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Ever since we were children we’ve sang the song, “Jesus Loves Me This I Know”. It’s got a catchy tune, and to be honest, I hope it gets stuck in your head today. This timeless classic speaks an eternal truth that all of us need to know and remember. On a day where love is celebrated, I think it’s important to remember the greatest love of all – God’s love for you. While we give cards, chocolate and flowers to show our love, God gave us His one, and only Son. His gift to us was representative of the love He has for us, and it was done in order to restore our relationship to Him.
Today, there are many people in the world who feel unloved. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You are loved beyond measure, and by the only one who matters. Yes, it’s nice to have the love and affection of another human, but no human could love you as deeply or give you so generous as gift as God did. Plus, there is nothing in all of creation that could separate you from His love, nor is there anything you can do to make Him love you more or less. He loves you for who you are, so you don’t have to pretend to be someone else. While the world celebrates love today, we have an even greater reason to celebrate it. We are each loved by God, and that’s worth celebrating each and every day of the year.
Here are some Bible verses on God’s love for you.
1. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Romans 5:5 NLT
2. So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!
Romans 8:38-39 TPT
3. 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.] By this the love of God was displayed in us, in that God has sent His [One and] only begotten Son [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind] into the world so that we might live through Him.
1 John 4:8-9 AMP
4. But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!
Romans 5:8 GNT
5. This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted…
John 3:16-18 MSG
When we think of the story of Joseph and Mary, it’s usually not at Valentine’s Day. They’ve got Christmas and that’s about all we give them. However, when I think of love stories in the Bible, theirs always comes to mind. Theirs wasn’t a fairy tale love, it was real. It showed that love endures hard times and difficult situations. We don’t know a lot about their story, but the parts that we do know show that their love survived what could have been a disastrous occasion.
Imagine being engaged to someone and then you seemingly found proof that they were cheating on you. What happens next? For most of us, we make a public scene and try as hard as we can to embarrass the other person because we want them to hurt as bad as we do. Joseph didn’t have that same attitude when he found out that Mary was pregnant. He knew it wasn’t his because they planned to be virgins until their wedding. Instead of blowing up and taking out his hurt on her, he let love lead the way.
In Matthew 1:19, we read, “Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.” In the Message Bible, one of the ways it describes love in I Corinthians 13 is, “Love doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.” Joseph demonstrated this kind of love towards Mary. He didn’t act the way he could have acted because he truly loved her and acted out of love even when he was hurt.
Of course we know that while he was trying to figure out how to take care of things with Mary an angel came to visit and explained things to him. Imagine the crow he would have had to eat if he had flown off the handle and went off on Mary. Think about the barriers that would have built up in their relationship. Mary would have had every right to not want to be with Joseph after that. She would have been able to say, “I told you so” for the rest of their lives. What kind of relationship would that have been?
A love that ensures doesn’t fly off the handle when it thinks it’s been wronged. It follows what we read in I Corinthians 13. It acts selflessly and always look for the best in others. We shouldn’t be so quick to fly off the handle at those we love. We should be extending them the grace we expect. We can learn a lot from a young couple who had the biggest responsibility and pressures of any parents ever. They had a love that lasted because they understood how to act out of love when things got difficult. It’s a great example that we should follow.
When people tell me that they’re getting married or thinking about it, I tell them two things. The first is that marriage is a magnifier. All the great things about the love of your life will be magnified and will be that much better. On the other hand, all the things that drive you nuts will be magnified as well. The second thing I tell them is that marriage is the hardest thing you will ever do. It’s a lifetime of putting someone else’s needs above your own. To be successful, you’ll need to put away your all about me attitude (which is all you’ve known) and put your energy and effort into all about us.
Love requires work. Hard work. When I think about someone working hard for love, I think about Jacob in Genesis 29. His dad wanted him to travel back to the land of his ancestors to find a wife. Upon arriving, he met Rachel at a well. He told her his story and she ran to tell her dad Laban. After working for her dad for a month, Laban said, “You shouldn’t work for me without pay just because we are relatives. Tell me how much your wages should be.” In verse 18, Jacob replied, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel , your younger daughter, as my wife.”
