December 19, 2003

Encouragement for Today

 

Love Covers All

Mary Southerland

 

Key Verses:

 

But anyone who does not love does not know God--for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4: 8-10)

 

 

Devotion:

 

When I was a little girl my mother collected S&H green trading stamps. She collected them while I licked and pasted them in saving books. For months, she would hoard the small, green stamps until she had enough to trade for something she needed. It was always something we needed until that Saturday in December. "Get the green stamp books. We are going to town!" Mama said to me, a strange excitement in her voice. I assumed that we were going to buy a Christmas present for someone in our family since I knew that Mama never bought anything for herself at the Green Stamp Redemption Center. No, that would have been a luxury in which she rarely, if ever, allowed herself to indulge. Stamps in hand, off we went to find a treasure.

 

When we reached the redemption center Mama marched straight in, past the appliances, toys, hairdryers and vacuums, heading straight for the linens department. She did not look around or hesitate until she abruptly stopped, a smile spreading across her face. "It’s still here!" she whispered in relief. I remember thinking that whatever she had spotted must be very special to warrant such determination and such joy. When I realized that the blue treasure she clutched in her hands was just a tablecloth I simply did not understand. There were so many other beautiful things in the store and we had been saving those green stamps for months. And she was going to buy a tablecloth? What was so special about an ordinary tablecloth? I was confused – until we got home.

 

My family was poor – in material things – and we lived in what most people would refer to as a "shack". My mother was an amazing woman who somehow managed to raise three children who never thought of themselves as deprived. Many happy times and scrumptious meals were enjoyed around our old, scratched, worn and downright ugly dining room table. That dilapidated table made the entire room ugly – until the day Mama bought the blue tablecloth. As she spread her treasure across that shabby table an amazing thing happened. Not only did the table look beautiful, the whole room looked better!

 

Love is like that, its mere presence transforming the ugliness of life into a beautiful trophy of grace. Love covers the scars of sin. Love heals wounds and eases the pain of the past. We all need to be loved and we all need to love.

 

Love is the cornerstone message of Christmas. It is the very reason God sent His one and only Son to us. Jesus was and is the living illustration and certain fulfillment of His Father’s love. The love of God is unconditional, unfailing and will stubbornly pursue us no matter where we go, what we do or don’t do. God’s love satisfies the deepest longings of our soul and enables us to love ourselves and others.

 

This year, across your defeats spread the hope of a tiny baby lying in a manger! Across your pain spread the unconditional love poured out on a cruel cross! Across your doubts and fears spread the promise of an empty tomb! The love of God covers all and changes everything.

 

Celebrate Him! Celebrate His love!

 

 

My Prayer for Today:

 

God, I need your love. My life is filled with scars and wounds that can be healed by your love alone. I celebrate the love You so freely offer. I accept the gift of your love and thank you for its transforming power in my heart. I love you, Father, and celebrate your presence and power in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

Application steps:

 

What past experiences in your life need the covering of God’s healing love? Right now, make the decision to face and deal with these experiences in God’s timing and God’s way.

 

 

Reflection points:

 

Why do we bury hurt and pain?

 

With what have you tried to "cover" the painful parts of your life?

Did it work? Why? Why not?

 

What does it really mean to allow God’s love to cover the sin and pain in your life?

 

What is the first step or action that you need to take in the process of allowing God to heal the broken places?

 

How do you think this decision will affect your daily life?

 

 

Power verses:

 

Psalm 36:7 God, your love is so precious! You protect people as a bird protects her young under her wings. (ICB)

 

Psalm 71:20-21 You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again. (NLT)

 

Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love continues forever. (NCV)

 

Proverbs 3:26 For the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. (NLT)

 

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (NIV)

 

 

Additional resources:

 

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html

 

The Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/makeover.html

 

Coming Out of the Dark by Mary Southerland

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/outofdark.html

 

The P31 Woman by Proverbs 31 Ministries

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/newsletter.html

 

For Those Who Hurt by Mary Southerland

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/hurtset.html