LOVING GOD                           Dr. Joseph Stowell
We love because He first loved us. I John 4:19

When we fall in love, we quickly learn how to express it. Whether it is flowers, little surprises, sweet notes , a wink across a crowded room, a midmorning phone call, a listening ear, or a word of encouragement, nothing is too good or too much.
Love is the most precious thing we give in a relationship. We give it to our friends, our marriage partners, our children, our coworkers, and even our cats and dogs. So it should come as no surprise that love is the central issue in our relationship with God (Matthew 22:34-40).
Loving God starts by understanding the profound truth that God loves us. As God’s Word states, “we love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). Not only is it true that He is love (I John 4:8, 16), it is transformingly true that He is busy loving you as you read this. And if you doubt that you are loved by Him, think of the overwhelming proof expressed in Jesus’ death for you.
God is the initiator; He simply asks us to reciprocate. He wants our responses to His love to be natural, spontaneous, and free-not forced.
Early in our ministry, our mode of transportation was marginal, to say the least. At the close of one Thanksgiving Eve Service, the members of our church, much to our surprise, gave us a set of keys to a new car they had leased for us.
I drove away that night with a deep gratefulness toward the flock that had been so sensitive and generous towards us. I had always sought to be faithful in shepherding them, but their love for our family simulated me to seek new ways to express how much I loved them in return.
We have been and are loved by God in far deeper and more enduring ways than anyone else has ever loved us. When we get a grip on this, our lives will search for ways to love and please Him as a thankful response rather than a grudging responsibility. Acts of loyalty, obedience, sacrifice, and service to others all say, “I love you, God,” in clear and compelling ways.