Tag Archives: love

The Rose Bush

The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies.
Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential.
It seems to be constantly in the process of change:
Yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.
– Paulo Coelho

The gardener found a place with a perfect amount of sun to suit the cravings of the rose bush. He was cautious to dig deep as he planted his prized plant. He understood the importance of drainage for the root system, as well as allowing the rose bush room to grow. The gardener adored roses, and he knew if he poured out himself into the rose bush, there would be seasons of plenty.

The gardener watched over the rose bush, spoke to it, cared for it. He carefully inspected the rose bush. He could imagine the roses that would one day bloom. He placed banana peels gently alongside the roots to promote flowering. He kept the soil moist while keeping the foliage dry. He knew exactly what was needed for the rose bush to grow and bear a beautiful selection of buds. He cherished the rose bush. It was his.

As time progressed, the gardener allowed others to assist with the care of the rose bush. The people that helped the gardener were each related to the gardener, but each helper could never be as great as the gardener. The helpers could never love the rose bush as much as the gardener and so the helpers never poured themselves completely into the rose bush. Whereas the gardener focused attention on creating and growing the rose bush, the helpers were content for it to simply exist as it is—never seeking to help it be more, to help it be what it was destined for in life. The helpers barely glanced at the instructions given to them by the gardener.

One day, as a helper was watching over the rose bush, the aphids invaded. The aphids showed up early in the life of the rose bush and they reproduced rapidly. Each of the aphids took from the rose bush. They sucked the juices from the plant. The aphids damaged the rose bush, leaving it broken and lacking. The helpers never even noticed. The outward appearance of the rose bush never gave the helpers any excuse to look closer—again, the helpers were satisfied that the rose bush simply existed. The helpers could never love the rose bush as did the gardener.

Following the invasion of the aphids, the ants arrived. The ants were attracted to the honey dew that was left by the aphids. The rose bush was scarred and broken. The damage was done. The gardener could detect the damage done to his plant, but the helpers overlooked the streaked leaves and misshapen blooms. The gardener knew what his beautiful rose bush was destined to look like in full bloom—the helpers were satisfied with blooms of any kind. Apart from the gardener, no one noticed because no one cared.

It was now time to harvest. People came by in droves to take from the rose bush. The helpers enjoyed this because the harvest brought them attention, money, and pleasure. Everyone wanted to have their own collection to use for their own purposes. For some, it made them feel special to have some of the roses to display at home. For some, the roses were used to beautify an area where people gathered for a time. For some, the roses were used as a declaration of love or as a sweet goodbye. Everyone took from the rose bush to satisfy their own needs. 

As the harvest ended, the rose bush was nearly bare. It was clear that the rose bush was not in good health. The helpers never really cared for the rose bush. While pruning the plant, seeking out the healthy white centers, it was very evident that the plant was dying. What had become of the rose bush? Everyone took from the gardener’s beautiful plant. They took and took some more, until all that was left was a diseased, broken rose bush.

Now it appeared that this would be the last bloom. The pruning showed the plant was beyond help. The helpers, the ones who were supposed to care for the plant for the gardener, had instead took everything from it. Carelessly watching over the plant was to them all about what they could receive, what they could enjoy, what they could possess. What the gardener said to love and honor, the helpers decided to stampede and pilfer.

One last person approached a helper for a small collection of the blooms. He asked, “Please, let me have this small clipping. I adore the roses.” The helper was now wise to know that there was no chance left for the rose bush. He and his friends had failed to uphold what was entrusted to them. In a last-ditch effort, he imagined that perhaps this last person could treat the roses better and there could be redemption of their misdeeds. The helper clipped the final blooms from the rose bush and handed them to the man. The rose bush was now completely bare.

The man took this last bit of life of the rose bush to his home. He really liked the roses, so he said. Soon his declaration was shown to be false, as he only displayed them for a brief time. He stared at the roses and became aware of the imperfections. He saw the streaks. He saw the misshapen blooms. He became disgusted by this, the last collection of roses that remained. The man tossed the roses in the bin and deposited them outside in the trash the next morning.

All this happened while the gardener looked on. He looked on to see his beautiful roses destroyed by the helpers. He watched as the man became disgusted by the imperfections that resulted. He saw his cherished rose bush become nothing more than sickly mildew covered leaves, and branches that would grow nothing more. He knew of what was to become for the rose bush—what could have been, what should have been. If only the helpers could understand what it truly meant to love. If only the helpers could have seen the beauty in the broken. If only the helpers would have appreciated the rose bush and fought for the rose bush. 

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”   ~ Romans 12:10 [NLT]

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March 7

March 7. Here it is again. I am sure I am not the only one with a day. A day is only a day in your eyes. As the world sees the day, it is very different from your vantagepoint. A day is filled with scars, with unanswered questions, with tragedy, with depth, with decisions, with memories that don’t quite add up. Today is my day.

