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Dec 22 2014

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Advent 2014: Love

Love

We are nearing the end of the Thriving Family’s Advent Activity Calendar . The kids must be in full on Christmas sugar high mode because it was all giggles when we started Advent tonight. Babycakes thinks “I want what I want. Waaa!” from Day 12: King Herod is fun to repeat. Everyone else joined in the chorus of “Waa!” They are skilled whiners. They weren’t entirely off topic, though, because Herod played a minor role in our talk about the Wise Men. I’m glad we are doing this together. Good memories.

The fourth candle of advent is love. We read from Isaiah 11 and 1 John 4. Here is 1 John 4:7-11,17:

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 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. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. (‭1 John‬ ‭4‬:‭7-11, 17‬ NLT)

What is love?

Verse 8 tells us that God is love. He is the definition. Not only does He define love, but He displays love perfectly. He is both the source of love and the standard of love. If I want to know how to show love in a situation, all I need to know is how God would respond. How do I know the way God would respond? There are plenty of examples found in the life of Jesus.

How to grow in perfect love

I can get caught up in the “work harder” and “try harder” system of life and faith. Working and trying harder, when it comes to love, doesn’t work at all. Love grows more perfect as we walk in our relationship with God. This makes sense if you consider the incredible modeling He provides, but God does more than model. He provides the means for that love.

 

It is one thing to see someone forgive freely, it is entirely different to move in forgiveness. Forgiveness requires a filling of the void left by the injustice. It requires a healing of the pain. God provided the ultimate expression of forgiveness by providing a means for reconciliation with us—ones who opposed Him. He calls us to forgive the way He forgave, and He provides the strength. He provides a filling of the heart and soul. He provides healing. He provides, but we decide whether or not to accept what He freely gives.

 

Why all the talk about forgiveness?

Love for others requires forgiveness. Knowing the depth of God’s love for us requires understanding of His absolutely amazing forgiveness for us. We celebrate God’s love for us in sending Jesus. We celebrate His coming, but we cannot miss the purpose of his coming. He came to be a ransom for our sin debt. He came to pay our debt to set us free from the consequences of our sin. That is love. Not that we loved Him and were trying our best to be good, but that He chased us a down and pursued us with His great passion. He loved us first, and He loves us best.

 

If this is true, then how can we hold any sin against a brother? We cannot walk with God and still maintain unforgiveness. We can look like we are walking with Him, but the show is just a show. Real faith requires forgiveness. Forgiveness is a battle worth wrestling through. On the other side of forgiveness is freedom to love. To receive love and to love others really, really well. I want to be loved and to love well. Don’t you?

 

Resources for advent?

Thriving Family’s Advent Calendar has Bible reading and familyacitivies.

YouVersion has many Christmas related devotionals and Bible reading plans.

This year, my church is doing an advent focused message leading up to Christmas.

 

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