Because Jesus Came Down, Love Will Never Fail

“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 13:4-8a

Don’t you just love the Christmas movies where love prevails? When a cold heart is melted? When a person’s life is changed for the better?

Sometimes all a person needs is one person in the world who cares. In The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, one little girl wormed her way into The Grinch’s heart. He hated Christmas and all the Whos down in Whoville who celebrated it. Christmas triggered a bad memory from his childhood when he was bullied and not accepted for who he was. But little Cindy Lou didn’t want him to be left out, and no matter how mean The Grinch was to her, she kept showing him she cared until finally the walls around his heart came tumbling down and his heart grew three sizes bigger. And peace was restored in Whoville.

Then there’s Jack Frost in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. He tried to take the warmth of love out of Christmas. He wanted it to be about him and his honor, not about love and giving. And again a little child leads, because along comes little Lucy Miller whose heart brims over with love. She hugs Jack Frost, and his cold heart melts and he becomes a better person. And peace was restored at the North Pole.

Even though some Christmas movies are make-believe and don’t speak of how love began with Jesus, there can still be an important message of love in them for our real world. Love changes things. One loving person can make an impact on others.

Sometimes we can get discouraged by all the hate, greed, and violence in this world, but love changes hearts, people, and circumstances. Because love came down at Christmas, peace is possible however impossible it seems.

When Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, tragedy both in the nation and in his family shook him to the core of his being. A raging Civil War, a son crippled from war wounds, and his dear wife’s tragic death sunk him into a deep depression. The joyous ringing of Christmas bells seemed to mock his sadness. Hate is so strong. Where is the peace?

And in despair I bowed my head ;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said ;
“For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men !”

Don’t we sometimes feel the same way when troubles and losses abound and when we look at everything that is happening in the world around us?

But God poured His love in, and hope revived in the heart of Longfellow. In the final stanza, he penned:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead ; nor doth He sleep !
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men !”

Even though it may not seem so, love will prevail. Hope is still alive, because love came down at Christmas. Because Jesus came, love is possible in a world of hate, greed, and violence. Love can melt hardened hearts, change lives, and pour healing and peace into broken hearts and a broken world. Love that Jesus brought, love that can never be taken away, love that will be victorious forever.

Love Came Down
by Kim Walker-Smith

Love came down
Hope was found
A star lit the sky
The angels cried glory
Light broke through
The darkest night
Hope is alive
Hope is alive
Cause love came down
Love came down

May God pour into our hearts
His love, hope, and peace,
and may we pour it
out to others!

Resurrection Hope, Peace, and Joy

“Then, following him, Simon Peter came also.
He entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there.
The wrapping that had been on His head
was not lying with the linen cloths
but was folded up in a separate place by itself.”
John 20:6-7

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him.” Peter and John hear the weeping words of Mary Magdalene, and they rush to the tomb. Arriving first, John bends over and peers in. When Peter appears, he immediately enters the tomb, followed by John. Strips of linen, possibly still caked with scabs and spices, lie there. But where is the body of Jesus? And what’s this? The cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head is laid by itself. Not merely tossed aside, but neatly folded up.

John and Peter must have known the custom of some carpenters in first century Palestine. A carpenter carried a sweat cloth to wipe his face as he worked. To show a job was completed, an illiterate carpenter folded up the cloth and left it on or near his work, indicating to the one who hired him, “My work is finished.”

After Jesus said “It is finished” and gave up His spirit, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus lovingly took down Jesus’ disfigured body from the cross, a body that was “marred beyond human likeness.” (Isaiah 52:14) They gave Jesus a decent burial, washing his body and wrapping it in strips of linen with 75 pounds of spices, an amount used in royal burials. As was the Jewish custom, they wrapped his face with a cloth and laid Him in a new tomb.

Yet now here is an empty tomb except for grave-clothes and a neatly folded cloth. A robber would never have left order behind. If someone had stolen Jesus’ body, the grave-clothes would most likely be gone with it.

