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The POWER of GOD'S LOVEA 31-Day Devotional to Discover the Father's Greatest Gift
By CHARLES F. STANLEY
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2008 Great Commision Media
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDay 1
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. —Jer. 31:3
What if you could know that no matter what you have done, you are loved unconditionally? Many people find this hard to imagine; they live each day with a heavy sense of guilt over past sins and failures. They feel as though they will never be able to meet the expectations of others, including their spouses, employers, family members, friends, and especially God.
Far too often, we hear about the love of God and think secretly, Oh, but you don't know what I have done. God could never love me, much less accept me. The awesome truth is this: He loves you unconditionally and also eternally. He loves you the way you are. He created you in love and He has promised to love you forever. Does He love sin, brokenness of heart, and actions that prevent you from knowing Him personally? No, because He knows that each one of these has the potential to wreck and ruin your life while preventing you from experiencing His love in a personal way. No matter what experiences or feelings you have had, God loves you and this will never change.
You may have grown up in a home where you felt unloved, overlooked, and dismissed. This is not true with God. When He sees your life—no matter how young or old you are—He sees potential, promise, hope, and someone He has created in His own image. He loves you.
When you make wrong choices and drift in your devotion to Him, His love will not grow cold. It remains red hot with devotion. Though there are consequences to sin, God will never stop pursuing you, seeking to bring you back to Him.
Maybe you have chosen to walk away from Him, feeling as though you cannot live up to His standards. No one can; we all need His help, His guidance, His compassion, and most of all, His unending love.
Perhaps you have faced one rejection after another, and it seems as though there is little in life that you want to live for. Remember this: God knows the struggles of your heart. He hears your cries, and if you will turn to Him, He will answer your prayers, heal your brokenness, bring a sense of overwhelming joy to your life, and never leave you.
He won't withhold His love from you. In fact, nothing can stop or prevent the love of God. There is no sin too great for His love to overcome. Love is what changes us and draws us closer to Him than we ever believed possible—His divine love that forgives, restores, renews, and reenergizes. Sin may blind you to God's personal care and compassion, but it is powerless in His presence.
After His death, Jesus' disciples became frightened and wondered if they would soon lose their lives as well. They scattered in fear, and most returned to their former way of life. Peter, James, and John were no exceptions. After His resurrection, Jesus came to them and found them out on the open Sea of Galilee, tossing their nets into the water, hoping to catch a day's wages of fish (John 21).
They had lost their eternal perspective of the power of His love. They had forgotten His words and turned to their own resources. Yet, at the sight of the risen Savior, their hope was renewed, their passion rekindled, and their dreams reborn. Do you feel as though your hopes have been dashed, your dreams have been shattered, and the fire of your passion has been blown out?
The moment these men saw Jesus standing on the shore, Peter jumped into the water and began swimming to Him, and the others followed in the boat. They realized their fears were imagined. God had done exactly what He promised to do, and the same is true concerning your life. The Lord will never abandon you, will never stop loving you, and will always seek to draw closer to you.
Jesus came to earth to save us from an eternal death. He also came to break the power of sin. This means you can say no to the very things that have separated you from God and yes to an eternity of joy, peace, promise, and love!
God, help me to understand the depth of Your love. I know in my mind that You love me, but I want to experience Your love with my heart and soul, not simply read about it or examine it in a Bible study. Draw me into Your love and keep me there.
Chapter TwoDay 2
An Eternal Need
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. —1 John 4:8
What is the strongest motivation in your life? If you could list one thing that is at the center of your focus, what would it be? Some people are motivated by their jobs, the pursuit of material gain, or a relationship. Jesus, however, had an entirely different perspective on this subject. In Matthew 6, He tells us, "Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (vv. 31–33). In other words, set the focus of your heart on Christ, and everything you truly need will be given to you.
The list Jesus gives in this passage is not limited to these items alone. The fact is, anything that blocks our view of God has the potential to prevent us from following Him in faith. He knows the needs we have and has promised to meet each one (see Phil. 4:19). However, many people begin to see their personal desires as needs that must be met immediately. They are on a quest to achieve and gain more of everything. They fail to realize the danger that is lurking—one that will consume their hearts and minds—if they are not careful.
A desire for a greater position, more fame, or more money can lead to a lack of trust in God. It can also open the door to discontentment, frustration, and anger. Often, our desires boil down to one thing: the more we have as a result of our own striving, the less we need God. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the blessings God gives us—material or otherwise—there is a warning that we need to heed whenever we begin to value His blessings more than we do our relationship with Him.
You know you are headed for trouble when you sense your life is spinning out of control. You are running and rushing in all directions with no time set aside to be alone with the Lord. Each one of us was created with a need to be with Him. We can never learn how to love others, ourselves, and most of all Him unless we first experience the joy of being in His presence.
Some people are driven by a sense of fear, greed, or lust. They also are blinded to the goodness and mercy of a loving God, who only wants one thing: a personal relationship with them. When we open our hearts to Christ, we learn to live differently each day. Instead of counting on what we can do as a result of our effort, we pray and ask God to do for us what only He can. There is a huge difference between living for yourself in your own ability and living with God's infinite resources.
