Seeking, Growing Intimacy in Your Relationships. Deuteronomy 4:29-31

Deuteronomy 4:29-31 Amplified Bible

29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and tribulation and all these things come on you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful and compassionate God; He will not fail you, nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

“I can’t stand Sundays!”

The woman holding her newborn son shouted deep into the church angrily.

She rose from her pew and shared that on Sundays she often felt so lonely and empty because many of her friends were busy with families and ball games.

She was a single woman, new to the church saying she was not a member there.

She is unhappy about her situation and asked the congregation for prayer.

The congregation surrounded her, her young child and laid hands upon them.

Together, they prayed for a good fifteen minutes.

Following the service, she sat down, met privately with the Pastor and his wife.

She said she was separated, divorce papers had been filed with the courthouse.

The father of the child was caught being unfaithful.

she confessed that she felt her sense of intimacy had been badly betrayed.

She had tried dating in the past several weeks but didn’t find the “right” man.

She also went to a few ­churches but felt they weren’t “loving” enough either.

In their response to the woman,

the Pastor and his wife suggested perhaps she shouldn’t focus mainly on searching for the right man, or seeking even the right “loving” congregation.

The Bible teaches that everyone’s main concern should be about seeking the first love of the Lord first – cultivating and growing in their intimacy with God.

That’s the first step on our journey to a loving and secure peace and happiness.

In our passage from Deuteronomy for today we hear a call to earnestly seek the Lord with all of your heart and all of your soul.

This prophetic word was originally spoken to God’s people who would come to repeatedly betray the love of the Lord and be scattered in exile many years later.

The call is followed by a promise that those who are earnest in their search will find the Lord.

Please note that the act of earnestly seeking the intimate love of God is more than just taking a few or several first steps or a phase in our spiritual growth.

Rather, it is a lifelong quest.

The continued search for God, leading to the deepening experience of his love, is the foundation of securing our inner peace in the only One who never betrays.

Growing Intimacy in Your Relationships.

Psalm 63:1-3 Amplified Bible

The Thirsting Soul Satisfied in God.

A Psalm of David; when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

63 O God, You are my God; with deepest longing I will seek You;
My [a]soul [my life, my very self] thirsts for You, my flesh longs and sighs for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.


So I have gazed upon You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.

Intimacy is something that each of our souls deeply desires.

Intimacy is defined as close familiarity or friendship; closeness.

Intimacy in marriage includes physical acts of intimacy, but we yearn for intimacy in every close relationship we have in our lives.

Our longing for closeness is a part of our created design.

In Psalm 63 it is articulated this way,

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”

We long to be and remain close to God our Creator! [Psalm 139, Romans 8:35-39]

We long to be close to God, our Great Shepherd! [Psalm 23]

We long to be close to our Savior, the Resurrected Jesus! [John 21:15-17]

We were created by God for relationships.

Yet, we all know how difficult it is to create safe spaces for true intimacy in our lives.

Humans are imperfect, and we so easily hurt each other.

Hurt, disappointment, insecurity, and grief lead to walls going up in our hearts.

Only God is made of perfect love that we can trust with our whole hearts.

Nonetheless, we need each other and can’t give up on the work of tearing down the walls and trying again to build safe, long-lasting, and close relationships.  

Intimacy requires a commitment to forgiveness. 

Intimacy requires a radical commitment to forgiveness.

Please note that forgiveness does not mean you are called to remain present in an abusive or unhealthy relationship.

Forgiveness is a daily requirement to remain close to other very flawed humans.

Guess what, you need to be forgiven that much too because you bring just as much selfishness and brokenness to your home each day too!

It is so easy to see the ways one’s spouse lacks empathy, love, and kindness, but while we are worried about pointing out their failures, the question needs to be asked of ourselves: exactly what size plank am I missing that is in my own eye?

I have to lay down my right to be right if I want to feel close to this person who is my spouse, my life-long soulmate and embrace a life of radical forgiveness.

Unity is the foundation to an intimate relationship. 

1 Corinthians 1:4-10 Amplified Bible

I thank my God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, so that in everything you were [exceedingly] enriched in Him, in all speech [empowered by the spiritual gifts] and in all knowledge [with insight into the faith]. In this way our testimony about Christ was confirmed  and established in you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift [which comes from the Holy Spirit], as you eagerly wait [with confident trust] for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ [when He returns]. And He will also confirm you to the end [keeping you strong and free of any accusation, so that you will be] blameless and beyond reproach in the day [of the return] of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful [He is reliable, trustworthy and ever true to His promise—He can be depended on], and through Him you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

10 But I urge you, believers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in full agreement in what you say, and that there be no divisions or factions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your way of thinking and in your judgment [about matters of the faith].

1 Corinthians 1:10 instructs, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

God communicates with us that we are to relate with, interact with our brothers and sisters in Christ with a whole and earnest heart and soul which seeks unity.

He likens us to a body, each of us different in our skills, gifts, and uses but we all work together towards one mission which is to keep the body alive!

We do not have to see eye-to-eye on every issue in our relationships to live in unity, but we do have to be humble enough not to let divisions grow among us.  

Intimacy with God and each other is built when we earnestly seek to spend much quality time together. 

Psalm 24:5-7 Amplified Bible


He shall receive a blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.


This is the generation (description) of those who diligently seek Him and require Him as their greatest need,
Who seek Your face, even [as did] Jacob. Selah.


Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in.

Psalm 27 Amplified Bible

A Psalm of Fearless Trust in God.

A Psalm of David.

27 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the refuge and fortress of my life—
Whom shall I dread?


When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.

Though an army encamp against me,
My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
Even in this I am confident.


One thing I have asked of the Lord, and that I will seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life,
To gaze upon the beauty [the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur] of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.

For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.

And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
In His tent I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing prais
es to the Lord.


Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
Be gracious and compassionate to me and answer me.

When You said, “Seek My face [in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need],” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I will seek [on the authority of Your word].”

Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor [a]leave me,
O God of my salvation!

1
Although my father and my mother have abandoned me,
Yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child].

11 
Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me on a level path
Because of my enemies [who lie in wait].
12 
Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have come against me;
They breathe out violence.
13 
I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

14 
Wait for and confidently expect the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

Building intimacy requires time spent sharing the same space with open ears and having an open heart ready to connect.

One tip for time together is to commit to making some of this time screen-free time – time for family bible study, family devotions, family prayer sessions.

When we seriously want to really hear our spouse, friends, family members, or children’s hearts, we have to deliberately, intentionally, remove distractions such as our phones, video game boxes, our televisions, so we can fully engage.

We grow closer to God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and in our personal relationships as, when we are intentional about being present with each other when we interact.  

Intersecting Faith and Life.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 Amplified Bible

17 
Though the fig tree does not blossom
And there is no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive fails
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock is cut off from the fold
And there are no cattle in the stalls,
18 
Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord;
I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!
19 
The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army];
He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet

And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my [a]high places [of challenge and responsibility].

For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.

What connections, relationships do you feel covenanted and called upon by God to be a bit more considered and intentional about cultivating more intimacy in?

What is one way you can push yourself to be more present and available in this relationship in the coming weeks, as we move closer to celebrating our Easter?

Are there things that you need to release to the Lord and forgive before moving forward?

Carve out some family time, time with friends, write out a prayer of forgiveness and share them, allow God to start healing the broken relationships in your life.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,  

Let us Pray,

139 1-6 God, investigate my life;
    get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distant sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
    I can’t take it all in!

7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
    God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
    any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, guide us and lead us, shepherd us to you in faith, obedience, and love. Guide us each day, teach us to be fully committed to you.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

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Jesus Christ is Able to Save Completely Because He Has Permanent Priesthood. Hebrews 7:23-25

Hebrews 7:23-25 Amplified Bible

23 The [former successive line of] priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were each prevented by death from continuing [perpetually in office]; 24 but, on the other hand, Jesus holds His priesthood permanently and without change, because He lives on forever. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever (completely, perfectly, for eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede and intervene on their behalf [with God].

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

Daylight Savings time is here which means Spring is just around the corner.

A time of freshly blooming flowers and the appearance of green leaves on trees.

Which means for those with a taste for something and someplace other than the insides of their homes after a cold winter – a new fresh taste for being outdoors.

During a nature hike, it can be exciting, refreshing and rewarding to follow side trails that veer away from the main trail looking for the signs of the new Spring.

Finding hidden parts of freshly leaved trees and patches of wild flowers, forests or meadows, valley’s, mountains that few have seen before can be exhilarating.

But traveling in unmarked territory can sometimes be dangerous.

Authorities put up boundary signs for good reasons – [Poison Ivy anyone?].

We should obey those signs because they are usually posted to help keep us safe.

Unfortunately, we will sometimes hear about people who were hurt or killed because they ignored warning signs and went into the places of great danger.

Warning signs also exist in our spiritual life.