“The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.” Why? Commentator Matthew Henry believed Jesus is sending us a message: “No one stole Me away. On the contrary, I rose up alone. I walked out alone. I alone did this, for I alone could do it. I am Almighty God.”

As John and Peter gazed at the folded cloth, did Jesus’ words about the work He must do flood back into their souls? Did they remember how Jesus promised that after three days He would rise again?

According to John 20:19, we know they were afraid. The disciples had locked the doors because of their fear of the Jewish leaders. But then Jesus Himself in the flesh suddenly stood among them and breathed “Peace be with you!” Peace that bursts their hearts with joy!

Jesus has finished what He came to do – to die in our place to redeem us from sin and death, and He has risen again just as He promised. We don’t need to look for him among the dead. He is risen!

Are we still mourning the death of Jesus, or are we opening the eyes of our hearts to what Jesus has finished for us and to the hope and joy of His glorious resurrection?

“My Redeemer Lives”
by Nicole C. Mullen

P.S. This is an edited version of a post from 5 years ago, before many of you were reading this blog. I hope it will strengthen your heart to know our Redeemer lives. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow and whatever troubles come our way!

We are traveling to a family event this week to attend a special ceremony and to celebrate our son’s retirement from the Air Force after 20 years in the military. I hope to post again on April 3. 🙂

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself
give you peace at all times and in every way.
The Lord be with all of you.”
2 Thessalonians 3:16

How Can Grief and Joy Live Together?

joy-of-christmas

A building crumbled. A 24-year-old construction worker who was remodeling an old store into a new Lewis Drug buried under the rubble.  A 22-year-old woman who lived in an upstairs apartment also buried. 

Three and a half hours the girl was trapped, not knowing if she was upside down or right-side up. Hope hung on as she connected with her parents and workers by phone. Cheers, fist thumps, and high fives as the girl is rescued in good condition.

But the mood soon sobered again as the caring, dedicated rescue workers carefully kept searching for the man who was buried deeper. Hoping against hope. A search dog was brought in, and an area was targeted. Seven hours after the collapse, he was found. No life left.

So many mixed emotions in a few hours. Shock and grief but praying and hanging desperately onto hope. Elation and gratitude as God worked a miracle. Fear and a deep foreboding about the life of the construction worker. Then grief and disappointment. And ripped-apart hearts for the family who would have a missing place this Christmas.

One family can celebrate life spared. Another must grieve a life snatched away.

It baffles me. How can joy and grief mix together?

My heart rejoiced that the girl was alive. But after the loss of the other life, the miracle of life didn’t seem as special any more. Well, it still was, of course. But the joy of it drained away and seemed out of my grasp when another family was devastated with the loss of a loved one.

Pain. Loss. Devastation. Everywhere. In our hearts. In our families. In our world. How does one remember the joy of the miracles when the grief can be so heavy and overwhelming? How does one rejoice for the miracles without feeling guilty of disrespecting the grief? How can joy and grief live together in one heart?

It’s a mystery… The joy in Christmas is all about God stepping into our deepest heartache. There can be no joy at all without the broken. Because Jesus came into this world of suffering to be broken for us, joy is possible. Only because of His unfathomable love can we rejoice in anything at all.

It is descending into the dark valleys of grief that we learn to more deeply appreciate the gift of God’s love. The love that infuses light into the dark places inside. The love that seeps joy in to make the grief more bearable. The love that radiates hope into despairing hearts.

For you who are feeling downhearted and trodden down with troubles, I pray God will help you find joy in His gift of love. Grief and joy can live together. God’s love can carry us through the grief. Allowing ourselves to process our grief at the feet of Jesus brings greater joy. And joy is all the more glorious because of the grief.

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me,
all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

But the angel reassured them.
“Don’t be afraid!” he said.
“I bring you good news
that will bring great joy to all people.

The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today
in Bethlehem, the city of David!”
Luke 2:10-11

lovecamedown

“The Gift of Love”
by Hillsong

cutecolorsanibear14
I am taking a blogging break the rest of the year.

I hope to be back in January.
My prayers will remain with you all!

christmas-blessing

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