Posts Tagged ‘handcrafted bookmarks’

Love – The Greatest Gift

February 14, 2012

On 14th February many countries in the western world celebrate ‘Valentine’s Day,’ but this week I have taken the opportunity to distribute colourful handcrafted bookmarks to my local library, bearing verses about ‘the greatest love of all.’ Here are some of them…

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1Cor. 13v13)

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1John 4v10)

“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” (Proverbs 10v12)

“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love, but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. (Proverbs 17v9)

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” (1Cor. 13 v4)

“For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that ye should love one another.” (1John 3v11)

Perhaps the most well known verse telling of God’s love for the world is John 3v16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The love of God is surely second to none and the greatest gift that His followers can possess is to love Him in return and, as a result of this, to be filled with His love for others.

God, whose infinite love for us excels all loves, must be our first love; for “He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10v38).  When we put Him first in our lives, then He will put a love in our hearts for even the unlovely and those who revile us. He truly wants to be our closest Friend, above all others and we can trust Him with our deepest, most painful secrets. “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother,” we learn in Proverbs 18v24. He wants, above all, to break the power of sin in our lives, so that we might not be “conformed to this world: … but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  (Romans 12v2).

There are many religions in our world, but how many of these portray the depths of love that is revealed in God’s love for the world, when He gave His only Son Jesus to be its Saviour? For example, the Koran tells us that: “God is great,” while the Bible tells us that “God is love.”

“Greater love hath no man than this,” said Jesus, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  (John 15v13). Why not trust this Friend, whose love excels all loves?  If you do so, He will want to shed His love abroad in your heart: “that perfect love which casteth out fear.” (1 John 4v18). “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1Cor. 13v12&13).

There is no greater gift than love,

Pure, undefiled, sent from above…

So ask thy Saviour to impart,

His gift of love to fill thy heart.

© Elizabeth Burke

My Recent Visit to Albania

August 21, 2010

Albania… In the 1970’s the very mention of its name conjured up images in my mind of a forsaken, mysterious land where worship of God was forbidden. I am old enough to remember Albania as it was during that dark era when it was declared an atheist state, the first of its kind in the world. This was the era of Enver Hoxha’s regime and this was an era when tourists were not normally welcomed to Albania’s shores, perhaps because of the influence that they might have had. I remember reading about the experience of one traveller back then who somehow managed to get across the border, only to be confronted with a cold sign in a railway station which simply read: “There is no God.”

This immediately brings to mind the words of Psalm 14v1… “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…” How marvellous that dictatorships and regimes may come and go upon this earth – “but the word of the Lord endureth forever.” (1Pet. 1v25) And His Spirit is not subject to the will and restraining influences of mankind!

This summer I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Albania for the very first time. At the first faint view of its shores across the sparkling sea, I smiled with delight. After all these years of wishing for the opportunity, at last my dream had come true! As our ferry approached the Port of Sarandё, I took in the pastel-coloured apartments and a lovely stretch of sandy beach with parasols, where Albanians were sunbathing.

Once we had boarded the coach which would take us to the archaeological centre of Butrint, however, I could see clearly that here was a country in transition. Our Albanian guide apologised for the state of the unsurfaced road… “The government said it would be finished in June,” he said, and then added jokingly… “but they didn’t say which year!” And so, after a rough sea journey, I was again feeling a little ‘on the wobbly side,’ as the coach dipped up and down through potholes and giant craters on the unsurfaced roads. At one point I noticed the strange sight of a lone bullock with a bell around its neck walking ahead of us on the terrible road. ‘Poor thing,’ I thought as I observed the bones protruding from its back. Strangely there were many half-erected dwelling places en route, which looked like the ‘leaning tower of Pisa.’ “They’ve been asked to pull those down again,” explained the guide, “they didn’t really have permission.” My fellow travellers nodded silently and raised their eyebrows.

On our arrival at the beautiful area of Butrint, I admired the nearby lake, where a lone fisherman sat in his boat. I loved the atmosphere of this historical place which reminded me, in a sense of my own native Ireland. As we descended from the coach little children ran to us with lovely handmade colourful bracelets at €1 each, while hanging from the branches of nearby trees were more handcrafted articles for sale. The archaeological area of Butrint, our guide told us, was inhabited in prehistoric times and there was once Roman colony there. As we followed him around this place where history had left its indelible mark, I thought about the Roman Empire and the Apostle Paul… Hadn’t my recent reading in Romans 15 shown how Paul had preached the gospel from Jerusalem to Illyricum and hadn’t I discovered that Illyricum was in ancient Albania?

We returned from the archaeological centre along the rocky road where a pleasant meal was waiting for us in a hotel in Sarandё and then we had just a short time of freedom to explore some of the nearby streets. I had so many of my free handcrafted bookmarks (with John 3v16 inserted in Albanian) to give out – and so little time to do it! It was rewarding, that particular experience, and I will never forget the gratitude (for the most part) of those who received them.

I would ask prayer for the souls of Albania, which today consists of 70% Muslim, 20% Albanian Orthodox, a small number of Roman Catholics – and an even smaller number of Evangelical Christians. May Albania’s men, women and lovely little children awake to the good news that the Lord Jesus Christ has come to give them life – and life that is more abundant! (John 10v10)