When God Says, “I Love You”


Bible verses for when you feel unloved

When God says, “I love you”: Let’s take a look at the one place in the Bible where God actually says those three precious words we all long to hear: “I love you.” (He says them, and shows them, of course, ten thousand different ways throughout Scripture, but this passage has the exact words “I love you,” in nearly every translation.) These are words God spoke to comfort the nation of Israel during a difficult time, and these words transcend time and circumstance to proclaim God’s love for us, His people, today:

Bible study for when you are lonely

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you…” (Isaiah 43:2–5)


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When we know how loved we are by God, it takes away our fear: fear of hurt, fear of abandonment, fear of the unknown future. It’s not that we think, “God loves me; therefore my life should be a walk in the park: no struggles, no dangers, no losses.” This scripture doesn’t say, “If you pass through fire and water, I will be with you”—it says “when.” Everyone endures struggle, danger, and loss, even the most righteous of people. Hardship is not a sign of God’s disapproval or punishment—it is an inescapable part of life in this fallen world. But Christians can walk through life confident and joyful, knowing that God will see them through, and love them through, whatever hardship may come. He will guide and protect, comfort and console. That’s how God says, “I love you.”


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When God Shows Up


This Sunday at church, we enjoyed a casual, family-style service in which we expressed our gratitude by sharing our God Moments—stories about times when God has shown up to reveal His love or to see us through hard times. I cried like 18 times, because our God is so good. It was one of those wondrous times when you can actually feel your faith growing. We heard about…

how to find faith in hard times

-God sending strangers to encourage and strengthen a young, scared couple as they arrived at the hospital to witness the birth of their soon-to-be adopted child.

-The night before the first day of school, a nervous kindergartener and her even-more-nervous mom ask God to help the girl find a friend before the mom drops the child off the next day. The next morning, they walk up to the school hand in hand, join the back of the registration line, and are immediately greeted by the girl standing in front of them. She spins around, flashes a grin, and says, “Hi! I’m Sophia! Can I be your friend?”

-A ten-year-old girl announcing, “I am going to be a missionary in Africa one day.” She feels it in her heart like a promise from God. But years pass. She has no idea how she could ever end up ministering in Africa—she’s from the Midwest and she’s not in the full-time ministry—but the promise and dream never leave her. And then in her fifties, God opens up a dream job…in Africa. She and her husband spend years there strengthening a small church.

-And this one—this from a faith-filled 11-year-old boy who had us all in a puddle on the floor: When he was three, he asked God for a dad because his own father had abandoned their family. He also asked for a brother and a sister. Within two years, God gave him all three.


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What’s your story? We all have them—those moments big and small where God shows up to whisper (or maybe shout), “I’m here and I care.” He shows up in myriad ways: through small kindnesses from other people, through crazy turns of events we never saw coming, and even—every once in a while—through surprise checks in the mail when our need is most dire! This week as we continue to thank God for blessings big and small, I encourage you to take a moment to look back on your life. To remember. To look for God’s hand in the pages of your life. To thank him again for his countless kindnesses over the years. To share them with others who may need a boost in their faith.

Then I encourage you to watch for more God Moments. They happen every day, if we’ll only keep our eyes and hearts open enough to notice. To rejoice. To savor. And then, like the leper who came back to Jesus, let us come back again and again to thank and to praise.

Want to give God glory by sharing a God Moment in the comments? How has He shown up to reveal His love for you? I’d love to hear!


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**Don’t forget to sign up to receive 7 free family devotions and a free ebook! (Click here.)** 

 


When You Wish You Had More to Give


Bible study about giving talents to God

Image courtesy of skalekar1992 and Pixabay

Bible study about giving talents to God

A young boy elbows his way to the front of the crowd and tugs on a man’s sleeve. Andrew looks down to see the boy holding out an open sack. Inside Andrew sees five small loaves of bread nestled beside two cooked fish. “I heard the rabbi ask for food,” the boy says with a shy shrug. “My mother packed this for me, and—she said I should share with someone who doesn’t have anything.”

Eyebrows raised, Andrew places a hand on the boy’s shoulder and walks him over to Jesus. Jesus turns and twinkles a smile down at the child; Andrew flashes Jesus a sheepish grin. “So…this boy has offered to share his lunch, but” —he casts a glance over his shoulder at the thousands of people milling around behind him, waiting to hear the rabbi’s next words— “how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus tousles the boy’s dark hair and gives him a smile and a wink. “Thank you, son. This is just what I need.” The boy looks down at his sandals, blushing with pride. Rubbing His palms together, Jesus turns to Andrew with an excited—almost  mischievous—glint in his eye. Andrew has seen this look before; a tingle of anticipation floods his veins. With barely contained glee, Jesus says, “Have the people sit down.”

He rolls up His sleeves.


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We all know the rest of the famous account in John 6—how Jesus goes on to turn a little boy’s lunch into a feast for thousands. He makes so much food that the disciples collect twelve basketfuls of leftovers!

We often look at our gifts—our talents, our possessions, our skills, our wisdom—and think, “They aren’t worth much. How far can they really go?” Let us never underestimate what God can do with our “small” offerings. We don’t have to give Him the biggest thing, the best thing, the shiniest thing—we just have to give Him whatever we have to offer. The smallest gift is still a treasure in His eyes. Our gifts may be small, but our God is big. And His powerful hands can take our small gifts and multiply them. Our mighty God can turn a little into a lot—more than we could ever imagine. What small gift can you offer to Jesus today?

Family devotion or small-group discussion application:

You could easily turn this into a family devotion or small-group discussion by reading this story alongside John 6:1–14 and Luke 21:1–3. Then ask simple application questions like:

  • Do we have to be rich (or grown-up or successful or…) to give to God? Does God care how big our gifts are?
  • Read 2 Corinthians 9:7. What does God care about in our giving? What does it mean to be a cheerful giver? What are some ways you can give more cheerfully and generously…at home? At school? At church? At work? In your friendships?
  • What are you good at? (Don’t just think about skills—think about character traits like encouraging or serving, too. See Romans 12:1–8 for a list of gifts.) How could you use those talents or traits to serve other people and honor God?
  • What talent or gift would you offer to God if you weren’t insecure or afraid?

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**Don’t forget to sign up to receive 7 free family devotions and a free ebook! (Click here.)**