Love Dimensions

Saturday – March 31, 2018

Scripture: 1 John 4:7 – 21

39“This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

1 John 4:17 – 18

Along about the year 2000, I began experiencing intense feelings of panic. They seemed to come from nowhere and for no reason, and were uncontrollable. My heart would beat very fast; I would cry for no reason; I could not travel because of the speed and winding roads; there was always the feeling of impending doom – like I had to run, or hide, or whatever. I didn’t want to talk because it took every ounce of my concentration to fight this fear that had overtaken me! These anxiety attacks were infrequent at first, but by 2003, or so, they were often lasting all night and sometimes all day. My first line of attack was always fervent prayer. I knew I was in Christ and He in me, so how could this be happening?! I couldn’t share this with anyone, not even those who loved me most, because they would think less of me and assume that I had fallen away from God. Can you see my conundrum? So I suffered alone for quite a while. You may wonder why I did not consult a doctor about these symptoms – the answer lies in a scripture I had heard for years! “Perfect love casts out fear.” Surely it was my fault – if I had perfect love, I would not fear – right? I was sure it was a spiritual problem (though my heart did not condemn me) – so why would I consult a physician? Fast forward to the year 2008, or thereabouts, when my blood pressure read so high that it scared my daughter into scheduling an appointment for me with our family doctor. Long story short, a total wellness exam led to a diagnosis of Diabetes II. The change to a low carb diet, a loss of 50 – 60 pounds, some Diabetes Education, and the panic lessened by at least 50-75%! If I had only found out earlier, I could have saved years of misery and years of wear and tear on my heart and other organs which are adversely affected by Diabetes.

Let me tell you what I have since learned about 1 John 4:18 and other verses that talk about perfect love casting out fear – context, context, context! Here John explains carefully and thoroughly that because we have matured in a perfect love relationship between God and us, we no longer have to fear a coming judgment day. When you know for certain that someone loves you, you never need to fear what he/she may do to you, and THIS is the fear that perfect love casts out! As long as we live in this world, there will be situations that cause a natural fear – some of that fear is good and necessary, but not all. Just, please, as a child of God, try not to cause another child to stumble by quoting this 1 John passage out of context. It is a wonderfully reassuring passage describing: (1) How God demonstrated perfect (real) love by sending His only son to die for us; (2) If He loves us so much, we ought to love one another; (3) His Holy Spirit in us proves that we are living with Him and we can feel it; (4) as we grow more and more in love with Him, we are able to face the future with no fear of judgment (punishment) from God.

Truly, love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God – We are to BE to others what He is to us – That is our purpose.

Actions Grow from the Soul

Saturday – March 24, 2018

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1: 2 & 3

33“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 1:3

We will be sharing in this devotional about where our actions come from. The title I chose was “Actions Grow from the Soul,” as that was the closest I could come to describing three separate actions and what brought them into being. However, I have no idea at this point what title will be given by our publisher. That is kind of a new title, or hat, our pastor can wear. He wears many different ones all the time. I used the word “Soul” to indicate what takes place in our inner being.

Three different physical actions are spoken of in these verses and each is paired with an inner force which brings that action to fruition. It is an Action paired with its Cause. I hope this becomes clearer as we proceed. Those “actions” and “causes” are: Work + Faith, Labor + Love, Endurance + Hope. All of these are mentioned because Paul is giving thanks for them as a part of his thankfulness for the Thessalonians. It would appear that when Paul thinks of the Thessalonians, he remembers these three things about them.

The first of these pairings of remembrance is their “work produced by faith.” Wait, where have I heard of that before? Oh yes, it is in the Book of James where James writes about this very thing in James 2:14 – 26. Perhaps one of the most well-known verses is James 2:17, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by deeds, is dead.” Pretty blunt, isn’t it? Paul puts in slightly different words but with the same result. Work is produced by faith. Which means that the impetus to do (likely) good works springs out of a person’s faith. What you believe and trust in is the ground from which this work grows. It comes from our deepest beliefs. The Thessalonians were a “body of believers” that put their faith into action and produced work for the Kingdom of God. Paul saw this in them.

