Tag Archives: Christ’s Love

THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

Forgive Each Other

Compassion flooded my heart as I walked into the room where my step-mother, Debbie, was resting while she battled the effects of stage-four cancer. With a frightened look in her eyes, she burst into a cry when she looked at me standing in the doorway. Debbie normally wasn’t emotional, but the sympathy in my eyes must have touched a deep place in her spirit.

With a smile, I walked toward Debbie, and her tears subsided as I embraced her. Serenity filled the room while we sat there together enjoying a conversation.

As love flowed from my heart, I asked Debbie if she would like me to say a prayer. Enthusiastically, she said, “Yes!” I held tightly onto her hands and began praying softly over her. The fear I had seen in her eyes began to fade away and a fresh glow illuminated her face.

After a sweet time together, I hugged her firmly and said, “Goodbye.” As the door shut behind me, a flood of emotion washed over me and I began sobbing.

The tears were a bittersweet mixture of the sorrow I felt for Debbie’s battle with cancer and a celebration of the powerful love I had shared with her in the midst of her pain.

I realized during those precious moments spent with my step-mother that I was reaping the fruit of my choice to forgive her many years before. Decades earlier when I was a thirteen-year-old girl, I met Debbie after my dad moved out of our home. He divorced my mother and married Debbie soon afterward.

The life I had known in my childhood was shattered and I felt the deepest pain I’ve ever experienced. Bitterness invaded my heart as I blamed Debbie for the break up of my family. In my brokenness, I struggled to open my heart to Debbie until after I matured and realized the burden of carrying the pain was too heavy.

While I watched the example of my mother’s forgiveness in the midst of the unwanted divorce, I resisted the urge to stay bitter. Miraculously, through the resurrection power of Christ, I was able to totally forgive Debbie, and the wound in my heart healed.

Forgiveness has the power to make something beautiful out of something terribly painful.

Amy and Debbie

On my wedding day, the photographer got a candid photo with my step-mom joyfully gazing at me. Only Christ could enable such beauty to emerge out of the brokenness from the past.

Years later, as I sat with my step-mom while she faced death, it was evident to me that the choice of forgiveness had truly transformed my soul. The hurting, young teen I once was, could not have fathomed I was capable of loving my step-mother with a love so pure.

While hoping and praying for Debbie’s healing, I received a phone call from my father. His voice was solemn as he said, “The doctors are saying it will be just a few hours before Debbie passes away.”

I said, “I’m so sorry, Daddy.” I was crying as I tried to comfort my father.

Peace encompassed my sad heart as I walked into the critical care unit. It was surreal to see Debbie hooked up to machines and nearly lifeless.

A kind nurse assured me that Debbie was listening even though she was powerless to speak. In those surreal moments, I embraced the sacredness of Debbie’s soul preparing to pass from this life into eternity.

As a heavenly aura filled the room, I walked closer to her bedside and with words mixed with tears, I passionately said, “I love you, Debbie; thank you for being a loving step-mother to me.”

If it’s possible to touch Heaven tangibly while still on the earth, I certainly touched it that day.

I am certain that forgiveness is the birthing place for the most beautiful kind of love. Evidence of the love that grew in my relationship with my step-mother is in a card she gave me a few months before her death.

Debbie’s written words will forever be inscribed on my heart. She wrote, “Amy, I have grown to love you like my very own daughter.”

After nearly nine years since Debbie’s death, she is treasured and the power of forgiveness remains the greatest miracle of my life.

A life without forgiveness is a burdensome existence—it’s like dragging a large weighted ball. Without forgiveness, the pain adheres itself to the soul and dampens everything we experience with a thick darkness. When we don’t forgive we are only hurting ourselves.

Forgiveness is one of the greatest keys to living an abundant life. The one who walks in love and forgiveness experiences an abundance of spiritual blessings. 

