Love

“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3

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Ah love!

Songs are sung about it and poems written. People fall in and out of love. And most of us think we know what being in love means. But there are different kinds: love between friends, love for family and the romantic kind of love between a man and a woman. We use the word in so many different ways that we tend to water down the true meaning.

When we want to emphasize the way we like something we do it by saying we love this or that (ie. I love ice cream). But do we really understand what love is apart from the feeling? In my experience, my feelings aren’t always trustworthy.

This is what the Bible says about love:

“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.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

This is the blueprint. It implies a lifelong commitment, not a temporary arrangement. It means work and it means putting me, myself and I second…or third… or not considering my wants at all. It means not reacting immediately, but waiting until the smoke clears. Sometime it means doing nothing.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

I wonder what would happen in this world of quickie divorces if we chose to wait and endure for a little while longer? If we put our hope in a loving Creator and trusted the truth of God instead of the lies of this world?

The world’s idea of love is brash, careless, senseless and selfish. It cheapens. It degrades. It’s empty. I know the insecurity of trying to find love the world’s way and how it manifests itself in unrealistic expectations. What you get is anger, confusion, loneliness and—sometimes—shame.

I pray that as you read this you would ask God to teach you how to love the way He loves. Not just in the big things, but in the small ones as well. Break out of yourselves and smile. Speak a kind word to the person taking your food order, give a hug to a friend, or hold the door for someone. These may not be great declarations of love, but they show people you care. Small acts of love are important.

True love is more than just a feeling. It’s an action—one that has little to do with what we get in return.

My greatest joy in life is my marriage. My husband doesn’t always remember to bring me candy on Valentine’s day or get me a card. What he does do is show me how he loves me in a million different ways. He respects my opinion, shares his pie and makes me laugh. I can depend on him no matter what and he can depend on me. God put us together. Our mutual love for Jesus Christ—and choosing daily to love each other as God intended—keeps us together.

“But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13b

The greatest love of all is not learning to love yourself—as Whitney Houston sang. The greatest love of all is God’s love for us. He loves us so much, He died for us. He took our just punishment and gave us grace instead.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

by Eve Montano

















Love…and Wait

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” Psalm 62:5

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“I am sure that God keeps no one waiting unless he sees that it is good for him to wait.” -C.S Lewis

Maybe this Valentine’s Day you thought you were going to finally have a date, but the day is near and he hasn’t shown up. You’re now saying “God when is it my turn?” Well, I want to talk to you today about waiting on the Lord. I know, I know. This isn’t the most popular topic, but it’s necessary if you’re praying and waiting... and waiting...

God could have healed Lazarus when he was still alive. Instead, God waited until he died then raised him from the dead. God could have given Abraham a son at a young age. Instead God made him wait until he was 100 years old to give him Isaac. Why? God could have met the needs of these men quicker, but didn’t. He made them wait. So God can be glorified.

Maybe—like me—you’re waiting for something. Whether that be a job, house, spouse, baby. Take courage friends, the Lord wouldn’t make you wait unless he saw it would be fit for you to wait.

You might be thinking. “That might be easy for you to say but it’s hard waiting.”

Yes, it is hard. I will be the first to admit that. Those days when the waiting really hits hard and you’ve read your bible and you’ve been praying and nothing is happening—are difficult. But, that’s when I look back on my three years of being saved and how much the Lord has done for me. He has never failed me, so I take courage in the fact that he’s growing me—patiently teaching me to endure and persevere.

Waiting not only grows our dependency on the Lord, but builds our faith to…
- have faith in God when we’re at our wit’s end and don’t see light ahead…
- have faith like Abraham when God promised him a son at 85 and made him wait 15 more years to bring him Isaac.

God’s delays also teach us how to be content. In Philippians 4:11b it says

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content…”

This is Paul—writing this while he’s in a prison cell. C’mon, if Paul is saying this, so can we.

Pray and wait on the Lord. I’m learning to do this day by day. In my singleness—as I wait—I’m completely dependent on the Lord and his perfect timing. He knows what’s best for me and he sees the whole picture. I can only see today and now. He knows the desires of my heart and he will fulfill his promises to me in his time.

