Advent Devotions

Week Three: The Love of God

Sunday (December 12, 2021)

The third Sunday of Advent is already here! This week we light the Candle of Love. Love–perhaps that is what we think of first when we think of Christmas and the great gift God gave us in sending His Son. As John Walvoord’s song goes:

    Love was when God became a man
    Locked in time and space without rank or place;
    Love was God–born of Jewish kin,
    Just a carpenter with some fishermen.

    Love was when Jesus walked in history
    Lovingly He brought a new life that’s free;
    Love was God nailed to bleed and die
    To reach and love one such as I.

    Love was when God became a man
    Down where I could see love that reached to me . . .

God could have left us all to suffer the consequences of our rebellion, but He didn’t. That is what Christmas is all about–the love of God which compelled Him to send His Son to free us from our sin.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

Prayer     Thank You, Jesus, for giving Your life for us.


As we light the candles of Advent, let us think again of the love of God. We learn what true love is by looking at God’s example.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  1 John 4:10

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

God didn’t choose Israel to be His covenant people because they were the best people on earth. In fact, He called them a stiff-necked and stubborn people. Likewise, He didn’t choose to pour out His love upon us because we were the best people He could find.

God just loves because He is love. He loves everyone, even those who do not appreciate the great gift He has given.   

If we went to a lot of effort and expense to get someone a very special Christmas gift and they just tossed it aside with indifference, we would be very hurt.

Let us not treat God’s great gift of love as a trivial trinket. Instead, may our hearts overflow with thankfulness to Him.

Prayer     We are overwhelmed, dear God, that You should love us enough to give Your precious Son for our salvation. Thank You.


God is love (1 John 4:8). Love is part of God’s nature. His love is unconditional. It is not dependent on what we do or how we behave. God’s love is always there for us.

When God showed Himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai, He passed in front of Moses proclaiming:  

The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…   Exodus 34:6, 7

Over and over throughout history God has demonstrated His love. Yet, as any good parent, verse 7 goes on to say God will punish those who do wrong.
God’s discipline is always exercised in love, always done toward the end that we might repent and turn to Him and find forgiveness.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.
…he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:6, 10, 11

This Advent let us respond in gratefulness to God’s discipline in our lives. Let us repent of our resentments and open our hearts more fully to the love of God.

Prayer     Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Ps 51:10, KJV).


While it is true that God’s love is not dependent on our response, it is also true that God longs for us to love Him, too.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus has a special message for seven different churches. In His message to the church in Ephesus He praises them for their good deeds, hard work and perseverance; but then with sadness adds, But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first (Rev. 2:4).

When asked what the most important commandment was, Jesus answered:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  Mark 12:30

God has done so much for us. He has made us. He keeps us day by day. He gave His Son to rescue us from an eternity of deserved punishment. How can we fail to love Him in return?

Yet how are we to love God? What could we ever do for Him?

1 John 5:3 says, For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

After Jesus returned to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to live within us, to come alongside us, to comfort and instruct us in the way of the Lord  (John 14).

Loving obedience should flow naturally out of a heart indwelt by the Spirit of God.

Prayer     Please give me a heart which obeys out of love.


God stands ready to pour out His blessings on those who lovingly obey Him.
God laid down rules to be obeyed, but they are rules borne out of love. He made us and knows what will keep us safe and make us truly happy. He calls His Law a covenant of love.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.     Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV)

God goes on to promise great blessing to those who obey His covenant. God will bless those who obey, but He desires that we obey out of love–not out of fear or duty or for reward.

Our love for God should show itself in love for others. Jesus said the world has a right to judge whether or not we are Christians by the love we demonstrate for one another.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  John 13:34, 35

Paul commends the church in Thessalonica for its labor prompted by love (1 Thess. 1:3 NIV). We please the heart of God when we joyfully serve Him from a heart overflowing with love and gratitude.

May all the good things we do this Christmas be prompted by our love for Jesus.

Prayer     Dear Jesus, please let my giving be done out of love for You.


God demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son. We are called to show our love for Him by becoming living sacrifices, pouring ourselves out for others.   

 Is not this the fast that I choose:   
        to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free
        and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
        and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
        and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
        and your healing shall spring up speedily
your righteousness shall go before you;
        the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
        you shall cry, and he will say: ‘Here I am.’
Isaiah 58:6-9a 

Ezekiel was a prophet who preached to the Israelites while they were in exile. Listen to what God told him about his sermons.
My people . . . sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.         Ezekiel 33:31, 32  (NIV)

As we hear God’s beautiful love song again this Christmas, let us not just listen, but respond with the gift of our life.

Prayer     Lord, please help me to pour myself out for others.


In the busyness of Christmas have you lost sight of the purpose of your activity? Others need your love more than anything else you could give.

Paul writes about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians. He tells us that we can have all kinds of gifts, but if we don’t exercise them lovingly, they are worthless. Our good deeds just become a lot of irritating noise. Paul then describes how true love–God’s kind of love–behaves and urges us to demonstrate that kind of love to one another.

    Love is very patient and kind,
        never jealous or envious,
        never boastful or proud,
        never haughty or selfish or rude.
    Love does not demand its own way.
    It is not irritable or touchy.
    It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice
        when others do it wrong.
    It is never glad about injustice,
        but rejoices whenever truth wins out.
    If you love someone you will be loyal to him
        no matter what the cost.
    You will always believe in him,
        and always stand your ground in defending him.
    All the special gifts and powers from God will someday
        come to an end, but love goes on forever.                                             
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (Living Bible)

**All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted.