"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
October 31, 2018
I grew up in a very loving family, but we were not really a demonstrative family. We didn't hug and kiss each other and didn't say the words "I love you" often. Mama was much more affectionate that Daddy was with my sisters and I. In retrospect, each night after we got in bed, we girls would holler, "Good night all of you. I love all of you." Mama would respond, "Good night, I love you all." Sometimes one of us would say, "Goodnight Daddy... I love you." And his response would be, "Yeah." I do remember both of my parents holding me on their lap as a child; lying on the bed beside my mom when she was sick, and I was shown affection; but we just weren't a lovey-dovy family.
My sisters and I all knew that we were loved. We were shown love by actions, more than by words. None of us ever questioned or doubted whether or not our parents loved or cared for us. I believe that it was clearly evident that our family were extremely close and deeply loved one another.
In Daddy's later years, he did get where he would hug us (generally if we initiated it first) and would respond with, "I love you," when we told him that we loved him. He would hug and hold and love on his grandkids and show affection for them.
As I've grown older, I've realize the importance of showing love and saying the words, "I love you." I try to be more affectionate toward family and friends and initiate hugs; although that's not really my nature to do so. I have found that the more I express my love towards others with hugs and words, they respond in kind and it becomes easier to do so when we're together. I also have become more aware of the fact that when I love others and show them my love, that I am indeed obeying the greatest commandment given to us by God. It's not enough to merely say the words, but I must truly express myself with true love.
1 Corinthians chapter thirteen is deemed the "love chapter" of the Bible. It clearly states what love is and what love isn't. It lets us know that it really doesn't matter how smart we are, or how much we accomplish, or how spiritual we become, if we don't have love, then everything else means nothing.
It begins by saying (TPT): "If I were to speak with eloquence in earth's many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn't express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging symbol.
If I were to have gifts of prophecy with a profound understanding of God's hidden secrets, and if I possessed supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains, but have never learned love, than I am nothing.
And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value."
Do you understand how important love is to God? These scriptures state and explain it very clearly.
When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest in the Law, He replied, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
He didn't reply that you had to be generous, do good works, have spiritual knowledge, be a martyr, etc. Jesus responded that the the greatest of all commandments is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and equally important to love your neighbor as yourself.
1 Corinthians chapter 13 (TPT) continues in verse 4 regarding what love is and isn't: "Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one's achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honestly and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up."
The last verse in that chapter says, "There are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love -- yet love surpasses them all."
This chapter describes the type of love the Jesus has for His bride. He is incredibly patient with us. He never ever gives up on us when we make mistakes or do stupid things or have bad attitudes. He just keeps loving us. Jesus is gentle and consistently kind to us. He loved us enough to humble Himself to leave heaven and be born of woman as a tiny baby. He loved us enough to be tortured and crucified on a cross and die for us. He loved us enough that before ascending back to heaven, He promised to return for us one day. He loves us so much that He wants to spend eternity with us.
We have been receiving some teaching at church that shows the correlation between the Jewish wedding ceremony and so many things that Jesus taught and did while here on earth. It's way too lengthy to get into everything here, but I would like to share one thing.
When a young man wanted to marry a girl, he would go to the father and offer a bride price. The bride price that Jesus gave for us was his life. Then the young man would go back to his father's home and the two of them would build a bridal chamber onto the family home. They would decorate it and get it ready for when the son brought his new bride home. Before ascending back to heaven, Jesus said, "I am going away to prepare a place for you. But I will come again and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." He left to go to His Father's home to prepare a bridal chamber for us.
The young lady didn't know when her bridegroom would come to get her. But she had to prepare and be ready to leave at a moments notice. When her bridegroom showed up, he wasn't going to wait around for her to get things in order and say her goodbyes and get prepared. That was what she was supposed to be doing in the interim while he was busy preparing to come get her to be his bride. Trumpets (the shofar) would be sounded by the friends of the bridegroom as they neared the home of the bride, letting her know that he would soon be arriving. Day or night, she needed to have oil in her lamps and have her clothes ready so that she could leave at a moments notice and go to be with him.
Matthew 24 describes this same scenario when Jesus returns for His bride. "They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send out His angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet and they will gather His chosen ones (His bride) from all over the world -- from the farthest end of the earth and heaven. However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. So you, too, must keep watch! For you don't know what day your Lord is coming."