In particular, Scripture points us to Jesus Christ as “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

In our reading from Hebrews 7 today we see that through Jesus we have access to God.

He is not any temporary Savior; He continually intercedes for us—that is, He continues to mark a clear and 100% safe trail for us in this life and into the next.

Our pilgrimage as Christians is not simply for a period in this life.

It is a journey that stretches forward into the joys and exciting discoveries God has prepared for us with him in eternity.

Are you walking safely today—that is, with God?

Completely Safe

Hebrews 7:23-25New American Standard Bible

23 [a]The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing; 24 [b]Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is also able to save [c]forever those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

One of the most amazing truths in the Bible is Jesus is able to save completely, perfectly, to the uttermost because of His resurrection from the dead.

In fact our entire belief system hinges on this truth.

Without the resurrection we would die in our sin, shame and guilt.

Apostle Paul said in Romans 4, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25)

meaning that His resurrection is the positive proof that we have been restored to a state as if we had never sinned in the first place. 

The payment for sin was satisfied once for all when Jesus was delivered over to death to make atonement.

Since it was satisfied and all debts forgiven, death no longer had claim on Jesus and had to release him from the grave.

This has incredible implications for us, because through Jesus, the grave has no claim on us either. 

Jesus has been appointed by God as our High Priest on oath that He would remain as such eternally.

Before this time, death had been a problem in the Levitical priesthood because it continually interrupted this office.

The position of High Priest was a lifetime position (Numbers 35:25).

So it was like starting over every time a new High Priest was appointed following the death of the previous High Priest. 

However, since death has no claim on Jesus (Romans 6:9), His priesthood cannot be interrupted, therefore He is able to complete the work assigned to Him as High Priest.

The High Priest’s job was to make atonement for the people once a year.

He was mankind’s representative before God in all things.

The problem was that he first had to sacrifice for his own sins, disqualifying him from approaching God to make atonement in the first place.

Jesus on the other hand was sinless so His sacrifice for sin, when offering himself as payment, was more than enough to permanently wipe out the debt that sin created. 

In fact the writer of Hebrews has stated over and over that our sins are paid for, forgiven and forgotten (Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 9:26, Hebrews 9:28, Hebrews 10:10, Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 10:14, Hebrews 10:18, Hebrews 10:22).

Which means Jesus’ atonement as High Priest worked the first and only time it was given.

And if it worked, then by no means does it need to be made again (Hebrews 10:10-14).

In fact, Jesus now sits at the right hand of God the Father because His work is finished and complete (Hebrews 1:3, Hebrews 10:12).

Since this work is finished and death has no claim on Jesus, he resides as High Priest forever.

And if He lives forever with this office, He is also able to save for all time and eternity those who come to Him by faith.

In fact, God promised Jesus on oath this would always be the case which is why he promised Him He would provide a High Priest, not after the Levitical line perpetuated by death, but after Melchizedek who had no such record of death.

(Hebrews 7:1-3 NASB)

Melchizedek’s Priesthood like Christ’s

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

This is incredible news and very important to know because it assures our hearts before God.

In fact these things have been written to give us insight and confidence in approaching God by faith (John 20:31, 1 John 5:13).

Knowing we have been saved, forgiven and restored to a state where we are justified and righteous before God should give us boldness in approaching Him without the consciousness of sin and resulting guilt (Hebrews 4:16, 10:22 ).

Then knowing Jesus lives forever to assure this relationship, making petitions and intercession on our behalf, should prayerfully usher each and every single one of us into a state of heart peace and empower us to live a life like no other.

These blessed and unyielding truths have been written for our eternal benefit; so that we may all understand all we have access to is only through Christ Jesus.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Father in heaven,
You made humanity in Your image
that we might show forth who You are to the world.
Thank You that although we fell into sin
and failed in our created calling,
You sent Your Son, Jesus, to redeem us
as both the once-for-all Sacrifice
and the Eternal Priest who offers that great gift.
Our lives have been bought with a price –
they are Yours, our God –
so fill us with Your Holy Spirit
that we might live in the fullness of Your power
and display the fullness of Your character
to the far reaches of this world
until the fullness of Your kingdom.

All this we pray, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord
to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit
be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

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Distant or Delighted? Not Feeling the Love of God? How About Learning to See Jesus With a Smile? 1 John 3:1-3

1 John 3:1-3 Amplified Bible

Children of God Love One Another

See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory]. And everyone who has this hope [confidently placed] in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (holy, undefiled, guiltless).

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

See How Well We Are Lavished With Love?

1 John 3:1 New International Version

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

The word lavish presents a picture of extravagant abundance.

It is almost too much, too generous and luxurious.

Being lavish borders on being wasteful.

But the Father has lavished his love on us.

God’s love is even more than what a wonderful mother showers on her infant.

Isaiah 66:12-14 New International Version

12 For this is what the Lord says:

“I will extend peace to her like a river,
    and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream;
you will nurse and be carried on her arm
    and dandled on her knees.
13 As a mother comforts her child,
    so will I comfort you;
    and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

14 When you see this, your heart will rejoice
    and you will flourish like grass;
the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants,
    but his fury will be shown to his foes.

God’s love and care are supplied all the time.

God’s love is a constant bombardment of affection and care.

We may be as oblivious as an infant to the presence of his love, but God still continues to pour his love into our lives.

God’s love flows into us deeply, redefines who we are at the very core of our heart, mind and soul.

When we open our hearts to God’s love, we are transformed by it.

We are remade, regenerated into children of God.

It is God who makes us his children, not us.

We cannot earn that status.

It is a gift of God’s great love.

Because we are sinners, we do not understand God’s love for us at first.

We don’t even know we need him until we realize we are stuck in sin and cannot save ourselves.

We become God’s children when we receive Jesus as our Savior (John 1:12).

Not one of us is worthy of God’s love.

We cannot earn it.

God just loves us.

We would not be God’s children if he were not already deeply in love with us.

How amazing is that!

Being said with an exclamation mark, what if we turned that into a question?

“How Amazing Is That?”

I Really Do Not Feel God’s Love.

Psalm 13 Authorized (King James) Version

Psalm 13

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever?
how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
having sorrow in my heart daily?
how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God:
lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him;
and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in thy mercy;
my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the Lord,
because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

Have you ever said or thought these words in public or in private?

If so, you’re not alone.

Truth Be Told, Too many times I have really struggled with the disconnect between knowing that God loves me and actually seeing, and feeling His love.

It might be tempting to brush aside the discomfort of this disconnect and get on with the responsibilities of life.

“After all,” some will pat you on the back, say, “love is an action, not a feeling.”

But if you look closely at the love displayed in the Bible, it’s clear that it’s not just automatic rote Christian responsibility—it’s also passionate emotion.

God doesn’t just act lovingly toward us, He feels love for us.

And He doesn’t want us to only understand His love, but to experience it in a deep way, a deeply visual and tactile way – to visualize it and touch it daily.

If, like me, you’ve struggled with a disconnect between knowing about God’s love and actually seeing, feeling it, accept your feelings as being quite real.

Sometimes, like the Psalmist who penned Psalm 13, we will not feel loved.

Sometimes, like the Psalmist who penned Psalm 13, we will not see God’s love.

Psalm 13 is someone’s deepest expression of a heart and soul in angry anguish.

It has remained in the Bible through countless edits because God wants you the reader to know, the maximum extent to which God feels, visualizes our hearts.

Heart Distant or Delighted? Learning to See Jesus With a Smile …

Psalm 13:5-6 Authorized (King James) Version

But I have trusted in thy mercy;
my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the Lord,
because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

1 John 3:3 Amplified Bible

And everyone who has this hope [confidently placed] in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (holy, undefiled, guiltless).

I recall many years ago sitting in a circle with the other members of my Bible study group when our leader invited us to imagine what Jesus’ face looks like.

Dutifully, I closed my eyes and tried to picture Him.

The image that appeared was of a man with long, greyish silver locks and dull, piercing brown eyes.

His unsmiling lips were hard set in a neutral line.

He didn’t look disapproving, but he didn’t look very happy either.

As I studied His face, I felt sad, fearful, and unsure of how He felt about me.

I was deeply troubled by this experience because, intellectually, I knew God always loved me deeply and felt positively—even passionately—about me.

Throughout the Bible, God describes His love in the most tender terms known to humankind.

He compares His love for us to the love a parent has for their child—a warm, welcoming, compassionate love (Isaiah 66:13; 1 John 3:1).

He also describes His love for us as the love a groom has for his bride—a passionate, ardent, sacrificial love (Revelation 19:7; Ephesians 5:25-27).

Yet, my picture of Jesus that evening revealed that, deep down, I also perceived Him as uppermost serious and restrained, maybe even a little depressed at me.

It also highlighted my fear that I was not a source of joy or pleasure to God, and that, though He loved me, it suddenly felt more being with a distant, aloof love.

I knew this isn’t how God wanted me to view Him.

Ephesians 3:18, the apostle Paul prayed, “May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully” (NLT).

More than anything, I wanted to experience the love of God—I wanted to feel it, not just know about it.

So I started asking God to take my understanding beyond intellect and into a more studious, scriptural, deep heart knowing of my value to Him.

1 John 3:1 Amplified Bible

Children of God Love One Another

See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

Truth be told, sometimes it’s so much easier to notice the love people have for you than the love God has for you.

Why?

Because you can physically see them and the way they express love.

But when it comes to God, it can be challenging to see, understand, the extent to which He loves you.

After all, none of us can physically see Him on this side of Heaven.

That’s why God gave us His Word… to help us to see, feel, and understand who He is and how much He really does love us. 

See, throughout the Bible, God is described as an all-powerful and eternally just God, but also as deeply loving to those He created.

In the entire biblical story, God is presented as a character who strongly cares for us… so much so that He even allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, to enter this world to bring about a redeemed and restored relationship with humanity.

In fact, Jesus is the physical embodiment of God’s eternal love, showing us that His love is a real, tangible being we can cling to and put our hope in rather than just an abstract concept we cannot ever hope to even begin to .01% understand.

Now, before we dive further into how Jesus loves us, first let’s clarify the meaning of biblical love.

BIBLICAL LOVE

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Amplified Bible

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

There are many different kinds of love.

There is parental love, brotherly love, and romantic love.

When anyone says the word love, we often first associate it with anything from dating to sex.

But, the word is so much more broad than we often think.

According to the above passage, biblical love is simply putting the needs of others before your own. 

All of us fall short of the expectation set by this passage at some point, because selflessness does not come naturally to us (Romans 3:23).

But, the good news of the Gospel is that God perfectly embodies these four verses.

He is the one that created love in the first place!

In turn, this means that God is LOVE itself (1 John 4:8).

And because He is love, He displays this quality not only through His words, but through His actions as well.

GOD’S DEVOTED LOVE

Psalm 103:12-14 Amplified Bible

12 
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 
Just as a father loves his children,
So the Lord loves those who fear and worship Him [with awe-filled respect and deepest reverence].
14 
For He knows our [mortal] frame;
He remembers that we are [merely] dust.

As any good father would, God feels sentiment and shows affection toward His children.

This picture of God as the perfect Father is a deeply intimate one because it illustrates how far [east from west], He would go to keep us safe and secure.

Another illustration of God’s love is seen in Hosea 2:14-23.

Rather than a father this time, this Bible story describes a faithful husband that comforts and treasures his wife – which is also meant to be seen as a metaphor for God’s devoted love to an unfaithful Israel.

Despite Israel’s unfaithfulness, God expressed His infinite love for His people all the more through love poetry, painting a beautiful image of God’s extreme devotion and affection towards His Bride, the Church.

LOVE AS AN ACTION

Romans 5:8-10 Amplified Bible

But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified [declared free of the guilt of sin] by His blood, [how much more certain is it that] we will be saved from the [a]wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more certain, having been reconciled, that we will be saved [from the consequences of sin] by His life [that is, we will be saved because Christ lives today].

But, love is not merely a feeling.

Love is also an action… that God shows from the very beginning of the Bible.

Out of His love, God established a rescue plan for humanity in the wake of Adam and Eve’s sin (Genesis 3:15).

Out of His great love, God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt – not because they earned it, but because they were His people (Exodus 12-14).

Out of His love, God became fully human, yet fully God through the person of Jesus Christ – living a perfect life and dying a death we deserved so that we could all be restored into unto, a right relationship with Him (John 3:16-17).

In each scenario, all of God’s actions toward His people are motivated by pure love. He doesn’t just say He loves us, but He actually does something about it.

THE LOVE OF JESUS

John 15:13-16Amplified Bible

13 No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you keep on doing what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you [My] friends, because I have revealed to you everything that I have heard from My Father. 16 You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed and placed and purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain and be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you.

By coming into the world and sacrificing his own life for us, Jesus demonstrated the ultimate love of God.

He died for us because He considered us friends worth dying for (John 15:15).

This is the radical love that Jesus showed during his time on Earth… and still shows us today even if we do not see it in quite the same way we see the love of our friends and family.

So, when asking the question “Does Jesus love me?” the simple answer is “yes.”

Jesus really does love you not because of anything you have done, but because of who He is!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Almighty God, we praise and thank you for making us children of God, not through our own power and piety but through our baptism into crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ. We turn daily to you, and in that turning we find peace, courage and purpose. Make your whole church a witness to the great good news of Christ’s resurrection. Father God, may we have the grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to grasp how immeasurable wide and deep and high and long is your love for us, expressed in all that Savior Jesus has done for us, that we may be your children. In his name, Amen.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

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Pondering the Word of God: What Does it Mean For Us to Say, and to Believe and to Also Act Upon, ‘God Is Love’? 1 John 4:7-8?

1 John 4:7-8 Amplified Bible

God Is Love

Beloved, let us [unselfishly] [a]love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves [others] is born of God and knows God [through personal experience]. The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

I want you to take a few seconds or minutes, preferably the rest of forever, and meditate, ponder, and just think about the depths of love that Jesus has for you.

Depending on the day, perhaps you may perceive or you genuinely feel a barrier, because we may know all too well, how we often fail, falter, take our eyes off our King, and at times maybe even want nothing to do with Him.

But I’m here to tell you that in those exact moments, Christ’s all-encompassing love is yet all the more present and there to sustain you!

For He has chosen you, though you will most definitely fail, and falter and too, stumble, He called you his own, though you and I will flinch, and we all have a place at His table even when your gaze is not perfectly fixed on the divine host. 

So do meditate, ponder and think about how Christ’s love for you and me is like an all consuming ocean that you and I cannot ever swim away from. 

Do think about that He is the greatest joy in times of triumph. 

Do think about that He is your deepest comfort in your utmost trying of times and sorrows. 

Pray – Oh, what love He has for his children…Oh, what love He has for you!

So please join me today in praising God, and His Word, for his persistent love.

Praise God, that He continually shows us what love is even right now.

Praise God, that He first loved us which enables us to, therefore, go and love on others exactly where they are. 

So today, the remainder of this week, and continually, let there be no shortage of love from the children of God especially during times we are all experiencing.

Ask Jesus right now, through prayer and study of His Word, through fellowship, to love others through you as He has so graciously covered all of you in his love.

What Does it Mean That ‘God Is Love’ in 1 John 4:8?

1 John 4:8 Amplified Bible

8 The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]

Love is a word that has taken on many meanings throughout the ages.

Innumerable writers, movie directors, music and dance choreographers and hosts and myriads artists alike have tried their best to convey the idea of love.

Though almost no one has the same definition, there is an underlying thought.

Love is a feeling and an action.

Love is what one person feels and does for someone else.

Even in the Christian faith, love entails many qualities. 

1 Corinthians 13 is an entire passage devoted to the idea of love.

The chapter ends on the notion that love is both greater than hope and surprisingly greater than faith.

Here too we see that love is how one person relates to another, both in feeling and action.

The dictionary definition also describes how people relate.

With so many perspectives on the idea of love, an entire biblical passage dedicated to the idea, and too many songs, stories, and movies to count, love must be very important.

Moreover, this proves without a shadow of doubt we have all been affected by love in one way or another – love touches everyone – without any exceptions.

We also know that God values the idea of love because of how many times the word is used in the Bible.

In the original King James Version (KJV) the word love appears 310 times.

The frequency of the word will largely depend on the translation.

Important to note, the English word for love is split into different words in the original writing of the Bible.

The original languages used words to describe love including phileo, pragma, and agape.

When love is evoked in Scripture, the term is used to describe the way we talk, act, and our mindset toward others.

In the Bible though, love is by no means limited to human relationships.

In fact, the Bible informs us that the reason why we love other people, the reason we can understand love, is exactly this: because God first loved us.

1 John 4:19 Amplified Bible

19 We love, because [a]He first loved us.

God gave us the example and the how-to guide.

This verse comes shortly after the aforementioned verse from 1 John 4.

To understand the context of the words here, we have to first identify the passage’s author – John, an apostle of Jesus.

In this chapter, John draws a comparison between people of the world and people of God.

More specifically, he identifies that some people will claim to purport God, but do so falsely.

These are “false prophets” (1 John 4:1).

We can identify these people by testing their spirit.

One way to test the spirit is by examining someone’s ability to love.

After John makes clear the difference between false prophets and true believers, he admonishes us to love one another.

How do we accomplish this?

We look at what God has done for us.

John makes the claim that love is first and foremost defined by God’s choosing to love us, His children.

With this powerful and inspiring truth into mind, we should then in response, turn our heart to love one another (God’s children), the way our Father loves us.

