Sunday, May 25, 2003

Weekly Word for May 25 - 31, 2003

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:13)

I remember hearing this question - “Will you accept a gift?” I was totally alone when I heard these words! It was like a whisper in my ear - and then the voice came again: “Will you accept the gift of a child - of total love - but for only a short time?” Now I was really wondering what to make of this. And then a third time the whisper came: “If you say no - it will be as if you never knew you were asked - but if you say yes - it will be a wonderful gift of love - but with loss.”

I waited, but the voice didn’t come again. Then I knew that the Lord was asking me this question. He was asking me if I would accept a child - one who I would totally love - and one who I would have to give up when He took the child away from me. If I said no to accepting the child - there would not be any reprimand or harsh words - I would go on as if it had never happened. Yet, I would never know the love this child would bring into my life, even if it meant pain when it was gone.

if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2)

Love - that word that means so many different things to us! This coming week-end is Memorial Day. The day we remember those people and important times in our lives that have since gone by. When I look back over the years, I see so many times of joy as well as times of sorrow! We all have them both. It is what we do with the sorrows, the times of losses that cause us to be able to accept love, or not! When my son was 17 he enlisted in the Army Reserves. As we were sitting at the kitchen table with him and his recruiter - I remember telling the recruiter that Everything that happens in our lives needs to be used for good - nothing should be wasted! The man looked at me as if I had spoken a foreign language! I truly believed what I said - and I still do!

When we have been hurt by loved ones - those closest to us - it is difficult to not close up, to choose to not be hurt again! We then choose to keep the hurt, it fills us up. And nothing else can get inside of us. Years ago, I had a close friend whose young teen-age daughter got pregnant. The young girl gave birth to her child when she was only 16 years old. The girl missed out on her prom, class dances, her high school trip, all that goes into being a young teenager in high school! When I talked to this girl, she told me she felt “robbed” of her teenage years and of fun! She then set about finding that fun! All she could see was her “losses” - and she did not see the gift of her child before her! I felt so sad for both (mom and child).

“The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

When my children were very young - they lost their grandmother on their dad’s side of the family. They loved her very much! She had fought cancer for quite a number of years, and so it was a huge loss for her husband when she passed away. They were always together! My heart went out to him as he lost his wife of so many years! As we would celebrate special times in our children’s lives, I would see his sadness at the fact that his wife was not there to see it all - to be part with their lives. Sadness was always with this man. Then his first great-grandchild was born. She was such a beautiful little girl - and one of the names she was given was his wife’s name! As he held this little girl, my hope for him was that he would know how much love his wife had given to her family. That her love was living on in this little one! That’s what love is about - it never dies!

Love . . . does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-8)

All love comes with loss - whether it be saying good-bye to a spouse, or a child leaving for college, or even having another person make terrible decisions that bring about their leaving. Yet, love is worth all! If we never allow ourselves to face a loss - we will never allow ourselves to truly love!

What did I answer the Lord when He asked if I would accept His gift? I did think about it for a little bit - I knew the question was very important. My answer was: “yes”. I would take any gift of love - even though pain was sure to come with it! Then it was as if the Lord said: “Good job!” I felt as if I had passed some sort of test. It felt as if this was a very important lesson - one which the Lord wanted me to understand fully - and then to teach others about it.

“Therefore you too now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you!” (John 16:22)

As we come to this Memorial Day - will you give Him your “memories” - your losses - and ask Him to fill them with Life? Will you accept a true “gift of Love”?

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Mathew 5:8)

God bless you in the coming week ahead.

In His Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Weekly Word for May 18-24, 2003

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4,5)

A week or two ago, Ted came home from work and told me about a sign that he had seen that really upset him. Someone had posted a sign on their property that read: “The Wages of Sin is Death!” When Ted told me about this sign, I have to admit - I also reacted pretty strongly to it! The funny part about this is - this sentence is directly from the bible! Yet here was a sign that quoted the bible, and we both disliked it immensely. In fact, it made me angry! Do I know that we all sin? Yes! The word says: all fall short. I also know myself and that I sin. But my hope? My hope comes from the One who forgives my sins - every day!

“Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter.” (Mark 3:28)

When I was growing up, I had been taught the rules of my home. I also had been taught what would happen to me if I broke those rules. I had parents that were very strict, and I didn’t look at them as being kind and lenient! As I became a parent myself, and now a grandparent, I have realized that some of those rules were for my own good. Smoking cigarettes when I was 14 was not a good choice to make! I very quickly stopped smoking when I got caught and severely punished! But I have friends who to this day continue to smoke. Some of them have become very sick, and some have even faced cancer and death. Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly I say to you, every one who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34) Each of my friends know that smoking is bad for them! Most of them have tried to quit, and failed! Do I still care for them? Of course I do! So does the Lord when we fall short! That is why He comes to us. To offer us Himself, the One who can take our sins, heal our wounds, and set us free.