Are you carrying unnecessary weight in your heart? There’s no better time than now to choose forgiveness.  Christ died on the cross and rose again so that we can forgive and be free from the pain that weighs us down. Choosing the path of forgiveness leads us to eternal joy, perfect peace, and unleashes the most magnificent, unimaginable love.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for being the greatest example of love and forgiveness. We surrender to You and repent for the times we have had an unforgiving heart. Please show us the offenses we are holding in our hearts and let us totally forgive every offense that has come against us. Let us live a lifestyle of forgiveness daily and let us have a grace-filled heart that’s incapable of being offended. Let us be vessels of Your awesome love and let us be defined by Your powerful gospel of grace. Please use each one of us to make a difference in the world by spreading Christ’s love everywhere we go. We pray in the mighty name of Christ. Amen.

Dr. Bruce Hebel teaches a powerful message on forgiveness. If you’re struggling to forgive, I highly recommend that you watch the video below and check out the ministry’s website to learn practical steps for walking in forgiveness:  ForgivingForward.com.

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RESTING IN THE LOVE OF CHRIST

LORD, LET US DRAW NEAR TO YOU

The sunbeams were softly touching my face while I was sitting outside early in the morning. The birds were serenading me with beautiful songs as I was slowly and intentionally breathing in the cool air. There were drops of dew on the flowers and plants reminding me of the refreshment that comes in communing with Christ. His love enveloped my soul and the presence of the Lord beckoned me to draw close to Him.

In my heart, it was as though Christ was speaking these words, “Arise, My love and come into My arms. You have stolen My heart, My bride. Let My love wash over you and let Me be the only desire of your soul. Let Me sweep you away into My embrace and carry you into heavenly places.”

After a morning of stillness, I was refreshed once again by the love of Christ and ready for a new day of living in Him.

There is no other love as perfect as the love of Christ. Though we may seek to find pleasure and rejuvenation in other places, only Christ’s love can satisfy us and refresh us. Jesus promises us if we come to Him when we are weary, we will find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30).

May we seek to draw closer to Christ’s heart and let His love renew our spirits every day.

 Beloved Jesus,

Thank You for refreshing our souls with Your love. Thank You for the beauty You have given us through song birds that sing and flowers that bloom. Help us to draw near to You every day. Let us carry this message of Your beautiful love to a broken world that so desperately needs You. We love You and are waiting for Your return. We pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

“You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride. You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, with a single jewel of your necklace.”

Song of Solomon 4:9

Grace and peace to you,

Amy

This devotion is a piece I wrote in 2012.

RESTING IN THE STEADINESS OF CHRIST’S LOVE

Jesus Never Changes

Look at the beautiful sky,” I said enthusiastically. I was in awe as I was telling my husband to look behind us and see the beauty of the sunset. Michael and I were walking at a park near our house where we often see the sun going down in the evenings.

The splendor in the sky reminded me of the steadfastness of the Lord. I love how the patterns in the earth are tangible signs of God’s never-changing character. Every single day the sun rises and then the sun sets during the latter part of the day. Every day the earth rotates and the cycle repeats itself again and again. This alone is enough evidence that God is a good Father—our provider and comforter.

In this world that seems to be falling apart, we can count on Christ for stability.

In a time that’s filled with uncertainties, we can rest in the steadiness of Christ’s love. Jesus never changes. He is the same today and always.

Lord,

Thank You for never changing. No matter what is happening in our lives we can always count on You to be there to listen, to comfort, and to love us without limits. Your love melts stress away. Your love turns sadness into joy. Your love is simply marvelous. Help us spread Your love to those who are mourning. Please, Lord, be with the people in France today in the midst of their pain. Heal and protect the people who are hurting. Surround them with Your presence and be their never-ending source of comfort. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8

Photo Credit: My husband captured the picture during one of our walks.

A PRAYER FOR OUR NATION

God Bless America

I walked into the voting area and the tension was so thick that it felt tangible. The faces I saw were covered with distress and anxiety.

Patience is running out as people face the reality of what is happening in America.