He speaks confidently in detailing that God loves us, so we ought to love one another, but what does John mean when he says, “God is love”?

What Did John Mean When He Said ‘God Is Love’?

1 John 4:8Authorized (King James) Version

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

In this verse, we see that John equates God with love.

This metaphorical statement takes on a literal meaning when we consider the evidence of John’s claim.

In this passage, John mentions the sacrifice of Jesus for humanity–an act of love (1 John 4:10).

Since the Garden of Eden, God has acted on behalf of humanity, showing His love and support for His followers.

There have been consequences such as the banishment from Eden (Genesis 3), but God has maintained a loving relationship with people since the Fall.

Why?

The answer is evident in God’s love and all the stories that follow in the Bible where God acts on behalf of humanity.

These events culminate into the eventual Second Coming of Christ.

As God has remained an ever-present constant in the lives of humanity, so too are we supposed to show ever-present love to one another on an ongoing basis.

John states that we cannot love God and hate someone else (1 John 4:20).

If God has already chosen to love each of us despite our fallen nature since the beginning of time, why should or would we choose not to love someone despite an offense in the present time?

Obviously, this is easier said than done, but John makes clear “God is love.”

He drives this point further by stating we remain in love when we draw close to God, and as we draw close to God, the love of God abides in us (1 John 4:16).

The way God perpetually treats us in love, we should strive to treat other people.

How Does This Verse Affect How We Give and Receive Love?

John’s message to followers of Christ is a message echoed throughout the Bible.

A significant area where this is shown occurs when Jesus is questioned by a Pharisee.

“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test him: ‘Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?’

He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.’” (Matthew 22:34-40)

Jesus lets us know that the second greatest act we can do daily as Christians is love other people, while the greatest commandment is to love God.

If we are abiding in God, as John admonishes us to do, then we will not only seek to love God as Himself but will see loving others as an extension of that.

Interestingly, the Bible does not tell us to love ourselves, possibly because that action comes so naturally for believers and nonbelievers alike.

We can use this awareness then to change how we view other people.

Instead of maintaining a mindset of “me versus you” or “them versus us,” we can acknowledge the fact that we are all image-bearers of God (Psalm 139:13).

No matter our difference in faith, behavior, or physical appearance, we are God’s children and we should definitely strive to treat each other accordingly.

Three Ways to Love Others by Knowing that God Is Love
1. Encourage One Another

Proverbs 16:24 Amplified Bible

24 
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweet and delightful to the soul and healing to the body.

The words we speak carry weight, for better or for worse.

When we choose to speak in a godly fashion, we can use words to encourage those around us: family, friends, coworkers, even strangers.

Pleasant words include gratitude, compliments, and any other type of speech that benefits the person hearing.

As we know that God is love, our love is not by any means limited to words.

We can also show love through actions that bring about health to the body of the person receiving.

2. Forgive One Another

Matthew 6:14-15 Amplified Bible

14 For if you forgive [a]others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses.

Holding resentment against another is not the proper way to act as a Christian.

God has chosen to forgive humanity despite our constant sinful nature.

Likewise, God wants us to exercise forgiveness for those people who offend us.

3. Pray For and With One Another

James 5:13-16 Amplified Bible

13 Is anyone among you suffering? He must pray. Is anyone joyful? He is to sing praises [to God]. 14 Is anyone among you sick? He must call for the elders (spiritual leaders) of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with [a]oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].

A lot of people say expressions like, “I’ll pray for you.”

How many of them will stop and pray in that moment?

Scripture informs us that prayer has miraculous power.

If the words we speak to one another can bring health to the body, surely the words we say in prayer are even stronger.

When we love like God, we pray for those we love, and those we don’t feel as fondly toward because the Lord watches over us all.

If God is omnipresent, then the Lord is present in all of our lives, whether we feel or even acknowledge His presence.

Acquiring this disposition of love will push us to serve and love others even when we may feel like their faith is not where we prefer, and may even bring others closer to God.

Once we perfect loving people, we would have perfected and fulfilled the second greatest commandment.

This will prove not only God is love, but God is always with us and within us.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

May I Recognize Your Words Prayer

God of truth, sometimes I not sure if I’m actually hearing your voice, or if it’s just my own thoughts or even another spirit. Sharpen my spiritual hearing, Lord, so I can recognize your words when you are speaking to me. Help me know it’s really you, with no doubt or second-guessing. When I’m asking for your guidance in important decisions, give me your peace that surpasses understanding with your answer. Help me remember that your words to me will never go against your written word in the Bible. Please, Give unto me a clear mind and push out all my confusion. Amen.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

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“Jesus Loved Even Me.” 1 John 4:7-10

1 John 4:7-10Authorized (King James) Version

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

As believers in Jesus, we should be loving other people.

Yes, even those that are unlovely.

Why?

Because God loves us and forgives us even when we don’t deserve it.

And out of that love that we have been given, we should be loving others and leading them closer to Jesus.

1 John 4:8 Amplified Bible

The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]

Part of knowing God, and being His follower is developing love in your life.

And it might take a little effort on your part.

And it might take a substantial effort on your part.

And it might even take a miraculous effort on your part.

Somewhere there might a hurt so unconscionable, it is beyond redemption.

You might be holding onto a grudge whose origin is utterly lost to the ages.

You might be used to gossiping, maybe even spreading rumors about others.

If you are reading this and can find no of God, love for God and for others, love bears all things at all times and perseveres for as long as forever lasts for You.

The encouragement is to keep praying even when praying is too difficult and keep hoping even when hope is the furthest thing from your mind, your soul –

God will always wait.

God will always and forever come to you when you choose to come to Him.

Luke 15:17-24 English Standard Version

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[a] 22 But the father said to his servants,[b] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

And God will forever feel compassion for, to embrace, to celebrate, your life.

Psalm 42:1-3 English Standard Version

Book Two

Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

To the choirmaster. A Maskil[a] of the Sons of Korah.

42 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?[b]
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”

“Christ Loved Me – Yes, Even Me.”

The distinguishing mark of a Christian is their measure of confidence in their Savior Christ’s love for him and in the offering of his love to their Savior Christ.

First, faith sets her seal upon the person by enabling their heart and soul to say with the apostle John, “Christ loved me and gave himself for me.” 

Then love gives the countersign and stamps upon the heart and soul gratitude and love to Jesus in return. “We love because he first loved us.”

In those grand old ages, which are the heroic period of the Christian religion, this double mark was clearly seen in all believers in Jesus.

They were men and women who knew the love of Christ and rested upon it as a man leans upon a staff whose trustworthiness Christ, the Shepherd has proved.

The love they felt toward the Lord was not a quiet emotion that they hid within themselves in the secret place of their souls and that they only spoke about in private or when they met on the first day of the week and sang hymns in honor of Christ Jesus the crucified.

It was a limitless passion with them of such a vehement and an all-consuming energy that it was visible in all their actions, evident in their conversation, and unmistakably seen in their eyes, even in their casual glances – Boy, what a Love.

Love for Jesus was a flame that fed upon the core and heart of their being and therefore by its own force burned its way into their demeanor and shone there.

Zeal for the glory of King Jesus was the seal and mark of all genuine Christians.

Because of their dependence upon Christ’s love they dared much, and because of their love for Christ they did much, and it is the same now.

The children of God are ruled in their inmost powers by love.

The love of Christ constrains them; they rejoice divine love is set upon them, they feel it shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is given to them, and then by force of gratitude they love the Savior with a pure and fervent heart.

My reader, do you love Him with that self same passion He first had for You?

Before you sleep, give your Savior an honest answer to that weighty question!

When you wake up again, then give unto your Savior an honest answer to this next weighty question –

For waking me up, how will I give all my Love to my Savior today?

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Prayer to Love Others as God Loves Me

Heavenly Father, I am so utterly blessed to be Your child, and that I can call You “My Abba Father,” for You are my loving Daddy! My heart overflows with gratitude. You have made me a partaker of Your divine nature, and Your love for me is so wide, so deep – it is beyond my comprehension. May the truth of my identity in You sink deep into my psyche, and impact my relationship with others. Dear Loving Father, may I come to love others as You have first loved me, with compassion and care. Amen.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

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Question for Today: What Does it Mean Today to Love Our Neighbors as We All Love Ourselves? Mark 12:30-31 [28-34]

Mark 12:28-34 Amplified Bible

28 Then one of the scribes [an expert in Mosaic Law] came up and listened to them arguing [with one another], and noticing that Jesus answered them well, asked Him, “Which commandment is first and most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first and most important one is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength.’ 31 This is the second: ‘You shall [unselfishly] [a]love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Admirably answered, Teacher; You truthfully stated that He is One, and there is no other but Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to [unselfishly] love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered thoughtfully and intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that, no one would dare to ask Him any more questions.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

Sometimes, the most important things aren’t difficult to grasp. 

