“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:26-27.

At some time in our life, we have probably asked the question, “am I important?” Or maybe more specifically “am I important to God.” In order to live with love, grace, and humility you have to recognize your importance to God and God’s importance placed on others. Genesis 1:26-27 gives us the answer to the question “am I important?” You are important because you are made in God’s image. The fact that you are made in the image of God should tell you something about your importance.

Pause for a few seconds to consider that the God who spread the stars across the sky created you in His image. God desired to create something unique, something special, something that would reflect His image. So He created you and everyone else in His image.

You are important to God. That fact is expressed throughout the Bible. Psalm 139:14 (ESV) says that we are “…fearfully and wonderfully made…” by God Himself. A long time ago, even before God created you and before He created this universe, you were the focus of His love. “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” (Ephesians 1:4). Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Jesus said that not one sparrow falls from the sky, but God sees it, that He cares for even the lilies of the field. Christ said that the Father knows us so well that the very hairs of our heads are numbered. We are important enough to Him that He gets individually involved in our lives.

You matter to God in a way that you may not have imagined.  He loves and cares for you.  He loves you so much that He sent His Son, to die for you.  He made you unique and gave you a specific purpose here on earth.  If you are going through a rough time, remember that you are important to God.  Look at it from this perspective.  Imagine that you were transporting something of great importance and significance due to how it was designed.  You would be attentive to it.  You would make sure that nothing happened to it.  You would check on it frequently to make sure it was safe.  It is the same with God

So yes, I am important to God.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. What does “the image of God” mean to you?
  2. In what ways does being created in the “image of God” change how you live your life?
  3. Where are instances that you have/have not loved?


“One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” – Luke 10:25-28. 

In Luke 10, we read about a conversation between Jesus and an expert in the law. This was common for Jesus as His teachings attracted scribes, Pharisees, and Jewish scholars. In this interaction, the expert asked Jesus “what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’ response gets him to answer the question by referencing what the expert already knows. Jesus says the response is correct, and if the expert does this, “You will live.”

But the expert goes a little further. He wants to know how far he must go. He asks Jesus, “…And who is my neighbor?” (vs. 29) In other words, are there limits or other criteria to use to determine who is a neighbor? Jesus tells the familiar story of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan is one of the last people the expert would consider a neighbor, yet he still did the right thing to help someone.

Jesus gets the expert to admit the Samaritan did the right thing and says, “…now go and do the same.” He is expanding the expert’s definition of neighbor to include everybody because loving people is always right.

Doing the right thing for people should be our mindset as well. This passage of scripture charges us to live life by doing the right thing. Love your neighbor, who is everyone and anyone. Work to keep your eyes open to be able to see them clearly. 

The challenging part about loving another person is looking at things from their perspective. This is so hard, especially when our side of things makes so much more sense than what we can see of their side. But when we prioritize loving them even if we don’t fully understand or agree, that’s when Jesus comes to life in us.

Francis Chan notes: “How would my life change if I actually thought of each person I came into contact with as Christ—the person driving painfully slow in front of me, the checker at the grocery store who seems more interested in chatting than ringing up my items, the member of my own church family with whom I can’t seem to have a conversation and not get annoyed? If we believe that, as Jesus said, the two greatest commands are to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself,’ then this passage has aplication to every part of our life.

Do this and you will live.


Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Do you see everyone as a neighbor, as Jesus defined it?
  2. If you can see them as neighbors, are you loving them well?
  3. Where are instances that you have/have not loved?


Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” – Colossians 3:12-13.

One of the reasons why the Bible is so relevant and timeless is because it gives us real-life examples and shows people who faced suffering and hard times just like we do today.  But they were not victims. They found a way to forgive others who had wronged them. In doing so, they set the standard for overcoming tough times with the right heart and the right attitude. A good example is Joseph.

Joseph understood that God’s plan was bigger than his revenge. Joseph served a God that enabled him to love those who had sinned against him. Joseph was able to do this, not because they were inherently deserving or because he was inherently righteous. He was able to forgive because he understood that God’s providential hand had guided him to this point and that God’s plan was bigger than his hurt, just as it had been bigger than the jealousy that lead to that pain.

C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” You can forgive, you must forgive, and you will forgive when you remember just as God has forgiven you, you are to forgive others. In other words, if we sometimes need to receive forgiveness then we must always be willing to give forgiveness.

How do we forgive others as God has forgiven us? First of all, we are to forgive those who don’t deserve to be forgiven. Most of us have people we are willing to forgive and people we are unwilling to forgive. In our minds, there are what we consider “unforgivable sins.” Thank God that’s not in His mind. We are to forgive those who don’t deserve to be forgiven. We need to remember that Jesus didn’t die for a select group of people. He died for everyone. That includes those who have been good to us and those who have harmed us. Understanding what God did for us is the best way to learn how to forgive.

