that everyone would know that they belong to Him if they love one another like He loved them. (John 13:34,35) That is still true today.

Later, the highest Jewish court “saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

The apostle Paul wrote that in the measure that we behold the glory of the Lord we are transformed into His image. (2nd Corinthians 3:18)

Moses lived it; Solomon knew it; Jesus taught it; Peter and John experienced it; the apostle Paul confirmed it, and Karla reminded me of it: We become like the person we spend time with. The secret to becoming more like Jesus is very simple: spend more time with Him in the Word. That’s what I want to do, because I want people recognize me as a friend of Jesus, not just as Mrs. Jorge!


THE FATHER’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

June 19, 2010

 2ND Samuel chapters 13-19

Thinking of fathers throughout history, we can learn from their lives. King David as a father is an example of unconditional love towards a rebellious son.  One of the consequences of David’s shameful sin with Bathseba was that God would raise up adversity against him from his own house. (2 Sam. 12:11). Being warned that someone from his own family would turn against him, that severe adversity came through his son, Absalom. 

Absalom grew to be a cunning, vengeful man. Because of his evil lifestyle, David “wept very bitterly” (13:36) and “he mourned for his son every day…” (13:39). Finally after several years, they were reconciled. Absalom “bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Absalom”. (14:33). It seemed to be the end of a long, dreadful chapter, but the seeds of hate and bitterness below the surface of Absalom’s heart were about to bring even more anguish to David.

Absalom was working behind the scenes, scheming another plot. This time he “stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” We know that Absalom had a plan, but he wasn’t going to rush into it. He waited another forty years before he got enough followers to rise up against his Father, the king, and attempt to overtake the throne. He enlisted conspirators and spies to join him in the uprising. His followers increased. (15:12) Realizing that Absalom was after him, David and all of his followers fled from Jerusalem to the wilderness. David wept as he left; some of his trusted friends turned against him. During the time of this upheaval, David wrote Psalm 3 in which he laments, confesses his trust in God, commits to continued trust, and keeps crying out to God.

David, having his troops organized for the battle against his own son, did the unthinkable: within earshot of all the people, he commanded his military leaders to “deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” Confusion must have overtaken them all: deal gently with the enemy?…deal gently with the sinister being who wants to overthrow your throne?…deal gently with the person who is plotting your death?…what are we fighting for?…deal gently…what are you thinking???

Despite David’s request for mercy on his rebellious son, God, who is always  in control, executed His perfect judgment on Absalom, allowing his hair to get tangled in a tree, leaving him hanging as his mule continued on. David’s warriors then killed and buried Absalom.

How did David react in all of this national turmoil, rebellion and wicked scheming by his own son? When word reached David that he had been delivered from: “the men who raised their hand against my lord the king” (18:28), David’s first reaction was: “Is the young man Absalom safe?” (18:29) The second messenger brought news of the victory, and again David inquired: “Is the young man Absalom safe?” (18:32) We see the deep love that David had for his rebellious son who intended such evil against him. Realizing that Absalom had died, David was very, very deeply sorrowed, and “went up to the chamber over the gate and wept…o my son Absalom – my son, my son Absalom – if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son.” (18:33) Setting aside the fact that David was king of Israel, and seeing him in his role as father, we see how deeply he loved his son Absalom in spite of a lifetime of scheming rebellion. That father love was evident although the son didn’t realize it, and didn’t even care that he was causing his father unspeakable distress and pain.

There is a strong parallel between this story of David’s love for his son and God’s love for us. I’m reminded of how much God the Father loves each one of us His children, even though we turn from Him, cause Him pain and rebel against Him. David himself often wrote about God’s mercy and everlasting love. Perhaps David understood that love because he experienced it, and that’s what motivated him to love Absalom to the end.

God doesn’t give up on us. He loves us, and will love us “to the end”. God’s love doesn’t hinge on what we do or don’t do. It is rooted in the very nature of His love, which is unconditional and unchangeable! He will always love His children!

How do these truths affect my life? They give me a greater appreciation for His everlasting love to me, while also showing me that I must love others the way He loves me: unconditionally. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God…In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another.” (1st John 4:7,10)…Yes, my Father God loved me first, He loves me no matter what, and I can live with the assurance that He always will love me! THAT’S the Father’s unconditional love!


Eternal Encouragement for YOU!

February 27, 2010

Welcome to the blog of Eternal Encouragement at  WordPress.com. This is my first post.

This morning, as I was reading a passage from the Bible (NIV), this verse found in 2nd Thessalonians 2:16,17  jumped off the page at me:  

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,

who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,

encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

The concept of encouragement has been important to me throughtout my life, and even more in the past few years. Just today I was thinking about the importance of it all morning. As I was seated in my cubicle, answering the phone, responding to e-mails and working on the computer at my place of employment, I tried to mentally identify the things and the people that are – or have been at some point – encouraging to me. The more I meditated on it, the more I thought “I’ve got to share this! Encouragement can’t be kept to myself! It should never be private!”

And so this blog was born…with a strong desire to share some of the encouragement I’ve received along the way, in hopes that you will find renewed hope, and pass it on to others, too!

Just like Paul says, it’s by God’s grace that we have eternal encouragement and good hope. If you feel discouraged, look to Christ, who longs to give us an abundant, satisfying life of grace!

 


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