The second pairing of remembrance is their “labor prompted by love.” Love produces specific things as it is exercised, doesn’t it? As I write this we are only a few days away from a special day we celebrate called, Valentine’s Day. Hearts, roses, dining out, small gifts (some expensive in money, others expensive in love), cards and whispered, sung and shouted words of love are just some of the things we envision happening on that day. They are all prompted by love. The first valentine card I can remember giving was given to my grandmother, Hazel. She is the one who raised me and my siblings after her daughter, my mom, died. We loved her totally and tried to show it in tangible ways – by our actions – and in the other ways mentioned above, which are also actions using props, of a sort. We really need to express love through action to show, or “prove,” its veracity – that it is true. Labor, which is something that personally costs us something, is somehow more real. Have you ever surprised someone you love by doing something that reduced the amount of time they spend caring for you? Have you ever thought of that as a labor of love? So, our labor can be a gift of love – produced by love.

The third, and last, pairing of remembrance is their “endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Lord Jesus Christ is eternal in nature thus the “hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” has overtones of eternity in it. Paul uses the word “endurance” to indicate something that continues for a long time. Usually he has used it in terms of a race that is run which requires endurance.  Life, itself, can be seen as a race that requires endurance. You keep on, keeping on, in spite of all that conspires to cause you to quit. “Finishing the course” takes endurance. Our “hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” can be the catalyst for much of our desire to “stay the course” in life and one day enter into the “joy of the Lord.” Don’t sniff at “endurance!” it is never too highly rated for our lives. Our time on this earth is unknown with regard to length but it is marked by many other things that are, can we say, like hills, valleys, rain, snow, sleet, hail and other difficulties that want to stop us from forging ahead. The ability to endure for the Christian comes from our “hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.” We look ahead to the day when he says to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter now into the joy of my rest.”

Christ came and showed us faith by His work in our midst, love through His labor on our behalf, and to give us hope so that we can endure until either Jesus comes or we go to Him. Now abides faith, hope and love. How do we express these things of a spiritual nature to those around us? How are we BE-ing what Jesus was and what he teaches?


Thursday – March 1, 2018

Scripture: John 13:34 – 35

13“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

John 13:34

In this Lenten Journey to discover some spiritual reasons why we and Jesus are to do the things we do as God’s children, the first thing we want to note about our passage for today is that it is about love – but not just any love. This is agape, or God’s love, the highest form of love. Was Jesus also operating under this kind of love? Most certainly He was, as being very God, whose nature is love, and very man, as an expression of God’s love, in essence – Love itself. That being true, His coming to this world is based on the love of God, He is love. Thus love was the reason for His coming. The love of the Father and His own love are as one on our behalf. It was a “no-brainer,” as we would say, that He would be in total agreement with the Father’s plan. Thus, His love and that of the Father, is the reason for His coming.

He came so that He could express that love, model that love, and give us that love as a reason for our own, and His, expression of God to a fallen world. This is our reason for doing the things of God before our fellow men and sharing the message of God’s love for all on this planet. In the particular instance shared in these two verses, we find Jesus giving a command to His followers that they should love one another. This expression of God’s love to one another was to be the hallmark of the relationship with Jesus as his disciples, or followers.

The latter part of the focus verse gives us the manner of love that we are to have for one another. Remember, in this instance Jesus is speaking about those who believe in Him and the relationship they are to have with each other. How can this be possible? How can we love as Jesus loved? He loved completely, even unto death, which he chose to provide for us the salvation God so lovingly desires for us! And, that is even with the full knowledge that we, before our salvation, certainly did NOT love God in return! 1 John 4:19 tells us, “We love because he first loved us.” The truth is we cannot truly love unless we have first experienced God’s love. It is as Jesus loves that we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. What kind of love was that? It was total love that is given regardless of how we respond. God will not force us to respond to Him in love but that is His greatest desire. We cannot force someone to receive God’s love through us but that is not the criteria. The criterion given is, to love as Jesus loved. His love is total and selfless! That is the height of love we are to have toward one another.

Are our brothers and sisters in Christ always easy to love? Obviously that would not be a given for us. Sometimes we can be prickly and standoffish but those and other negative traits are not in consideration. We are all on a journey to love more completely and we cannot fail to give love as Jesus gave it. We must recognize that just as Jesus is working on us He is working on our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s all grow in love together. Choose love!