If they seem difficult to grasp, it is most likely because we ourselves, in our all too clumsy humanity have made it so because we ourselves have deemed it to be infinitely more important to be complex than simplified – it just feels “better.”

God desires us to be exclusively devoted to Him with all of our being, and to also be loving to others who surround us. 

The covenant demands of God placed square upon our character boil down to the observance of these two fundamental principles that go echelons beyond laws and reveal God’s character [God IS Love] to the very hearts of all people.

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

Mark 12:29-31Authorized (King James) Version

29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

We learn many rules growing up:

Brush your teeth,

Look both ways before crossing the street,

Always tell the truth.

Which of these is most important?

What do you believe is the single most important Truth you have ever heard?

Rabbi Jesus was asked a similar question by an expert in the Mosaic Law: Of the many commands and regulations in the law of God, which one tops the list?

Jesus did not hesitate: “Love God above all”—and he quickly added the second: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And what kind of love does this refer to?

In connection with God’s love for us, this is unconditional, unconventional, love—totally gracious, totally generous, and totally with no strings attached.

Notice especially that Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

This means that if we are to love our neighbors unconditionally and generously, we will be required by God to love ourselves that self same way too!

God does not make junk.

God does not make mistakes.

We are created in God’s image; we are his masterpieces.

It’s not to just okay to love myself: God expects me to celebrate the person he created me to be – every moment celebrate God exactly as God celebrates us!

The Golden Rule Jesus gave us—“Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12)—is another way of saying this command to love God and honor God and love and honor our neighbor as we love and honor ourselves.

Loving others well depends at least partly on our capacity to love ourselves.

What Does it Mean to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself?

Would it, Should it, Could it, surprise you to learn that loving your neighbor as yourself is found eight times in the Bible.

Not once, Not even twice but Eight times.

Go ahead and search for them – Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is so important to God that He not only repeats Himself, He makes it a command.

And not just one in a list of many commands.

Rabbi Jesus coupled the command to love your neighbor as yourself with loving God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and with all of our strength. 

James calls it the royal law.

It sounds beautiful, and it is when we obey it.

But loving your neighbor as yourself isn’t always easy.

That’s why God made it a command.

He knew we’d struggle.

Making it a commandment is actually to our benefit.

How is that?

We have to be reverently and deliberately obedient

We have to do it on purpose.

We have to be intentional about it.

Sometimes even out of our need.

But if we love God as God love us … obedience just flows from us naturally.  

This is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself:
1. Loving your neighbor means receiving God’s love.

Too begin to love your neighbor as yourself, you need to know two things:

you need to know what love is and that you are loved. 

The Bible tells us “this is love. Not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son as a propitiation…” (1 John 4:10).

You and I are the object of this love.

God loves you.

God loves me.

Knowing this is imperative.

And not just that we are loved in a general kind of way, but deeply loved and unconditionally and unconventionally loved.

We tap into this when we understand that God loved us first. [John 3:16-17]

He’s the source of our love.

God loved us even before Jesus gave Himself for us.

God the Father is the source of all love.

Before we can give this love we need to receive it for ourselves.

You cannot give to someone what you yourself do not have.

2. Loving your neighbor means loving ourselves as well.

To love your neighbor as yourself as commanded, you need to measure love correctly.

The measurement within this command is—as yourself.

To love your neighbor as yourself you need to love yourself.

This is something that gets badly misunderstood in the body of Christ often.

It gets mixed up with dying to self and denying self as if we need to destroy our self.

This is not true. 

Jesus died for each and every one of us.

If Jesus valued us enough to go through what He went through, we each have a sacred responsibility to Him to value what He values exactly as He valued it .

We need to love what He loves – us.

The Bible tells us the Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus (John 17:20-23).

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. [Authorized King James Version]

When we dare to simplify it: How dare we not love what the Father loves?

Learning to love ourselves prepares and helps us to love our neighbor.  

3. Loving your neighbor means showing grace.

Knowing God is love and that this love is for you is not enough.

It needs to be developed and matured.

Imagine if you had a field of good soil and a bag of top notch seeds.

Would they produce a crop all by themselves?

No. The seeds must be planted and cared for.

Grace takes the seed of His love and the soils of our hearts and souls and creates fruit for the kingdom of God. 

The Bible says, “it’s God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2.13).

Loving Him and our neighbor pleases Him.

Grace helps us do this.

Grace teaches us proper love, honor and respect for ourselves and for our neighbor – our freely receiving His grace empowers us all to freely give it.  

4. Loving your neighbor means acting with compassion.

From Luke’s Narrative of the Gospel, when Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He responded with a story: the Good Samaritan [10:25-37].

Even those who have no love for God see the value of the story.

What is the bottom line of this story?

Who did Jesus say was being a neighbor?

The one who had compassion. 

Compassion is not simply a warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts.

Compassion does something.

A heart moved by compassion cannot sit idly by while someone suffers a need.

Loving God and Loving your neighbor as you are Loving yourself is being moved by God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to help to the full extent of your ability.

5. Loving your neighbor means looking out for their wellbeing.

The NIV translation of 1 Corinthians 13 says, “love protects.” 

In Philippians 2:4 it says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” 

Loving your neighbor as yourself is to look out for other people’s wellbeing. 

To look out for them is to pay attention.

You notice if they need something and then you help.

For example, their clothing tag is sticking out or they have food on their face so you let them know.

Or something more serious like when a neighbor has surgery or becomes sick.

Concerned for their health, well-being, I head over to their home with a meal or a loaded gift card so if they aren’t able to cook, they won’t have to cook, can eat.

6. Loving your neighbor means serving them.

Serving from the heart is kindness in action.

Kindness is one of the attributes of love listed in 1 Corinthians 13.

The surprisingly wonderful thing about kindness, though, is you can do acts of kindness without kindness residing in your heart.

If the kind thing is done out of duty then it isn’t love. 

Jesus said he came to serve (Mark 10:45, Luke 19:10, Matthew 20:28).

God, who is love, came to serve.

Love serves.

For you to love your neighbor as yourself, you’ll have a heart to serve them.

Let them know you’re there for them.

If they need a ride somewhere, you drive them.

If they need their dog or cat checked on while out of town, you do that for them.

Other examples are getting their mail for them or taking them a meal if they’re not well.

Examples in a public setting are to let people in front of you in line at the store or in traffic.

7. Loving your neighbor means speaking kindly.

The childhood rhyme about sticks and stones versus words is not true.

Words build up or tear down.

God created the world using words.

The Bible says Jesus IS the Word (John 1:1). 

To love your neighbor as yourself is to use words to build them up.

Speaking words of encouragement to someone who’s down is the most obvious example but there are hosts upon hosts and myriads and myriads of others.

We can be more intentional with our words by looking for and magnifying the good.

We can always find something good if we’ll take the time to look for it.

Examples of this are giving someone a simple smile, a simple compliment and simply telling someone how much you genuinely appreciate them.  

8. Loving your neighbor means making allowances for other people’s humanity.

We live in a day and age when offense is as common as breathing.

Criticism is running rampant.

Love is not easily offended or critical.

Everyone does dumb things; no one is always right or knows everything.

We’re all a work in progress. 

I remember sitting through a green light.

I wasn’t trying to inconvenience anyone.

I got stuck in grieving daze because a family member might die.

I remember that when I encounter people driving too slow, sitting at lights, or even cutting me off.

Maybe they have a reason.

Maybe they’re just being human.

We’re imperfect beings that do perfectly dumb things often. 

Giving people the benefit of the doubt is loving your neighbor.

For example, I had someone honking their truck horn flailing their arms and cursing because I didn’t speed through an almost red light.

They were behind me and so they got stuck at the red light with me.

I don’t know why they were so angry but they may have had other pressing circumstances surrounding them that day – I prayed for them.

9. Loving your neighbor means sharing in their joys and sorrows.

The Bible says we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). 

Celebrating can be difficult for us at times, especially if our neighbor is getting something we have longed for.

For example, a new job, a raise, or a pregnancy.

Celebrating with them in spite of our own pain is a strong show of love. 

Likewise, mourning with our neighbor can be hard if we don’t know what to say, or have recently lost something or someone ourselves.

Loving God, Loving your neighbor as yourself is showing up and being there with your heart open, allowing them to be what they are, and support them.

10. Loving your neighbor means forgiving.

Forgiveness is a big deal to God.

Bible says He planned it for us from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

Jesus frequently spoke forgiveness over others that resulted in the healing of their bodies. 

Forgiveness is freely given to us and to love your neighbor as yourself you’ll pass the forgiveness on.

Jesus highlighted this in His story in Matthew 18 when Peter asks how many times is he to forgive.

He tells the story of a king who forgave an enormous debt to one of his servants.

This servant failed to pass the forgiveness on.

He demanded payment of a small debt from his neighbor.

When the king heard of it, he had his servant remanded for his debt, revoking the debt cancellation.