“You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Luke 1:45

I can’t lie and say it’s easy to be single at 25 when everyone around me is married or in a relationship, because it’s not. There are many days when I’m on my knees, just crying out to the Lord. But I know he wants me to learn and grow in him. He wants to teach me new things while I wait—things I might not be able to learn if I wasn’t single.

God made some of the greatest men and women in the bible wait on him. As we read the examples of these true stories, we should take courage and continue to pray for the desires in our heart. God is hearing our prayers as we seek him daily in his word.

Someone gave me this verse about a year ago when I was going through a breakup and I’ve been clinging to it ever since. I pray it encourages you while you wait as well.

“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.“ Isaiah 40:31

by Jasmin Hernandez




Faithful Love Endures

“The LORD will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.” Psalm 138:8

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In our study in Mark this week, we’ve been encouraged to choose a verse to commit to memory. It could be any verse of our choosing—from Mark 3:1-4:34—or consider Philippians 1:6 or Psalm 138:8.

I found the combination of Philippians 1:6 and Psalm 138:8 to be incredibly comforting in a week that began with a devastating plane crash, and continued at a rapid-fire pace of preparation for CCEA’s tour to Israel—all overshadowed by sorrow over the impending loss of a most precious “fur baby.” Frankly, I’m not enough to face the onslaught of the enemy’s forces, but—Praise God—my Savior is. I choose to stand with Jesus, my shield and refuge, my Deliverer.

Do you need these promises—these reassurances—today? Do you need to remember—to believe—that Almighty God, the One who spoke the Universe into existence, cares about you and what you are going through? Dear Sister, be encouraged in the faithful love that endures forever.

“Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me. The LORD will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you (us), will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Psalm 138:7-8a, Philippians 1:6

Please pray for those going through tough times, especially our Yorba Linda neighbors who are reeling from the plane crash in their quiet neighborhood. Also, please pray for our sisters and brothers who are joining Amir this Friday to “Behold Israel.”

Amir closes his messages with the Aaronic blessing.

“Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, ‘The LORD bless thee, and keep thee; The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Numbers 6:23-26

by Marilyn Allison


How to Live Out Sisterhood When You Live in the 'Mommyhood'

“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:8

I have one big brother; and he is all brother. When we were kiddos, his love language was messing with me. I believed his Every. Single. Word. Stuff, like-

At the age of 12, I’d be sent to live on an Indian Reservation to make bead necklaces for the rest of my life--because I was a girl.

And…

Dr. Pepper was called “Dr. Pepper” because you were supposed to pour red crushed peppers in before you drank up.

I’m relieved my parents forgot to send me away, and eventually, I traded sucking red crushed peppers through stubborn straws for my beloved non-fat, with-whip, mochas.

My whole life I’ve had the 'fun' of knowing what it means to have a brother, but not a sister. Last week my daughter received a letter with the precious words crayoned,

“Ciana, you can call me Sister”.

I read it over and over. All the feel-goods sprinkled over my spirit. My cousin’s daughter had written them. She’s adopted from Uganda and understands more than most—love makes a family.

And God is that love. We enter a loving relationship with God; strike down genetic laws; and become sisters with other believers. But it doesn’t always feel that way.

If someone at church has referred to me as ‘sister’, I’ve figured they forgot my name. Honestly, there are times when hearing it from random ladies makes me roll my eyes. Why can it feel so patronizing?

When it’s stripped down, we may be sisters in God’s family, but we often struggle to treat one another that way. It's not on purpose. We're busy. We're tired. We're overwhelmed keeping precious little humans alive. We forget to really pray when we say we will.

When someone in a family struggles, it affects the whole household. If something is lost, all grubby fingers dig under the couch cushions to find it. If one kiddo hurls their body into the mini-van late, all the kiddos run like hyenas to get to class on time.

If you’re in a healthy family, your lives are intertwined. But if you don’t live under the same roof, this gets tough.

I think of the letters between Ciana and Milla. At such a young age, they're making an effort to keep their lives intertwined. And that’s the key…they're intentional.

True sisterhood speaks these words:

When you struggle, my spirit will wrestle in prayer for you.
When you’re lost in an area of life, I’ll search God’s word for answers with you.
When you feel you’ll never make it to the finish line, I’ll carry your heavy diaper bag.

But how can we authenticate our spoken words of sisterhood when life is so....much?

