CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP: A GIFT BESTOWED BY GOD

God is faithful, Who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

(I Corinthians 1:9)

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I had the blessing of spending time with my grandchildren online in a Zoom call on Mother’s Day. My granddaughter kind of took over the call closer to the end as she was trying to, rather slowly with one hand, the other arm/wrist/thumb in a cast, type out her birthday list to me. My grandson, age five, was walking back and forth waiting for his turn. Quite unhappy with his big sister, he expressed his impatience with a lament,

 “I’m missing my time with Grandma!”

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Have we not longed to be back together in fellowship as one with the Lord and with one another?

Have we not missed our time with some impatience and lamenting in waiting?

Stay-at-home directives to help control a virus have separated us in many ways.

God knew we would need the presence of fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Fellowship in the Lord is a special gift only Christians can fully unwrap, open to the Light, and experience. God has given us a church family—brothers and sisters who share a common bond, a common love, a common faith, a common hope in Christ. Through Christian fellowship, we are each other’s mutual support and companions through the challenges, tests, struggles, suffering, and hardships in this life. We are each other’s faithful friends, sharing in the joys, special moments, and laugh-out-loud times. Our solidarity is secured in our united efforts as comrades in the cause of Christ, showing His love through our lives and through our fellowship with one another.

Fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the Lord cannot exist without the presence of CHRIST Himself. When we pray, when we break bread, when we sing, when we worship, HE is with us. When we share a meal and thank Him for it, HE is seated at the table. As we clean the building in the spring, HE is there in our midst. When we sing carols to the elderly in a nursing home or assisted living, JESUS is harmonizing with us.

Fellowship in Christ is fellowship with Christ.

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)

This gift of Christian fellowship, bestowed by God, is a blessing in this life but an even greater joy in eternity. Our friendship, our companionship, and our togetherness will continue forever.  Human fellowship cannot last, but fellowship in Christ endures and grows stronger.

Can we envision what Christian fellowship in heaven will be like?

Will we strive to have the kind of Christian fellowship on this earth  that prepares us for that Day?

24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  (Hebrews 10:24-25)

As we come together once again, let us pray with purpose and faith that we may use this God-gift of Christian fellowship to help and encourage each other in our walk with Him, as we work together in solidarity to bring souls to His salvation-and to this special fellowship of His followers.

(Sharon G. Tate 05/31/2020 blog) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

Mary and her Son: Keeping These Things and Pondering Them in our Hearts

26 When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

On the cross, while enduring the most extreme agony of suffering for our sins and abandonment by His Father, Jesus looked down and saw His mother. He knew she would need to be cared for, and John, His trusted disciple “whom He loved” was near. Jesus made it clear in the wording He used that Mary was to view John as her son and John was to be that son to Mary.  John accepted this great responsibility and took Mary home with him.

In providing for His mother, Our Lord demonstrated His love for this woman who bore Him. Mary was told by the angel that she, a virgin, would bear a child who would be “the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)  She didn’t understand but humbly accepted this responsibility by verbally stating: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).   When the shepherds came to Bethlehem to find the child, Christ the Lord, in the manger, Luke recorded Mary’s unspoken thoughts and feelings about this birth: “… His mother kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:17-19) When Jesus was twelve and told his parents, who were looking for Him, that He was about His Father’s business in the temple, they did not understand. Luke, once again, recorded her unspoken thoughts and feelings: “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:48-51). 

We can only imagine what Mary really pondered all those years. “Mary, did you know?” are the lyrics written by Mark Lowry to a well-known Christmas song. Mary had been “pondering” all these years, and she seemed to know that Jesus had the power to perform a miracle at Cana and provide more wine for the wedding occasion. : When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, what have you to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.’  5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever He tells you’ (John 2:1-5). And He, then, turned water into wine, performing His first recorded miracle. “This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11). His mother had already believed in Him.

Mary was with Jesus, her son, throughout his life, and she was at the foot of the cross when He was sacrificing Himself for all mankind. She was a mother who loved her son and gave Him up for us.  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38) Her words could be heard, not only at the beginning, but also at the end of her son’s life on this earth.

Mother has the word “other” in it. A mother has a special bond with her child from conception until she dies. She looks outside herself to her child and gives to that child first above her own self. The “M” in a loving mother is never the completed word “me” for it defers, instead, to the full word “other.” Her “other” is the child she bears, the child who grows inside her, the child who continues to grow outside her body but never outside her heart.  Mary was this mother.