Jesus’ story tells us that love always forgives.

We all need forgiveness, so loving your neighbor is to forgive them as you have been forgiven.

In both the Hebrew [Old] and New Testaments we are commanded by God to love our neighbors as ourselves.

On several occasions Jesus himself says that is a part of fulfilling God’s law.

Again and again God shows us how to love others.

The call to love our neighbor is not complicated, but it can be challenging to follow.

It means more than being hospitable, tolerant, patient, and kind.

It means more than showing respect and honoring others.

It also means more than just being civil with people you disagree with—even though it also means all of that.

Loving our neighbor implies that the well-being of others matters—so we should work for justice, protection, and opportunities for others to thrive.

It means listening to others.

It also shows that the possibilities for showing love and care for our neighbors is endless and could leave us overwhelmed by all the needs for neighborly love!

Yet all of us can love our neighbors in the name of Jesus Christ.

We can honor, love and respect them enough to show how the love of Jesus is forever shaping us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

As you are loved, Jesus says, so love one another (see John 13:34).

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Dear God, thank You for Your unconditional love. Lord, help me to know myself and to love myself. If I don’t feel self-worth, how can I expect someone else to cherish me? Help me to develop a healthy self-identity, remembering that I am a child of the King, created in Your image. Help me know who I really am, what I really want from life, and what I want in the person I will spend my life with. Thank you, Lord, for loving me so completely that I am being completely changed! Help me to be more aware of your Love so I may love my neighbor with the love you have for the world.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

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Our God is Truly an Awesome God: We Are All Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:14

Genesis 1:27 Authorized (King James) Version

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Psalm 139:14Authorized (King James) Version

14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
marvellous are thy works;
and that my soul knoweth right well.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

The Infinite, Personal God

After God flung the galaxies into the vast universe; after He created the sun, earth, and moon, the sea, dry land, plants, and animals, God made humankind.

God made us like himself in many ways—in his image.

He gave us a soul/spirit and a physical body.

Each of us has a heart, a mind, a personality, and power to rule the earth and to make it fruitful and beautiful.

We each have inalienable dignity, something which cannot be taken from us, because we are made in the image of God – in His Image we are fearfully and most wonderfully made – and our hearts, souls ought to know this quite well.

God’s infinite, intimate and personal nature showed itself when the Creator nit just created us but He too, walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden.

It showed itself when God came to Abraham as a traveler, ate lunch with him.

God desires to be our friend because He is personal.

At the same time God is infinitely powerful, the Master of the universe who created it all by his word.

What an amazing God we serve!

So great, so mightily amazing—and yet He loves each one of us personally!

Wonderfully Made—and Remade

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . . . Search me, God. . . See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. —  Psalm 139:14, 23-24

These verses from Psalm 139 ought to remind each and every single one of us that while each one of us is a beautiful creation of the Lord, there are likewise offensive ways inside us that need to be dealt with.

After the fall into sin (Genesis 3), we human beings continue to live as precious works of the Creator while also needing to be redeemed from sin, brokenness.

So in his great and amazing love for us, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sin and to give us new life forever with him.

And now the Spirit of God lives in us, guiding us to become like Jesus.

He leads us “in the way everlasting.”

The apostle Paul describes it this way: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20), giving each and every single one of us, one of the very clearest statements in the Bible about dying to live.

The fact that we are fearfully and wonderfully made—and remade—leads us to some of the most glorious announcements in Scripture, like this one:

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Question of the day: What Does it Mean to Be Fearfully and Wonderfully Made? Psalm 139:14

Psalm 139:14 says that God made all the delicate, inner parts of my body.

He knit me together within my mother’s womb.

I was made Infinitely, Intimately, Wonderfully complex.

God knew me as He was painstakingly designing me with much loving care.

I didn’t just evolve into what I am.

I was created and designed with a purpose.

And the blueprints of me are similar to other human beings but they’re not exactly the same.

I am unique—and so are you.

Our human body is a unique design of multiple systems that all work intricately together.

The cardiovascular system gives you the heart and lungs to pump our blood to carry oxygen through veins and arteries, throughout our whole body to move.

The muscular system gives you the ability to move, lift, and hold things.

The digestive system processes food into energy and discards waste.

The immune system keeps you healthy.

The DNA determines your gender.

The eyes cause you to see.

The nose lets you smell.

The tongue and mouth let you eat and taste.

The ears enable you to hear.

And your skin enables you to feel textures. 

You have the ability to uniquely encounter an incredibly unique diverse world with an equally amazing diverse body!

Then you were also blessed with a brain so you can think, process, and create.

Isaac Asimov said the brain is “the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the universe.”

Your emotions help you to relate to other people and feel compassion.

All of these systems (plus many more) were uniquely designed to make you who you are.  

God Created You and Me With Love On Purpose

You have the innate ability to discern right from wrong.

Although, that ability is hindered somewhat until we connect with your Creator.

He didn’t just design you to do your own thing.

He created you so you would desire an ongoing relationship with Him.

You were made with a hole in the center of your soul that only one thing fits.

Until you find that very specific something, you will never be fulfilled.

And that very specific something is God Himself.

You were designed with an intense need of your Creator, God.

Without a relationship with Him, you will always be searching for something to fill that void. 

Drugs, alcohol, food, money, sex, material goods, occupations, hobbies, travel, success, fame—these are just some of the myriad of ways in which we try to fill that empty space inside.

But none of those things will ever, can ever fill it.

They are like round pegs in square holes.

The vacant areas at the edges will still leave you desiring more of something else.

Whatever we attempt to put in there will dissipate because it never completely fills the space.

Those things were never meant to fill the space; they never can.

Sadly, many continue to shove mismatched pegs into that hole.

A little of this, a little of that… hoping that one day they will feel complete.

They surmise that this thing over here didn’t work but maybe this other thing will do it.

They just have not found the one right thing yet but one day they hope they will.

One day…

  • I’ll have enough money to feel safe and secure.
  • I’ll find the perfect spouse that will complete me.
  • I’ll get my dream sports car and life will be grand.
  • I’ll be on television and people will know my name.
  • I’ll be the best in my field and people will scout me out.

“One day” will never come.

If you’re not happy with who you are today, right here and right now, you’ll never be.

You’ll never be happy with who you are today unless you begin to praise God for creating us just as we are – male, female, both fearfully and wonderfully made. [Genesis 1:27]

Stop Looking at Everyone Else, Look Only Unto God

Isaiah 64:7-8Authorized (King James) Version

And there is none that calleth upon thy name,
that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee:
for thou hast hid thy face from us,
and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
But now, O Lord, thou art our father;
we are the clay, and thou our potter;
and we all are the work of thy hand.

When you do finally realize that without God you are unable to make the most of yourself, that’s when those things of old subtly, suddenly begin to change.

The clay cannot mold itself no matter how hard it tries.

However, God, the Potter, cannot only mold His clay but He also knows what His original design of you was.

He is both a Master Potter and a Master Architect with an Infinite Master Plan.

Sometimes in this fallen world, people are born with birth defects that disrupt one or more of the intricate systems of the body.

God foresaw even those defects and uses them for good when we look to Him. 

Even our weaknesses are fearfully and wonderfully made. [2Corinthians 12:7-10]

A blind person can develop hearing beyond the normal capacity.

Conjoined twins can teach us about getting along with one another, for they have to do it 24/7.

Someone born without arms develops the ability to use their feet in wondrous ways.

Another born without legs develops the upper body strength to get around smoothly.

We all have weaknesses that sometimes make us feel like we are of no use.

But God’s grace is sufficient to cover our weaknesses.

More than that, God’s power is made perfect in our weaknesses.

Weaknesses keep me humble and leaning on God’s strength which is much more sufficient than my own.

One More Question for Today: Should I always feel like I am “Fearfully and Wonderfully” made?

No. Sin and pride always want to drag me back into my own way of thinking.

The same thinking that kept me reaching for those mismatched pegs.

Those thoughts tell me that I can do whatever I want, by myself, without God.

They lie and they don’t even make sense.

They say I can do anything but then turn around and also say that I’m not good enough to do what I want to do.

Feelings can’t be trusted unless they line up with the Word of God.

And the Word of God tells me that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made for a specific purpose.

Therefore, with God’s help, I will love walking in that purpose as often as I can.

Whether I always feel it or not, I can trust God and His plans for my very life.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

God doesn’t call us his children because we measure up to some standard of behavior.

God adopts us as his children because he has chosen us in love.

It’s that simple.

The Apostle Paul wrote,

“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

In other words, God created us, fearfully, wonderfully, weaved us together.

God made us alive in Christ before there was any spiritual fruit in our lives!

We were as good as dead before God’s grace touched our lives, and dead trees certainly can’t bear any fruit.

Soil that has no nutrients isn’t any good for growing a crop.

