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A woman woke up one morning, turned to her husband and said, “Honey, I just had a dream that you bought me a new gold necklace. What do you think it means?” He answered, “I don’t know, but Valentine’s Day is coming soon. Then you’ll know.”

A few nights later, she again woke up after having a dream. She said, “This time, I dreamed you gave me a pearl necklace. What do you think it means?” “You’ll know on Valentines’ Day,” he replied.

The morning of Valentine’s Day, she again woke up telling him about her dream: “This time I dreamed that you brought me a diamond necklace. What do you think it means?” “Honey, be patient,” he said. “You’ll know tonight.”

The morning of Valentine’s Day, she again woke up telling him about her dream: “This time I dreamed that you brought me a diamond necklace. What do you think it means?” “Honey, be patient,” he said. “You’ll know tonight.”

Philippians 4:8-Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

1 John 4:7-9 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

Silent Prayer

Love Initiates-I John 4:10, Romans 5:8, John 3:16

Another way to say this might be “Love makes the first move.”

There is something in the heart of God that compels Him to love us. God can’t help himself where you and I are concerned. He can’t NOT love us. I John 4:8 tells us God is love. Because He is love, He operates out of that love to move toward us even though we have done nothing to inspire Him to love us.

I John 4:10 says we didn’t love God, but He loved us. He made the first move. We haven’t impressed God or lived in such a way that He thought, “Hmm. She seems cool. I’d like to get to know her.” Quite the opposite, really. While I was still a sinner, while I was still a hot mess, while I was still offensive to God because of my sin, while I was doing my own thing, while I was disregarding God’s love and gift of salvation that cost Him everything, while I was selfish and living for myself, God moved toward me.

One of my favorite songs is “O the Blood” that we sang last Sunday. My favorite line in that song is “O what love, no greater love, grace, how can it be? That in my sin, yes even then, He shed His blood for me.” What? Why?

John 3:16-“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” The reason for the cross of Christ was the unconditional love of God. God has made the first move towards us. If you have heard the story of Jesus’ death on the cross, in your heart of hearts, you know God has made the first move. It is obvious that God loves you. And God doesn’t come close because He needs us. He comes close because He knows we need Him. God makes a move toward us because of our need. We can’t save ourselves. It’s true. There will be many educated, successful, and moral people in hell. Our good works and our clean noses won’t save us. Only through God’s love initiative can we have our need for salvation met. It doesn’t matter what you have done or what you haven’t done; God’s love for you is completely unconditional.

The Greek word for God’s kind of love is Agape. Jesus said that the greatest commandment of all was that we should “Love (agape) the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and that we should love (agape) our neighbor as ourselves. He said every other command of God hangs on or is rooted in this command to love people unconditionally. (Matthew 22:37-41) We need to be more aggressive at making the first move with agape love in our families, in our friendships, and in our community.

The power of God’s love is that it takes us as is and transforms us into what can be! As we learn to love people in that way, true transformation of their hearts, their minds, their behaviors and their characters is possible. There are so many people who are living broken, confused, and pain-filled lives who need to experience the transforming power of unconditional love. Will we rise to the challenge to make the first move like Jesus did?

People who want to love like Jesus won’t look for someone to deserve their love. It won’t be based on what someone else has done for them or can do for them. It will be unconditional. It will be a no-strings attached expression. This is a different kind of love than the world has to offer. This is a much deeper kind of love than the love the world can afford. This kind of love is offered in spite of the fact that the person who is receiving the love is truly unlovable at times or a lot of times.

How can we love like Jesus in our homes? How would it change the atmosphere if we recognized that our family members have a need to experience a genuine and deep love? Can we let their need for love move us to love them unconditionally? Rather than expect our family members to show us love, what if we each take the challenge to take the initiative? If we commit to loving regardless of the how loveable the other person is, how could it transform the people we love?

Love Sacrifices-John 15:12-13-“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” The most intense love ever displayed was seen on the cross when “Love ran red” as Chris Tomlin sings. There is no real love without sacrifice. To love people is to sacrifice in various ways from time to time.

Author, Max Lucado made a very powerful statement. He said, “God loved this world so much that he gave not his condemnation but he gave his son. Jesus places “do not enter signs” all over the gateway to hell and he announces to anyone who wants to go, “if you go you’ve gotta go over my dead body.”


