It is a word that comes and goes, but few people really know what it means to really love somebody.
These words are lyrics to one of my favorite songs, Love, by Kirk Franklin.
And in this month of February, we celebrate love.
This month the love we celebrate is typically centered around one another, but today, I want to talk about a different love,
The love of the Father.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." - 1 John 4:7-8 (KJV)
The love of the Father is agape. And as we reflect on today's passage in 1 John 4, we see that agape love is a love that extends to us and extends from us. Agape love is unconditional love; it is a love that preservers regardless of situation or circumstance. Agape love is the love that led Jesus to the cross, to die for our sins, knowing that we may not choose him, even though he has chosen us. Agape love is a love that forgives and allows us another chance to get it right.
Agape love is Jesus. Jesus is Agape love.
The love that comes from the Father, is the love that lives in us.
So what do we do with that love, the same love we receive, the same love we do not deserve? The Bible is clear; we are to extend that love to one another. John 13: 34-35 says:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (KJV)
The Bible says that when we know love and receive love, we as disciples of Christ share that love with others. While our love is not called to be perfect, our love is called to be patient, our love is called to be kind, our love is called not to be easily angered, and our love is called to persevere. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Our love is a love called to try; it's a love called to forgive; it's a love that comes from the Father and lives not only in but through us.
So here is your reminder to love, here is your reminder to embrace God's love, and here is your reminder to let God's love live through you. Agape love friends!
By: Vivy Fomengia
When I hear the word peace, I remember who the Prince of Peace is, Jesus. I reflect on the joy that fills my heart when I heed the Holy Spirit’s instruction. I ponder the calmness that I experience during hardship. With exceptional gratitude, I consider walking into my home, a physical space where no distress lingers. I tend to get lost in my thoughts, so when my inner peace is disrupted, I experience external anguish through sickness, pain, and restless nights. “Anything that costs you your peace is too expensive.” A mandate that I abide by as this beautiful truth fosters my desire to do all that I can to protect the glorious gift of divine peace.
One of the most memorable experiences related to peace is when I quit my first full-time job shortly after graduating with an MBA from Hampton University. Once I left this company, I endeavored on about ten different job interviews and did not receive one offer in return. I was distraught and felt rejected. Unexpectedly, I was positioned to engage in conversation with the president of a consulting firm. Following our enriching dialogue, God moved on his heart to extend a job offer to me without a formal interview. Although I was overwhelmed with gratitude, I vacillated with if this was God or the enemy taking advantage of the desperation I felt in securing stable employment.
I contemplated the health benefits, the potential for professional growth, the salary, the position change, the new company culture, and the like. As I prayerfully considered this gracious offer, there were no red flags in my spirit or anything that contradicted God’s word. Thankfully, my spiritual mentors quickly reminded me that my fervent prayer had been for God to shut ALL doors that were not for me and open only the ONE door from Him. That was when I knew I could accept the job offer. God had answered my prayer. There were weeks when I worked long hours, but I still felt I belonged there. About 1.5 years later, I sensed a significant shift in my peace, and I quit. Within the next year, I was presented with the opportunity to return, and I did.
During each juncture of the journey, ruminating the job, accepting the job, working at the job, leaving the job, and returning to the position, I prayed.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
I have made long-lasting friendships, been given exceptional support as a first-time mom, and received tremendous accolades for my performance while at the firm. As I take inventory of some of the highlights: peace that surpasses all understanding is evidence that good fruits have been birthed from my connection with this firm.
Valerie Fomengia, aka Vivy, leverages her personal financial experiences and her passion to educate others as the basis to help African Americans become financially aware. She is a government contractor by day, financial coach by night, and mom to a toddler 24/7. Vivy also loves to sleep, travel, exercise, binge watch Netflix, and sob her heart out to authentic Christian worship music. Connect with Vivy via her Instagram account @vivymotivates or her website!
By: Tamika M.
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29 (NIV)
Tis' the season to celebrate Jesus.
We do not celebrate a tree; we do not celebrate Santa; we celebrate the answer to the sin of the world.
The answer that you and I needed before we even knew that we needed it.
Jesus is the answer that takes away the sin of the world.
The Bible reminds us in Romans 3:23:
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (KJV)
All. Not some. All.
We have all sinned, we have all fallen short, and we all, yes ALL, need a Savior.
We all need Jesus.
I know that we sometimes teach the part of salvation, that Jesus died for us, and that he gives us a chance at eternity with him.
But sometimes, we miss the other truth, the truth that we do not deserve forgiveness.
The truth that salvation gives us not only the opportunity to walk in the forgiveness of Christ, but it also requires us to walk in obedience.
Jesus is the full answer for our sins, but his sacrifice calls us to greater.
His sacrifice calls us to change the way that we live.
His sacrifice calls us not to leave the presence of Jesus unchanged.
What love it was that he died for us. And what beauty is our heart's response to live for him.
This season ought not to be one where we miss the true answer that Jesus gave to the earth, but this season ought to be one when we walk in and share the truth of what Jesus did, why he did it, and what our hearts response ought to be.
Salvation cost something, and not just today, but every day. And our hearts response should be one that lives in reference, giving all glory, honor, and praise to the Lamb!
By: Tamika M.
"But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship" Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV)
Over 2000 years ago, God became flesh and walked this earth.
He walked this earth with a purpose.
Born in a manger, walked the earth, facing persecution.
He came, he died, and he rose, so that we can be adopted as his sons and daughters.
Many people can not honestly say they could answer that call.
While the truth is that Jesus was altogether God, he was also fully man.
He hurt as we hurt, he suffered as we suffer, he was ridiculed, despised, and shamed.
But despite the things that came up against him, he preserved, he pressed, and he did what no other man on this earth has done.
He did the impossible; he answered the impossible call so that you and I can have eternal life.
What beauty is found in the Savior.
What beauty found in the truth that he answered that call.
And what beauty that the answer represents.
In this season, let us keep the truth of the cross at the center.
Let us not get so focused on our problems that we miss the problem solver.
Let us not miss the beauty of the answer to the call.
Let us not forget the answer that is found in the cross!
By: Shanine A.
Some seasons are more difficult than others. There are seasons when you feel like giving up. There are seasons where you feel invisible or unloved. There are seasons where you want to see the fruit of your labor. Life gets rough sometimes, and we may not enjoy every season we encounter.
Seasons change. I want to remind you of these two powerful words; seasons change, just like there's winter, fall, summer, and spring. There are joyful seasons and painful seasons. This year has been rough on a lot of people. Some of you might have lost your job or lost a loved one. Some people are dealing with depression and negative thoughts. This may not be the most comfortable season for some of us to navigate through.
I've noticed that when we are going through a difficult time, it's hard to see our way out, much less believe there is a way out. When times are good, it's a little easier to be hopeful and optimistic. In the difficult seasons, we must remember that we must carry along a specific companion with us. That companion is called faith; we need to carry this with us in the difficult seasons and during the joyful seasons.
Hebrews 11:1 reminds us that:
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (NIV)
Faith can keep us afloat and give us that push we need to endure. Even when we are unsure of how things will get better, faith tells us it will. It's so important and necessary to have faith in all seasons. Having faith will help you walk confidently and trust that your life is in the Creator's hands; therefore, you have nothing to worry about.
Embrace every season and always hold tight to your faith.
Shanine Alessia Young is a powerful, dynamic speaker, educator and entrepreneur who is passionate about encouraging and empowering individuals from all walks of life. She is a professionally certified English teacher in the state of Florida and believes in reaching beneath the surface while teaching. She is the author of her newest book Reaching While Teaching: An Educator's Guide to Impacting and Transforming Lives.
She is a wife, mom and minister at Living Word Christian Center In Coral Springs Fl. She is a woman of faith and is always seeking to pour out hope and biblical wisdom into the lives of those around her. She coaches authors on marketing and the self-publishing process. Her aim is to reach people while teaching them how to live their best life. Connect with Shanine further via her website or instagram!
By: Tamika M.