To those of us who are mothers or future mothers, let us strive to be the woman and mother Mary was: “The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you’ ” (Luke 1:28).

Let us all be as caring toward our parents as Jesus was to His mother. In spite of all that He was going through on the cross, He remembered her and provided for her.

Our mother is our deliverer into this life. Jesus is our Deliverer through this life.

May we keep all these things and ponder them in our hearts.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 05/10/20) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

MAYDAY! MAYDAY!——BE STILL.

MAYDAY!  MAYDAY!

Distress Signal Sent

WHO WILL HEAR?

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We are currently living in a time of stress and distress. MAYDAY for a vaccine to control a deadly virus. MAYDAY for a treatment to use until a vaccine is safely tested. MAYDAY for all those who are not working and need financial assistance. MAYDAY for the business owners who need a loan to keep their business afloat. MAYDAY for all those “essentials” working away from home, possibly at risk of contracting the virus and infecting loved ones. MAYDAY for those who have lost family and friends to this virus and cannot be with them in their final moments. MAYDAY for all the children sheltered-in-place away from school and social relationships. MAYDAY as the mental and emotional toll escalates.

WHO WILL HEAR?

Only One can calm that distress within and respond to our MAYDAY.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
(Psalm 27:7)

Are we trusting in God to help us through these times of stress, loss, fear, turmoil, loneliness, isolation?

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46:1
)

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary,
    His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to Him who has no might He increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:28-31)

 Our cries of distress are heard by God. He is ever-present with us. We must be present with Him in our prayers–talking with Him, communicating our needs, seeking His help and strength, reaching out for His comfort and His peace.

 20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
    He is our help and shield.

21 Yea, our heart is glad in Him,
    because we trust in His holy name.
22 Let thy steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
    even as we hope in Thee. (Psalm 30:20-25)

AMEN.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 05/01/2020 blog)  teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

REFUGE IN GOD’S WORD AND PRESENCE: REMOVING THE MASK BEFORE GOD


 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward He was hungry. And the tempter came . . .  (Matthew 4:1-3)

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In a way, we are in a time of fasting– through abstinence. Due to the virus COVID-19, we are abstaining from societal involvement in life-changing ways. In Michigan, schools and colleges are closed, businesses are shut down, restaurant food is take-out or delivery only, salons are closed, only items deemed “essential” can be purchased at some larger stores. We are to “shelter-in-place” at home unless we are categorized as “essential” workers. We are to refrain from socializing with neighbors, friends, and family not living in the same household. Our faces are to be covered by a mask when making an “essential” trip to the store, the pharmacy, the doctor, a take-out restaurant and, in most places, when working with the public.

Our 40-day mark of abstinence in Michigan is upon us. . .

Has the tempter been waiting for us to approach the end of this forty days of abstinence? Are we weaker now? For what do we hunger? How will we act on that hunger?

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After His extended time of fasting, Jesus hungered. It was an opportune time for Satan to appear. Jesus was physically weakened. Yet, even in this weakness, Jesus was clearly strong in the Word and that sustained Him against the temptations of the tempter.

 4 It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

7 “Jesus said to him, Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” (Matthew 4:7)

 “Begone, Satan! for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and Him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4:10-11)

 It is still the Word that will be our strength against temptation. It is still our God who will minister to us, through His Word, and through “angels” in the form of brothers and sisters in Christ, friends, family, or even a stranger. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

In this restricted time in 2020, will we use these days to seek God more in prayer? Will be become more patient and less anxious as we strengthen our relationship and communication with Him? Will we see more clearly that we can benefit from less societal distractions as we “serve” our time of abstinence?

When we take off the “masks,” what will we see in the mirror? What will we discern in our hearts that is different? Will we look at others more clearly with a renewed perspective from a God-view?

In a time of social and physical distancing, we can become closer to the One we need the most. With masks off, our true selves exposed, we come to Him. And He welcomes us with open arms.

When this time of distancing from others is lifted, let us not forget our God. Let us never distance ourselves from Him.

“And in the morning, a great while before day, He rose and went out to a lonely place,

 and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

 When restrictions are lifted and boundless choices return,

let us choose first to meet with God, as did our Lord and Savior.

Let us hunger for His Word and for His Presence.