We know the depths of Christ’s love through His sacrifice. Someone who is willing to run an errand for us shows us a measure of love. Someone who takes the time to make and deliver a meal shows us a measure of love. Someone who helps us out financially or offers to fix something at our home for free, displays another level of love. Had Jesus just taken a beating for us, that would have displayed a certain measure of love. But to lay down His life shows a love without limit, a love of deep sacrifice.

Ephesians 5:1-2 1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:1-2 1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Maria Dyer was born in 1837 on the mission field in China where her parents were pioneer missionaries. Both her parents died when Maria was a little girl, and she was sent back to England to be raised by an uncle. The loss of her parents, however, did not deter her young heart from the importance of sharing the gospel. At age sixteen she, along with her sister, returned to China to work in a girl’s school as a missionary herself. Five years later, she married Hudson Taylor, a man well-known today for his life of ministry, faith, and sacrifice.

Hudson and Maria’s work was often criticized—even by other Christians. At one point Maria wrote, “As to the harsh judgings of the world, or the more painful misunderstandings of Christian brethren, I generally feel that the best plan is to go on with our work and leave God to vindicate our cause.” Of their nine children, only four survived to adulthood. Maria herself died of cholera when she was just forty-three. But she believed the cause was worthy of the sacrifice. On her grave marker these words were inscribed: “For her to live was Christ, and to die was gain.”

In a day when many are self-absorbed and care more about what they can get rather than what they can give, we need a renewal of sacrificial love. It was God’s love for us that sent Jesus into the world to die for our sins, and it is that kind of giving love that our world needs so greatly today. When we love God as we should, our interests fade as we magnify Him.

(Source: The Jubilee Story of the China Inland Mission, Marshall Broomhall)

To love like Jesus involves the cross of sacrifice. Jesus told us that if we were to become His disciple we would need to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him. Denying ourselves is the sacrifice. It means we love when we don’t feel like loving. It means we love when it is costly. It is an extra mile effort even when the extra mile seems unending.

Is the component of sacrifice on display in our homes? In what way does your love for your family and friends reflect the element of sacrifice? And is it the sacrifice of inconvenience once in a while or does it really cost you something personally to love like Jesus?

Love Serves-John 13:1-5
1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. 2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

So, the first footwashing service took place as Jesus decided to demonstrate that love involves serving. Feet in those days were really dirty. That’s why washing someone’s feet was the work of a servant or slave. Most people went barefoot. The roads weren’t paved. With animals being a main form of transportation who knows what was caked on a person’s feet! Perhaps jagged rocks had cut a person’s feet and blood had dried that would need to be scrubbed off. Not a fun job. To do it “just because” was an incredible act of love and kindness because no one just wanted to wash a person’s feet.

On a night when Jesus should have been concerned about Himself, you know with the upcoming arrest, flogging and crucifixion and all, at a time when He should have sought comfort from His friends, when He could have demanded some “time to Himself,” He instead served His disciples. They would betray Him. They would abandon Him. He knew it all, and yet He served them. It wasn’t His dirty work to do, yet He did it.

In Luke’s account of Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet, we read that during dinner they started arguing about who was the greatest. They were trying to establish the pecking order. Trying to “one-up” each other. Jesus took the opportunity to demonstrate that it isn’t about earthly greatness, but about love. It’s not about being over anyone. It’s not about being above anyone. It’s about loving others through serving them. That is the essence of Christian discipleship. That is how we will show people the full extent of God’s love. We will serve them. And not just when it is easy, convenient or sanitary.

I’m not sure which feature of love, whether sacrifice or service, I would say is most important. Both service and sacrifice require that we spend time thinking about the needs of others. Sometimes sacrifice is for a season or a short period of time or a once-in-awhile necessity, but servanthood? That is to be a way of life for the believer. Obviously, Jesus placed a great deal of importance on serving if we are told in this passage that Jesus, verse one, wanting to show the FULL EXTENT of His love, did so by stooping to serve the disciples.

Pastor Thom and I, along with Hannah, were gone a few weekends ago. We were ministering at our previous church, and while we were on our way home, although we didn’t know it, Josh, our 14-year-old son, was serving us. He was playing some kind of electronic games when it dawned on him that we would be tired after a long weekend. He shut off the game and started working to pick up the house. It blessed me that he was thinking about us as we traveled and about how he could bless us. It wasn’t just sweet; It was an expression of genuine love.