We serve a God who enables us to love and forgive others, not of our own power, but from God’s forgiveness which has radically changed our view of the world. Because Jesus loves, we love. Because He forgave, we forgive.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is God’s reason for forgiving us in your opinion?
  2. What type of forgiveness are we to extend to others according to Colossians 3:13? Why should we give up our right to hold grudges?


“We are unworthy of the cross. Yet, because of the cross, we are worthy.” – John Piper.

Mickey Mantle’s near-mint Topps rookie card sold for 12.6 million. The least expensive Picasso painting sold in November 1999 at Christie’s for 45.1 million dollars. A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe became the most expensive car ever sold in 2022, having sold at auction for an eye-watering $135 million.

The vast majority of us, even if we have the money wouldn’t spend like that. That’s because we don’t value those items the way those collectors do. If we valued those items the way those collectors did, we’d be willing to pay a great price to gain them.

We all value things differently. What others would pay a great price for, we would pay little to nothing. It’s easy to know how much someone values something – simply look at how much they’re willing to pay to get it or keep it. Each one of us is valuable to Jesus.

We are valuable because of what we cost. As one loved by God, you have also been chosen by God to “adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:5). This adoption came at a high price, the death of His Son. “He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:6, 7).

God values us Because He is love and He loves us more than we can ever fully know. The only reason God can love us even though we were His enemies is that His love is not based on us at all. He does not love us because of what we do. He loves us because of who He is, for “God is love” (1 John 4:8). We are valuable because of what we cost. As one loved by God, you have also been chosen by God to “…adopt us into his own family…” (Ephesians 1:5).

We are valuable because of what we can become. As a person who is loved by God and adopted into His family, you can be sure that God has a plan for your life: “Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God.” (Ephesians 1:11-12). In order to value people, we must look at how we value ourselves. The value you put on yourself correlates with the way you value others. The basis of this is understanding our value so that we can give others that same value. How much value do you put on others?

Does our attitude toward others, and how we treat people show that we understand the price that was paid? And does their behavior show that they feel valued? Think about the value you put on people. In general, people respond according to the value you place on them. The gospel is best seen when we make anyone who walks through the doors of this church feel that we value them. Jesus died for sinners.  He wants us to value others as He values us.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Ephesians 2:10 and describe how God values each of us.
  2. Value depends on what someone will pay for it. According to 1 Peter 1:19, what value did God put on mankind? Do we underestimate our own value in the eyes of God?


“Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” – Titus 3:7 “

Thank heaven for grace. Titus 3:7 tells us we are made right by His grace. It’s not that we are suddenly holy and righteous. It’s not that we never sin. Basically, God is going to make us acceptable by His grace, not on our qualities or achievements.

Think about that for a few moments. The Bible says that God chose to accept us. He chose to accept us and make us acceptable to God. It’s totally undeserved. But, He chose to do it. You may say, “Wait a minute! God chose me?” Yes.  God accepts you, loves you, and created you. God sent his Son to die for each of us. He chose us. We matter to Him. So it really doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks.  Romans 15:7 “Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”

Jesus Christ accepts you completely. That doesn’t mean He approves of everything we do. He doesn’t, but He accepts us. If we want to accept people like Jesus accepts us then we need to accept someone without approving of what they do. Without approving of their lifestyle, without approving of the way they’re living. Or they have a different opinion on important subjects.

A good example of acceptance is the story of the woman caught in adultery.  Some religious leaders who were trying to trap Jesus brought her before Jesus. The woman was caught cheating on her husband and her accusers wanted to know what Jesus was going to do about it. Jesus looks at all of the accusers and says, “…let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:7)  One by one, they leave, because none of them were without sin. What is Jesus doing here? He’s giving acceptance, not approval. He didn’t approve of what she was doing, but He accepted her.

Then in the private, one on one, after everybody’s gone, John 8:10-11 tells what happened in that moment: “Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Is that it? Could we have experienced that and not had some kind of reproof, blame, or judgment? Would we not be tempted to minister some sort of reproach for the sin of adultery?  Wouldn’t we at least give that disappointed look? Probably… but not Jesus. He didn’t make her feel guilty. He told her to go sin no more, but He accepted her. He showed her grace and mercy and love.

Can we do the same?

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does Jesus treat those who are given to Him? Read John 6:37. What makes God’s acceptance of us amazing?
  2. How should we accept others as stated in Romans 15:7? What are some ways to show acceptance to people?