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 1:14 (KJV)
God, the one who sits on the throne, the ruler and creator of this world,
he came on this earth in the flesh and walked, dwelt, and taught among us.
He did not just sit in the heavens, commanding for change down on the earth.
He gave us a chance at change by walking out the truth here on the earth.
When Jesus walked the earth, the Bible says that he was without sin.
He taught truth; he walked truth, he lived truth.
Though tempted, he did not let sin overrule us.
Fully man and fully God, he walked in this world without being of this world.
He came as an example; he came as a propitiation; he came as a change of change.
What a beauty found in this truth. What a beauty found in the Father. What a beauty found in his love for us.
His love walked this earth for you and me. His love suffered, was abused and beaten, yet his love overcame.
The word became flesh for you and me so that we can have a chance at eternity.
By: Arrica H.
The anticipation of Christmas is one of the joys of childhood, but unfortunately, our society has made it about Santa coming and the gifts we will receive. Here are some ideas from my home to yours this Christmas season to put Jesus front and center.
1. Do A Countdown Focused On Jesus
This can be as simple as introducing a new character in the Christmas story or reading a passage of scripture each day. Purchase a fun package or devotional from a Christian bookstore or download something free online. Here are our picks for this season: Donkey in the Living Room and Countdown to Christmas with the Names of Jesus
2. Have A Nativity Set For Play
Decorative nativities are pretty but not practical for hands-on. Children learn so much through play and get a chance to act out the things they have learned. Some of my sweetest memories from Christmas pasts include watching my son save Baby Jesus from Herod and his army and seeing my daughter carry baby Jesus with her to bed each night.
3. Give Like Jesus
We’re called to imitate Jesus by humbly serving others and giving to those in need. Of course, this should be a regular part of our living out our Christian faith, but Christmas allows giving extra. We can reinforce God as a Giver by giving us Jesus and how much of a Giver Jesus was by giving His life for us.
This year our family has incorporated not eating out the entire month of December and instead using the extra money to donate food to a local food bank and give gift cards to those we know in need. Sit as a family and discuss how you can give like Jesus.
4. Have a Birthday Party for Jesus!
We tell our children that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Savior. In their world, we have a party for the birthdays of special people in our lives. So, bake a cake together, sing happy birthday to Jesus, decorate if they want to, and take the opportunity to explain to them that the greatest gift we can give back to Jesus is giving Him our lives through salvation. We do our party on Christmas Eve night!
5. Start Christmas Morning with Family Worship
Before presents or rushing to get food prepared, gather your family together, and worship our Lord. In our home, we sing some traditional Christmas hymns, read the Christmas account from Luke 2, and then praise God in prayer for the gift of Jesus and the life, joy, peace, and salvation He brings.
Colossians 3:2 instructs, “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” If we want to keep the focus on Jesus, let’s be intentional in building a sense of excitement over the birth of our Savior and not worldly traditions. I pray you find these ideas helpful. What are some ways your family puts Christ first at Christmas?
Arrica is a follower of Jesus, church planting wife, and homeshooling mom of 4. Her passion is discipling women and in particularly moms. She writes at a http://www.achildshallleadthemblog.wordpress.com and prays she can help other Mommas find joy in their motherhood while serving their Savior. Find her on instagram and facebook.
By: Tamika M.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)
Jesus, he truly is the reason for the season.
Jesus, he walked this earth, he died for you and me, and he gives us a chance at eternity.
Paul reminds us in the book of Ephesians of what salvation means.
It is grace saving us through us having faith.
It reminds us that the grace our Father gives is a gift.
It's a gift we do not deserve; it's a gift that works alone will not get us.
Salvation is a gift that we receive when we choose to walk in the faith that comes from the Father.
It is so amazing that the gift that comes from God calls us to have faith.
And the beauty in walking in faith is that our heart's faith response is displayed in obedience.
When we love someone, we show that love in our actions.
We do not display love merely by saying we love someone.
We display our love in the actions that we show.
And while the Bible says that our works do not save us, the Bible does remind us to keep the Father's commandments.