 

(Sharon G. Tate blog 04/19/2020) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

 

 

 

DISCONNECTED— FROM GOD

¹How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever?
How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him”;
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

(Psalm 13: 1-4)

Our enemy is different. It is not a physical intruder that we can combat with weaponry. Yet, like David, our current enemy, a virus, can rob us of peace and security and leave us shaken. We may be questioning God, asking where He is through this shadow of fear and death. “Where is the Light?  Have You forgotten us?”

“How long, O Lord?” is our plea.

These questions, however, are directed to the wrong source. REDIRECTING: Why don’t we seek His Light? How long will we try to hide our faces from Him? Have we forgotten Him? Is the pain in our souls and the sorrow in our hearts our own fault, because we remain disconnected from Him?

David reconnects with God in the next lines of the psalm, recognizing that the problem is his own faith toward God and not a question of God’s faithfulness to him.

But I have trusted in Thy steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because He has dealt bountifully with me.

(Psalm 13:5-6)

David’s words to God in these two verses should be our own.

RECONNECTED–WITH GOD

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
    to all who call upon Him in truth. (Psalm 145:8)

We are never alone before any enemy or threat. We are never alone before anything or anyone that may do us harm, including ourselves—as long as we are connected with Him.

STAY SAFE–with God. STAY HOME–with God.

STAY CONNECTED—WITH GOD!

AND NEVER DISCONNECT FROM THE SOURCE OF HOPE AND PROMISE

AND EVER-FAITHFUL LOVE.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 04/5/2020)  teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

WHEN FEAR IS NEAR . . .

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. (Psalm 56:3)

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Fear is Near–                                                                                      Muscles tense,                                                                            Thoughts  implode,                                                                        Clarity fades,                                                                                      Reason irrationalizes,                                                                    Anxiety thrives–                                                                                Peace is Distant.

30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day. (Matthew 6:30-34)

Fear is like a thief in the night, stealing God’s promises from us,

as we toss and turn in restless slumber.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

 His peace has been given to us. It is now—and everlasting. Only our fear and anxiety can make us question His promises, lose sight of His gifts, and cast His hope away.

Yet, He is near, sending us a lifeline back to Him.

When anxiety was great within me,
    Your consolation brought me joy.

(Psalm 94:19)

FEAR separates us from God’s loving, outstretched hand.

FEAR separates us from Jesus waiting on the other side of the door.

FEAR holds us back from opening ourselves to Him to receive His peace.

FEAR allows anxiety to grow and create a vacuum, a space devoid of God’s hope.

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

 NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM GOD— EXCEPT US.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)  AMEN!

(Sharon G. Tate blog 03/29/2020) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

IN GOD, WE MUST PUT OUR TRUST.

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. . . (Hebrews 10:23)

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From the time we were children, we have experienced fear: 

    “When but a child, I feared the dark, yet under covers peered                         

     At ghastly forms by street-illumed in bedroom corners drear; 

     Near heaps of clothes uncanny shapes in shadows moved about; 

     My widened eyes sleep could not close as creatures nearer crept . . .”

From a poem I wrote to my grandmother, the ending involves her coming to rescue me by watching over me as I slept. I had a very special relationship with my grandmother, spending many summers with her and my grandfather, always feeling safe in her presence, putting my trust in her when I was a child. But, then, Alzheimer’s claimed her, and I went to stay with her for another purpose—to calm her fears and watch over her as she slept.

Human caregivers and loved ones cannot be the ever-present protectors that we need –for the simple fact that they are mortal and subject to the many frailties of life. The only ultimate caregiver who will always watch over us and protect us when we put our trust in Him is God, our Creator, the forever “I AM”. He knows us better than our parents, our grandparents, our close friends, our brothers or sisters in Christ.

God knows our fears and holds our tears.

We are living in uncertain times. Life is not as we have known it, from expectation. This can result in increased anxiety and fear as we face unknown circumstances and futures. Yet, the Psalmist David says it clearly, “In God I put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:11). In these times of global uncertainty, it is not a virus or men that we should fear—but God, for if  we do not put our trust in Him and praise His Word , we cannot secure our eternity with Him.  He is ever with us, but we must also be with Him.

6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.  