When this day first became my day, it was a moment when my life forever changed. I had such dreams of what could be in my life; however, I found that life isn’t a Hallmark movie and what I had hoped would be my prayers answered and my white picket fence and my happily ever after became something different—something raw, uncontrollable, unsatisfactory to my plans. It was a day that began a long journey trying to process what was truth, what was the new normal, and what fears needed to be overcome to navigate the new waters. It took years to heal many of the scars, some of which went unnoticed for a long period of time. It required me to let God into the broken areas, to freely move, to reveal to me things I never wanted to see—so that He could repair—so that He could make new.

This was 2004. Every year since, I have celebrated this day. I rejoiced this day not because of what was lost and because of what I so desperately wanted to be truth back then. I rejoiced this day not because I lost my white picket fence and had to face reality. I rejoice because through the years I have been blessed to see God move again and again for my family. I have seen Him move mountains in my life. I have seen Him part waters when there was not a way to pass. He has provided me strength, comfort, and He has protected and provided for my family at every turn.

Today it was hard to celebrate. As I drove to the office knowing that this day was again another end to a season, I cried out the Lord. The brokenness and heartache that I felt back in 2004, has long since faded. I am not that same person. And the pain I felt that day is very different than the pain of today. It was strange as I was on my morning drive to consider that God knew even back in 2004, what would happen today. He knew when I was putting my hand to the plow, that this day would come.

But this day was different. In 2004, I didn’t have a real choice of anything. I had to get up off the floor, dust myself off, and press onward. It was either that or wallow for a time. But this day was a choice, a step forward that I have taken even knowing some of the brokenness that would follow. Sometimes we can see truth and we know it is truth, but we don’t want to receive it and be bold in faith. Sometimes we see truth but ask why God won’t change things so the truth could be different. Sometimes we are faced with the option of trusting God, stepping forward, letting go, and trusting that out of the brokenness He is still making all things new.

As I neared the office, and continued to seek comfort in Him, knowing that after today, so much of what was a huge part of my life is going to be changed, even seeing glimpses of those changes these past few weeks, Lauren Daigle’s song “Trust in You,” began to play. The lyrics reminded me of the battles over the years, reminded me of how things often make little sense when I’m faced with a road to take. It was in that car ride to work that I could continue to do what I’ve done each year on March 7th—celebrate Him! Not everyone will understand what I feel on this day. Not everyone will know all the hours of prayer leading up to this day. Not everyone will be excited for this day.

Even still, I rejoice. I rejoice in knowing that God is still God. I rejoice in knowing that He has a great plan, beautifully orchestrated. I rejoice in knowing that He is still Lord of my life, my Savior and King. I rejoice in knowing that He will still see me through these murky waters. Long ago, He gave me this calling to preach His Word. Following in faithful obedience to this calling led me up to this very day, and this very decision. As 1 Timothy 4:16 says, I must keep watch on my life and keep watch on my teaching and then in doing these things, may the hearers be saved. May I continue to be faithful to His calling upon my life. The Word will go out as He leads!

As this day, March 7thslowly ends, I question my verse for this season. The verse, 1 Chronicles 4:10, speaks of blessing and enlarging the ministry—praying that there would be no pain or harm allowed. None of these words make sense to me today. This doesn’t seem like the season I’m currently navigating; it seems like polar opposite. But so often, we do not know what He has planned. That is why it is called faith.

This is not a devotion. This is not a sermon. This is not a Bible study. This is not a poem. This is my day. This is my heart. This is my reality. May this testimony point to the One who is greater than I, to a Father who has never left my side, a Savior who paid something I could never pay, the Spirit who continues to reveal to me that I have a lot of growing yet needed.

Look to Him. Draw near to Him and watch how everything changes!

What is Love Series – Love is Patient Outline

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

        1. Love is Patient
        2. Love is Kind
        3. Love rejoices in Truth
        4. Love Always

 

BE PATIENT WITH ALL

 

Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV)

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:14 (AMP)

14 We [earnestly] urge you, believers, admonish those who are out of line [the undisciplined, the unruly, the disorderly], encourage the timid [who lack spiritual courage], help the [spiritually] weak, be very patient with everyone [always controlling your temper].

 

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 (MSG)

13-15 Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.

 

LOVE COVERS ALL TRANSGRESSIONS

 

Proverbs 10:12 (ESV)

12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

 

Proverbs 10:12 Amplified Bible (AMP)

12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers and overwhelms all transgressions [forgiving and overlooking another’s faults].