I love the story of “the woman at the well”. In this story Jesus comes upon a woman who is out in the middle of the day getting water. When He comes upon her, he asks her for a drink. She is amazed that He even speaks to her. For she is not only a Samaritan, but also a woman. The rules in that day were that men did not speak to women, or Jews to Samaritans. But Jesus did! He then proceeded to explain to her who He was - “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10) Jesus then asks her to call her husband. She answers that she has no husband. He tells her that she is telling the truth - for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” (John 4:18) Jesus knew the woman was a sinner. Even so, He taught her about himself. How surprised his disciples were when they came upon the two speaking! They didn't understand why he would spend the time with this woman. But looking back, she became one of the very first missionaries! She went and spread the message of the Lord to her people! God used a sinner to spread the Message of Life!

“whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

I guess why I was so upset with that sign was: I didn’t see the answer to what to do! Everyone knows that they commit sins. But what do we do about it? As I’ve grown to understand more and more about who The Lord is; I have found that I didn’t want to disappoint Him! As He has become a “friend”, I have wanted to please Him. Because of that, I have given Him everything. That includes all my vices, my bad choices over the years, those things that I knew were not good for me! And just like the woman at the well, I found that He was there for me! He talks to me, and offers me hope! Do I still loose my temper, make quick judgments that turn out wrong? Yes I do. But everything I give to Him. To cleanse it; and bring healing where I have either wounded another, or am wounded! Each day I ask Him to search my heart where I still harbor anger and hatred - because I know that I am not above doing that! "The heart is more deceitful than all else, And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9) Who understands it? The Lord does. He understands who we are - and offers us Himself to take our sins.

and He Himself is the propitiation (atonement) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

Will you ask The Lord to search your heart, and see where you have hatred and death? Will you ask Him to take it and heal your heart? His promise is to fill you up with new Life and those good things that He has for you!

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John: 1:8)

God bless you in the coming week ahead.

In His Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Weekly Word for May 11-17, 2003

“for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” (John 16: 27)

Over the past few weeks, we have been talking about “love”. Through the years, I have continued to learn about “love”. The different aspects of it - and what “true love” really means. It took many years for me to comprehend God as the Father! - to trust and love One who loved me so totally that He would offer the gift of His Son! But I did understand loving a child - I just didn’t know I was “His” child! But I am - and so are you!

The Father’s Love - What an amazing love that is! I can only relate to it by understanding how I felt when I gave birth to my two children. I don’t even know how it happened - but I fell in love with these small little beings that totally relied on me to survive! I was amazed by who they were - and by who they might become! But in loving them, I wanted them to have good lives - to stay safe, and be happy. This is where it becomes difficult to be a parent. We want the very best for our children! But to do that, we sometimes cause them to be angry, or even hurt them! I was reminded of this point today. I remembered when my young daughter, she must have been all of four, went zipping past me off a sidewalk and almost got hit by an oncoming car. I was so scared! I grabbed her without thinking and pulled her back out of the path of the car! My daughter then started to scream! She wasn't screaming out of fear for the car, she was screaming from the gash on her forehead which was bleeding down her face. In grabbing her, my nails had dug into her head and cut her forehead. She didn't know all that could have happened to her - all she knew was that her head hurt and she was bleeding! This is exactly what happens to us when The Father in Heaven wants to keep us safe and we, in our youth and blindness, walk straight into oncoming trouble. All we sometimes feel is the pain of being stopped - the hurt that can come with it.

And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; . . . For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines (Heb. 12:5 & 6)

There is a country song from a few years ago that talks about “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers”. I listened to the words of the song, and heard the story of a man who in his youth had asked the Lord if he could have the girl, who he loved at that time, forever. The man is remembering this while standing looking at the girl he had once loved, and introducing her to his wife! That is the moment he knew that God had heard his prayer and the answer had been “no”. I don’t know too many children who like the word “no” said to them when they want something! But as parents we have to use that word quite a bit. So does The Father in Heaven.

