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Keys to Powerful Living: Love


CBN.comIt's something each of us wants, but many never find: genuine love. All around us we can see an endless pursuit of love. We look for it everywhere: in our homes and families, friendships, dating relationships, marriage and religion. But what is love, and where can we go to find lasting love for our lives?

What is Love?

Love is often described in terms of feelings. But true love -- what the New Testament writers called agape love -- is not based on feelings at all. Agape love can change your life and set you free. And it all begins with a decision you must make.

Agape love is a decision to consider the needs of others ahead of your own needs ... to live sacrificially ... to give without demanding a return ... to overlook an offense. Most of all, agape love is a decision to receive and respond to God's love. For all our efforts to love others will not bear fruit unless we are responding to His love. As the Bible says, "We love, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

Thus, our understanding of love begins with perhaps the most frequently quoted verse in the Bible, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

This is what the Bible calls being "born-again" or born from above." In this new-birth experience, God reveals His incredible love to you. This miracle will produce in you a new nature that will allow you to love others like never before -- regardless of their response to your love.

New birth is just the start. To grow in love we must continue receiving God's love and forgiveness (see Luke 7:47). Listen to the apostle Paul's prayer for the Christians in Ephesus: "that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to al the fullness of God: ( Eph. 3:17B-19).

Not only do we need to be "rooted and grounded" in God's love for us, we also need an ever-increasing comprehension of His love toward us.

As we experience God's love and respond in love, we will be transformed into His image. We will also be fulfilling His greatest command: to love God and our neighbors (Mark 12:29-31). This love must inevitable overflow into actions (1 John 3:13). Ultimately, the verifiable witness of our love for each other will prove to the world that we are truly disciples of Jesus (see John 13:34).

While agape love is not based on feelings, the feelings of love will often follow true expressions of love. As our lives begin to demonstrate the "fruit of the Spirit: (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self- control). our emotional state will undoubtedly change for the better. But we must not seek after the emotions. Instead, seek first His kingdom and "all these things: will be give to us ( Matt. 6:33).

Overcoming Barriers to Love

Even with an understanding of love, we often find it difficult to overcome barriers to love. These barriers often arise from our experiences in the past: the hurts, wounds, rejections and disappointments that left us unable to give or receive true love.

The key to overcoming the barriers of the past can be summed up in one word: forgiveness. By asking the forgiveness of those we have offended -- beginning with God -- and then forgiving those who have offended us, we move beyond the cycle of bitterness and enter into the realm of God's agape love.

Our own self-centered desires -- pride, envy, jealousy and conceit -- often separate us from God's true love. This barrier of self can be overcome only through repentance, by turning away from sin and asking God's forgiveness for selfish desires and actions. As we humble ourselves before the Lord and receive His forgiveness, we will find freedom to look beyond our own needs and reach out to those around us.

Finding True Love

The search for love begins with our relationship with God. If you are looking for true love, open yourself up to the One who loves you more than anyone else in the whole world. God loved you so much that He gave His only Son, Jesus. Call upon Jesus Christ now. Allow Him to reach out and touch you with the agape love that comes from the heart of God. Repent and ask His forgiveness and receive it in faith ( Romans 10:13; 1 John 1:8-9; John 1:12). Ask Jesus to baptize you (fill you) with the Holy Spirit ( Luke 11:13).

As you grow in your faith, let God unfold His great love for you every day. Then, reach out in the practical ways to those around you -- family, friends, co-workers, neighbors -- and thereby demonstrate the love you have received from God.

Finally, pray and ask God to fill you with a new understanding of love: "Father, I believe You love me. The Scripture says I can love You because You first loved me. I thank you for Your love. Fill my heart in a greater way that You ever have before. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and love. Help me to grow in Your love and let me show Your love to people all around me. Thank You, Father. In Jesus' name. Amen."

God's Word on Love

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" ( 1 John 4:7-11). Family

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Scriptures for Study

1 Corinthians 13 -- What is love?

John 3:16 -- God's love revealed

1 John 4:7-14 -- God's love explained

Ephesians 2:4-5 -- God's love in unearned

John 15:12-17 -- Jesus' command to love

John 13:34-35 -- Love demonstrates faith

Matthew 5:43-44 -- Enemies must be loved

Galatians 5:22-23 -- Love's marvelous fruit

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Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.

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