The Gift of Love

Advent 2014

Day 22

 

 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12-13)

On His way to the cross, Jesus demonstrated the Father’s love and offered gifts along the way—gifts that keep on giving like forgiveness.

Affirming her gratitude for forgiveness, a sinful woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She also anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. Although her actions disturbed those present, they pleased Jesus. He said she had prepared Him for His burial and her deed would be told as a memorial to her for all time. Jesus gave the gift of forgiveness to us as well. We affirm our gratitude by forgiving others. It’s a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of obedience.

Obedience isn’t always easy, especially when it seems to lead to a difficult situation. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, He knew the road lead to His crucifixion. But He marched into the city with victory on His shoulders in obedience to the Father. Obedience is a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of authority.

Jesus exhibited His authority over sin and injustice the day He cleansed the temple. He also verified His authority over death a week later. He gave the gift of authority to His disciples and sent them out to spread the word of His appearing and to cast out demons. In turn, that gift has been passed down to every believer. Authority is a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of prayer.

Through prayer, Jesus knew and carried out the Father’s will. The Messiah encouraged His followers to pray often, especially on the night of His arrest. Jesus knew His fate. He needed time with the Father. He knew the fate of His disciples and their need for strength as the horrific events took place. He gave them the gift of prayer to help sustain them. And He offers the gift of prayer to each of us. Prayer is a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of surrender.

Surrender often implies defeat. But Jesus showed us it denotes love and can lead to victory. Had He not surrendered to the Roman soldiers that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, the prophecies concerning Him would not have been fulfilled. Jesus’ surrender was His greatest act of love. He had told His disciples that no man would take His life. Rather He laid down His life willingly in obedience to the Father who had given Jesus the authority to take it up again.

Jesus also said, “Greater love has no man than this: to lay down his life for a friend.” He called His followers His friends and gave us the ultimate gift of love—His life.

Love is a gift that keeps giving.

How about you? How can you offer the gift of love to someone today?

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the gift of defeat. Prepare by reading and meditating on John 11:1-14.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Sacrifice

Advent 2014

Day 21

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)

The Gift of Sacrifice

The Gift of Sacrifice

Sacrifice? What do I know about sacrifice? I’ve sacrificed designer jeans for Christmas presents for my daughters. But I’ve never sacrificed to the point of wearing thread-bare Levis. I’ve sacrificed dining at high-class restaurants. But I’ve never gone hungry. I’ve sacrificed traveling abroad. But I have enjoyed a few national parks.

What I’m trying to say is we often talk about sacrifices, but many of us have little clue what true sacrifice is. What have our sacrifices cost us?

Until we’ve given up the comforts of home to live in a third-world country so they can hear the gospel, our sacrifices haven’t cost us much. Until we’ve poured ourselves out on a daily basis ministering to the needs of others without expecting anything in return, we haven’t experienced sacrifice. Until we’ve suffered persecution, betrayal, and desertion because of our faith, we haven’t felt the anguish of sacrifice.

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Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at The Gift of Love. In review of this week’s meditations, I’ll post another art video. Prepare by reading and thinking about John 15:12-14

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

The Gift of Surrender

Advent 2014

Day 20

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Jesus' ArrestSurrender: the acceptance of despair; the verbal act of accepting defeat. According to the definition surrender is a negative outcome of a struggle or fight. We probably think of it most frequently in terms of war and associate compromise with the term.

However, not every surrender is a compromise nor is it a sign of defeat. But it does mean a shift in priorities. When Gene and I decided to start a family, I surrendered to Gene’s desire for me to become a stay-at-home mom. There was really no compromise or defeat there for me. But I did have to shift my priorities. Being a stay-at-home mom meant sacrifices had to be made. I could no longer pick up and go as I pleased, buy the latest fashions, or sleep in Saturday mornings. It also meant doing without big things like new cars, extravagant vacations, and a hefty retirement fund. To some, my surrender may have looked like a form of defeat and compromise. Nevertheless, I set my focus on the welfare of my children. Nothing I could have earned monetarily speaking could have made up for the time I invested in Melinda and Rachel. They were my primary purpose in life while they were growing up. And they were well worth the sacrifices Gene and I made.

