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But God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8 NCV

Christmas and Valentine’s Day seem to be the two holidays when stories of love seem to proliferate. Like the age-old story of a young woman who sells her long locks of hair so she can buy her husband a watch chain, only to find, as they open their gifts that he has sold his watch to buy her beautiful combs for her hair.

The story and others like it capture our attention because they show one of the main ways we can show others that we love them. In a word, the story speaks of sacrifice.

Giving up something of value to you for the sake of others is love.

Putting aside your own needs so someone else can have something they want, is love.

Doing what you know is right even when it hurts is love.

Looking at the needs (short and long term) of others instead of your own needs, is love.

Being willing to live in someone else’s world when it is so much different than yours is love.

Joseph showed this kind of love when Mary came to him and told him she was pregnant. He knew he hadn’t had sex with her. He loved her so much that, even though he’d be well within his rights to have her stoned, he chose to marry her. Rather than consummate the marriage in the usual time frame, he waited until the baby was born.

But the greatest love story continues to be the story of Almighty God. He chose to live among his creation in the midst of sin that he couldn’t tolerate. He chose to be born a pauper when he owned the cattle on a 1,000 hills. He chose to be born a helpless, powerless infant when, in reality he held the stars he created in place.

He didn’t come to love a people who would return his love. He knew many would reject him. He didn’t come to love a people who would stand in awe of his power and miracles. He knew they would always just ask for more and then walk away unbelieving. He didn’t come expecting people to love accept him. He knew they would not only reject him, but they would murder him as well! Such amazing love!

But the biggest proof of His love is this, he didn’t come to love me after I changed my ways. His love didn’t come based on my ability or even my desire to change. He came to love me while I’m still sinning. That’s true love.

True love says that no matter how much you hurt me; how much you rob me of my needs being met; how much you ignore my pleas for support and love, I’ll love you enough to die for you.

Jesus died for me knowing I’d fail him and others miserably. He died for you in the midst of your illness, rebellion, disbelief, anger or frustration. Others will fail you. Jesus never will. That’s how he showed you his love.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, during this season of love I’ve been reminded of how much you love me. Still, it’s hard to love others when they hurt me, reject me or fail to meet my needs. It’s so hard to keep giving and get nothing in return, but I guess you know that. Thank you for your unconditional love! Amen.

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Ephesians 1:7 (NLT)

When something is really important to you, won’t you do anything and everything to get it? You’ll save or take out a loan or use all your credit balance (not advised) so that you can have it in your possession. You may even sell something else or give something away in order to get that prized possession.

Now, imagine you scrimped and saved and bartered until finally you were able to purchase your prized possession. Would you set it free? “Of course not!” you say. Look at all I gave up for it. Look at the years of saving and sacrificing and giving. There’s no way I’d give it freedom. I might lose it!”

But God did. He loved you that much. See, when you buy something to possess it you buy it with the idea of holding on to it. You buy it with idea of passing it on to your heirs, or keeping it safe, or holding it close to you.

Jesus Christ didn’t come to earth to create some new fantastic religion. He didn’t come to earth to show us how bad we were. He didn’t come to earth to give us a bunch of rules and regulations. He didn’t come to earth so God could control, possess or manipulate you. Jesus came to earth for only one reason: your freedom!

Freedom from your past; Freedom from the mistakes that still haunt you; Freedom from worry, doubt, fear and anger; Freedom from physical and emotional scars that you bear. That’s what grace is about. That’s what God’s kindness gives us. Freedom.

So, live free through the forgiveness, grace and kindness you find in Jesus Christ. It’s not about religion. It’s about a relationship built on being free.

PRAYER: Father, I’m so undeserving of your love. I’m so  undeserving of your grace. Forgive me for the times I’ve allowed myself to be held captive by you. Help me live in the freedom I have in you. In Jesus name, Amen.

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