It is the desire of Jesus to be united with His bride. He longs for the day when His Father says, "Okay, everything is ready for your bride! Today is the day that you go get your church, your beloved, and bring her home to be with you for all eternity!"
One of the most memorable days of my life is my wedding day. Jon and I had dated for nine months when he proposed; then we were married four months later. After we were engaged, we planned our wedding and made decisions about where we would live after we got married. We were eager for the day to come when we would become husband and wife, and counted down the days until June 18th would arrive. On our wedding day, I was giddy with excitement as I dressed in my wedding gown and awaited that special moment when I would walk down the aisle on my daddy's arm to be united in marriage to my sweetheart.... that man that I had prayed for.... that one special guy that God had brought into my life for the purpose of us becoming united in marriage. I felt like a beautiful princess when I walked down the aisle in my white wedding gown. I was giddy with joy and excitement that the long-awaited day had finally arrived when I would become a bride. There was no more counting down days, no more separation where Jon lived in one house and me another, no more planning and preparing for my wedding day; for it had finally become a reality. I was joining my life with my beloved.
Imagine! If we get that excited over our wedding day here on earth, how much more joyful it will be when we are finally united with Jesus, our bridegroom and there will be no more waiting, no more preparation, no more counting down days and longing for our wedding day to arrive, no more separation; but always and forever we will be together. Wow! That will be a celebration that exceeds anything we've ever experienced or that our minds can even conceive. I don't think it's going to be a quiet, little solemn wedding party. There are going to be trumpets that herald the arrival of our Bridegroom! I believe that there are going to be angels singing and playing with us joining in, there will be dancing, and joyful worship, and a celebration that will be filled with laughter. I don't think our entrance into heaven is going to be quiet and somber and dignified. I think our Bridegroom will be giddy with excitement that His bride has finally come to live with Him for all eternity. It's going to be a lively celebration... a heavenly party.... a wedding feast!!
Our responsibility until that happens is to always be prepared for our Bridegroom to arrive. We keep watch, we stay ready and are vigilant at all times. We stay dressed in our wedding attire, waiting for that trumpet to sound that will announce that our Bridegroom is coming. But while doing that, we obey the scriptures and we love. We love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, and mind! We love our neighbors (not just those next door, but all people) as we love ourselves. We respect one another and are kind. We follow the example set before us by Jesus on how to live life on earth, while keeping ourselves prepared for that glorious day when we, the bride of Christ, are forever joined with our beloved, our Bridegroom.
I remember my earthly wedding well, too. I got to see Loretta in her dress for the first time, and my heart was thumping with excitement. I had to wait for her to come down the aisle to me. I had the goofiest grin ever. She gave her dad a hug and kiss on the cheek. Then I took her up the steps to the altar. At one point, she looked like she might pass out, so I tried to tell her, "Breath!" Finally, she took a good deep breathe. At the end, I had meant to give her a noisy kiss, but almost forgot. I was just too excited to think straight. We had the traditional end song edited to switch to "Hallelujah!", and danced the rest of the way out of the sanctuary.
When Jesus returns, I'll be the one running down the aisle. I agree, it will be even more exciting than any wedding that has happened on Earth. This time, it won't be till death, but forevermore. And I know I'm not a perfectly giving, or even moderately wise husband. But Jesus is perfectly wise, and infinitely giving, so it will be even more awesome than any earthly bride has ever looked forward to.
Triple Fudge Cake
1 large package chocolate pudding (not instant)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 Devil Food cake mix
1/2 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350. In large saucepan cook pudding as directed on box. Blend dry cake mix thoroughly into hot pudding by mixer for 1-2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured 9x13 pan. Sprinkle top of batter with chocolate chips and nuts. Bake for 30-35 minutes until done.
Daylight Savings Time begins this weekend so don't forget to turn your clocks back an hour... or you just might show up for church an hour early on Sunday morning!
Do not let your past dictate your future. God is always there whenever you are ready to become a winner.
There is no circumstance that He can't change, no hand dealt to you with which He can't win,
and no mistake so bad or sin so great that He can't fully restore you! - Moral Revolution book
We love you!
Loretta & Jon