I truly believe our homes can become places of great inspiration when we work to outdo each other by serving each other. Without waiting to be asked, to pitch in, to offer the extra gesture, to go out of our way to do something nice for each other, and not just on Valentine’s Day or on someone’s birthday, but as a routine way of life. It would let our family members know we think about them and that in love we want to serve them.

Love Invests-John 15:15-17 and I Corinthians 13
John 15:15-17 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Jesus loved His followers so much that He taught them. He disclosed things to them that others didn’t know. He made them partners in His Kingdom work. He talked them up. He bolstered them. He gave them authority. He showed confidence in them, even when they didn’t get it right! He invested time in them. He placed expectations on them to inspire them to go out and win souls for the Kingdom. He taught them what they needed to know in order to succeed, and He spoke words of victory over their lives. Again, the power of love is that it can transform people.

In I Corinthians 13 we read about the qualities of love. We read: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

When you are patient with someone, verse 4, you are giving them time to grow. When you exercise patience with people you are giving them a gift. Some lessons need to be learned over and over again. When we speak patiently, we are exhibiting love and not frustration. Remember, love has transforming power. The investment of patience will help your family members be able to gain confidence and achieve goals. They won’t always feel like they are a disappointment or a frustration. They won’t be tempted to quit. Ask Pastor Thom about trying to teach me how to play minesweeper on the computer in the middle of the night on the plane ride to our last vacation. I ONLY conquered at about an 80% comprehension level because he was patient with me!

When you are kind to people, you are investing feelings of worth and value into them. They will know they matter; that you thought enough of them to show them kindness.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. We need to invest in people’s futures and not continue to throw their past failures in their faces.

Teach your kids with patience. Young people, go out of your way to be kind to your parents. Work together as families to build the future and let go of the past.

God was always preparing the disciples for something. He taught them in order to send them out to teach. He performed miracles in their midst in order for them to go do the same. He taught them about the Kingdom of God as a present reality and about Heaven as their future home. He even prepared them for His departure by telling them He would be leaving in order to prepare a future place for them in Heaven.

One thing I know about life; it is fleeting. It goes by quickly. People used to tell us when our kids were one and three that we shouldn’t blink because they would soon be grown. I didn’t believe it when they were one and three. I blinked a few times, and here we are at their junior and freshman years of high school. We need to make sure we are making the most of our time with them to invest godly principles in them and principles for a successful life ahead.

Each of us has people in our lives whether children, other relatives, co-workers, friends or neighbors that we can show God’s love to by investing in them, by giving them opportunities, by speaking words of victory over their lives.

Love Survives-I Corinthians 13:7-8 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

Once we accept God’s love, we are always connected to its power to transform us, to empower us, and to protect us. Christian, God always has your back. He always has your best interest in mind. He always is reaching for you. He is always praying for you. He is always loving you even when you fail. His love is enduring. It isn’t based upon your performance. He loves you in this moment as much as He has ever loved you or ever will love you. God loves you more than you love yourself, and for some of us, that is saying a lot!

God says in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” God’s love holds onto us. Romans 8:3838 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As someone once said, “Love is a commitment with a beginning and no end.” Real love has an enduring quality.

What would happen in our homes if we dug in our heels and in our hearts made the vow that we would commit to loving each other no matter what and prove that vow with our behavior? Could we take the approach that we have each other’s backs? Could we live to show each other we always have each other’s best interests in mind? Can we love each other even when someone fails us?

Loving like Jesus is a tall order. We’ve only scratched the surface on the topic, but given that Jesus says loving God and others is the GREATEST commandment it would serve us well to take what we have heard to heart and try to put it into practice.

Now, for the non-believers here this morning. God is committed to love you even though you may not love Him back. Author Max Lucado also had this to say about God’s love: “You cannot win God’s love. You cannot lose God’s love. You can refuse God’s love.” To refuse His love is to walk away from the greatest love you can ever experience. It is a love that would erase your past, transform your now, and secure your future in this life and in the life to come.

Make it the greatest Valentine’s Day weekend ever. Accept the love of God in Jesus Christ.

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