To Show God’s Faithfulness and Love

WednesdayDecember 20, 2017Matthew 11:25-30

20At a Wednesday night Bible study session sometime in 2017, my husband was struck by the thought that when Jesus came to earth to show us God, He really changed His status from “powerful and glorious” to “lowly and human”! What a step down! What a change in identity! He had to find new ways of relating, coping, speaking, serving, showing love . . . as much as He was still fully God, He was now fully human and it can’t have been easy!

This got me thinking about several times in my life when I changed status and identity –20s and how difficult it was, and maybe still is. There was the time in the ‘80s when we were visiting my hometown and passed by the old home place, only to find it torn down, black-topped, and a used car lot in its place! I felt such a sense of sadness, like I was suddenly an orphan or that I had never existed, since all signs of my youth were gone. . . . Then there was another time in the ‘80s when for the first time I was confronted with the fact that God’s people don’t always behave like, well, like god’s people! That really confused me and was a real death of innocence for me! In 2001 my husband retired from full-time ministry for health reasons – he had to readjust his understanding of his “Call” – and I lost my 35 year identity as “preacher’s wife.” In 2006 there was his heart attack which greatly changed our lifestyle. In 2008 there was my diabetes diagnosis, which seemed to immediately snatch any sense of control that I had felt over my life and the effects are still felt today. Also, somewhere during that time we gave up our rental house (and our independence) and I was suddenly no longer “the lady of the house,” the “chief- nurturer,” the “one who held the family together,” so to speak! In retrospect, that was the most difficult change of identity of them all.

But you know what has never changed? It is my identity/status as a Child of God! I have been through tears and fears and loss of control, but these trials taught me what is really important in life. I have learned that no matter what happens Jesus is always there to intercede for me, to put words into my prayers, to continually guide me to final victory, and to prove that nothing can separate me from God’s love!

This is why Jesus came at Christmas – so we could have a relationship with God that will never end; and I am passing that message on!

Heavenly Father, when all is said and done it is only You that is important. You have given me identity in Yourself so that I am never alone, never forgotten, never forsaken and ALWAYS a CHILD OF THE KING! I praise You, O God, for all Your blessings toward me. Thank you so much! Amen.


That We Might Live

SundayDecember 10, 20171 John 4:7-12

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 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. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

So Send I You - Logo - Cover LargeThere is a greater authority in my house that sometimes sends me out on tasks. Maybe it’s to pick up lunch or supper. Maybe a good dose of medicine or ice cream is needed (sometimes they are the same thing). Either way, if my wife sends me on a task, I go. Do I do it because I have to? I could probably say “no” or kindly suggest she do it herself but, to be honest, that doesn’t really sound like a good idea. The reality is that I’m willing to do pretty much whatever she asks because I love her. It’s that simple. It offers me an opportunity to show her that love in a tangible way.

Jesus was sent into this world by the Father on a special mission: to save the world. It wasn’t an easy task – it involved him paying the debt we owed for our sin. He came to die10s on the cross that we might live through Him. It must have taken a lot of love to go on such a mission. At least when I head off to get ice cream for my wife, I get to have ice cream, too! Why would Jesus choose to go on such a mission? I’ll tell you why, it’s because of a crazy little thing called “Love.”

This Advent season we’ve been looking at many of the scriptures that talk about why God sent Jesus as we focus on what Jesus means when he says, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” This morning we read where John said that God “sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” A verse later he says he “sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

In Romans 5:6-8 Paul says, You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

John says something similar to these verses from Romans when he refers to Jesus as an “atoning sacrifice for our sins.” He means that Christ died on our behalf to pay the penalty for our sins. This is a concept with deep roots in the Old Testament. We could start much earlier but, for the sake of brevity, we will start in Exodus 25:17-22 where God says to Moses: 17 “Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 18 And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 19 Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. 20 The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. 21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you.22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.”