“Love is not only something you feel, it is something you do.” – David Wilkerson

Our culture has the mindset that life is a zero-sum game. In other words, there’s only so much to go around so giving anything away results in you having less. But God’s love is different, it is meant for sharing.  Shared between you and God. Shared between you and other people. And there is no better time than the present to start bridging the gap between our words or intentions and our actions.

When we look at the ministry of Jesus, we discover real synergy and alignment between His actions and His words. Jesus revolutionized love. He showed us that to love we often have to disregard personal comfort and convenience. Jesus demonstrated love to the fullest, putting it into action even when it was really painful. He preached love, but he practiced and lived love. He didn’t just sit around and talk about loving people. He went out and fed people who were hungry, healed people who were sick, and welcomed people as a neighbor, not an enemy.

Our priority for 2023 should be loving others. Becoming more like Jesus means seeking opportunities to be serving and loving others, no matter the circumstances. The Bible says “ Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith..” (Galatians 6:10) Whenever we have the opportunity. Opportunities are all around us, starting with today. Now.  “…whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone” Don’t wait until a later date to help your neighbor if you can help them now. Don’t procrastinate if you can show them the love of God today.

Ask yourself a question: Who do you need to show love to today?  Who do you need to go home after this service and make that phone call and share a word of encouragement and love?  Or knock on that door to reconcile?  Or go home and make a visit to somebody in a nursing home or at the hospital?  Who do you need to invite over to your backyard and have a barbecue with them and show some love?  Who is it at your work that is so annoying they are an outcast that you can demonstrate the love of God?

There are some activities in life where procrastination is a legitimate response.  But showing love is not one of them. If love is what matters most, then love should always take priority over everything else. You will never know how long you will have the opportunity. There is no time like the present.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How did Jesus demonstrate His love for others? What things did He do? Can we show this type of love?
  2. What can we do this week to live more like Christ?


 “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. 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. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” – 1 John 4:7-12.

We often think of Valentine’s Day as the day for couples to show their love to one another. And we show that love in a variety of ways but the question is what is the most desired gift?  It’s not diamonds.  It’s not chocolate.  It’s not flowers.  The most desired gift of love and the most priceless gift of love is focused attention.  It is time. Giving your attention is the greatest gift you can give somebody.  Why?  Because your time is your most precious resource and there is no better way to demonstrate love to someone than by giving of your time.

Nothing can compensate for time.  No amount of gifts.  No amount of money.  No amount of clothes. No amount of roses or chocolates. That’s why when you give something to people, the most valuable, precious thing you can give them is your time and attention.  Because giving your time and attention says that the person is valuable and is worth listening to. It’s all about stopping being a spectator and becoming one who participates.

We all have different levels of energy.  We have different degrees of wealth.  We all have different amounts of talent and personality.  But we all have the exact same amount of time. The difference is how we choose to use that time. And sometimes giving up that time will require a sacrifice. If it isn’t a sacrifice it’s not real love.  You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving. It means giving up my agenda for your agenda.  It means I give up my time for your time.  It means I give up my preference for your preference.  It means I give up what I’d rather do right now to do what you would rather do right now. Love is an action.  Love means taking time.

On this Valentine’s Day and every other day, when you get up in the morning, pray that you will accept others just as you’ve accepted me. Help me to love others unconditionally, just as you have loved me. Help me to forgive others totally, just as you’ve forgiven me. And help me to value others as much as you value me.  Help me set aside time to spend with you and invest time in love with others.

If I don’t get anything else done today I’m going to love you a little bit more and know you a little bit better and I’m going to love the people you’ve put in my life.  Because that’s what you put me on earth to do.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is stopping you from loving today?
  2. What can we do this week to love when God gives us the opportunity?


“We are here to love. Not much else matters.” – Francis Chan

In his book Bold Love, Dan Allender tells a story about what his daughter thought were the most important lessons to learn about life. She said, “To work hard, to always do your best, and to never lie.” While those were good answers, Allender couldn’t quit asking himself why the word “love” was conspicuously absent from her list. That’s because love matters most in our lives. The most loving thing we can do for others is to love God and love others.

Loving God and others sound pretty good. But can we do it?  Some people are just annoying. Others are irritating. Sometimes it’s hard enough to love our own family. So, how do we make love a dominating characteristic of our lives? First, we need to have a clear definition of what it is: Love is the deliberate act of valuing someone more than you value yourself. Love is the deliberate act of caring for, and listening to others. Love is wanting others to succeed, to be happy and fulfilled.

