Today’s word is heart.  Of course when we think of heart, our usual first thought is love.  Around Christmastime there is definitely an emphasis on love. There is a tendency to feel like we should show love to others and in doing so, help create peace on earth.  There are countless romantic Christmas movies, as well as movies that have themes of general love and good will throughout.  From where does this love come?  I don’t want to write too much today, because I am no expert on love.  I am trying to learn what love looks like and how to display love each day in my life, but I am far from where I want to be in this area. So I want us to search the treasures found in the One true expert on Love- Jesus Christ Himself.  I want to discover His Heart.

1 John 4:7-21 is an incredible passage on love- let’s meditate on this together:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.
This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Incredible!  This love is so extravagant, so transcendent, yet so intimate and real.  This love is ours to receive and ours, in return, to give away, because Jesus came as Emmanuel- God with us- in the flesh, God Incarnate, so that way He might display His perfect love on the cross and give us access to the throne of grace.  How amazing that God is still with us and shows us His steadfast love every day through the Holy Spirit.  When the angels, God’s messengers, came to Mary and Joseph and the Shepherds- what did they say emphatically every single time?  Do not be afraid!  Because perfect love casts out fear.  I challenge myself this Christmas to let Jesus’ love drive out all fear in my life.  

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

(Luke 1:30-33)

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

(Matthew 1:20)

 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

(Luke 2:10-12)

Oh how often I turn to fear instead of turning to the love of Jesus.  How very often I fail in attempting to love, because I am not letting Christ’s love penetrate my heart and love through me. Dear Lord, please allow my heart to be surrendered to Yours.

As I’m writing this, the song that keeps running through my head is “Take Heart” by Hillsong United on their Aftermath album.  The words to this song are lyrics that are sewn into the deepest fibers of my soul- it’s one of those songs packed with such Gospel truth and hope, declaring the extraordinary love of God and the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus.  I think there’s nothing more I want to write tonight except to share the lyrics from this wonderful worship song, and in doing so, to encourage both you and I to receive perfect love from our King Jesus, and let His heart shape our hearts each day as we journey with Him through life…Take heart!  Fear not!  Love because He first loved us!

There is a light
It burns brighter than the sun
He steals the night
And casts no shadow
There is hope
Should oceans rise and mountains fall
He never fails

So take heart
Let His love lead us through the night
Hold onto hope
And take courage again

In death by love
The fallen world was overcome
He wears the scars of our freedom
In His Name
All our fears are swept away
He never fails

All our troubles and all our tears
God our Hope, He has overcome

All our failure and all our fear
God our Love, He has overcome

All our heartache and all our pain
God our Healer, He has overcome

All our burdens and all our shame
God our Freedom, He has overcome

God our Justice, God our Grace
God our Freedom, He has overcome

God our Refuge, God our Strength
God is with us, He has overcome
(Hillsong United “Take Heart”)