Do you know how much God loves you? You may know THAT He loves you. You know He loved you enough to allow His only Son to suffer and die for you (John 3:16). But do you understand at a HEART LEVEL the scope of God’s affection for you?

I think this is something our culture struggles with immensely. Almost all of our love experiences these days are conditional. Parents, friends, romantic interests, and even many marital relationships are so performance-based. Mom and Dad give you privileges and praise, only if you do well in school, sports, dance or whatever else they value. If you make them look good, you receive a positive response. Peers are willing to hang out with you, so long as you enhance their image or make them feel good about themselves. Members of the opposite sex pay attention to you and want to go out with you, so long as you are attractive, make them laugh, or offer certain other ‘fringe benefits.’ Even spouses are willing to end a marriage, if you no longer provide them with those warm, fuzzy feelings that first drew the two of you together.

Therefore, the idea of a perfect, unconditional love is foreign to us. Why would God want me? Nobody else does. I don’t have a lot of talent, brains or influence to be of much value to Him. I bring an awful lot of sin, hang-ups and other baggage into the relationship. What could possibly in it for Him?

When we don’t understand how much we are loved by God, we don’t have a lot of expectations of Him. Yeah, the Bible is full of promises, but those are for other people. God is ABLE to heal, deliver and bless, but does He WANT to do that for ME? Some of us feel like ugly step-children or the middle child that no one notices. So we figure God probably doesn’t have time to pay attention to our prayers, or isn’t aware of our needs.

Can you identify?

When a person comprehends the depth of God’s love for him or her, something happens inside. They realize: If God can love me—despite all He knows about me—well, then, maybe I might be lovable to someone else, too. If God loves me the way He says He does, then maybe He might be willing to give me some of the things I ask for. Maybe He’s willing to help me do something that really matters with my life. Maybe He wants to talk to or through me. Maybe He can and will help me kick this bad habit or turn around a messed-up relationship.

Maybe God has something better for me than I previously imagined.

The Apostle Paul understood just how revolutionary it could be for a person to grasp the magnitude of God’s love for him/her. That’s why he wrote the following to the folks at one of his most beloved churches:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21, NIV)

God wants you to have more than a Sunday-school rote-knowledge of His love for you. He wants you to have a deep, heart-level, life-transforming comprehension of the depth of His love. He wants to impress upon you the scope of His love, so that you can better love and trust and expect good things of Him, but also so you can extend that love to others. He wants you to abound in His love, so that you begin to resemble His godly character (Philippians 1:9-11). Then you will experience and express the presence of God to the fullest!

That is my Valentine’s Day prayer for you: That you may comprehend the magnitude of God’s love—not just for the world, but for YOU. I pray that you will experience this love that never fails, that continually reaches out to embrace and comfort you, that pursues and woos you, that rejoices over you with singing, that yearns to bless you (1 Corinthians 13:8, Jeremiah 31:3, Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 30:18). May your heart grasp what the Spirit of God desires for you to KNOW, and may your life be forever changed because of it!

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