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Christian Perspective

Encouragement

 
 

February 2008

"Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore." Psalm 105:4

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New Love Verses Online

We recently added some scriptures on God’s love to our web page that you can print out and use as a simple devotional with your children (or individually)—be sure to see the homeschool tip for more details! Click here to download the verses, or click here to view our entire encouraging scriptures page.


LifeGiverEaster Devotional—Now Available as an E-Book!

With Easter fast approaching, we wanted to make you all aware that Jesus: The Life-Giver is available as an e-book for just $7.99.*  

As an early bird special, we will be offering the e-book at $1 off—so $6.99—till the end of the week! Sale will go off on Friday, February 15. A limited number of physical copies of the devotional are also available—please see our website for more details.

If you are looking for something meaningful you can do as a family to prepare for Easter, take a look! The devotional, designed for Easter week (Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday), offers something for everyone. The readings themselves are written simply enough for children to grasp, yet contain plenty of application and thought-provoking questions for parents too. The devotional even comes with instructions on how to let the children make their own flower gardens!* The flower craft is coordinated with the devotional to help reinforce the message.

Find out more or order your copy here!

*The devotional text is basically the same in the e-book as in the physical version, but instead of coming with all the supplies to make a flower garden, the e-book gives you patterns and instructions for easily making the gardens out of predominately household supplies. The only additional items besides scissors, coloring utensils, and glue you will need are a container (flower pot, bowl, or basket), popsicle sticks to hold the flowers in the container, various colored cardstock paper to print out the flowers on/back them, and dry beans or Styrofoam to hold the flowers inside the container. We've really tried to keep it simple--and affordable. The e-book is only $7.99, and includes the rights to print out flower patterns for ALL your children.


Thought: Delighting in His Love

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I would encourage you to take a moment to sit back and think about what God’s love means for how we live each day. Below are just a few thoughts to get you started.

  • God’s love means we can rejoice always. If God—the Ruler of all—loves us perfectly, then what have we to complain or grumble about? Our loving Father is watching over every detail of our lives, including all those daily trials and irritations that so often upset us. We can rejoice no matter what, knowing that God is working all things together for our eternal good.
  • God’s love means we don’t have to seek love elsewhere. So often we seek love and acceptance from others, thinking that will satisfy us. But it never can. God’s love is perfect, human love is not. 
  • God's love means we do not need to worry about the future. God has our future safely in His hands. We can let the future rest at His feet and delight in what He’s given us to do today.

Next time you feel tempted to get upset over something not going your way or worried about someone or something, stop and contemplate the love of God. Choose to delight in His love instead of remaining frustrated or worried. Let whatever burden you’re carrying fall off your shoulder and unto His.

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18


Story: Nothing Can Separate

From her bedroom window, Rebecca eyed the children playing in the snow enviously. How she longed to play with them!

“Now, Rebecca,” she remembered her father telling her that morning. “You can’t play in the snow today.”

“Why not, Father?” Rebecca had asked. Every day, the neighborhood children gathered at a park just behind Rebecca’s house.

“Just trust me, Rebecca. It’s not what’s best for you today,” her father had replied.
 
At the time, Rebecca had responded by kissing her father on his cheek and assuring him that she would stay inside and read. But now she was having second thoughts.

It is beautiful outside, she thought to herself. It was true: the sun was shining brilliantly. Why wouldn’t her father let her go play? Why should she have to miss out on all the fun?

When a snowball exploded just outside her window, Rebecca decided she couldn’t stand it any longer. She simply had to go join the others!

Leaving her book on the table, Rebecca slipped outside. She tried to tell herself she was having a good time, but all the while her heart felt uncomfortable. She kept looking this way and that, fearful least her father see her.

After a few hours, Rebecca finally said her goodbyes and headed back towards the house. She wanted to be safely lodged in her room before her father came home.

Intent on getting to her room as quickly as possible, Rebecca didn’t see the mitten someone had left on the stairs until her foot slipped on it. Next thing she knew, she had fallen several stairs. To her horror, she noticed that she had hit her father’s favorite picture when she fell! A huge gash ran along the front of the picture.

Normally, Rebecca would have hurried immediately to her father after such a fall so he could doctor her up and make her feel better. But not this time. How could she face her father right now? She had disobeyed him and ruined his favorite picture! Biting her lips to keep from crying out, Rebecca grabbed the ruined picture and hobbled to her room.

For the remainder of the day, she lay in agony. Her body ached from the bruises she received on her fall. But her heart—ah, that ached worse of all! She felt certain that her father would no longer love her. She had messed up in the past, but surely this time she had gone too far! He would probably never want to speak to her again. How could he still love her?

She sobbed uncontrollably on her pillow. She had always been close to her father. They had played and studied together. They had laughed and cried together. But not now. No, she felt certain that all those wonderful times were over.

Who knows how long she would have lain thus had not her nanny come in to check on her. Rebecca's nanny had a way about her of finding out exactly what was wrong and offering solid, wise counsel. Tonight was no exception.

“Rebecca, dear,” she said firmly, but gently. “You’ve been very wrong. But you must not continue in your wrongness by sitting here. You must go to your father with the broken picture in your hand and tell him everything.”

“Oh, but I can’t! I’m not worthy of His love!” Rebecca sobbed.

Her nanny sighed patiently. “You were no more worthy of it yesterday than today, child. Your father loves you because you’re his daughter, not because of anything you do or don’t do. Hasn’t he told you everyday since you were a little girl, ‘I love you’? Do you doubt his word? Do you really think his love is dependent on you?”

