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The Ultimate Love Letter; The Ultimate Gift

Have you ever sat down and written a love letter to someone? It could be your husband or wife, your child, your grandparent or your best friend. Love letters come in all shapes and sizes and can express a variety of types of love, from romantic love to friendship to familial love. Or have you looked for the perfect poem on a greeting card to help you convey your feelings? Whether you’ve written it yourself, or searched for it in a large sea of red greeting cards, chances are at some point you’ve desired to express your feelings of love for another person through the written word.

Then maybe you decide to go one step further and get this special someone a gift to illustrate your affections. You want the perfect gift, so you think long and hard about just what would make your Valentine the happiest. You want it to be personal and meaningful so that it is representative of your love and is not just “another gift” to be put on the shelf and forgotten about.

You know, God has written us the Ultimate Love Letter. It is perfectly personal. It is marvelously meaningful. It is timeless yet relevant. It is the Bible.

The Bible is an unfolding of His love for mankind – and not just for mankind as a whole, but for YOU individually. He gave us His Word so that at any given moment, we could open the Book and be reassured of His love for us.

God’s written Word is a revelation of Jesus. All throughout the Old Testament, Jesus is hidden in the stories and the details of the offerings and prophetic passages. Jesus is revealed in the Sin Offering. He is revealed in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3:25). He is revealed in the Messianic Psalms of David. He is revealed in Isaiah 53. And then in the New Testament, He is revealed in the flesh.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1,14 KJV

God’s Ultimate Gift to us was the sending of His Son, Jesus. As we see from John 1, Jesus and the Word are one in the same. He always existed as the Word of God, but at the appointed time, He became God incarnate, in order to dwell among us and redeem us back to God by His death on the Cross. Now, we experience Him through His Word. It’s hard to comprehend sometimes that as we hold the Word of God in our hands, we hold Jesus in our hands. Jesus is God’s greatest expression of love for us. Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection is the only way by which God is able to have unbroken fellowship with us, His people.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV

He also gave us the Holy Spirit to abide with us forever. Our salvation is sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13 & 4:30). We also experience Jesus through the words that the Holy Spirit speaks to us. He is still revealing Jesus to each of us today in a very personal way. It is also by the Holy Spirit that the love of God is available to us to in turn express to other people.

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:5 NKJV

Some other translations of Romans 5:5 help us to appreciate and comprehend it’s message even better.

“…God’s love has been poured forth into and continues inundating our hearts…” Blackwelder, Boyce. Letter from Paul, An Exegetical Translation.

…For God has given us a love transfusion by the Holy Spirit He provided for us.” Jordan, Clarence. The Cotton Patch Version of Paul’s Epistles.

“…we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well… because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” TLB

It is through God’s love for us that we have the capacity and ability to love others unconditionally. This Valentine’s Day, seek a greater revelation of God’s love for you by spending time in His Word. Ask Him to help you to see Jesus in the Word. Ask Him to help you to love others in a deeper way. Ask Him to increase your compassion for others.

My Valentine’s prayer for you is that the Lord will cause you to be full and to overflow with a growing and glowing love for each other (1 Thessalonians 3:12 Tomanek, Weymouth).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Reaching Out to Women of Faith

by CYF staffer Kristin B.

I made my way through the dark auditorium of the Women of Faith Conference in St. Paul, trying to get to my seat, and a group of women stood up to let me pass.  Of course, there is never enough room to get by when there are two bodies in the space where a person’s lap and the bottom of their legs are supposed to go.  I navigated past the women, stepping over their personal belongings on the floor, which made even less room to go by, hoping that I would not fall on to the peoples’ heads in the row below.  Suddenly, a hand reached out to grab mine and steady me while I moved down the row.  I smiled and thanked my helper, identified my seat number and sat down.  I felt grateful to the woman in the bright red jacket and perfectly coiffed light blond hair.

As I organized my things and relaxed, I listened to a song by Steven Curtis Chapman called “Cinderella.”  He explained that he had written the song after a difficult bedtime routine with his two little daughters.  Since I have a boy, 10, and a girl, 8, I can relate.  The song reminds us to dance with our daughters when they are young, because time is fleeting and we don’t know when we will be separated from them.

Steven is married to Mary Beth Chapman, and they both know something about loss. Two years ago, one of their little girls died as the result of an accident.  As Mary Beth related her and her family’s path to deal with their daily grief, it made me think about my own struggle to raise my kids by myself and the difficult financial situation that I endure every day.  Even though my situation is not easy, I have my kids.  I thought about our own bedtime routine of favorite family songs, prayers and good night kisses and the gratitude that I felt for those two wonderful little people felt enormous.