First Corinthians 13 is sometimes referred to as the "love chapter" of the Bible. In it, the apostle Paul talks about the supremacy of love over knowledge, and about faith, generosity, and even the ultimate sacrifice of one's life. He explains genuine love—that it is patient, kind, humble, polite, not jealous, not self-seeking, not easily provoked, keeps no record of wrongs, rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and never fails.
In fact, the Bible tells us God is love (1 John 4:8). When you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, the Holy Spirit came to live within you. Literally, you have been given God's ability to love the way He loves. As you surrender yourself to Him, His divine love flows through you. You are no longer left alone to make crucial decisions about the future—what to do or where to live and work. Whatever needs arise, God provides the wisdom you need to make the right decision every time.
Jesus told His followers, "As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love" (John 15:9). The love of God the Father for His Son and the love of the Son for His Father are available to every Christian. God invites you through faith in His Son to live in this very love—His love—every day.
Lord, thank You for the devotion of Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for the example He is to me of Your unfailing love. Thank You that I can know Your love in the way that He did. Help me to love You in return, in a Christlike way.
Chapter ThreeDay 3
Love That Heals
"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." —Ps. 34:18
Have you ever tottered on the edge of despair, so disillusioned and disheartened that you wondered if God really loved you? Have you been so wounded by painful circumstances or a loved one's careless actions that you questioned if God could really heal your hurt?
All of us have experienced the anguish that comes from such moments. And if our perspective on the love of Christ is clouded, we may give in to feelings of doubt, depression, bitterness, and fear. How grateful I am that our Savior comes to our aid, offering His tender love and understanding in times of brokenness and deep sorrow.
In describing the hurt that the Savior experienced during His earthly ministry, the prophet Isaiah wrote, Jesus changed their dreary, desperate world into one of renewed hope and confidence. And the healing power of His love can change your world too.
If you feel like a "bruised reed" about to break or a "dimly burning wick," take courage. The love of God is both strong and tender enough to heal your hurts and revive your spirit. At your weakest moment, God's love is completely sufficient to sustain you. You can count on God's tender mercy to restore you in your darkest hours.
God's love is infinite, and nothing can stand in its way, however great our sin or small our faith.
Heavenly Father, life can be difficult, and at times I feel beaten down by adversity. I wonder where You are and if You hear my prayers—yet I know in my heart that You do. Please strengthen my faith today, and renew my faith in You.
Chapter FourDay 4
We have thought on Your lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of Your temple. —Ps. 48:9
For years, I have read the Psalms almost every day as a part of my time spent with God. It seems as though each time I read them, I discover a new principle, truth, or blessing. David wrote at length about God's unfailing love, and his words of truth offer real strength and comfort for the difficult times we are sure to face.
The writers of the Old Testament used the Hebrew word checed to express God's care for His children. This word is often translated into "lovingkindness" or "steadfast love," which conveys the permanence of God's unconditional love for us.
Unlike the love we show to one another, God's love is infinite and powerful enough to forgive the most grievous wrong. It endures life's greatest hardships and heals the deepest wounds. The steadfast love of God never changes, is never diminished by our behavior, and is never lessened by our indifference or even rebellion. Christ's love has no boundaries—it persists through all of our circumstances and through all time. The writer of Hebrews translates God's devotion this way: "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you" (13:5).
Since God's love for us is unfailing and unchanging, we can rest in complete assurance of His faithfulness. King David—whose life was constantly in peril—wrote, "The king trusts in the Lord, and through the lovingkindness of the Most High he will not be shaken" (Ps. 21:7). Can you say the same thing? David faced times of unbelievable stress. Though he had been anointed king of Israel, David was forced to leave his home and family and live on the run in fear of a madman who was determined to kill him. Yet his faith and trust rested securely in God's remarkable love for him—and so can yours. When you feel shaken by the circumstances of life, remember that you have an unshakable God covering you with His all-powerful wings of protection.
There is a secret strength that is yours to discover. The one thing that has stabilized my life through all these years is the quiet time I spend with God every day—every morning. The psalmist prayed to the Lord, "O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days" (Ps. 90:14).
If you start each morning meditating on God's unfailing love, your life will change forever. Instead of getting up and wondering how you will get through the day, you will get up with a sense of expectancy and hope because, when you seek God, you will find Him. In fact, the more time you spend with Him, the more you will come to know His boundless love, and the more joy you will experience. The more joyful you are, the more exciting your walk with Christ will become and the more dynamic your faith will be. God blesses those who seek Him. He came looking for Adam in the cool of the day, and He is waiting for you even now.
The steadfast love of Christ is our anchor for every storm and what satisfies the deepest longing of our hearts.
Heavenly Father, I can hardly imagine what Your unfailing, unceasing love really means. I do know that it is what I yearn for in my heart. Each day, grant me a more complete understanding of how much You really love me. Along the way, teach me how to express that love to those around me. Thank You for creating the need for love within me and supplying that need.
Excerpted from The POWER of GOD'S LOVE by CHARLES F. STANLEY Copyright © 2008 by Great Commision Media. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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