Doubt his word—that was an angle Rebecca had never thought of before. Maybe she should go see her father…yes, she must go see him, for if she didn’t, she’d never be able to rest.

So, still shaking and trembling with fear, Rebecca limped down the hall to the living room. She paused at the doorway. Her father was sitting in his favorite chair, just like he did every night. He looked up when she entered, and a smile radiating with love illuminated his face.

“Ah, you’ve come at last! I’ve been waiting. Come, sit here on my lap.” As he spoke, he opened his arms widely.

Rebecca couldn’t stand it. “Oh, you don’t understand, Father! You can’t love me anymore. I’ve been terribly wicked and-” Rebecca held up the picture frame for her father to see.

“I know, Rebecca—more than you think. I watched you go outside. I watched you fall and hit the picture frame. I saw it all.”

“You did?” Rebecca was flabbergasted. “But-but weren’t you at work?”

Her father shook his head. “I took the day off to spend some special time with you. That’s why I told you not to go outside to play. Ever since I saw you fall, I’ve been longing for you to come to me so I could bandage your wounds and help you. Won’t you come now?”

Rebecca could hardly believe her ears. Her father had planned to spend the afternoon with her…and she had missed it. Oh, what foolishness! Yet her father knew it all…and loved her anyway. Could it be? “But, Father, how can you love me now?”

Rebecca’s father smiled a smile she would never forget. “Rebecca, dear, I loved you before you were born. You’re my daughter. And I will always love you. Although sometimes your actions will result in consequences you could have avoided, nothing can ever separate you from my love. Now won’t you come and let me help you with those bruises?”

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Romans 8:35-37


Homeschool Tip: God’s Unconditional Love

- Cris Loop

February—the month when so many people focus on  human love and romance—is a perfect time to study and reflect on God’s unconditional love for us. Last month God gave us a personal lesson of His unconditional love as my husband underwent surgery. It caused me to remember how hard this simple concept is to grasp and how quickly it is forgotten. 

Understanding God’s unconditional love for me was not as easy as it should have been. For years I wondered, worried, and struggled, doubting God could really love me when I kept failing so miserably to observe and keep His commandments. I knew intellectually I was saved by grace, but somehow I thought I needed to keep my status as His child on my own. I tried doing whatever I thought would please Him. Yet the more I tried, the more I felt like a failure despite my apparent outward success.

In His great faithfulness and love, God sent a dear woman to help me understand I was to live the Christian life the same way I entered into it—by faith and reliance upon God and His unconditional love.

"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." Colossians 2:6

My job was not to try to keep God’s love; it was to rest in His love, letting His love transform me. Love, joy, and peace—they were the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of my efforts. Did this mean I just did whatever I wanted to? Not at all! But instead of a slave trying to please his master out of fear, I could now live like a son serving out of love—and knowing that my Father loved me no matter what. What a difference this made in my life! Instead of trying to earn favor with God, I could now see my need for God’s priceless love to me on the cross and ask Him to transform me.  

As I looked at scripture in light of God’s unconditional love, the Old Testament began to make sense for the first time. All throughout the Israelite’s history, we can see God’s unconditional love. The Israelites constantly messed up and frequently forgot God. But God NEVER forgot them. He punished them, and they often missed out on the blessings that could have been theirs, but He never gave up on them. He always kept drawing them and pulling them towards Himself.

"The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt." Deuteronomy 7:7-8

Even God’s giving of the Law demonstrates His love—the Law reveals our sin so we would realize we need a Savior.

"Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound." Romans 5:20

I could go on and on about God's unconditional love for mankind. But since I’m already beyond a simple tip, let me encourage you this month to ponder God’s unconditional love for you on your own. 

To help you get started, Katherine and I have put a few scriptures on love online in a format you can easily use to do a fun activity with your children. Simply click here, download the verses, print them on cardstock paper, cut around the cut lines, and put all the verses in a box, lunch bag, envelope, or bowl (any container will work). Every day, pull out one verse and read it together.

As you read the verses together, discuss some of these questions: “Is God’s love dependent upon me? How did God demonstrate His love to me? If I really realize God loves me, have I any reason to fear or worry? How does His love practically transform my life? How can I really love those around me?”

I would like to invite you to e-mail me your thoughts or comments as you study the verses. My e-mail is cloop@christianperspective.net. I look forward to growing in appreciation for God’s love together with you!


Hymn/Poem: Be Still, My Soul

- Words by Katharina A. von Schlegel; translated into English by Jane L. Borthwick. Hymn and information found on www.cyberhymnal.org.

A friend of mine recently sent me this hymn. At the time, I scanned over it quickly, remembering briefly the familiar words. I didn’t think much more about the hymn until a few days later when I felt panic begin gripping my heart over everything that needed to get done. I stopped, opened back up the e-mail, and sang these precious words. I didn’t have to carry the burden of what needed done—I could choose to still my soul, leaving to God “to order and provide.” His hands are much more capable than my own : ). - Katherine

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.


Unless otherwise indicated, articles are written by Katherine Loop, 2008. Where marked Cris Loop, articles written by Christina Loop, © 2008. Feel free to pass these e-mails or articles by Katherine or Cris Loop within these e-mails along to others (please include a link to our web site when you do). If you do not regularly receive Christian Perspective's monthly e-mails and updates and would like to receive them, please send your e-mail address to info@christianperspective.net or sign up on our web site, www.christianperspective.net. If you would like to be removed from the e-mail list, simply let us know, and we will promptly remove you. (If you don't mind, we would appreciate knowing why you would like removed so we can better improve our services.) We always enjoy hearing from you. Drop us a line sometime and share with us your thoughts and suggestions.

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Scripture is taken from the King James Version.