It’s not the growth of fruit in our life that saves us; it’s simply the gracious favor of our Creator God shown to us in the life, resurrection of his Son, Jesus.

Our God is an Awesome God.

With Wisdom Power and Love,

He Reigns from Heaven Above,

With Wisdom, Power and Love,

Our God is an Awesome God.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Dear Lord, Thank You for fearfully and wonderfully creating each of us. Thank You for our uniqueness, thank You for giving us worth in Your eyes. Help us live as the one You uniquely intended us to be. Help us abide instead of strive, living peacefully, fully and joyfully as heirs to Your Kingdom and co-heirs with Christ. In Jesus’ Name.

Adeste Fidelis. Venite Adoremus. Dominum.

Gloria. In Excelsis Deo. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.

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Utterly Unconventional Love of God and Saint Valentine’s Day. Ephesians 3:17-19

Ephesians 3:14-21Amplified Bible

14 For this reason [grasping the greatness of this plan by which Jews and Gentiles are joined together in Christ] I bow my knees [in reverence] before the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ], 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth [a]derives its name [God—the first and ultimate Father]. 16 May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality]17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, 18 be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; 19 and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

20 Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

The Word of God for the Children of God.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

God gave us Jesus as a way of saying, “I love you and you are special to me.”

That is a really great gift, isn’t it?

Much better than Valentine’s cards, or candy, or flowers.

Still, we have those special people in our lives whom we need to give our fullest possible attention to – our wives, our sweethearts, our very good friends, those co-workers who work with us and beside us and those whom we may supervise.

Treat them special because they are special – who and what and why they are is absolutely 100% irreplaceable – every single one of their lives utterly matters.

They need to know that they are truly respected, loved and deeply appreciated.

God’s Unconventional Love versus Valentine’s Day

Ephesians 3:14-19The Message

14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

Everyday is a special day when we open our eyes, take that next breath, set our feet upon the floor, walk forth into the kitchen get that very first cup of coffee.

We look outside, greet the morning, are welcomed by the dawn’s new sun.

A hand that raises the blades of a Venetian blind to look out the window at the sky of a sunny day.

Tomorrow, however, is a wee bit more of a special day.

Yes, it is Valentine’s Day.

But does everyone know the origin of this day?

It is a very old tradition which started because of a Bishop named Valentinus.

He lived back in the days of the Roman Empire.

Long ago, Roman officials were against young people getting married in the church.

Many young Christians wanted to be married by the priest, in the church, with God’s blessing.

Valentinus was sympathetic to these people and continued to help marry them, even though he was often threatened by the government authorities.

Sadly, he was taken to Rome and put to death for his faith and his defiance of the Emperor’s rule.

In memory and honor of Saint Valentinus, young couples started talking about choosing a Valentine, when they were actually talking about choosing a bride.

Now we call this day, Saint Valentine’s Day.

In the modern era, many people give their sweethearts Valentine’s Day cards with hearts all over them.

Some people give candies or flowers.

A red carnation or a red rose means “I love you.”

These are all ways that people show their love.

But God also gave us a gift to show us that He loved us.

It was Jesus. God gave us Jesus as a way of saying, “I love you and you are special to me.”

That is a really great gift, isn’t it?

Much better than cards, or candy, or flowers.

Today, let us meditate on biblical love, the greatest love of all time.

There once was a very old pastor, who was suffering from a long battle with cancer.

A few days before his death, he continued to hold on to a special verse that was the source of his inspiration.

He placed a bookmark where his favorite scripture passage was written:

“Who shall separate us from the love Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:34-35 KJV).

Despite facing such a trail in his life, the old pastor was most certainly blessed with the power “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ;” a love that surpasses knowledge.

As children of God, we understand the fact that the root and foundation of creation is love.

It “surpasses knowledge.”

We know about human love.

Human love comes with the understanding that love comes as a reward for being good, for being faithful, being trustworthy and true, for being kind, for giving gifts, and for acting and for responding with appropriate behavior.

But this is not the same as the love which is embedded in the foundation of creation.

This is not the love that surpasses knowledge.

This is not the love that Paul prays we might have the power to grasp.

God’s love flows freely, without consideration of reward or any plan of equal or unequal or non-existent compensation.

This is a love that is not inherent to human nature.

We are more inclined to return love for love.

But the Scripture says,

“… how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:20-21).

If we are to approach love in the way of biblical love, we must meditate on what it means when the Bible says, we must love God and each other as ourselves.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:13-17)

Today, I would like to meditate on 3 questions about this amazing kind of love.

The first question is this:

Where does Love come from?

Where Does Love Come From?

Now some of you would answer, ‘that’s easy–it comes from within.’

Some may say, ‘It’s something that happens naturally as we mature as human beings.’

However, remember how hard it is to teach children to share?

That sharing instinct is not natural to them, but it is taught.

A human instinct is: self-survival.

C.S. Lewis, the famed English scholar, studied the various Greek words for love.

He came to distinguish the difference between what he called “needed love” and “gift love.”

Needed love is described as self-evident.

It is the most common kind of love in our world.

It is a mortal and human concept of love.

I love you, BECAUSE you love me.

I love you, because you provide for me, because you support me, and because you meet my needs.

Mr. Lewis illustrates that when we humans say to another, “I love you,” what we are really meaning is, “I need you, I want you. You hold value in my life.”

Now in contrast to “needed love” Mr. Lewis describes “gift love.”

This form of loving is born of fullness and wholeness.

The goal of gift love is to enrich and enhance the person whom it loves.

It does not require anything in return, nor does it hold requirements.

“Gift love moves out to bless and to increase rather than to acquire or to diminish. Gift love is more like a bountiful, artesian well that continues to overflow than a vacuum or a black hole. (C.S. Lewis)”

Mr. Lewis concludes this is what God’s love is all about. God’s love is gift love, not needed love.

This, of course, is the meaning of agape love; unconditional love.

Are we capable of agape love– loving as God loves?

To an extent we are.

But, we must go to the source of love, and the source of all love is God.

Jesus says in John’s narrative today, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. (John 15:13)”

Perfect love does not come from within, it only comes from above.

And when God lives within us, we become capable of expressing perfect love.

Please take secure hold of your BIBLES and turn with me to 1 John 4:7-11.

In his first epistle, John writes,

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” So, that is the answer to the first question: where does love come from? It comes from God. Then John adds, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:7-11).

The Second Question is ….

What does this Love look like?

A young girl came home one day bursting with good news.

“Mom, Dad, I know why we had to learn grammar!” she exclaimed.

“It is so we can understand God.”

Her mom and dad gave her a puzzled look, so the young girl explained.

“God is love, and love can be a noun, an adjective, an adverb, or a verb.”

What a powerful concept!

Now doesn’t that preach a sermon or three lasting all the live long day!

Love isn’t just a vague feeling.

It is an action, an attitude, a spirit, and a character trait.

Since Jesus was filled with the Spirit of God, his every attitude, thought, word, action and deed was motivated by the love of God for Him and too, vice versa.

He was motivated completely and without reservation by love.

So, what does love look like?

Gift love is best illustrated with Jesus, a blameless man, hanging on a cross simply and solely because of God’s love for us.

We cannot meet any of God’s needs or even all of God’s commands.

But God’s nature is to give love, unconditionally, unconventionally, even at times when we do not deserve it.

As John writes,

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

God’s gift love is a pure and perfect love.

It is an unconventional, never-ending, and everlasting kind of love.

It does not ask for you to meet up to requirements, and it does not ask for compensation.

No matter how many times we sin or fall short of the Glory of God, His love never left us.

No matter how many times the world rebuked Him, His love never left us.

What does love look like?

There is no Greater and more Powerful image than Jesus on the Cross.

That is perfect love.

Perfect love looks like God, for He is love.

God and love are not two realities; they are one.

God’s infinite power of being is: the infinite power of love.

In every movement of love we are dwelling in God and God in us.

And when we accept the Holy Spirit into our lives, we allow God’s perfect love to be pictured through us.

We can also illustrate perfect love through the way we live.

Through every attitude, thought, word, and deed, we have.

Christians are called to be a reflection of the image of God.

We reflect God’s perfect love so that others can also see what true perfect love looks like.

Love unconditionally, unconventionally to all.

Now, the third and last question is:

What does such love require from us?

Jesus answers this question in John 15:13-17,

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”

Jesus has issued the command: “Love each other as I have loved you.”

We are required by God’s command to love others as he has loved us–not with needed love, but with gift love.

Not because of anything they can or have done for us, but because of what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has done for us.

Luke 6:27-32Amplified Bible

27 “But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: [a]Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, 28 bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 Whoever [b]strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other one also [simply ignore insignificant insults or losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity]. Whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. [c]Whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 If you [only] love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

The world lives by the philosophy: “Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”

To do good for people who are incapable of doing anything for you in return.

This is gift love, agape love. It is the love of God.

