Today's Text and Thought of Encouragement:
"Do not fret therefore in view of tomorrow for tomorrow will have its own anxieties."
Matthew 6: 34
"I heard a voice at evening softly say,
Bear not thy yesterday into tomorrow;
Nor load this week with last week's load of sorrow.
Lift all thy burdens so they come, nor try
To weight the present with thy by and by.
One step and then another, take thy ways -
Live by the day!
Though autumn leaves are withering round thy way,
Walk in the sunshine. It is all for thee.
Push straight ahead, as far as thou canst see.
Dread not the winter whether thou mayst go,
But when it comes, be thankful for the snow.
Onward and upward, look and smile and pray
Live by the day!"
J. H. May
Today's Study Text:
"What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it - we're called children of God! That's who we really are."
1 John 3: 1, 2
The Message Bible
"A 'Whole' Lot of Love"
"Whole" - 1) containing all components; 2) not divided or disjoined; 3) sound and healthy; 4) constituting the full amount; 5) a complete entity.
Am I willing to accept the "wholeness" of Jesus' love in my life?
"A Modern-Day Parable"
Mary was the youngest of five children growing up on a farm in a small, rural community. She was the "apple of her father's eye." A treasure in the heart of her mother. The wide-open fields and starry skies were her companions in the evenings as she walked quietly through the rows of corn her dad plowed all day long.
As Mary grew, she studied at her mother's feet and when she went off to school in town, her parents looked for the dust kicked up by the big yellow school bus, as it stopped every day on the dirt road in front of their home. Mary always ran up the rocky path to the porch surrounding the house, anxious to give a report on what had happened at school each day. Special events began to mark the passing time. There was Mary's first prom...her turn to learn to drive...her first car...and then her graduation from high school.
Now came decision time for Mary. She could stay in her small town, among friends and family, or she could move to the large city, 500 miles away. Of course, Mom and Dad wanted her to stay close by, but Mary's best friend worked hard to convince her to come along to the city and share an apartment with her. After much begging and pleading, Mary's parents reluctantly helped their youngest child get settled in her new home far away from the comfort and protection to which she'd grown accustomed.
At first, Mary called home every week giving a detailed report on her activities. She had a job and although it didn't pay a lot, she was able to make it financially. Mom and Dad were relieved. And she'd made new friends. Sounded like quite a group. Mom and Dad were a little worried. But Mary convinced them everything couldn't be better.
However, as time passed, the phone didn't ring quite so often at Mom and Dad's house. Mary told them she was just, "Too busy." But with each passing day, Mom and Dad began to worry - a lot. Weeks went by. A month. Then two. Then one day, Mom and Dad called their daughter only to hear an operator's voice, "The number you are calling is no longer in service." Panic struck. Dad looked at Mom. "I'm going to find our baby," he announced.
Dad packed up a few things in his suitcase, jumped in his old truck and took off down the dirt road and eventually found his way to the interstate that led him to the city where his child was. Even though he had traveled the road to the city but once, he could still remember how to get to Mary's apartment - he could never forget where his precious little girl lived. When he arrived even the long trip had not depleted his energy and he leaped up the stairs to the third floor and ran down the hall to apartment 346. A man came to the door.
"I'm looking for Mary Green. She's my daughter. Does she live here?"
"Nope," the man said abruptly. "Moved several months ago. Check with the manager and see if he knows where she went."
Dad hurried down to the manager who gave him a small scrap of paper with a scribbled address.
"Mary told me to send her mail to this address," the manager said. "I hope this helps you find her. She was a nice kid but when she left here, I don't think things were going so well."
Dad got back into his truck and took off for another location, only to find Mary wasn't there. A neighbor said she was running with the wrong crowd; drugs were involved; and money was running low. The neighbor didn't think Mary could afford her rent. She advised Mary's dad to check a couple of the local homeless shelters.
Up and down the streets, Mary's dad drove, looking for a familiar face. He decided to park his truck. He would walk the streets if he had to. He stopped people as he walked. He showed them a picture. "Have you seen my daughter?" he asked.
Finally, in desperation he began to call out, "Mary, Mary," his deep bass voice booming over the noise of the city streets. "Mary, my girl. Mary."
Back in an alleyway, under some broken down pieces of cardboard, a young woman heard a voice. It was a familiar voice calling her name. She lifted her head. "Could it be," she wondered?
She stood up and began to walk slowly toward the sound that brought comfort to her heart. "Daddy," she screamed, "I'm over here." Her father began to run, "I'm coming Mary," he shouted, "I've come to take you home."
Once in her father's arms, young Mary felt safe for the first time in months. And Dad, well he did what a loving father does. "We've got to get some food in your stomach," he said. "And I brought some of your clothes from home - we have to get those cold, wet clothes off of you. By the way, there's a blanket behind your seat, wrap that around you. We have to get you home before you catch pneumonia."
The Bible, in Luke 15 says:
"But while she was still a long way off, her father saw her. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced her and kissed her. The daughter started her speech: 'Daddy, I've sinned against God. I've sinned against you. Don't touch me - I'm dirty. Don't get too close to me - I stink. You don't want to be seen with me - I'm a mess!'
But the father wasn't even listening. He was planning a party. He took his daughter to the best dress store in town and bought her something new to wear. He put the family heirloom ring on her finger and got her a brand new pair of shoes. (Maybe even two or three pairs!)
'We're going to a party!' he shouted to anyone who could hear. 'Pull out all the stops. My lost daughter is found.'"
Luke 15: 11-22
Have you ever questioned the "wholeness" of Jesus' love? Have you asked yourself, "How can He love me when I've done _______? I'll let you fill in the blank because, for each of us, the failing in our lives will be something different. And the reason we may think we don't deserve God's love, will not be the same.
However, we have the unfailing assurance of Jesus: "He (She) who cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6: 37, K.J.V.) This is the "wholeness" of Jesus' love. And we see it clearly demonstrated in the life of the paralyzed man, brought by his friends to Jesus. If you note, Jesus didn't ask this sick man to pass a "litmus" test proving his sincerity. Jesus didn't ask him how he got into the mess he was in. Jesus didn't question his motives. Jesus didn't criticize how he looked or what he wore.
Jesus' love embraced this man (and his friends, too) from the moment they entered the room. No hesitation. No waiting. No questions asked.
This "wholeness" that preserves me and saves me from myself - is the same "wholeness" you and I are offered freely today. And we are promised that there is nothing that will ever separate us from Jesus' "whole" love.
"...Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8: 38, 39
"The only real love is God's love."
"You know, God, that I have never wanted anything but to love you alone. I long for no other glory. Your love has gone before me from my childhood, it has grown with me, and now it is an abyss whose depths I cannot plumb. Love attracts love and mine soars up to you, eager to fill the abyss of your love, but it is not even a drop of dew lost in the ocean. To love you as you love me, I must borrow your love - only then can I have peace."
Therese of Lisicux
The Story of a Soul
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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