(Deuteronomy 31:6)

“Now I lay me down to sleep/I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, I pray to God my soul to take.
If I should live for other days/I pray the Lord to guide my ways.
Father, unto thee I pray/Thou hast guarded me all day;
Safe I am while in thy sight/Safely let me sleep tonight.” ¹

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.  (Psalm 4:8)

 ¹ A Child’s Bedtime Prayer: version by Henry Johnstone.  www.beliefnet.com

(Sharon G. Tate blog 03/15/2020)  teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

 

 

 

 

GOD’S GIFT OF LIFE

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

(John 1:1-5)

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Our mind’s eye view of a gift may be on a Christmas morning as a child, looking excitedly with wonder and joy at all the presents under the tree, wrapped in beautiful  paper and colorful bows, the glowing hues of tree lights and a shining star illuminating the room. Yet, life is not always the ornately wrapped gift that we await in anticipation and excitement to view. What we open and experience in our gift of life can involve difficult, tragic, heart-breaking circumstances with great suffering. Not the version of a “gift” we remember as a child.

What can we do when life is not the gift we want to unwrap, behold, and accept as our own with our name tag on it?

O God, thou art my God, I seek Thee,
my soul thirsts for Thee;
my flesh faints for Thee,
as in a dry and weary land where no water is.
So I have looked upon Thee in the sanctuary,
beholding Thy power and glory.
Because Thy steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise Thee. (Psalm 63:1-3)

 “THY STEADFAST LOVE IS BETTER THAN LIFE . . .”

Through His steadfast love, the Light to guide us through the darkness of the difficult aspects of life is provided with the gift of this life. Christ dispels all darkness with His Light. We must turn to Him to find sanctuary, hope, and strength in His Light. When we do, the Light reveals gifts in life that we may have overlooked as we tried to deal with the struggles on our own. . .

Did we miss the sunrise, that promise of another day? Did we not hear the birds awakening the new day with song? Were we too overwhelmed with the difficulties in life that we missed the wonder of a child’s smile, then failed to notice our own joyful smile in return? Was the meal before us at the table not welcomed with thanksgiving?  Did we not gaze with appreciation and awe as the flaming brilliance across the western sky closed the day to give us rest?

Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  (James 1:17)

And from His fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17)

 This gift of life will include struggles, as we try to live as Christ lived. Yet, God’s grace is ever with us. His gifts are always good. To enter eternal life with Him, we must open the gift with our name tag on it—and live the life He has given to each one of us, living this life for Him and His purposes.

20 Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.                         

 (Ephesians 3:20-21)

 (Sharon  G. Tate blog 03/08/2020) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

 

 

 

 

 

LIVING FORWARD IN CHRIST JESUS

 “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
    For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

THE GOOD OLD DAYS

Those days of yore

Cast in the lore

Of memories,

Picture-framed

In glass perfected,

Rose-colored

In time sight–

The captured past.

How “good” were the “good old days?”

We tend to reflect on those times with rose-colored glasses.

 “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood. . . back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time–back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.” 1

But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26) Remember Lot’s wife. (Luke 17:32)

The best days are ahead, not behind. The eternal home is before us. To enter, we must become a new creation. And not look back.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 The “new has come.” Have we crossed the new threshold and entered, closing the old door securely behind us? Have we obtained the wisdom: “I haven’t come this far, to come this far.”

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. 13 Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

 “I press on—” The goal is ahead. The Lord waits, patiently waits, for us to continue forward, persevering onward toward Him.

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.                (Hebrews 12:1-4)

 “Consider Him” when we grow weary, frustrated, or depressed. “Consider Him” when we feel we cannot go on and think of turning back. “Consider Him . . . seated at the right hand of the throne of God” and find the strength and hope to continue, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”

LET US PRESS ON TOWARD THE WAITING ARMS OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR–AND TRULY ARRIVE HOME.

1 Wolfe, Thomas. You Can’t Go Home Again. www.goodreads.com/quotes

( Sharon G. Tate blog 03/01/2020) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

 

JESUS DEFINES LOVE FROM THE CROSS

 

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. ” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

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Jesus gave us the example of what love is through His actions.

“(16)This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (17) If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? (18 ) Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18)

Our Lord exemplified humility on the cross as He took our sins upon Himself. He showed great patience with us, even as sin continued while He endured this trial. He acted in gentleness, not lashing out at those who were crucifying Him, but instead asking the Father to forgive them–to forgive us.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

The love Christ showed to us all that day on the cross, with outstretched hands held by nails, has endured past those dark hours to the sunrise when He arose and to every sunrise thereafter and yet to come. Love knows no boundaries of time.

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are                   tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”             (1 Corinthians 13:8)

(Sharon G. Tate blog 02/23/2020) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word