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Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the Gift of Sacrifice. Prepare by reading and meditating on Matthew 27:32-50

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Prayer

Advent 2014

Day 19

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

The Gift of Prayer

The Gift of Prayer

I enjoy having my devotion time first thing in the morning. Yes, the day does seem to go better when started with time alone with the Lord. However, I also stand guilty—if I don’t take time first thing, I don’t find time later in the day. It just doesn’t happen. Too many other things, time-consuming things get in the way. I’d like to also mention that my mind is more alert after a good night’s sleep. But that’s not the case either. When I pray, I find my meditation drifts into slumber. I occasionally reread a Scripture passage five times before I get to the end of it. I often read aloud just to keep from dozing off. So, when I read the passage about the disciples falling asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, I get it…BIG TIME!

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Tomorrow, we’ll ponder the Gift of Surrender. Prepare by reading and meditation on Matthew 26:47-55.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Authority

Advent 2014

Day 18

“By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” (Mark 11:28)

Righteous Anger

Righteous Anger

While in the army, my husband supervised the mess hall. Gene took his job seriously and won the respect of most everyone, including the commanding officers he served under. Being an enlisted serviceman, he had to follow the orders of his superiors. However in his kitchen, Gene was the one in charge and even the commissioned officers followed his rules, which included serving the enlisted men and women first. The commissioned officers had to wait, no questions asked. On one occasion, an officer entered the mess hall before everyone else and took a glass of ice water. Gene stopped him and ordered him out of the building. Of course that didn’t go down well with the officer. He took Gene to the commander. Big mistake! The next day that arrogant officer found himself on a plane heading home. He had learned an important lesson—don’t mess with the Mess Daddy. Gene may not have had a higher rank out in the field, but the commanding officer had given him complete authority in the dining facility. And Gene had no problems exercising that authority.

Jesus had no problems exercising His authority while on earth …

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Tomorrow, we’ll ponder the Gift of Prayer. Prepare by reading and meditation on Matthew 26:36-46.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

The Gift of Obedience

Advent 2014

Day 17

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” (Matthew 21:4-5)

???????????????????????????????When Rachel was learning to ride her bike at the cabin, her dad scream at her to turn around and come back. She did her best to obey, but her little legs couldn’t move her fast enough to suit her dad. He ran after her, picked her off her bike, and threw her inside (her words, not mine). She was scared. She thought she was in trouble. But she soon found out the reason for her father’s strange behavior. He and I had spotted a large bear quite a few yards away. But if he continues on his course, he would’ve ran between Rachel and our cabin. Fortunately, Gene’s actions not only frightened Rachel, they frightened the bear as well. It made a 90 degree turn in the opposite direction.

Like Rachel, we all need to do our best to obey those in authority over us, especially God … because sometimes we don’t see the bear running through the tall grass. But obedience doesn’t come easy for many of us.

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Tomorrow, we’ll consider the gift of authority. Prepare by reading and meditating on Mark: 15-18.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

The Gift of Forgiveness

Advent 2014

Day 16

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:47

Those who are forgiven much love much

Those who are forgiven much love much

The day I sensed the Lord’s prompting to seek forgiveness from a friend to whom I had spoken unkindly, fears and insecurities crept into my soul. What if she demanded restitution of some sort? What if she totally rejected me? What if…what if I obeyed Christ and placed the outcome in His hands? I finally took up courage and approached my friend. She forgave me. Although our relationship mains somewhat strained, the sweet fragrance of forgiveness fills my soul with gratitude.

Gratitude for forgiveness motivated a sinful woman to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears. Jesus’ host, a Pharisee, hadn’t so much as given Jesus the customary basin of water to wash his own feet …

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Tomorrow, we’ll look at The Gift of Yielding. Prepare by reading and meditating on Matthew 21:1-11.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K.Hendricks