Israel still celebrates Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, initiated in Leviticus 16. There it was Aaron, the High Priest, who took two goats and cast lots to choose one to be a scapegoat and one to be sacrificed as a sin offering. The blood of the sacrificed goat is mixed with the bull’s blood, from an earlier sacrifice, and sprinkled seven times on the horns of the altar (previously sprinkled on the atonement cover of the ark). The remaining goat, the scapegoat, has the sins of the people conferred upon its head and is then released into the wilderness to carry those sins. The process of this yearly event is fascinating and meaningful right down to the complete and utter removal of sin from their midst as all sin is removed from the camp and all involved must wash their clothes and bathe before coming back into the camp. Our verse in 1 John, along with others like Romans 3:25 and 1 John 2:2, name Jesus as the sacrifice that atones for our sin – completely and utterly.

There are two reasons that Jesus was sent: that we might live through him and that He would be an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Really they are the same reason. But, throughout our passage, the reason given for the sending ultimately comes down to God’s love for us. Why did God send his Son to be a sacrifice and give us life through Him? He did it to show his love. So this act of love towards us, from God, is to completely remove our sins through the death of Jesus, thus paying the penalty of our sin, which is death, so that we may have life. This, then, is the reason God sent His only Son.

In the beginning I asked why Jesus would choose to go on such a mission, one that involved his death on the Cross? “It’s because of a crazy little thing called love,” I said. Jesus said “yes” to the Father because of Love and a singular Godly will. The Father sent the Son because God is love. We know why God sent Jesus but do you know why we say “yes” to Jesus when He sends us to continue His mission in this world? We say “yes” because we love Him. It’s a love that exists inside of us because God lives inside of us and we live through Him.


Greater Love

April 14, 2017 – Good Friday
greater love
Read:  John 15:9 – 17, NIV
Focus:  v. 13, NIV

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

In the midst of preparing these devotionals for this Lenten season, I remarked to our pastor that these devotionals are getting deeper and deeper theologically. He agreed with me. The one I was thinking of was this particular portion of Scripture where Jesus is directly speaking to the soon to be enacted events that took place during the Passover. This is so pointed and poignant; filled with meaning and pathos. I love Christmas and the stories from the Bible about it because that is sort of where it all started but Easter and the event leading up to it are at the top of my list because this is the culmination of why Jesus came as that tiny infant.

Love, real love, is at the center of this. This is love that is totally based on the Source of love – even more than that, it is based on LOVE, Itself! I did not use the word “Itself” lightly. Love is a person, a being. This is the Being – God – who created us and who has interacted with us down through the ages to show His love, His being, to us. Love, and the proof of that love, is preeminent throughout this portion. In here Jesus speaks of His relationship with His Father – God and His Father’s relationship with Him as being that of love. He brings it home to each of His disciples, including us, just how much that love is really at the center of everything we are and do and of who he is and what He does.

Twice in this short passage Jesus emphasizes what our relationship with each other is to be (see vv. 12 and 17). He even puts it as a command to emphasize its tremendous importance. I wonder sometimes how well we fulfill that command. I suspect you wonder also. This is of such importance that the beloved disciple, John, also reiterates it in his short letters. Is it any wonder that John’s writings are so beloved by most believers? I am struggling not to write a complete series of sermons right here and right now! Isn’t love at the center of God’s Word to us? John 3:16 puts it quite succinctly for all of us. So much so, that I don’t even have the need to quote it here. You are already remembering that verse in your own heart and mind.

It is time now to focus on our focus verse, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn. 15:13, NIV). Jesus is making a statement here that he reiterates in succeeding verses about friendship rather than servanthood. Friends are privy to much more of the personal life of another friend. Things are shared back and forth between friends that would not be shared with a co-worker or servant or employee. They have their function or place in our life but do not have the same privileges with us that a friend has. Jesus appears to be inviting them into His inner circle, a place previously reserved only for His relationship with His Father, God. The statement made is indicating the importance of His relationship with them. He is willing, and will, die for them. They really do not understand this yet but later on they will grasp the depth of this whole conversation. John is writing this after nearly 60 years of pondering under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. The depth here is amazing.

Even more for us is the fact that this is not meant just for the initial group of disciples but is applicable to all who believe and thus become not servants but Friends of Jesus. My landlord, while attending Roberts Wesleyan College, was a Free Methodist evangelist who ministered for many years in Kansas and throughout the Midwest. His name was Rev. Warren Chase, and he had tremendous impact on my life during the almost 3 years I had the privilege of being around him. His favorite hymn was, “Friendship with Jesus.” It is an old one that is not often found in hymnals of today. Some lines from the chorus are: “Friendship with Jesus, Fellowship divine; O what wondrous sweet communion, Jesus is a Friend of Mine!” Aren’t you glad that Jesus is a Friend to you? If you do not yet know Him as your friend then it is my prayer that you would have that relationship with Him.

