God Is Love

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” – 1 John 4:7-8. 

As Christians, we should understand and appreciate how unconditionally, irrevocably, and ridiculously loved by God we are. Just imagine: You are already loved by God. No conditions. No qualifications. No ifs, and, or buts about it. Whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done in the course of your life, you are already loved and accepted. 

When John wrote 1st John, he seemed overwhelmed with the reality of God’s love. Why else would he talk about it over 30 times? John discovered that God’s love is pure, the perfect motivation. His love has power. It casts out fear and overcomes worry, doubt, and anxiety. This love is forgiving and kind. It is practical and applies in every situation we face. Accepting God’s love transforms our lives.

God’s desire is to completely overwhelm you with His love. The love of God will guide you, establish you, empower you, and fully delight you. His love will free you, compel you, and sustain you. He longs for you to live a lifestyle of love because He knows that’s the absolute, most fulfilling, purposeful, and peaceful way of life for you. He longs to set you free from the burdens of living for your own gain. He longs to lead you to the path of abundant life. But it all starts with simply receiving His love.

Take a moment and read what Paul says in Romans 8: “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?… No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

Such love is beyond our ability to grasp with our minds, but it is not beyond our ability to experience with our hearts. The more we study it, the more we understand it, and the more we realize, that we will move steadily beyond our understanding. But it does not mean that we cannot have confidence in the fact that God unconditionally loves us. Know it, cling to it, and remember it; don’t underestimate the love of God for you.

If we understand God’s love, we realize that He is love. Motivated by that love, we love to please Him and fellowship with Him. We love to know His Word and show love to others around us.  

Focus your thoughts on God right now. Love Him, unconditionally. Thank Him for His love. And let that love flow you to people all around you.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your definition of “unconditional love”?
  2. How often do you try to grasp the love of God?

A Christmas Message From Marty Martin, Lead Pastor

This time of year I usually write a personal letter to all of you and believe it or not, I look very forward to it. It is an opportunity to honor each of you and to wish you a merry Christmas.

During this season, we have been celebrating Christmas Classics, songs that have the messages of hope, peace, love and joy. I pray that our reflection on the classic Christmas songs would provide you with opportunities to reflect on your own faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. Whatever it is that our hearts and souls desire, whether we realize it or not, our ultimate desire is Jesus Himself. For this reason, we are filled with joy at Christmas to know that all that we hoped for has been fulfilled in the person of the Christ Child.

In 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, we read: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” That is my prayer for myself, my family and I pray the same for you. That we will stand firm and let nothing move us in our mission of helping the whole world find and follow Jesus.

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord this year, we also celebrate that the Lord brought all of you into our lives. This Christmas we thank you for being our family and our friends, and showing us relationally the power of God’s love. It is an awesome sight to see His love in all of you.

Thank you for your faithfulness and commitment to Northstar. As I look back over the year, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I’m grateful just to be a part of this community and to get to walk this journey with you. I feel so privileged to be part of a group of people who are honestly and passionately taking on the challenge to follow Jesus in all the trials, joys and complexities of modern life.

Thank you for serving sacrificially again this past year. Whether it’s leading groups; shepherding children; serving coffee; setting up for worship; playing music; or any one of the countless other (usually unseen) tasks that keep our church running, I am grateful. Thank you so much for all you do!

Thank you for giving sacrificially as you always do. Your generosity has enabled us to pursue our mission of helping the whole world find and follow Jesus.

And I just cannot praise God enough. This Christmas, as in all previous years, we celebrate “Emmanuel” (God with us). Without Christ’s presence among us we would be in trouble. Through God’s presence gently, sometimes not so gently, working within us, we are being transformed, made bold and seeing lives changed by His gospel. How can we praise Him enough? How can we contain God’s love without going out and sharing it?

From our family to yours, Angela, Andrew and Ashleigh and I wish you the very best that life has to offer, a life grounded and rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May this be a Christmas that brings hope, peace, joy, love, and Christ richly and abundantly into your family. And may the grace and love of God surround, nurture, and keep you this Christmas Season.

Marty

Discussion Questions:
1. Pray for our church leadership that God will continue to guide us.
2. Pray for our church as we move into 2015.
3. Thank God again for the gift of His son.