The Love You've Been Searching For

Dear Friends,

As I write this, Valentine's Day is fast approaching.  I'm sure that with that day comes all kinds of mixed emotions for many people.  Some will be eagerly anticipating it, especially if they are in the throes of new love (such as a certain young man I know!), for some it will be a reminder of their singleness when it seems as though everyone else is celebrating, for some there will be sad memories of love lost, others perhaps will be feeling that their relationships fall short of what they had hoped for etc.

But today I want us to put aside these things to re-focus on God and his love for each one of us.  So, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, get yourself comfy in your favourite chair, find somewhere you can be alone from others and let's quieten are hearts and minds so we can draw near to God and contemplate on his love for us.  Take your time as you read, stop and meditate over each verse.

When thinking about what is real love and what is it all about then we need to go to the source to God himself, who is love (1 John 4:8). 

1. God's love is a sacrificial love.  He loves you and me so very much that he willing gave up what was most dear to him.  He showed us love even though it cost him greatly, even with no guarantees of any return from us, even though we haven't done anything to deserve it.  "For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (NLT) and in Romans 5:8  "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." (NLT)

2. God's love is a forgiving love.  God doesn't hold our sins, our mistakes, our failures against us.  He doesn't hold on to grudges.  He doesn't remind us of our past.  He has freely forgiven us and continues to forgive us when we confess our sins.  He never, ever withholds his forgiveness.  His is a love which extends grace and mercy to us.  "This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." 1 John 4:10 (NLT).  That's real love, that's genuine and that's how God loves you and me.

3. God's love is a constant, consistent, faithful, eternal love.  In his love for us God never gives up on us.  We can have security in the knowledge that his love is a forever love.  He never waivers in his love for us.  His love for us is unconditional, it's not based on what I've done or haven't done, it's not based on me meeting certain requirements. He never breaks his love commitment to me.  His love for me is based on who he is. When he says he will love me forever I can be sure and confident that he will love me forever. He loved me before I even knew what real love was.  God says of himself "Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness." Exodus 34:6 (NLT) 

4. God's love is a protective love.  "How precious is Your steadfast love, O God! The children of men take refuge and put their trust under the shadow of Your wings." Psalm 36:7 (AMP) and "O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love." Psalm 59:17 (NLT).  I can trust completely in God's love for me and rest secure in him.  He is my refuge, my safe place, the one I can go to when life is tough and when I feel everything is against me.

5. God loves me with a generous love"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. 1 John 3:1 (NIV).  There's something so good about that word "lavish".  I once looked up in a thesaurus other words for it and here are some of them: generous, abundant, bountiful.  That's a good description of God's love for us.  In his love he has given us so much.

6. God's love is a huge love.  His love is all-encompassing, it's limitless, it's far-reaching, we can never go beyond his reach.  In Ephesians 3:16-19 it says  "I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And 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.19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. " (NLT). The Message paraphrase puts it this way, "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."

This is in no way an exhaustive list of God's love. There is so much more to say and discover about God's love. But for now let's just finish with one last verse from 1 John 4:16
"We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them." (NLT)

To Think About:
In what ways has God been showing you how much he loves you?

Which of the mentioned verses means most to you?  Why do you think that is?  Why not write it out onto small card and place it somewhere you will see it often to remind you of God's love for you.

God loves us this way and expects us to love others like this.  How can you love others with a sacrificial love, with a love which forgives, is consistent, is generous, is faithful, etc.?




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