And of course, dear brother and sisters, this is the hardest form of love to give.

It is hard to love someone unconventionally when they cannot or will not or refuse to do the same for you.

But when the Spirit of the Lord is within, He will give you the strength to love.

The strength to be patient and compassionate.

The strength to reflect agape love to others who do not know God.

For the greatest command was to love God, and the second greatest command was to love one another.

Concluding Reflection’s: Love That Surpasses Knowledge

Ephesians 3:16-19Easy-to-Read Version

16 I ask the Father with his great glory to give you the power to be strong in your spirits. He will give you that strength through his Spirit. 17 I pray that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. I pray that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. 18 And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide, how long, how high, and how deep that love is. 19 Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you.

Love is commonly considered an emotion—a feeling, inclination of the heart.

Love involves knowing the person we love, and yet even that knowledge is not the end of love.

Paul reminds his readers of this basic truth when he prays that they may “know this love that surpasses knowledge.”

Paul is talking here about the love of God, and he’s saying that it’s not enough to know about God without having love for God.

The standard of love that believers strive for is to “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

That’s a high standard indeed!

God is, in every way, far beyond what our minds can comprehend or our hearts can contain.

We will never achieve this total fullness!

But what a powerful prayer this is—and what a wonderful goal to guide us in living our life!

To be continually growing in this “fullness of God” and his love is the delight of discipleship.

This is a wonderful prayer offered for us—but it’s also a prayer to offer on behalf of others.

What a transformation of our relationships when an entire community of Christ’s disciples experiences together a growing fullness of God’s love.

It’s beyond our ability to imagine!

Valentines Day is known as the day of love.

But God’s love lasts for eternity.

It is a perfect LOVE that loves unconditionally and unconventionally.

Where does perfect love come from?

It comes from God alone, and works within us when we become His children.

What does perfect love look like?

It looks like Jesus, a blameless man, hanging on a cross, for a world which did not deserve Him.

And as His children we reflect that image through our actions, our attitudes, thoughts, words, and deeds.

And what does such perfect love require out of us?

It requires us to move beyond “needed love” and give “gift love”.

To look around at others who are in need of God’s love and to give it to them–not asking what they can do for us, remembering what Christ has done for us.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

We bow our hearts before You, Father God. You are the Creator of everything we see in heaven and on earth. We pray that out of Your glorious, unlimited resources, You would strengthen our hearts and minds through the power of Your Holy Spirit. May Your love be the rich soil in which our lives are rooted. May Your love be the only firm foundation upon which we build, so that, together with all Your people everywhere, we would come to truly understand how long, how high, how wide and how deep Your love really is—how it far surpasses anything we can imagine. God, fill us with the fullness and the power that comes from You alone, so that our lives would reflect your goodness and grace to the world around us.  Lord, fill us to overflowing with the knowledge and the wisdom of your fullness so that we love you more and serve you better. Help us to keep offering this prayer for others, that we may all grow in you.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! The Love of God in the Light of Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is a special day for those in marriages where there is a mutually enriching relationship. It is a special for couples who are dating or engaged. It is a special day for dear friends. It is a day is for gifting with boxes of chocolate candy all wrapped with a red and white bow, flowers, loving cards, enjoyable times together, lunch dates and dinners all with the most romantic of flares.

But there are some people would like to ignore Valentine’s Day: recent widows and widowers, those living together who are estranged, separated or divorced, those struggling as single mothers or single fathers or anyone because of age, depression or infirmity who feels alone. How can those who are celebrating look at their celebration of shared love from another perspective? How can those who want the day to be invisible, live in their lives from another perspective?

The answer is contained in the pages of God’s Word to us. Whoever we are, we ought to try and remember we are first loved by Creator God at the moment of conception in our mother’s womb. This love remains a constant in our lives. The truth is: God’s love is our first valentine. So, whether we celebrate openly or simply desire the day to fall off the calendar, we can all celebrate God’s love on Valentine’s Day. We do this by reflecting on his word to each of us individually:

1 John 4:7-21 GOD’S WORD Translation

God’s Love Lives in His People

Dear friends, we must love each other because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, because God is love. God has shown us his love by sending his only Son into the world so that we could have life through him. 10 This love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the payment for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if this is the way God loved us, we must also love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 We know that we live in him, and he lives in us because he has given us his Spirit.

14 We have seen and testify to the fact that the Father sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God lives in those who declare that Jesus is the Son of God, and they live in God. 16 We have known and believed that God loves us. God is love. Those who live in God’s love live in God, and God lives in them.

17 God’s love has reached its goal in us. So we look ahead with confidence to the day of judgment. While we are in this world, we are exactly like him ⌞with regard to love⌟. 18 No fear exists where his love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love.

19 We love because God loved us first. 20 Whoever says, “I love God,” but hates another believer is a liar. People who don’t love other believers, whom they have seen, can’t love God, whom they have not seen. 21 Christ has given us this commandment: The person who loves God must also love other believers.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

We often think of Valentine’s Day as the day for couples to show their love to one another, but rarely do we use the day to remind us of God’s unmatched love for us, His children. For many single people, Valentine’s Day can be a bitter reminder of their singleness and desire for a relationship. Luckily, God doesn’t leave anyone, single or in a relationship, out of His unending love and grace.

In 1 John 4:8, the author says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

God is love itself. We wouldn’t have any conception of “love” at all if it weren’t for God, the definition of love.

God further defines love in the classic 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 passage that reads, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

God continuously describes love in this way, and then continually tells us that He IS love. This further emphasizes that God himself is all of these things.

God is continually and continuously patient and kind. He keeps no record of wrongs. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. God’s love is a perfect love that no one on earth could ever possibly emulate.

We frequently read this 1 John 4 and 1 Corinthians passage near Valentine’s Day or at weddings to remind us of what continuous and continual love should look like. We sin and tragically fall short, but God is the perfect demonstration of it.

John 3:16 says, “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

In His continuous and continual love for us, He gave up His only son for us. He gave us eternal life because of His great and unmatched love for each of us.

The theologian C.S. Lewis once said, “He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.”

Ponder upon and today meditate upon this thought: God loves you so much. If you were the only one on earth, He 100% still would have sent His son for you.

Mark 12:28-34 GOD’S WORD Translation

Love God and Your Neighbor

28 One of the experts in Moses’ Teachings went to Jesus during the argument with the Sadducees. He saw how well Jesus answered them, so he asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of them all?”

29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. 30 So love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The expert in Moses’ Teachings said to Jesus, “Teacher, that was well said! You’ve told the truth that there is only one God and no other besides him! 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself is more important than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 When Jesus heard how wisely the man answered, he told the man, “You’re not too far from God’s kingdom.”

After that, no one dared to ask him another question.

So, on this Valentine’s Day 2022, remember to set your sights not on earthy relationships, but on the God above who loves far more fully and abundantly than we could ever imagine. Strive in your life to continually, continuously learning everything there is to know from God’s Word about His love for you.

Translate that knowledge and experience into your everyday life with whoever it is you may meet. Celebrate and share the perfect love of God in Christ Jesus. Love others in the exact same way in which God, through Christ first loved you! Pray openly or secretly, with those you meet today, “may God’s love embrace you not just on this Valentine’s Day but in every single moment of every single day!”

There is no such a time that is ever a bad time to express your love for someone, and if it takes a formal holiday like Valentine’s Day, to help you to express your affection to the loved ones in your life, then I’m all for it and you should be too. For the occasion: don’t just send a card or note that says “I love you!” Include a personal message from God’s Words of Love and Life, of Faith and Hope about what it is that you love about that person, why you find time to cherish them.  

Please, Do not put off saying “I LOVE YOU.”

For God’s Sake, do not assume someone knows how you feel about them. Tell them. Tell them right now. The matter of one person’s soul hearing God’s love for them should never be taken for granted. God’s first love transforms utterly. Give God, Give Jesus, Give God’s Holy Spirit the opportunity to grow loves seed. We plant the seed of His abiding love with our love we first received from God. Love is always meant to be communicated. Love is always meant to be known.

Try and imagine all those moments when you did not speak or hear of 1st love. Did you love the feeling? Do you regret not even knowing of all the feelings? I encourage each and every one who eventually comes to read this devotional to pick up their Bibles, clean, wipe the dust off the covers – learn of “first love” all over again. Reacquaint and refresh your hearts and your souls with His Truth.

“Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, you soul, mind and strength!”

FROM GOD TO YOU, THROUGH ME, HAVE A HAPPY VALENTINES’ DAY 2022!!!

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

A Valentine’s Day Prayer

I said a Valentine prayer for You
and asked the Lord above
to fill your heart and bless your soul
with the precious gift of love.

I asked Him for sincere love
the kind that’s meant to stay
just like the generous love
You give to those You touch each day.

I prayed for love from family
and from every cherished friend
then I asked the Lord to give you
His love that knows no end.

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