In the Midst of Sin

March 18, 2017 – Saturday
Read:  Romans 5:6 – 8
Focus:  v. 8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Someday, when I am a better person, I will start going to church. Someday, when I get rid of all my bad habits, I will feel I can accept Christ as my Savior. Have you ever heard someone say similar things when you brought up the idea of them attending church with you or accepting Christ as their Savior? The idea is that when they get to be a better person then they will turn to God. The problem is that it is impossible to become a better person so you can then be on the same level, spiritually, as God Himself. You can’t, I can’t, and neither can anyone else. It is only God who can place us in that relationship with Him by removing all that prevents us from standing before Him.

Each of my children has expressed to me how they felt they could never measure up and be perfect so they could not become Christians or serve God. Somehow they got the idea that perfection was up to them to achieve BEFORE they could be in God’s presence. They tried but it didn’t work so they gave up. Later on they came to understand that this kind of perfection is not what God is asking of them. He initially just wants us to turn to Him to be our perfection by faith in Jesus Christ His Son.

The Apostle Paul makes it very clear in our scriptures for today that Christ died for the ungodly. We don’t have to wait until WE become perfect to stand in God’s presence. The truth is that’s what Jesus came to do for us. He died for our sins while we were still sinners. The truth is that all the efforts of all who have tried to live perfectly righteous lives by perfectly keeping all of God’s Law have failed and that is part of the purpose of the Law. It is to show us that we can’t do it on our own. Jesus Christ died to make it possible for each of us to come into God’s presence “just as if” (i.e., justified) we were perfectly righteous. We are covered over with Jesus’ “Robe of Righteousness” and that is all God sees. Jesus died to make it so. Our perfection before God is not a perfection of action but rather it is found in the intent of our heart to love and serve God in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who enters in when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. We can live life the way God intends when we allow His Spirit to be in charge.

While we were still sinners God made this possible. He did not wait until we were somehow “good enough” to stand before Him. Are you still striving to be “good enough” or are you faithfully depending on the finished work of Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for your sins and in reality for the sins of the whole world? Have you recognized that His death is working for you?

What Love Is

March 8, 2017 – Wednesday
Read: 1 John 3:11-24
Focus: vs. 16

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

One of the reasons we honor our military men and women to such a high degree is because we know we are the recipients of their sacrifice. Thankfully, not all men and women who serve end up giving their life in that service but their courage and willingness to protect us, and our freedoms, should make us truly thankful. This is why the uniform often makes me think about Jesus and how he gave up his life for me.

The greatest sacrifice, the sacrifice of one’s life, is the kind of sacrifice John talks about in our passage. Jesus laid down his life for us. Go ahead and read the gospel accounts of the death of Jesus and you’ll see it was a sacrifice. Jesus went willingly to that cross to save us from our sins. That brings us to this discussion of what love is. John wants us to know that the sacrifice of Jesus was God’s act of love towards his creation. He did it to save us. The next question that comes to mind is how does John say we should show this same kind of love to those around us?

A sacrificial love towards one another is a sign of what God has done within us. John is teaching us about how we know God resides within us. Verses 11-15 talk about the absence of hate. Verses 16-18 talk about the kind of love that results in actions and truth. Verses 19-24 talk about how our hearts do not condemn us. Then he summarizes the lesson to be learned in verse 23: we follow his commands to believe in the name of Jesus and to love one another.

What is love? It’s sacrificial in nature. Verse 17 brings up an example of what we do when we see a brother or sister in need of material possessions that we have. Do we have pity on them or do we ignore them and think of our own needs first and as greater needs than theirs? There are a lot of soft-hearted people in the world who don’t know Jesus. There are those who have all sorts of good and sacrificial characteristics who have no relationship with God. But if you are a Christian, sacrificial love is a characteristic that God is fixing within you, even if you didn’t have it before asking Jesus into your heart. What is love? John wants you to know that loving like Jesus means sacrificing our own wants and desires to see that others have what they need.

