“God loves you!” You’ve likely heard those words many times in your life.But what do they really mean to you?Do you reallybelieve that God loves you? I didn’t until I was a counselor at a church youth camp and a teenage boy spoke those words directly to me. I’d just met him that week, and after a prayer session he came up to me and looked me in the eyes and said, “The Holy Spirit just told me to come and tell you how much God loves you.” They were personal and life-giving words I’d longed to hear. I believe they are words we all desperately need to hear. Even more importantly, we need to believe and know in our hearts that God really does love us.

Most children raised in the church can readily recite the well-known song, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Knowing those words in your head and believing them in your heart are two totally different things.We may believe that refrain when we are young, but as we grow older and know we’ve sinned against God by disobeying His commands, we easily believe Satan’s lie that God can’t possibly love us. It’s easy to be deceived into thinking that God’s love is based upon our performance rather than God’sinfinite goodness. We often make His love about us rather than about Him.

The more we listen to Satan’s lies, the greater the distance we keep from God.We quit reading the Bible, praying, and having fellowship with other believers because we are afraid to draw near to God.We are afraid that we are going to be chastised; that He is going to “hit us over the head” with our sin. Our sin is ever before us until we confess it. Until we do, we’ll think that is all that God sees when He looks at us.

I hope you too are comforted by these words from Romans 5:6-8:

“…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (italics added).”

God as the perfect Father loves His children because they are His, not because of what they do or don’t do. If you’ve received the gift of salvation He offers to all who believe in the redemptive work He did on the cross, rest assured you are His beloved child. He longs to be close to you; He longs to speak words of love to you.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.“ James 4:8

When you take the time to draw near to Him, you’ll be able to hear the words He desires to speak over you. They are words of love and encouragement, as well as words of conviction, which also are always based upon His love for you. Words that if you take them to heart will transform your life.

If you long to hear God’s words of love to you, I encourage you to:

1) Get in a quiet place where there are no distractions.

2) Set aside enough time to really listen to God without being in a hurry.

3) Ask God to reveal to you what His heart is toward you.

4) Meditate on the following scriptures: *

Zephaniah 3:17“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Psalm 33: 18 “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.”

Psalm 86:5 “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.”

Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

5) Thank Him for His unfailing love and ask Him to continue to make it real to you.

*You also may wish to do a word study by searching for scriptures with the words: kindness; loving kindness, and/or God’s love

Written by Julie Van Gorp