The Candle of Love/Tuesday-December 12

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
1 John 4:18–20 (ESV)

Perfect love casts out fear. There is no perfect love apart from God’s love. All other love is a cheap imitation, ultimately selfish and self-centered, looking for “what’s-in-it-for-me.” Isn’t it amazing that we can receive and experience God’s love and then pass it along to others? As a matter of fact, our loving others unselfishly and unconditionally is evidence that God’s love abides in us!

What is this fear of which the author of 1 John speaks? It’s the fear of eternal judgement, the fear of death. As a follower of Jesus Christ that fear has been put to flight! Hallelujah! Oh, we often chase it down in the middle of the night and wrap it around our minds like a soft, cuddly blanket but we do have the option of resting in the truth instead of wrestling with lies.

How, you say? Just as light dispels darkness, truth dispels lies. The truth is that every smidgeon of God’s great love was wrapped in the babe we celebrate each Christmas. The manger was never the goal; the cross was. Jesus took our place as He endured the cross, despising the shame of it all, and He finished the work He came to do. If you could put on spiritual glasses, you might even see Him brush His holy hands and look at the Father and whisper emphatically, “It’s DONE!”

The greatest lullaby ever written was spoken on the cross of Calvary and it goes like this: Tetelestai!* It is finished. That, my friend, is the perfect love that casts out fear. Rest in it.

Living It Out – Fear and faith cannot co-exist. Our grassroots fear is camouflaged in so many layers. Determine today that you are going to trust God regardless of what thoughts assault you. The truth of the perfect love of God will cast out your fear. Make resting in His love and provision your goal today.

*Tetelestai is the Greek translation of Jesus final words, “It is finished.”

The Candle of Love/Monday-December 11

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that
while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NKJV)

The context of Romans 5:8 speaks not only of our sin but also of our helplessness. There was nothing good or capable about us when at the exact predetermined time in history Christ entered humanity as a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths … God’s pure and perfect love swaddled in a dirty, nasty, smelly feed trough. We glamorize this manger but it was nothing more than a place where animals chew and drool. What a picture of how the pure and perfect Lamb of God entered humanity’s filthiness and His love stopped at nothing until our sin debt was paid so we could be redeemed out of this sin-sick world.

It is often difficult for us to demonstrate unconditional love to those we are the craziest about, much less love those who are different or even annoying. (I know you have at least one annoying person in your life!) But God’s love extends to even the worse of us!

Christmas isn’t about trees or reindeer or hot cocoa, chestnuts roasting on an open fire or even giving to the poor; it’s about the unimaginable love of God poured out on us in the indescribable gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Have you received that love?

Romans 10:9-10 assures us, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”

Living It Out – Reach out in love today to the one who causes the hair on the back of your neck to stand up. Do something tangible that will demonstrate their value and worth. You know exactly who that is because a name popped into your mind as soon as your read the assignment!