A Valentine

In Max Lucado’s book “No Wonder They Call Him Savior”, he tells this story.
Longing to leave her poor Brazilian neighborhood, Christina wanted to see the world. Discontent at home only on a pallet on the floor, a washbasin, and a wood burning stove, she dreamed of a better life in the city. One morning she ran away, breaking her mother’s heart. Her mother knew what life would be like for her young, attractive daughter, so Maria quickly packed to go find her daughter. On her way to the bus stop, she went to a drugstore to get one last thing. Pictures. She sat in the photograph booth, closed the curtain, and spent all the money she had on pictures of herself
With her purse, full of small black and white photos, she got on the next bus to Rio de Janeiro. Maria knew Christina had no way of earning any money. She also knew that her daughter was too stubborn to give up. Maria began her search. Bars, hotels, nightclubs, any place with the reputation for street walkers or prostitutes. She went to all of them. And at each one she left her picture—taped to a bathroom mirror, tacked to a hotel bulletin board, or fastened to a corner phone booth. And on the back of each photo she wrote a note.
It wasn’t long before Maria’s money and pictures ran out, and Maria had to go home. The tired mother cried as the bus began its long journey back to her small village. A few weeks later, Christina was coming down the stairs in a seedy hotel. Her young face was tired. Her brown eyes no longer danced with youth but spoke of pain and fear. Her laugher was broken. Her dream had become a nightmare.
A thousand times she had longed to trade all those countless beds for her secure pallet. And yet the little village seemed so far away. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, her eyes noticed a familiar face. She looked again, and there on the lobby mirror was a small picture of her mother. Christina’s eyes burned and her throat tightened as she walked across the room and removed the small photo. Written on the back was this message: “Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. Please come home.”
And Christina went home.
God is the same way. He wants us to come home. It doesn’t matter what we’ve become. We can always go home to Him. God loves us even when we fail. Constant success is not humanly possible. God loves us when we succeed and when we fail.
God loves us even when we sin. Jesus Christ died for our sins. God still loves us even when we are disobedient and sin. There are times when everyone turns his or her back on us. People may reject us, but God never does. God loves us. We cannot escape this truth.
God’s creation is an expression of love that is hard to ignore. Even if you are not the outdoor type, you notice the beauty that surrounds us.
Psalm 8: 1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! God shows his love for us through creation.
Another sign of God’s genuine love for us is free will. We are able to think and to choose. He loved us so much that he allowed free will. We are not robots or dolls for His entertainment. We are not automatically loving like the dogs at house that are so happy when we come home. He made us with a unique ability to participate in a relationship with him.
Love is not a form of control from one person over another. Love is about freedom not slavery. God gave us freedom by giving us free choice about the relationship. We can say “no” and He will not make us love him.
God loves us just as we are, not for how good or holy we can be. Even when we feel unacceptable to God, God accepts us. Even when we fail God, God forgives us and is ready to give us another chance. Even when we see no future for ourselves God prepares a way, opening the future in ways we cannot imagine. Nothing can separate us from God’s Love. Romans 8:38  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing we do can make God stop loving us.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 
The Bible is a great love story. The story of God’s love for humanity despite our sin. Throughout the Old Testament we hear God repeatedly inviting us to a covenant relationship with Him. Through Jesus Christ, God offers us this relationship. God offers us a relationship through grace (something freely given but not deserved or worked for). God pursues us throughout our lives (sort of like Christina’s mother pursued her).
Three sons left home, started careers and prospered. Getting back together, they discussed the gifts that they were able to give their mother for her 70th birthday. The first said, “I built a huge house for Mom.” The second said, “I sent her a Mercedes with a driver.” The third smiled and said, “I’ve got you both beat. You know how Mom enjoys the Bible and you know she can’t see very well.
I sent her a brown parrot that can recite the entire Bible. It took 20 monks in a monastery 12 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $100,000 a year for 10 years, but it was worth it. Mom just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot will recite it.”
Soon thereafter, Mom sent out letters of thanks: She wrote the first son, “Milton, the house you built is not practical. I live in only one room, but have to heat, cool, and clean the entire house.” The second she said, “Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay at home all the time, so I never use the Mercedes. And the driver is so rude!”
She wrote the third son, “Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to know what your Mother likes. The chicken was delicious.”
We all have different ways to express our love for others. Sometimes it is received well and other times it is not.
God expresses his love for us through the gift of the creation, through the gift of free will, through the gift of eternal life.
What can we put in our Valentine to God? Exodus 20
I will have no other gods.
I will not make idols or anything that resembles an idol.
I will honor your name.
I will set aside time to worship you.
I will honor my parents.
I will not murder others.
I will not commit adultery.
I will not steal.
I will not lie.
I will not covet.
I Love You, Lord
And I Lift My Voice
To Worship You
Oh, My Soul Rejoice!
Take Joy My King
In What You Hear
Let It Be A Sweet,
Sweet Sound In Your Ear.
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

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