Advent Reading on Love
The wait is almost over! Christmas is just around the corner.
As we prepare our hearts to celebrate the gift of Jesus, let’s use our time today to really think about and meditate on how remarkably deep, unconditional, and wonderful our Father’s love is for us.
God’s love is so magnificent that He willingly sacrificed His Son...His one and only Son…in order to to save us.
God didn’t have to rescue us. He chose to.
He went out of his way to help us, even though he was well aware of the fact that doing so would come at great cost.
Think about that.
God knew in advance that the only way to redeem us from sin and death was for Jesus (a perfect sacrifice) to take on our sin, endure great suffering, and die a painful death on the cross on our behalf.
Possibly even more astounding?
Jesus knew it, too.
He knew what God was asking of him: he knew what it would require. Yet still, he willingly took on the cross for us.
And he did so…in the midst of our brokenness.
- He died for us when we were still sinners: messy, broken, self-righteous, and disloyal people.
- He saw past the sin and saw us for our True Selves…the beloved children of God.
- He loved us so deeply, He was willing to do anything to restore us back to the persons God intended us to be: even though it meant death on a cross.
God loves us that much, Friend.
We Are NEVER On the Outside of God’s Love
God’s love is a reckless kind of love that doesn’t make sense and is willing to do whatever it take to keep sin from separating us from Him.
But sometimes we may feel unworthy of this kind of love.
The shame of our past and personal insecurities can spin stories filled with lies that feel indisputable, such as:
- I’m not worthy of God’s love
- What I’ve done in the past is unforgivable
- God is disappointed and ashamed of me
- I’m too far gone and will never change.
But God disagrees.
If and when your thoughts and emotions start throwing out garbage arguments for why you’re unworthy or undeserving of God’s love, picture that cross, Friend!
Set your mind on the fact that: Jesus sacrificed everything (even willingly taking on death) to save you (us) and restore relationship with Him.
He chose you (us), Friend!
Despite all of it: our past failures, continued disobedience, stubbornness, pride…you name it. He STILL chose us.
In spite of it all.
God’s Love Cannot Be Earned
Though your thoughts or feelings may try to convince you otherwise, stand firm in this truth, Friend: there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, that can discount you from God’s love.
(Not even that “but what about ____” thing that may have just popped into your mind just now, Friend. Nope, not even that.)
God’s love is gracious. It cannot be earned and it does not keep score.
- God meets us exactly where we’re at. He doesn’t wait for us to get all “nice and cleaned up” before he’s willing to pay us any attention or look out for our best interest.
- He’s not put off by our mess. He pursues us in our brokenness and pulls us close in times of hardship.
- He desires a REAL, two-way relationship. He never forces us to love, choose, or obey Him (we have a choice); but he longs for us to pursue a relationship with him. Because he loves us deeply and knows it’s best for us…it’s what we were made for.
- He allows us to be honest and real with him. We never have to “pretend” with God. He welcomes us to work out our doubts, fears, and shame in his loving Presence so he can heal what is broken (e.g., past shame, insecurities, personal struggles, etc.) and show us what is true (e.g., His true character and what He says about us).
Wow, God’s love is magnificent, isn’t it?
I encourage you to sit with this truth a few moments.
Ask the Spirit to also guide your thoughts and help reveal:
- Any misconceptions or misbeliefs in your heart that are distorting the truth of God’s love
- Any personal shame or personal struggles that may be causing you to (wrongly) feel like you are on the outside of God’s love
- How His love differs from the love others may have shown you in the past
- Other aspects of God’s unconditional love
Allow the truth and reality of God’s love really sink in.
Called to Love Others
Before closing our time today, let’s pause for just one more moment to ask for God’s guidance in how we can love others well.
In prayer, ask God what it looks like for you to put radical love on display: not just with those who are easy to love or those you want to love…but those who are hard and uncomfortable to love, as well.
Such as those who:
- Are unable to offer anything back in return
- Are often considered “outsiders” and overlooked and forgotten
- Are broken down by life’s circumstances
- Are outwardly resistant to love
- Have hurt us or treated us poorly
Friend, God’s love has the power to change, heal, and restore.
And Christmas provides such a wonderful opportunity for us to put God’s love on display in full force.
So, lean into that love, Friend.
Allow God’s love to fill you up and flow right-on-through you in radical ways so we can all benefit from the power of God’s love this Christmas (and in the days to come).
Scripture to Meditate on This Week
Read and meditate on the following verses, which speak to God’s love and His loving sacrifice through Christ.
- Truth Nugget #1: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
- Truth Nugget #2: “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. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; All: but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:9-12)
- Truth Nugget #3: “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
- Truth Nugget #4: “I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” (Ezekiel 34:15-16)
An action (something to do):
Do you have a friend, family member, or other loved one who will miss out on seeing you in-person this year?
Consider sending them a text message or give them a call to let them know how much you love them. Maybe connect with them via FaceTime or Zoom so they can see your lovely face!
Some extra ideas:
- Turn off all the lights in the room except the Christmas lights. Or light a candle. Notice how the darkness makes the light seem even brighter. As you sit in the warm glow of light, reflect on how thankful you are for God being your Light, even in dark times.
- Create something to show your love (e.g., cookies, ornaments, or a homemade card). Share with people who may need to be reminded they are loved.
A reflection (something to ponder):
“God is love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love.” – Henry Drummond
Sit and meditate on the above quote with God in prayer.
What does this quote bring up for you? Is there a certain word or phrase that stands out to you? Does it challenge or convict you? Is there anyone specific you felt God placed on your heart to show love to in some way?
A truth (something to believe):
Lord, help us see others through your eyes so that we may see their unsurpassable worth and love each person without discrimination or judgment. Help us to love humbly and self-sacrificially so that others may know that we are your disciples by how we treat them and each other.
Some additional truths:
- Every little thing is going to be okay because God is working good through every little thing
- There is never a night, never a darkness God’s light cannot break through
- God never withholds his love from us: there is nothing we have ever done, or could ever do, that would cause him to turn his back on us
A video on love (something to watch):
Click here to dig a bit deeper and watch a video on “love” by the Bible Project.
Thank you for sending Your Son to save us in the midst of our sin and shortcomings. I receive Your love.
As I gather with friends and family, help me to spread your love, as well. Give me peace and patience to listen well and seek to understand. May Jesus, the love he demonstrated, and the sacrifice he made be ever in my heart.
As we approach Christmas, may I keep front of mind that YOU are the Reason we celebrate. YOU are the Reason we are here. Thank you, Father. I love you. You can have my all.
Previous Audio Recording: How to Find Joy In Hard Times
Click below to have a listen to the teaching on How to Find Joy In Hard Times (Advent Week 3).
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