Tis the Season Week 4: Loving Like Jesus

How will the love of Jesus find expression in your life as you seek to love others this Christmas season?

Thanks for sticking with us the last four weeks. This week we conclude our study just in time to celebrate and rejoice in the birth of our Savior! I pray your Christmas has been a little different this year because you have sought to make Christ the center. This week we’ll conclude our study by examining Psalm 86:13 and the steadfast love our of God.

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For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. —Psalm 86:13

God’s steadfast or unfailing love is mentioned repeatedly throughout Scripture and is one of the most important words in the Old Testament.  It is often translated in English as lovingkindness, faithful love, steadfastness or steadfast love.

It is central to God’s character.  The word in the original Hebrew is hesed meaning to be faithful and merciful; love; goodness; an act of kindness shown towards someone.  The quality of the kindness shown is usually like that reserved for close family or friends. Hesed implies personal involvement and it is covenantal with those God has chosen and redeemed.  It implies reciprocity but since God’s hesed is ultimately beyond the covenant, it will not be abandoned even when the human partner is unfaithful.  God’s hesed is everlasting (Isaiah 54:8).

God’s steadfast love toward us finds its ultimate revelation in Jesus! So how does this affect my every day, real life?

In Jesus…

God’s steadfast love provides forgiveness for my sins.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. —1 John 4:9 (NLT)

God’s steadfast love has conquered death and given eternal life.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. —John 3:16

God’s steadfast love provides me with joy, guidance, strength and peace.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6

Christ Jesus is the one who died —more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:34-35, 37-39

God’s steadfast love gives our lives purpose and significance.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. —Ephesians 2:4-10

God’s steadfast love is what enables me to change my attitude and perspective.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. —Lamentations 3:22-23

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. —Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)

All of the heart attitudes we’ve been studying in this series — a humble heart, a hearing heart, a heeding heart, a seeking heart, a steadfast heart, a still heart, a grateful heart and a giving heart —are possible because of God’s steadfast love toward us!

Heart_Solid_BlogThe Big HEART Question: How will steadfast love of God toward you in Christ Jesus affect your relationships this Christmas season?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. —John 13:34-35

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. —Ephesians 5:2

How will the love of Jesus find expression in your life as you seek to love others? This changes the way we approach the busyness of Christmas, the traffic, the shopping lines, and the time with family members that we might find hard to love…I can extend love and grace because I have been loved greatly. Because I have been forgiven much, I am able to extend forgiveness and love toward others (even those I find irritating or hard to love). God’s grace is available to me in any moment of need, I simply need to humble myself and ask for His help.

And so I find we have come full circle in this pursuit of a Christ-centered Christmas. I need Jesus! And He is always there and waiting to change my heart and life.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. —Hebrews 4:16

What are some ways you and your family can love like Jesus this season (and beyond)?

As we bring our study to a close, what aspects of the heart is God impressing upon you to cultivate this Christmas season? Ask Him to change your heart and flood you with His grace to make Jesus the center this Christmas and beyond.

{Further Study: If you’d like to study further about the unfailing, steadfast love of God (hesed), check out these verses: Psalm 13, Psalm 51, Psalm 32 & 33, Psalm 36:7, Psalm 85:4-7, 10, Psalm 119:76, Psalm 130:7, Isaiah 54:10, Lamentations 3:32, Psalm 147:11, Psalm 143:7-10.}

Preparing Our Homes blog title

The First Gift Tradition- Wrap a box that can be used every Christmas and fill it with white index cards that read “Jesus blessed me this year by…” (or something to this effect). Fill out as many cards as you want individually and then place them in the box on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning open the box and read them out loud to one another reminding each other of the many blessings our Messiah King has bestowed on us. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving to our giving Lord for all the many gifts he has given us. Write “Jesus I thank and worship you because…” on each of the cards so that our gift to Jesus is filled with praises to him (what he truly desires).

Gifts of Serving – One of the gifts our children gave to one another was a gift of service.  They would give each of their siblings a gift certificate redeemable for some chore or task they would complete for them during the following year. We also encouraged a spirit of giving by participating as a family in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, giving pajamas to homeless shelters for children and preparing stockings of toiletry items to give to indigent senior adults. Instead of just “giving” our children the money to purchase these items, we had them work extra chores or use their own earned money.  Find a way to give back in your community and let your children invest personally and take ownership for the giving.

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This post was originally published on Get Real on November 18, 2014.

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