The Bible says in John 14:15:
"If ye love me, keep my commandments" (KJV)
While it is essential to understand salvation's truth, it is also vital to understand that God's grace and love call us to walk in obedience. The gift of salvation was paid with a cost; salvation was delivered with the blood of Jesus. He came, died, and rose. His love was in the blood, His love was on the cross, and his love is with us every day. As we walk through this holiday season, let us not forget the gift given, and as we reflect on the gift, let us not forget to walk in the truth of what that gift represents.
By: Oris M.
Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus and offered a prayer of thanksgiving. The man had been dead for four days, so Mary and Martha, his sisters, must have been wondering why Jesus was thanking God while they were grieving. Yet the reason wasn't that Jesus didn't share in their grief; it was because Jesus wanted to show that God is present even in the most painful times.
The same thing happened when there were just five loaves of bread and two fish available, while a multitude looked longingly at Jesus for provisions that day. It was hopeless to the disciples that there was just no way they could feed five thousand hungry people, so they suggested to Jesus that he send them away. Instead of sending them away, Jesus took what was available and gave thanks. It was not because he was in denial of the situation but to remind us that God is near even when circumstance seems hopeless.
Where's the joy I started the year with? The confidence, hope, and assurance? If you've asked yourself this question at some point this year, know that you're not alone. I have too and countless others. It's like our plates have been piled full with stuff we didn't ask for, and because we weren't prepared for the overload, we've sought different ways to cope. There's something about the trips of life that can make even the most committed Christian falter. Trials have a way of making us forget who we are and whose we are, yet the Bible tells us to be 'thankful in all circumstances' - All Circumstances - because as you may have noticed, it's easier to say, "Thank you, Jesus !" when everything is going well.
"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
A grateful heart magnifies God instead of the problem. It protects us from being hardened by despair, discouragement, hopelessness, or even turning away from Jesus. Thanksgiving helps to bring to light the things God has done for us in the past, thus providing hope about the future.
When we choose to look up, to raise our hands in worship, we are saying to that situation: "This is tough, but I know that my heavenly father is on my side, He is for me, and I'm coming out on the other side better and not bitter."
As Christmas draws near and 2020 winds to a close, I'd like to share this scripture:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us") Matthew 1:23 (NIV)
God sent His son Jesus to the earth to demonstrate His love for humanity and tell us that He is with us. No day or year can come into existence without His knowledge, and because He is aware, we know that He will take care of us. He is ever-present, and that is why we can count our blessings with grateful hearts.
Oris Morolani is an author, Christian blogger, and founder of Every Woman's Heart; a ministry that uses insights and inspiration from the Bible to help women to flourish in their different roles, make the best of womanhood, and become all God wants them to be, You follow her on Instagram and Facebook @everywomansheart.
By: Tamika M.
There is such a beauty found in the message of Christ.
There is such hope and truth in who God is and what he has done.
God is love and not just any love; he is a love like none other.
He is agape love.
Agape love is a love that is without measure; it is a love that can not compare; it is a love shown in sacrifice; it is unconditional, unmatchable love.
It is love that is given to those who are undeserving, with no requirement or criteria.
It is freely given to us. That love is found in Jesus.
The Bible says in John 3:16:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
And in this verse, we see that agape love made a sacrifice for you and me. The Bible does not say that to receive this love, we have to do anything; it does not say to receive this love that we have to have it all together.
It reminds us that this love made a sacrifice for us even before we made a decision to choose him.
Love on this earth, as we know it, comes with conditions and stipulations.
It's usually self-serving and based on if you do this, then I will do that.
But the Bible teaches us of a different type of love.
It teaches of a love that holds no record of wrongs. It teaches of a love that is forgiving. It teaches of a love that makes sacrifice.
It teaches us and shows us the love of Jesus.
And this holiday season, as we bask in the truth of Jesus, in the truth that he came on this earth, was born in a manger, as we reflect on that, let us not forget what his coming represents.
It represents redemption; it represents forgiveness; it represents another chance even when underserving. It shows true sacrifice in the face of adversity.
As we reflect on the love of Christ in this holiday season, let us not forget to share that love with others.