 

Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

 

 

LOVE CONCEALS AN OFFENSE

 

Proverbs 17:9 (ESV)

Whoever covers an offense seeks love,

but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

 

Proverbs 17:9 Amplified Bible (AMP)

He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, But he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 (MSG)

13-15 Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.

Epaphroditus Outline

11-12-17 Epaphroditus

[Philippians 2:25-30]

Epaphroditus was Christian missionary from Philippi. Some people celebrate a feast for him in March. He is the one believed to hand deliver the letter to the Philippians.

“Epi” – “devoted to” //// “Aphrodite” – Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure & procreation. Associated with planet Venus. ///// Name also means “fair” or “graceful,” “agreeable” or “handsome” / “charming”

He is only mentioned in today’s passage & in Philippians 4:18 (where Paul mentions that Epaphroditus was sent with the gift (the church relief monies collected) to give to Paul while Paul was imprisoned in Rome).

 

Paul sent Epaphroditus back to the Philippian church…

  • 26 mentions Epaphroditus was longing to see the church of Philippi and he was distressed because he didn’t want them to worry about him being ill to the point of death.
  • 28 mentions Paul being anxious to send Epaphroditus back because he knew the people would be glad to see him, and Paul would not be so worried for them.

When Paul sent him back, he told the people to receive Epaphroditus with joy and to honor him(2:29).

 

TRUE BROTHER– belong to the same family, the body of Christ – all brothers & sisters in Christ Jesus

  • Ephesians 2:19-22 – So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
  • Romans 12:5– in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.
  • Galatians 6:10 – So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especiallyto those who are of the household of faith.
  • 1 Corinthians 12:26 – If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

FELLOW WORKER– companion for work/labor – working for the same common goal to glorify God

  • 1 Corinthians 3:7-11– So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wagesaccording to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

 

FELLOW SOLDIER– battling the same situations and trials while in the Christian faith

  • 2 Timothy 2:3-4– Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. NO MAN LEFT BEHIND…. Are you living the 4 E’s on battlefield?

 

MESSENGER– translated as Apostolos – an apostle, one commissioned to represent Jesus Christ and preach the Gospel, one senton a mission

  • Matthew 5:14-15– You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Fatherwho is in heaven.

 

MINISTER– ministering to the needs, servant who belongs to the people (public servant) and works for the good of the community.

  • Hebrews 13:16 – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
  • 1 Peter 4:10– God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.
  • Hebrews 6:10– For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.

In the Breach

We can glean a lot from the leadership of Moses. This picture we get of him standing in the breach is one that exemplifies what it means to be a leader. Don’t stop reading with the excuse that you are not a leader. Everyone is leading someone. The question is—do you stand in the breach?

First, you have to know what it means that Moses stood before God in the breach. When you consider a breach, picture a wall. You have a wall for protection. This wall works great so long as it remains intact. However, there are moments when there is a breach in the wall—a breakdown of the wall at some point that makes the wall ineffective. Now whatever you are trying to keep out is now coming through this break in the wall. When soldiers are protecting an area and there is a breach, the soldiers will use their own bodies to stand at the breach to continue to ensure the area is protected.

When we look at Moses and this picture of him standing before God in the breach, we see a leader who is concerned for the Israelites, the people he was leading. Despite their sin, their shortcomings and failures, he cared for the people. He sought for their best interest. He stood between them and God and made his plea of intercession. He recognized their weakness. He recognized their sin, but he did not let that change the way He cared for them. He sought the mercy of God. He prayed for the people.

As a leader, the most important thing is to care for the people you are leading—to love them. Love them like Jesus loves them. Love them with all that you are and love them despite their shortcomings and failures. Look at them as God sees them. Do all you can to stand in the breach. Pray for them. Give them your very best as you pour into their lives. Treat your time with them as precious. Don’t sell them short. Don’t treat them as a number or a task. Seek their best interest always. Love them. Love them like Jesus.

“So he said he would have destroyed them–if Moses his chosen one had not stood before him in the breach to turn his wrath away from destroying them.” – Psalm 106:23 [CSB]

Taste and See

The Bible tells us to taste and see the Lord is good. This is one small step toward God, drawing near to Him to see Him with eyes opened. But it isn’t supposed to be a simple taste. Just as we don’t sit down at a full meal and simply taste a bite of food and walk away satisfied, so it is with our life with God.

Too many people take a small bite of the meal the Lord has prepared for them. Too many people are living life okay to have the assurance that they are saved because of their belief in Christ Jesus, yet the Lord has prepared so much more.

Are you missing the fullness of God because your relationship with Him was only about salvation? Are you not seeking the Lord’s face because you did not recognize His great desire to reveal Himself to you in a personal, intimate way? Are you living life on the breadcrumbs, and missing out on the power, the peace, the joy, the love that God has for you today?

