Girlfriends in God - July 2, 2012

July 2, 2012
The Love of God
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
1 John 4:8-10 (NIV) “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through him. This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God's love for us in sending his Son to be the way to take away our sins.”

Friend to Friend
I believe that much of our stress is the result of a constant and innate quest to be loved and to love. The problems come when we look in the wrong places for love. When we know God, we know love. When we experience His unconditional love, we are then freed and empowered to love ourselves and others. I have personally discovered that it is just downright frustrating and completely impossible to live the Christian life when you are not a Christian. I tried.

For years, I desperately struggled to be a Christian with only head knowledge of who God was and wanted to be in my life. The result was a pitifully shallow existence with stress and frustration as my constant companions.

I grew up in a Christian home, attending church every time the doors were open. I sang all the right songs, spoke all the right words and did all the right things in front of all the right people. I fervently prayed that my works would validate my faith and desperately hoped that by following the rules, I would please the Ruler. It was not until middle school that the spiritual integrity of a dynamic youth pastor made me hunger and thirst for something more. I wanted to know God. I needed to experience the unconditional love of God. 

During a special Saturday evening church service, I sat in my usual spot, clutching the back of the pew in front of me while wrestling with God over the condition of my soul and my eternal security. After all, I was a very active church member, a soloist and pianist for our worship services, and even directed a children’s choir. How embarrassing to walk down that aisle, admitting to everyone that I’d been living a lie.

My mind argued that I knew all about God – and then the deeper truth of that argument hit me. Yes, I knew about Him but I didn’t know Him. His perfect love settles for nothing less than an intimate and loving relationship with his children.

That night I met Jesus! I surrendered all that I knew about myself to all that I knew about Him. While the course of my life was changed forever, I quickly discovered that I still had to deal with life on a daily basis and still had to face stressful situations. The difference was that God's love preceded me, surrounded and sustained me as I lived each day. Knowing we are loved fosters contentment and peace in our hearts, and when our hearts are filled with peace, there is little room for stress. 

We come into this world longing for unconditional love. Our very souls hunger for a love that is authentic, constant, unchanging and with no strings attached. Our hearts dream of love being given freely, eternally and beyond measure. After exhausting every possible source we reason that there is no such love, settling for shallow substitutes that leave us empty and broken.

But God came -- a perfect man into an imperfect world. And because He came, real love not only exists but is available to you right now, just as you are -- through a personal relationship with God. When we know Him – we know love – because God is love. 

Just as we cannot earn the love of God or buy it with good works, neither can we lose His love nor can it be stolen from us. All we can do is accept it, allowing it to saturate and transform every part of who we are. It is in that moment of turning everything we know about ourselves over to everything we know about Him that we are bound by His love. And nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from that stubborn God love.

Let’s Pray
Father God, I desperately need You and the power of Your love. Right now I surrender my life to You and invite You to take full control. Thank You, Lord. 
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn
Carefully read the following steps. Are you ready to take each one? God is waiting -- arms open wide – just for you.

  1. Acknowledge your desperate need for the love of God.
  2. Accept His love for you.
  3. Lay down your old way of life.
  4. Invite God to come into your life, surrendering complete control to Him.
  5. Celebrate His love and the new life it brings.

More from the Girlfriends
For more help on your journey to know God, check out Mary’s E-Book Bible Study, How to Find Your Missing Peace. MP3 downloads, CDs and books are also available in Mary’s online store along with FREE resources on her site.

Looking for a Bible Study that is both practical and powerful? Check out Mary’s E-Book Bible Studies. Each one includes a study guide that you can download for your personal use or for a small group study. 

Be sure to check out Mary’s weekly Online Bible Study. Enroll now and have access to all 2012 lessons. Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

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Originally published Monday, 02 July 2012.