Here are three things I’ve found to be practical, powerful & completely do-able:

1. Fast together.

When a friend lays out a deep concern over coffee, I offer to fast with them for a week over the issue. Fasting doesn’t have to be dramatic. It can simply mean going without something you enjoy and replacing it with specific prayer. I typically choose to stop eating sugar. The struggle is so for real. Every time I'm all cravy, I stop right there and pray for whatever unique trial my friend is dealing with.

2. Pray at the same time everyday together.

Most likely, you don’t see your friend every day. So set an alarm on your phone to remind you both to stop what you’re doing and pray. I had a friend who was struggling with her husband when he came home from work. We set our phones to alert us to pray thirty minutes before he got home. When we were done praying, we would simply text, “Amen,” to each other.

3. Dedicate a prayer journal to your friend.

I love to do this! I buy thin journal packs at TJ Maxx or HomeGoods, sharpie a friend's name on the cover, and fill it up with prayers over their life. Some fill up faster than others and I don’t do it every day. Sometimes I’ll take a quick picture of the cover and text it to my friend saying, ‘You were just covered in prayer.” I imagine when I go home to Jesus; my children will find them and deliver them to my living friends.

I’m praying these practical tips spur your relationships to a deeper level. It’s not easy when you’re in the jungle of ‘Adulting’. But that’s why it’s so important, isn’t it? We all need to know someone is genuinely in the thick with us. We all want someone to take the time to say, "Friend, you can call me Sister."

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

by Jenna Masters






How Do You Say, “Thank You?”

“And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and immediately they tell him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.” Mark 1:29-31

Let me give you a little background setting for this account in the life of Jesus. The location of Capernaum on the Galilee was prolific with fish. Seven springs emptied into the Sea nearby, bringing warmer water. As a result, algae grew and provided perfect feeding grounds for fishermen to develop lucrative trade.

The first four disciples Jesus called to be with him were just such men. Brothers Simon and Andrew, and brothers James and John, also known as the sons of Zebedee, who Jesus later called the “Sons of Thunder.”

According to tradition, the home of Simon and Andrew actually belonged to Simon’s mother-in-law. It’s thought the brothers had worked for her fisherman husband and Simon had married the daughter, though it wasn’t mentioned whether this was before or after the death of the father.

On the Sabbath morning, the five men went to the nearby synagogue where Jesus spent the day teaching and, notably, delivering the demon-possessed man. Then they went to Simon and Andrew’s home, presumably for the evening meal.

As soon as they entered the home they told Jesus Simon’s mother-in-law was ill. If we just look at the English words, we don’t get the impact of what is happening here. She had a raging fever.

We mothers remember the despair we felt when our wee one awoke in the night—or after a nap—with blazing cheeks and 104 degree fever. By the time we’ve grown to adulthood, we feel like we’re dying with a temperature of 101. Our body’s temperature regulator has matured so our temperatures don’t spike as high as our baby’s, but the discomfort is still extreme.

The scripture tells us Jesus went right to her bedside, took her by the hand and lifted—or raised— her up. The Greek word is egeiro—to arouse from the sleep of death, or recall the dead to life. Did you think, like I did, that she was just having a sick day? She was dying. This was Huge.

Jesus helped her sit up and all symptoms left her. When we are sick and our fever breaks, it takes time for us to feel better, even more time for us to get our strength back. She was 100% whole immediately. Don’t miss it. This is radical healing—a miracle. With God everything is possible (Matthew 19:26)

We don’t always see a response from the healed person, but in this case we do. What does Simon’s mother-in-law do? She shows love and gratitude by preparing a meal for them. Now, she’s been sick for some time. Her daughter has most likely been caring for her. And it’s the end of the Sabbath. Fresh bread would not have been baked, no meat roasted, nor side dishes prepared. She said ‘thank you’ in the way she knew how. She prepared the meal for them—from scratch.

Moments after her release from near-death, she expended herself in ministering to the needs of her tired, hungry healer. He who came to serve, was himself served.

Her story convicted me about my response when Jesus does something in my life; when he answers my prayers, delivers me in some way or just lets me know he’s listening. How quickly do I praise him? Thank him? How quickly do I minister to him?

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you…O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever. “ 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 1 Chronicles 16:34

by Marilyn Allison