A critical first step is to make loving others a priority in your life. Even though we have the freedom to set our own priorities, Jesus made a point of defining certain ones of them for us: “’Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-39). Love is not a gray area. There is no wiggle room. Jesus gave love priority over all other Christian characteristics. Every thought, response, and act of goodwill must be reflected in love, or it means nothing at all.

The more we begin to love, the more we begin to change from within. All of a sudden, we don’t find it as hard to love others anymore, and we get a better picture of what it means to love God—and how deeply He loves us. When we truly, actively begin loving others, we also learn how to love God better.

A struggle for many people is that they think they can’t love others until their heart motive is “right.” So they spend a lot of time checking their heart, asking God to make them more loving. There are so many creative ways to love others, and you don’t have to wait. Venture out in faith and loving feelings will follow the loving actions.

We need to remember that believers are God’s advertisement to the world around us. When we love as He has loved us, it will make all the difference. People will notice.   They will know we are Christians by our love.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to you to reflect God’s love to others? What are some practical ways for you to give others a taste of what the love of God is like?
  2. Is loving others loving as God loves? Is this even practical? 


Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” – Ephesians 5:2 (MSG).

It does not matter if you are a new Christian or a seasoned believer, it is very likely you will ask this question: “How do I really know and feel God’s love for me? Answering that question requires us to reflect on how Christ loves us. His love was not cautious. In fact, it was extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. We are to love like that.

Loving like Jesus is the best way to live or as 1 Corinthians 12:31 says, “… the most excellent way.” When we love like Jesus, we’re lifted outside ourselves. We shed self-interest — with our spouse, our kids, friends, everyone. If we love like Jesus we can be over the walls of resentment and rise above petty demands and a sense of entitlement.   

But can anyone really love like Jesus? Really? That is an extraordinarily high bar. Love your enemies? Walk the extra mile? Turn the other cheek? Can we bring perfect love into our imperfect lives? Yes, the bar is high, but if seeking a reasonable level of love, you’ll miss out on extraordinary love.  If you want to love like Jesus you have to be more approachable and less detached. You need to be more patient and less in a hurry. You will need to exhibit more grace and be less judgmental. You have to be more bold and less hesitant or fearful.

If you’re thinking that is a pretty tall order you are right. It is impossible for us.  Our human nature gets in the way.  We judge others’ faults and can act selfishly and spitefully.  We store our hurts away until those hurts lead to resentment. Even with our best efforts to love like Jesus, we fail. Jesus knew this, and He generously provides us the key to our problem and some encouragement: “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” (Mark 10:27

The power to accomplish the impossible comes only from God. We need the power of God to love as He does.  The power comes from the Holy Spirit living within us.

We can become better at loving like Jesus. This love isn’t illusive. It isn’t pie-in-the-sky. It isn’t out-of-reach nor relegated to untouchable saints. It’s real. Is it difficult, yes?  Will you and I fail in living them out? Absolutely. But don’t be discouraged. For it’s in our failed attempts that we learn to love as Jesus loved.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How did Jesus demonstrate His love for others? What things did He do? Can we show this type of love?
  2. What can we do this week to live more like Christ?


“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40.

The Pharisees were the keepers of scripture and Biblical law. One of them asked Jesus this question, “which is the most important commandment?” Basically, they wanted Jesus to mentally sift through over 600 laws and distill them down to one. That would be similar to you deciding which Florida law is most important out of the countless laws on the books.

Jesus broke the law down into two commandments from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 when put together they read; “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind … you must love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus was simply saying that if we truly loved God and our neighbor then we would naturally keep all the other commandments.

To become a person who consistently loves others, you first need to be a loving person. To truly love, we must first know God. Love starts with God and ends with God because God is love. We see this in 1 John 4: 7-8 when he writes: “ 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.”

There is not one person Jesus does not love and did not come to save – this includes everyone you lock eyes with, walk past on the street, hear about in the news, live next door to, stand behind in line at the grocery store, or sit next to in the theater. When we actively love those around us, putting their needs before our own, we are displaying the same amazing love that Jesus has poured out to us.

It is easy to believe love is just a nice, heart-warming feeling. But as Christians, we are called for it to be more than that – we are called to take action. We can share God’s love by noticing the unnoticed, loving the unlovely, by extending grace to those who are not so easy to be around.

When we look at how to love others, scripture offers plenty of insight. Romans 12:9-10,13-16 (MSG), gives us great examples of love in action: “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle… Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.”

All God does is out of love. He loves perfectly. Our goal is to love as God loves. Love isn’t something that is derived from within us. For the kind of love that God calls us to – the love that loves our neighbor as much as we love ourselves –  must come from Him.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to you when the Bible says to love others?   
  2. What can we do this week to be better at loving others?