Jesus is our only hope. I have complete faith in Christ to restore our nation to a strong, vibrant country. He restored my life beyond my highest expectations. I expect him to restore the United States. However, before the Lord restored my life, he tested my faith. I believe we are headed for a season of testing. I trust that in the end our nation will come forth as pure gold and bring the hope of Christ to a hurting world.

Father,

Thank You for Your amazing grace and love. We come to You and humbly ask that You keep Your hand on this nation. We are sorry for leaving You out of our decision making so many times. We realize that our country is in danger and we need You desperately to intervene. May we turn away from all that draws us away from Your love and return to You wholeheartedly. Let us rend our hearts and know that You are merciful, compassionate, and abounding in love. I believe it is Your desire to see this nation thrive and be restored. Let us rise up and be the nation that You always dreamed we would be. Raise our country into a mighty nation and let us be a bright light to a dark world. We ask You to appoint the person who is best suited to lead America. We trust You, Lord, to do great and mighty things in this nation. Let us live for You purposefully and passionately. We ask You to protect us from calamity. We love You and place our hope in You. Please bless our country and let us be a blessing to all the earth. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

“Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:13

 “He knows the way that I take when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 

 “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

Happy 4th of July! Have a safe and fun day. :)

This post has been updated from a piece I wrote in 2012.

LOVING AS CHRIST LOVES

Love One Another

My heart is deeply saddened for the people in Orlando who lost their loved ones in such a tragic way. It’s hard to fathom a senseless act of terror on the lives of beautiful people.

On the day I heard the devastating news, my mind was far from being focused on the haters in the world. I tend to stay focused on the good in people. With compassion, I pondered the tragedy and wondered why the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando was targeted. A conversation with my family jolted me into the reality of a world where some people hate other people because of lifestyle choices and other differences.

From the moment I thought about the horrible devastation in Orlando, my strongest prayer has been for the families of the victims to be comforted and lavished in love.

Sadly, during past tragedies, I’ve heard about people who have said and done the cruelest things in the name of Christ. That must grieve the Lord’s heart more than anything else.

Someone who truly knows Christ will walk in love toward all people.

We know by reading the Bible (John 13:34-35) that Christ said: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus did not say: Love people when their beliefs and lifestyles are the same as ours. He did not say to love people when they do what we think they should do. He simply said: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Christ has called us to love purely and unconditionally. It is by God’s amazing love and grace that people will be drawn to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our generation is living in an unprecedented time of hatred. Many have turned away from God because they don’t know that His true nature is love. God is love. (1 John 4:8).

It’s heartbreaking to watch someone choose hate over love and commit such a horrid act as the one in Orlando. I find peace and comfort in the one thing I am certain of: Jesus loves us deeply.

Our minds cannot comprehend how deep Christ’s love is. It is perfect. It is indescribable.

His love comforts.

His love heals.

His love redeems.

His love restores.

His love is enough to conquer anything. Evil may be increasing on the earth, but love overpowers it all. As we love one another as Christ loves us, that’s when we will see the world begin to change.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8

 “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Psalm 103:10

The Scripture verses were taken from the New International Bible.

Father,

I lift up every person who was impacted by the tragedy in Orlando. I know You are filled with compassion for those families. I ask You to comfort them in their sorrows. Fill them with the hope and knowledge of Your eternal love. Keep them in the palm of Your hand and fill the hole in their hearts with Your love and peace. Bring an abundance of beauty to replace the pain. I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Photo Credit: My husband captured the photo on the beautiful island of Molokai, Hawaii.

FINDING BEAUTY IN MUNDANE MOMENTS

Spring - 2016

The routine things of life can weigh us down or they can be opportunities to find the divine in the mundane. Every day is an opportunity to see God’s beauty and His hand working in our lives.

One of the things I love most about Jesus is that He makes the most ordinary days seem absolutely extraordinary. Walking a dog in the park, a trip to the grocery store, or simply doing yard work can be filled with magnificence because of the awareness of God’s constancy in our lives.

Being aware of God’s presence makes life beautiful no matter what.

