Tomorrow is the day of romance known as Valentine’s Day. But is it really a day for romance or is it a day for love? The widely accepted story of the origin of our modern celebration is not of a romantic love but an even greater love. St. Valentine was a priest in Rome who was executed for following his Christian belief and refusing to turn from his faith. The night before his execution, it is told that he performed a miracle by healing his jailer’s blind daughter, Julia. The jailer and his entire household became believers. St. Valentine is said to have written Julia a letter and signed it “Your Valentine.”
The love St. Valentine had for his Lord translated to the persecuted people under Roman rule. His commitment to God’s work and his compassion for others led to the miracle and to his letter. The first valentine represented a type of love that involved the will and the entire personality. Unlike the version of love today that is a spontaneous emotional affection.
Jesus told Peter that if he loved him he should, “Take care of my sheep.” (John 21:16) I grew up on a ranch and learned young that caring for animals meant seeing to all their needs. That is the kind of love Jesus wants us to have; a love so strong that we can see and care for others.
There is nothing wrong with the way we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Remember the kind of love it began as and pass that love on.
What are you doing to express your love to others?
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
This is my wish for you in the coming New Year. It was a Aaronic benediction used by priests in the Old Testament. The phrase “make his face shine upon you” was meant as “may you have acceptance and favor with the Lord” (according my NIV study Bible). When I read it, I had a different picture.
The image I saw was a mother watching her precious child through sparkling eyes, her face shining with unconditional love. That is the way I like to think of my Lord looking over me. He is beaming with acceptance because I am His. I don’t have to hope for or look for His favor. It is already there.
Each day, may you remember that this Priestly Blessing is yours to claim and know that His face does shine upon you, His precious child.
How you drawing closer to the Lord this year?
I reclined in the chair with my little grandson, Liam, asleep on my lap and watched his peaceful face. My heart overflowed with love. Of course, he was my grandson and I felt a close bond. I would do anything for him.
This is the type of love I believe Mother Teresa must have felt for all God’s children. She worked with the under-privileged, the sick and the destitute as if each were her own. Jesus said in Matthew 25:45, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” To this dedicated servant every person represented God, who created all.
I work to help feed the homeless and the hungry. I care about them but they don’t stir the same feeling in my heart as Liam does. Sometimes I don’t feel any love for them until after I have reached out to help. God gave me a desire to help the needy. And He will fill me with His love for them. But can I really except to love them like I do my precious grandson?
Has God given love for someone who you didn’t think you could love? How did that affect you?
On a clear night, away from city lights, you can look up into a sky sprinkled with 2,500 stars. Since two or three stars can appear as one, there are likely even more. Beyond the naked eye, scientists estimate our galaxy contains 100 billion stars. Our Milky Way Galaxy is only one of billions of galaxies. Is the number of stars getting astronomical yet?
Now think of the speed of all those stars and galaxies. Our planet rotates at the equator at 1,040 miles per hour and orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour. Stars like the sun travel at 43,500 miles per hour, while the entire solar system orbits around the Milky Way at 514,495 miles per hour and the Milky Way rotates at 600,000 miles per hour.
All of the rotating and orbiting goes on simultaneously through all the galaxies. Think of all that synchronized motion. How can there not be a God?
A God that big has the power and, most importantly, the love to help each of us in our own daily challenges. When we feel overwhelmed, all we have to do is look up and know that the same God who made the stars is right here with us. Trusting God is the key that frees us to live with peace and hope.
What do you think or feel when you gaze up at God’s sparkling display?
(Star facts taken from Science Illustrated, July/August 2011, p. 58-59)
John the Baptist was asked, “Who are you? What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:22) He was preaching of the coming of the Messiah and baptizing those who repented. He was also living in the wilderness, eating honey and locust and wearing goatskins. He may have appeared to people then as a homeless person would to us today. That didn’t bother him.
What do you say about yourself? I have a new grandson that fills my heart with love so my response is, “I’m a grandmother!” People I talk to soon learn about Liam and often are subjected to pictures. But I am more than a grandmother; I am a mother, wife, sister, friend, church member, writer, volunteer and the list goes on. Or I could physically describe myself, as I use to do; I am fat and ugly with dark circles under my eyes and unruly curly hair.
Whether you talk about yourself from a physical, genealogy or educational point of view, what you say is important. Is it positive or negative? I no longer use degrading words to describe myself or anyone else. When John was asked who he was, he went to scripture to find the answer. “I am the voice of one calling in the desert. Make straight the way for the Lord.” (Isaiah 40:3) We can also find the answer in scripture.
We can say, I am:
Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14);
Made and formed with God’s hands (Psalm 119:73);
Loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3);
Never separated from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39)
Redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:14)
Shown mercy (Nehemiah 9:17)
Promised a future (Jeremiah 29:11)
There are many more scriptures that show us how God sees us through His everlasting love. John was testifying of One that would come after him; we can testify to the One who is with us now.
What do you say about yourself?