That’s the message that I took away from Mary Beth’s talk entitled, “Choosing to See.”  I started to think about my own relationships -  what I am putting in to them and what I need in return, and it gave me courage to ask for the things I want and need from some of the people closest to me and make some positive steps for myself.  I want to make good choices for me and my kids and I pray to God every day (sometimes more than once) to show me what He wants me to do.  The answers come from so many places and whenever I feel like I’m in the darkest place, a hand comes and gently guides me in the right direction, just like my new friend in the bright red jacket.  She caught my eye just before she left and I remember thinking how nice it would be to really get to know her.  She came across as such a kind and generous person.  As I walked around the perimeter of the convention center and looked at all the booths and tables, where women were purchasing books, bags and music, coffees and smoothies and donating to World Vision, I realized that I do know all of these people.  We all help each other every day to get through rough spots, identify and celebrate the important things in our lives and for that I am truly grateful.

What does being a “woman of faith” mean to you?

CYF staffers Cari and Leila are attending the Women of Faith conference in St. Paul this weekend. They’ve both already reported some of the most amazing times of worship, sharing, and fellowship – we can’t wait to post photos and more from the event!

Before she left for the conference, we asked Cari to share her perspective on what it means to be a “woman of faith”:

When I was asked to write about being a woman of faith, honestly I felt a little inadequate for the task. The most recent years of my life had not been the most “faith-filled”. In fact, it seemed none of the events within those years had turned out the way I had hoped, dreamed or even imagined. Maybe that’s where faith is the most profound. When life is smooth sailing and everything is “sunshine & smiles” faith comes easy. Then the winds blow and the water starts to churn and you find yourself being tossed about. What do you have? Where do you go? Who can calm your fears, dry your tears and with one touch can heal your heart and fix your broken life? Where is the anchor for your soul? When these times in life arise, and they will come, where do you find that hope that you desperately need?

Well, my friends, I know what I can do in and of myself and really that’s not saying much. But if I give all the pieces to the one who created me – the one who has great plans for me – the one who understands me fully, He can put them back together and He’ll even make it better than it originally was. I just have to trust Him with those pieces and keep my soul anchored with Him.

Through the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have gained so much. A life, that no matter the circumstances that surround it, can be filled with a future and hope & love everlasting. He is the anchor for our souls. He will keep us in His care and not because we are so great a woman, but because of his intense and deep love for us. Period.

Being a woman of faith is being able to feel totally inadequate but in the midst of those inadequacies, knowing the love of the Father and knowing that Jesus was enough, in fact He was more than enough for us. I have this assurance because I can look at my life before I knew Christ and as a young believer and see that He’s healed my heart and my life before. He’s given me beauty for ashes. So as I sit here in the midst of what seems to be a heap of ashes in my life, I know He’ll make it all beautiful and right again. Not because of what I’ve done or because I am good enough but because He is good & faithful and His love endures forever.

What does being a “woman of faith” mean to you? Please share your view and let us know what you think.

Women, blessing, and the Proverbs 31 ideal

Proverbs 31 is a popular Scripture passage which describes the qualities of an ideal woman.  In the original language, Proverbs 31:10-31 is an acrostic, in which each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. (Click the link to read the passage in its entirety.)

Grace Communion’s Bible study website asks,

Of what value can this ancient poem be to the diverse, complex life-styles of women today? To the married, to the single, to the young, to the old, to those working outside the home or inside the home, to those women with children or without children? It is more relevant than you might at first expect. . .

For contemporary application of these qualities, we like the Proverbs 31 Ministries blog.

The month of May has several appreciation events of particular interest to women and those who honor them.

Of course there’s Mother’s Day on May 9 (which, in a glorious example of irony, I will probably spend at a major league baseball game watching my daughter’s choir sing the national anthem, or out in the woods hunting morel mushrooms with my husband).

In addition, it’s Teacher Appreciation Week May 3rd-7th, and National Nurses Week May 6th -12th.  Of course not all nurses and teachers are women, but they still represent the majority in those professions, and have a unique ability to touch people’s lives.

Take this opportunity to think about the women in your life, and find a way to show them that you value and appreciate who they are and what they do!  A handwritten note is meaningful and always appropriate. We also have a beautifully chosen selection of gift items on CelebrateYourFaith.com.  (I have to put in a plug for one of my favorites, a beautiful gold and silver pendant symbolizing the Proverbs 31 passage.)

Can we help?  We have some Mother’s Day gift suggestions, and some special gifts for women.  And of course you’re welcome to contact us if you have questions, or would like suggestions or advice.

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