During the past week, a young mom began chatting with me while I was standing in the check-out line at a store. She told me several things about her little girl and I shared some things with her about my grown children. It was refreshing to talk with her.

As she stepped away to walk toward the exit, I noticed that “JESUS” was written in big, bold letters on the back of her t-shirt. With a smile, I said, “I love your shirt.” While telling me it was a favorite shirt of hers, she turned around so I could read the words.

With bubbling joy, I said, “Those words are written on the key chain that belonged to my grandmother.” She smiled and it seemed obvious that she knew she had blessed me.

As she walked out of the store I said, “God bless you.” My heart was overjoyed over a short encounter with a stranger.

My beloved ninety-five-year-old grandmother passed away in February. My dad gave me Mema’s jewelry box shortly after her death. Tucked inside with the jewelry, there was a key chain with these words: “The key to my heart is JESUS.” The phrase was new to me and the key chain instantly became my favorite. The words reminded me that only Christ can fully satisfy the heart. He fills the empty hole that’s left when a loved one dies.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I was chatting with someone I’d never met—a woman wearing a shirt with words similar to the words on Mema’s key chain. I stopped believing in coincidence many years ago.

I believe things that seem like they happen coincidentally are actually divine appointments to reveal God’s perfect love for us.

God used a woman’s kind heart and her t-shirt to touch my spirit. God says He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He is present with us always.

If we look for God with our whole heart, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). We can have eternal joy in all circumstances because of His love and presence.

Have you seen God’s hand working in your life lately? Do you realize how deeply He loves you?

No matter what we’re going through in this broken world, Jesus is enough. He is enough to satisfy the longings we have. He is enough when we are experiencing pain. His beauty is waiting to be unveiled in the most unexpected ways in the mundane moments of life.

LORD,

You are amazing. Nothing satisfies the soul like You do. Let us seek You with our whole heart. Help us to look to You and expect You to meet our needs. Let us see Your hand working in our lives every day in the most amazing ways. Let us gaze upon Your beauty today and always. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”— Psalm 27:3 (NIV)

Photo Credit: My husband, Michael, captured the picture while we were out enjoying a walk.

REDEEMED BY CHRIST’S LOVE

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The sun was slowly slipping behind the horizon while I was driving through the beautiful North Georgia Mountains. As I approached the top of a hill, I saw the most breathtaking view surrounding me. The beauty of the sky and the magnificent view of the spectacular mountains enthralled my soul.

While I was breathing in the beauty, Christ’s presence came to me so powerfully that I felt an inexpressible sense of God’s love. Captivated by the love I felt, I remembered the prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians: “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

In my heart, it was as though God was saying: My love for you is higher and wider and more magnificent than these beautiful mountains.

With a feeling of awe, I meditated on His perfect love and my spirit soared in His presence. Heaven touched me and drew me close to the heart of God.

In this crazy world, it’s very easy to be in a big hurry and miss the awareness of God’s love. The responsibilities of life can easily rob us of the quietness we need.

Jesus is waiting for each one of us to stop what we’re doing and find the rest we need from the hectic pace of life. Christ beckons us to open our hearts to Him and bask in His love. We don’t have to be driving through marvelous scenery to feel God’s presence. As we practice stillness and prayer, we become more aware of Christ’s love for us.

As we’re celebrating the resurrection of the Lord, it’s a good time to contemplate what the cross really means. Christ died and rose again so that we could live abundantly in His grace.

Because of the cross we no longer need to feel shame or guilt when we mess up. When we stumble, we can simply stand up and ask God to help us begin again. If righteousness could be gained in our own strength, then Christ died for nothing.

We are redeemed by Christ’s love. His love paid it all. Jesus said. “It is finished.”

His love paid the penalty for our sins. This is good news that ought to be shouted joyfully to the world.

Beloved Jesus,

Our hearts long to have more of You. Help us to see and feel how great Your love is. Help us to rest in Your presence continually. We love You. Amen.

“Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.”

 — Galatians 2: 21 (The Message)