Oh, taste and see, taste and see His goodness. Partake. Enjoy His presence. Rejoice in His provision. Thank Him for His great love. Drink deep of His mercy and grace. Consume His Word. Allow Him to have His way in every area of your life – blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” – Psalm 34:8 [ESV]

Observation

As the dogs and I were walking along, I noticed that Marci was walking differently. I picked her up and found something on the bottom of her foot that I quickly removed.

Observation – paying attention – requires us to be intentional. It is necessary to be intentional to understand the needs of the people around you. In this busy world, we often don’t listen when someone is talking with us, because we are trying to contemplate the best answer to the conversation or even thinking about the next task we must accomplish, looking beyond the current interaction. Many times, we are so stuck on ourselves and our goal is to be heard instead of to listen. Also, we are rarely present in the moment, and yet this presence is what is needed to show love and compassion to others. Time is precious, and how you use time is a choice. Do you choose to run around on empty and allow the situations around you to dictate your actions? Do you attempt to be in the moment wherever you are at, being at attention, and calmly following the leading of your Father?

Notice that Jesus was always intentional—always present – and able to understand the needs of those around Him. He spent much time in prayer. He spent much time interacting with people, whereby He invested in their lives, actively listening and engaging in conversation. Conversation, such a lost art today.

Today, be mindful of what is happening around you. Wherever you go, be there. Slow down. Listen for His still small voice. Invest in those before you. Enjoy the people God has put before you, and ask God how you can bless them today to bring Him glory.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19 [ESV]

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3 [NIV]

Searching for Love

This morning as we were finishing our walk, I was looking for my keys as we approached the house. For some reason, likely because coffee was not in my system, I was looking in all the wrong places. I went through each pocket to no avail, because I was not looking where they always are put. When I had a moment of clarity, I scolded myself and got some coffee.

Always, we look for things in the wrong places. For many of us, it is simply a matter of searching for our lost keys, a misplaced wallet or purse, or losing some paperwork you thought you put in your special spot. For some of us, we forget our “secret hiding place,” because it’s extra secretive. Yes, I’ve been there.  Sadly, one of the biggest things we look for in the wrong place is LOVE. The greatest love is the love of our heavenly Father. There is no greater love. Yet we turn every corner in life trying to find a person to give us the love that we think we need. The truth is a person can never give us the love we need—only the One Who created us can offer that love.

Today, be reminded of the love of God. He is singing over you (Zephaniah 3:17). He loves you with an everlasting, unfailing, overflowing love. It is unending. It is not based on circumstances. It is a love that sent His one and only Son to spread His arms wide upon a cross to the point of death just for you! It is a love that is forever reaching out for you, forever wanting to share life with you. Nothing can separate you from His love.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39 [NLT]

One Mind and Purpose

The Bible talks a lot about unity. This is something that is so important; in John 17, we read that Jesus prays for it! In Paul’s letter, we read of this desire for us to agree with each other, love each other, and work together with one mind and one purpose. Do you see that happening?

This is very difficult. Why do you think Jesus prayed for it?!? You must agree with each other. That doesn’t mean that you share the same opinions—it means that you agree on something together that will glorify God, serving His purpose and following His will. This also means you will love each other. This doesn’t mean you will like each other, but that you will love each other with the love of Christ. It is a love not based on what someone does or who someone is—but who Christ is. You love others because Christ loves them. As time passes, that love will grow deeper within as the Spirit moves in your life. Lastly, this verse talks about working together. Everyone has a part. Everyone is doing something. Everyone is active and working toward the same purpose with one mind. United purpose. United mind. We put aside everything that hinders and work together for God.

Today, remember this unity that God desires. Consider the church you attend. Each member is one part of the body of Christ. Each person has been gifted. Each person has different experience, background, interests, etc. Together, united, so much can be done and God is glorified. Let us agree, love, and work together with one mind and one purpose. JESUS.

“Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” – Philippians 2:2 [NLT]

Privilege to Suffer

Suffering is never on our to-do list. We don’t leave our homes in the morning saying, “I really hope I suffer today.” We are not looking for opportunities to suffer. We run from suffering and when we undergo suffering, it is painful and we usually appreciate when it ends.

Paul writes of the privilege of suffering. The privilege of suffering. This is a phrase that sounds like an oxymoron, but if you are in Christ, then you realize that Christ Jesus promises suffering would come. As His representatives, it’s guaranteed. It’s going to happen. It is a privilege because He has allowed us to be His representatives. It is a privilege because in the suffering we grow deeper in Christ. We grow in our love of God and others. We grow in our revelation of God.

Today, in whatever comes your way, embrace suffering. Thank God for the opportunity. Remember, it is a privilege.

“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him.” – Philippians 1:29 [NLT]