After they agreed, Jacob worked seven years for her. The Bible says that his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days. On their wedding night, Laban swapped daughters on Jacob and gave him Leah to consummate the marriage with. It wasn’t until the morning that Jacob realized it. When he protested, Laban told him that their custom was that the older daughter needed to be married first. He then said, “But wait until the bridal week is over; then we’ll give you Rachel too – provided you promise to work another seven years for me.” He married Rachel a week later and worked another seven years.
To put that into perspective, think about what you make per year and multiply that be seven. Now double that number and you have what Jacob was willing to pay for Rachel. That’s a lot of work and a lot of money. Jacob was willing to put in the time and effort because of his love for her. The first seven years flew by as he anticipated marriage. The Bible doesn’t say the same thing for the second seven. He had the wife he wanted, but he had to continue working. He had to put in the long hours at work, but he also had to work on his marriage. It wasn’t perfect. Chapter 30 starts off with an argument they had.
Marriage will have arguments, misunderstandings and miscommunications because it involves two humans. It won’t and can’t be perfect. But when two people love each other and are committed to working for the other one and the relationship, then it works. Like I said in the beginning, it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but the rewards for the hard work are worth it. To quote I Corinthians 13:5, “It (love) does not demand its own way. It is not irritable and it keeps no record of being wronged.” Love is not selfish and that takes a lot of work.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
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It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back. To celebrate, I’m giving away “Unglued: Making Wise Choices In The Midst of Raw Emotions” 6 session DVD by Lysa TerKeurst. Keep reading to find out how to enter.
A friend of mine, who has been married for almost fifteen years, was talking with me about love and marriage. She told me that several years ago her husband left her. Instead of moving on, she held onto her love for him and decided to win him back. She tried everything she could think of. Month after month passed and he wouldn’t break. He wanted to be free to do his own thing and told her he didn’t feel it anymore. Even when he dated other women, she hung on to her love for him. Four years went by before he realized that he would never find anyone to love him the way she did.
They started dating again and recommitted their marriage. They’ve been together several years since that separation and their marriage is stronger than ever. I asked her how because I couldn’t understand. Her answer was simple, yet difficult. She said, “I choose to love him. When he makes me mad, I tell him that I choose to love him anyway. When he leaves clothes on the floor instead of in the hamper, I choose to love him. When he forgets important dates, I choose to love him. When we get in heated discussions, I choose to love him. No matter what happens, it’s my choice to love him or to let the other things control my thoughts.”
She gets what a marriage relationship is all about. It’s not about feelings, because those go away. It’s not about looks, because those go away. It’s not about feeling trapped. It’s about making a daily choice to stay in love. It’s about making a choice to fight for the relationship you are in and fighting off the temptations that try to pull you out of it. It’s a choice to find new ways to keep the flame burning. It’s a choice to look beyond the things that drive you nuts and to focus on the qualities you love. It’s not easy to make those choices.
In fact, I tell people who are getting married that marriage is the hardest thing they will ever do in life. They will have to fight for that relationship every day for the rest of their life. They will have to set boundaries to protect their love. They will have to communicate when they don’t want to. They will have to force themselves to eat crow even when they think they’re right for the sake of the relationship. They will have to lose the mentality that they are two separate people and adopt the idea that they are one and a house divided cannot stand. They will have to choose daily to be in love with the same person day after day, year after year, decade after decade. Love is worth fighting for.
No marriage is perfect because it involves two imperfect people. It takes both of them freeing themselves of selfish motives and putting the other’s needs above their own. It takes one person carrying the heavy load while the other can’t or won’t. It takes understanding that marriage is not 50/50, it’s 100/100. Both parties have to give it their all for it to work. Marriage comes down to making the same decision day after day, year after year, decade after decade. Both parties have to choose to love the other more than they love themselves every day, not just on days where Hallmark tells them to. They have to put thought and effort into the relationship 365 days a year. Love is a choice.
If you would like to win the “Unglued” DVD by Lysa TerKeurst, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (February 15, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, you are already entered. Please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.