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Understanding the Father's Love - Part 3 (Loving as He Loves Me)

Understanding the Father's Love - Part 3 (Loving as He Loves Me)

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Published by Debbie Guinn
When we understand how much God loves us, we can then love God and others in return.
When we understand how much God loves us, we can then love God and others in return.

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Published by: Debbie Guinn on Dec 20, 2009
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12/19/2009

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Understanding the Father’s Love
Part
3
Loving as He Loves Me
by Debbie Guinn
“We love because He loved us first.” 
1 John 4:19 (NIRV)Last January—January 6, 2008, to be exact—our pastor preached a sermon thathas continued to make an impact on my life, even today. This sermon, titled“Resolutions to Remember” was not your ordinary New Year’s resolution peptalk. It was taken from Matthew 22:34-40 and he challenged us with tworesolutions that we not only
should
make but also showed us how those wereresolutions that we
could
keep all year long…and longer.InMatthew 22:37, Jesus tells the Pharisees that the greatest commandment inthe law is
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” 
Our number one resolution should be to love God with all of who we are…with every single fiber of our being. Our pastor explained how weoften try to put God as our top priority, placing family, friends, careers, etc. in apriority list under Him. However, that doesn’t work because we often end upseparating God out from those other things. He explained that loving God shouldbe our 
defining
priority—like the center of a wheel—with all of the other things inour lives stemming out from Him (like spokes). When loving Him is our definingpriority, it will influence every other relationship and commitment we have in our life.Jesus goes on inMatthew 22:39 to say that the second greatest commandment is to “
Love your neighbor as yourself 
.” Many people have used this verse to saythat Jesus is telling us we need to love ourselves before we can love others.However, that isn’t what Jesus is saying. He was talking to the Pharisees whohad no problem loving themselves; they thought quite highly of themselvesalready. Jesus is saying that we are to love others in the exact same way thatwe love ourselves…in other words to elevate others to the same level that wevalue ourselves.
 
Notice thatverse 40says “
 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these twocommandments." 
Think about that for a minute. If I steal, bear false witness(lie), commit adultery, dishonor my parents, covet, etc., my attitude is in a placethat says I am of more value than you. Do you see how all thesecommandments are summed up under this one? The Pharisees had createdhundreds of laws but all of the God given laws go back to these twocommandments of loving God with all of who I am and loving my neighbor asmyself.I am constantly amazed at God’s perfect timing. I have longed to finish theseries I started back in June on Understanding the Father’s Love. Month after month, I have sat down and tried to write this third segment but each time, Godhas redirected me to another topic. Today, however, I see how perfect His timingis as I remember just how much He taught me in this very area, one year agotoday, when He convicted and challenged me in my own heart to respond to Hislove for me, by loving in return.Understanding my Father’s love has been a step by step process for me…onewhere each step has built on the other. Since it has been so long since I’vewritten on this subject, I do want to review briefly, what I have already covered.The first step was to fully understand that father/child relationship with myFather…to see myself as a Daddy’s girl. To read more about this process, checkout the June article,Daddy’s Girl.Once, I clearly established that relationship, I prayed to understand more of the width and length, height and depth of Christ’slove. As God answered that prayer, I was able to trust God more with my life…finding that His love for me was perfect and perfect love does indeed cast outfear. My July article,Freedom from Fear , talked about this incredible freedomfrom fear that I have discovered as I have learned to trust His perfect love for me.As I began experiencing freedom from fear, that freedom went far beyond thebasic fears of something terrible happening to one of my children, financial ruin,etc. I also found myself free from other fears such as the fear to love. I openedmy heart to God’s love, trusting in His perfect love, and discovered I was nolonger afraid to love…to love not only God but others as well. So, how couldunderstanding my Father’s love for me enable me to love others without fear?I didn’t exactly jump from understanding God’s love for me to being able to loveothers. It began with loving Him, first and foremost. Loving God actually camesomewhat easily once I understood just how much He loved me. It really isn’thard to love those who we know truly love us; it just seems to come naturallyonce that trust is developed. When we know, without a doubt, that we are lovedby a parent, spouse, or friend, our natural response is to love them in return. It isthe same with God. The more I comprehended just how deeply God loved me,the easier it became to love Him.
 
So, when our pastor preached that sermon last January, it was just what Ineeded for God to take my journey of understanding His love one step further. Itall made so much sense to me. I had tried to make loving God my top priorityand failed because I didn’t know how to find time for all the other important thingsin life without setting Him aside. When I heard the concept of making Him the
defining
priority, rather than the top priority, it all made sense. I made acommitment to God to make loving Him my defining priority and my constantprayer throughout the year was that loving Him would be at the center of everysingle thing that I did.When I began to really focus on loving God, I noticed a connection betweenloving Him and being loved by Him. I no longer strive to love Him because I amcommanded to do so. I now long to love Him, with every ounce of my being,simply because the more I understand how much He loves me, the more I wantto love Him in return. It is this natural sense of wanting—a yearning with all thatis within me—to love Him in return. I don’t need a command to make me loveHim…I long to love Him.1 John 4:19—“
 
We love because he loved us first 
.”—has taken on new meaning for me.Understanding God’s love for me has also freed me to love others. I’ve come tounderstand that God loves me too much to allow anything in my life that is notultimately for my good…including the people He places in my life to love.1 John 4:7-8begins with a command to love one another. However, it explainsthat love comes from God. I must first know God and be born of Him in order tolove; I cannot love, if I do not know God because God IS love. As I learn toaccept, receive and trust His love then I am free to love in return…and oh howwonderful that freedom is!It doesn’t end there, though.1 John 4:11-12says
“Dear friends, since God soloved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made
complete
in us.”.
 Theword we get “complete” from in the Greek means "to bring to an end bycompleting or perfecting; to add what is yet wanting in order to render a thingfull.It is in loving others that God’s love comes full circle, so to speak. Allemptiness and longing to be loved is made full—is perfected and made complete—when I love others, out of His love for me.I am able to love because He loved me first. The more I understand God’sunfathomable love for me, the more I find it impossible to keep that love tomyself. I am free to love and long to love God with all of my heart, soul and mindand to love others as myself. As I do so, the deep longing that I’ve always had tobe loved is being filled to overflowing with the most perfect love imaginable…thelove of my Father.I challenge you to make ‘loving the Lord your God with all of who you are’ your defining priority this year…your Number One Resolution. My second challenge is

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