Delayed Gifts

Excitement was in the air.  A new Christmas “schedule” was in place this year for the Grubbies – as Kevin is a staff member at church and would be at Gateway all day on Christmas Eve.  The kiddos and I attended the later services and afterward we. were. hungry!  I had prepared a few Christmas Eve snacks and we picked up some boneless wings on the way home to round out our Christmas Dinner. Doesn’t everyone eat wings for Christmas dinner?? 🙂

After dinner we got into “gift mode.”  Starting with stockings we each opened our decorative “sock” filled with goodies, gift cards, and other fun stuff… Then, it was PRESENT time.  I mean, who doesn’t love presents???  Julia opened her gift and although she knew what it was, she was thrilled and started digging in to the box so she could start using it.  Joey, who didn’t know what he was getting, opened his gift and squealed with gratitude, thankful to receive what he asked for.  Then, it was Emma’s turn.  There was a wrapped box and it was rather light.  She hurriedly opened it only to find there was not a gift inside.  There was a paper with a picture, drawn by her no-so-artist-mama, of her gift.  It hadn’t arrived yet – so all she had to hold onto was this paper.

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Her delayed gift arrived yesterday and it was even more wonderful than the amateur artist drawing foreshadowed ;). Emma was gracious throughout the delay, waiting in “faith” of the gift that was promised.

And it made me think.  We have the hope of a delayed gift.  We have the written promise(s) in the Bible.  Of course we know it’s not just a paper (or booklet of papers), it is the Word of Life and we have the Holy Spirit with us as we journey through this lifetime – but it is just a foretaste of what is to come.

Psalm 16:11You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

Titus 2:13We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” 

Romans 8:23And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.  We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” 

This paper, this book, holds the HOPE of the PROMISE. The promise of an eternity in heaven, with Jesus, in paradise. Even though the Word of God is beautiful and full and WONDERFUL – it will seem an amateur drawing compared to the GIFT that awaits those of us who have trusted in Him.  Christmas excitement doesn’t hold a candle my anticipation and excitement of the hope of heaven. Glorious Day!

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Love-Ometer

1cor13Back in December I encouraged us to take a closer look at 1 Cor. 13 – the Love Chapter  and ask the Holy Spirit to show us where we fall on the “LOVE-OMETER”.   The results weren’t Olympic Gold Medal status, but nonetheless I took some notes, did some digging and then set it aside.  Here we are now at Valentine’s Week  – so I thought it would be a good time to revisit and unpack some of those thoughts.  I look forward to hearing what stood out to you as you read 1 Cor. 13.


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Love is patient:

Nothing like starting off with the hashtag #fail.  I so wish I were more patient.   That my waiting periods would be faith-filled with patience and my words, thoughts and actions would be seasoned with patient grace (Col. 4:6)You know what happens when you pray for patience – but yes, Lord, I’m praying for it.   It’s a fruit of the Spirit – so that tells me it’s possible.  Help me to love like You, Lord, with long-suffering patience.

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Love is kind:

When you hear the word kind, who comes to mind?  We all have that someone that is so kind, so gracious, so sweet.  That’s what love is.  It’s kind.  Ask the Lord to work His kindness in and through you.

 

Love does not envy:lovedoesnotenvy

Well, here’s a tricky one.  You think you’re doing ok until that person that gets the promotion and you don’t. Or someone is prospering financially but living like the world?  What about when you see others interacting socially and you’re not included?  What about the teenager having her 3rd child and you’re still trying?  What about the chick that constantly bashes her husband and you’re single, longing for a relationship?  What about the happy family picture posted online and you’re estranged from yours?  Someone has that college degree you never completed.  Envy.  It creeps in, little sneaker, at the most inopportune times and we may be completely unaware that that’s what it is – envy.  Lord, fill our souls with longing for You.  Turn our envy into rejoicing with those who rejoice.  Move our eyes off of ourselves (which creates envy) – but to Your wondrous works in us, provision for us and blessings to us ~ because love does not envy.

Love is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly.lovedoesnotboast

Two words – Sports. Fans.  Is it possible to love well while cheering on and being  “die-hard” fan of your team?  Can you be excited yet not boastful or act improperly?  Yes, by the grace of God. Help us, Jesus J.  And it’s not just sports, there are so many other ways we can be boastful, conceited and act improperly.  Fill in the blank.  One way to avoid being boastful is to turn the attention OFF of you and ON to the Lord.  So the one who boasts, boasts in the Lord (2 Cor. 10:17).

loveisnotselfishLove is not selfish:

Can I repeat the hashtag #fail?  The epitome of love is being selfLESS.  Like I said a few weeks ago, I fall short.  Too short.  The YMCA Storer Camps motto: “God First.  Other Second. I’m Third.” Lord, help us be third!

Love is not provoked, does not keep a record of wrongs:
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As a litmus test to see how you’re doing with this, have an argument with your spouse. J  Or stew about something someone said five years ago.  Or refuse forgiveness.  Oh, love.  We have wandered so far.  May we love well through forgiveness and forgetfulness.

Love finds no joy in unrighteousness:

Not even a little bit.  “Be holy, because I am holy1 Peter 1:16 is a verse we’ve been discussing in our home this week.  There’s a HOLY God, and then there’s us. In the NLT, this is worded, “It does not rejoice in injustice.”  Help us, Lord, to LOVE well walking as children of light (Eph5:8).

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Love rejoices in the truth:

I am the way, the TRUTH and the life…” Jesus said that.  Rejoice in Him.  John 17:17 says, “Your word is TRUTH.”  Rejoice in the Word!   Love well in the truth of Jesus.

Love bears all things:

Endures. Doesn’t jet when the going gets rough.  Hangs in there through unmet lovebearsallthingsexpectations, conflict, disappointment and disaster.  Prov. 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.” Lord, help bear in love as a friend, like Jesus is to us. (John 15:15).

Love believes all things:

The benefit of the doubt is a beautiful thing.

Love hopes all things:

Remaining hopeful is a beautiful picture of LOVING well.

Love endures all things:

See “Love bears all things.”

Love never ends, never fails.

Worded differently in different translations. Both essential.  Both applicable.  Love won’t let you down… and it won’t let others down.  And Jesus’ love – well – it never ends and it  never fails.  Amen.

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