Hurts? We all have them, and we all cause them. In loving another, we allow them to get close to us. In so doing, we allow them to hurt us. The Lord Jesus said: “offenses must come”! That means that we will always need to deal with hurts. Those caused by loved ones, friends, or even strangers. I was talking with a friend this past week. She has been through a lot of difficult things in her young life. She was expressing her anger at all that she has lost over the years. Her anger was totally justified! The danger is in staying in the anger. The Word says: Be angry, and yet do not sin (Eph. 4:26) How can we do that? We must give our anger to the Lord. If we don’t, it will cause us to become bitter, hard, and unable to love. If we keep our anger, we will become sick, and hurt others.

“Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which going into him can defile him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. (Mark 7:14, 15)

I love this passage! It took me a while to understand exactly what it was saying. It told me that even those things done to me that were wicked, they didn’t make me wicked! Only the things I chose to keep as mine, and to do to others, that was what made me a sinner. My friend’s anger leaking out at her children or friends, that is where she is not OK. We must “choose Life”!

My daughter had a scar on her forehead for many years. I would look at it, and wish that I hadn’t caused it! But I had! All I could do was to ask the Lord to heal my daughter where I had hurt her. That is all you can do. Ask Him to heal your heart where you have been hurt, and to also heal those who you have hurt. Ask The Father to use everything for good. That is what Love is about - choosing to forgive, to ask for healing, to love again.

The difference between good and evil - is just that - choosing to be fully alive or to live in death! Which will you choose?

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4,5)

“For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” (John 6:33)

God bless you in the coming week ahead.

In His Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Weekly Word for May 4-10, 2003

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father s commandments, and abide in His love.

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. (John 15: 10 & 11)

Over the last few weeks we have talked about joy . It is one of God s promises to us! But the first thing Jesus asks us to do is to: abide in His love. I looked up the word abide in the dictionary in my bible - it says: to remain or stay. When I think of the word abide , I think of living in . So Jesus asks us to remain, stay, or live in His love! My gosh, how difficult that seems to be! It also seems a little unreal when you first look at it. Years ago, I used to think Christians looked strange with all that hugging, and being nice all the time! I guess I thought they were always supposed to be nice and good; and I knew that I had such a temper! (Yes - I really am a redhead!) And then I started really understanding who the Lord is - and that He had all the same emotions that you and I have!

Jesus lost His temper - He got angry in the Temple when He saw money changers defiling the place that was meant to worship God! Jesus cried when He was faced with being separated from The Father. The Lord was full of the emotions that make us full of life. Abide in His Love? Love is Life! Love means choosing what brings life - it means choosing the Creator of Life - choosing not to kill others or ourselves - it means choosing The Lord! Abide in His Love! We must remain, or stay in, or live in all that is Life ! When you truly love another - you want to do what will bring them full of life!

This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, (John 15: 12 - 14)

We are His friends? He calls us friends? Yes He does! The Lord loves us! How amazing is that? I had a dream a number of years ago. In the dream I saw a close friend and myself in a place that looked like a library. (I have always wondered why a library - except that it is the place of knowledge - the place that you go to find answers) In the library my friend was sitting down. She looked up at me and said: Look, there s Grant I looked over and saw a very handsome man. He looked up and smiled at us. My friend then asked me to go over and talk to him - she wanted me to tell him that she liked him. I laughed and asked why she didn t go herself. She told me she couldn t. So I said yes . I walked over to this beautiful man and said hello. He smiled at me and then started talking to me as if I was a close friend. He was looking down at some maps, and he started showing me everything on the maps. I finished talking to him and went back over to my friend. She was so amazed that I had just been able to talk and enjoy His company. But I had! I had totally loved being with Him.

No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15: 15)

I knew when I woke up that the dream had been about talking with The Lord. So many people know about God and Jesus; yet believe God is to be feared and only approached through pastors, or others, and that they cannot talk to the Lord themselves. And love the Lord? I didn t know what it meant to love Him until I got to know Him. But I had heard from others that it was possible to get close to Him - and somehow I believed them! That is what I am asking of you - to believe me that you can get close to Him - learn who He is - and find out how much He loves you. In doing that, you will find out why you can love Him! That He brings life into you - even when you have felt you have never had life there before!

There is an old hymn that Whitney Houston sings at the end of the movie Preacher s Wife . I absolutely love this song. The words are: I love the Lord, He heard my cry! There were so many times in my life when pain and sadness caused me to cry - to feel there was no hope. And then The Lord came to those places and brought His Love and healing. He hears our cries. And wants to heal our wounds.

Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.

In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father. (John 16: 24, 26, 27)

My hope is that you will ask Him to come closer to you, to show you how much He loves you and allow Him to open your blind eyes, heal your broken heart, and set you (the captive) free!

God bless you in the coming week ahead.

In His Love,

Debbie and Ted Ayers