Maybe you won’t be called upon to sacrifice your life for another but John wants you to know that giving to others and meeting their needs out of what God has given you is a way to love others sacrificially like Jesus loves you. This is love.

Day 28 – Love One Another

Tuesday – March 8, 2016

Day 28 – John 13:31-38 love

Focus: vss. 34-35

 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

One of my favorite things is to see the Church being the Church. What a joy to almost feel prideful when the church you serve really acts like the Church of Jesus Christ! I know it is not us but the Holy Spirit residing within us that makes that possible. It is so easy to get caught up in the sheer busy-ness of life so that we set everything else aside to accomplish what we think needs to be accomplished. Sadly, it is often our own desires that we feel need to be accomplished; our pet projects, our concerns with sometimes no regard for what concerns our Lord.

Recently I read on the internet how a church I once served has reached out to the hurting and even in the midst of their hurt have ministered to broken and hurting families. This is the kind of compassion our Lord wants His people to show. How did Jesus love? Whatever the answer to that might be it is the way we are to love others, especially others of like precious faith. How did Jesus love? He loved unreservedly with His whole being even unto death on a cross. He loved so completely that He gave up His glory with the Father to spend time on this earth and die such a cruel death just to show us the way, and to be the Way that we might have eternal life.

Do you think that if we loved each other like Jesus others would see that and want to be part of it? The latter part of Acts 2 would appear to indicate that. How do you love one another? Or, are you too caught up in trying to see if others love you, just like you love them, to actually see them as ones to really love with the love only Christ can give.

Prayer Focus: Lord Jesus, my heart is afflicted with sorrow for my lack of love not only for my brothers and sisters in Christ but sadly often there is a lack of real love for You. Forgive me and help me by Your Spirit to begin to grow more and more into being the loving brother or sister you want me to be. You are my Brother, Lord, and I so want to be faithful to your “new commandment” to love one another.  AMEN.

Day 5 – God’s Love Leads to Salvation

Sunday – February 14, 2016

Day 5 – John 3:1-21 Valentines.png

Focus: vss. 16-17

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Once a year we push everything else aside and celebrate Love – we call that day Valentine’s Day. It’s not so much fun when you’re single but when you are in a relationship it offers you the opportunity to be silly and romantic. We give cards and flowers and candy and we do special things for one another to show our love. Would you believe the number of marriage proposals that happen on Valentine’s Day? My wife and I got engaged on Christmas day but most proposals take place on Valentine’s Day. The number of proposals in 2013 was around 14 million with around 6 million of them happening on the Day of Love!

Let’s face it, there is enough hatred in this world that we need to think about Love as often as we can. I don’t think one day of romanticism and silliness is bad but it’s definitely not enough to overcome the bad we see in our world every day. It’s a moment of hope in a sea of despair. There is a deeper love that everyone can find this Valentine’s Day, whether you are single or in a relationship – it’s the love of God.

Our scripture passage for this day tells the story of Nicodemus, a Pharisee and Jewish Ruler, who comes to speak to Jesus under the cover of night. Jesus tells him that, in order to see the kingdom of God, he must be born again. Nicodemus was confused by but Jesus was talking about a spiritual rebirth. In response to Nicodemus’ line of questioning Jesus offers this response: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Jesus is God’s valentine to you – His gift of love. This valentine is offered not as a momentary romantic gesture or a card but as an eternal gift of salvation. It’s a marriage proposal, of sorts. God is saying, “Accept my gift and come live with me forever.”

The next verse after John 3:16 is an important one. It states the purpose of Jesus’ coming and it wasn’t to condemn the world but to save it. For some, Valentine’s Day is a day of rejection. It’s a day when they feel the loneliest – condemned to go through life alone. But, while John 3:16 is a reminder of God’s love, John 3:17 is a reminder of salvation rather than condemnation. This is the relationship that should matter the most.

Everyone deserves to be loved. If you’re feeling lonely this Valentine’s Day, look up John 3:16 and realize that God loves you so much that he thinks you’re worth saving. You are not alone – for the greatest love of your life is with you even now.

Prayer Focus: Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me. Thank you for your gift of salvation and your presence within my heart. Embrace my heart and love me as only God can. Amen.