Family Valentine’s Day Devotion – He Did It First!

1John419Verse to Remember:  We love because he loved us first. – 1 John 4:19 (NIrV)

Terrific Truth:  We can share Jesus’ love by putting others first.

If you have a brother or sister, you know how important the word first can be.  After all, siblings can be really competitive.  Maybe you’ve heard some of these phrases around your house:

  • I want to go first.
  • I get first pick.
  • Let me have the first piece.
  • No fair!  Why is she always first?

Or how about this one?  Have you ever blamed something you did on your brother or sister because they did it to you first?  Whether it was saying unkind words, making mean faces or hitting each other, kids having been using that excuse for years.

It goes like this.  One kid yells, “Mom, she pushed me!”

Immediately the other replies, “Well, she pushed me first!”

Like that makes it okay!  We all know it doesn’t, but sometimes we use that excuse anyway to try to get ourselves out of trouble.

Okay, so those are some bad ways we use the word first, but what would you say if I told you you could actually use the word first in a good way?  In fact, the Bible tells us that the phrase, “He did it first!” can be an excuse to do all kinds of good things.

1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he loved us first” (NIrV).  Jesus’ friend John wrote this about Jesus.  He’s saying that Jesus’ love should be our example for how we treat others.

Remember, Jesus loves people who no else loves.  Jesus loves people who were mean to him.  Jesus loves people who’ve done wrong things.  Jesus loves everyone all the time no matter what.

Here’s the crazy part.  Jesus’ love gives us the power to love others in the same way.

One simple way to love others is by putting them first.  Let your brother have the first piece of cake.  Let your sister pick the first toy.  Let someone else go first in the board game.

They may look at you like you’re crazy, and may be confused why you are being so kind and loving.  If they are, just point to the Bible and explain, “He did it first!”

Put It Into Action:  Take a whole week letting others go first and see what happens.

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for loving me every day no matter what.  Please help me to love other people in the same way.  Amen.

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Family Devotion: Valentine’s Day

photo (44)Verse to Remember:

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. – 1 John 4:7 (NIrV)

Ahead of Time:

Cut out several paper hearts of various sizes. Use construction paper, notebook paper or anything you have available.  If you have enough time, let the kids cut them out.  For the quick version, do it yourself ahead of time.

Keep one heart back to represent God’s heart.   Write the word “PEOPLE” on it. If you’re really feeling ambitious, make it bigger and fancier than the rest.

Talk About This:

What special holiday do we have coming up? Valentine’s Day. What are some things you think of when you think of Valentine’s Day? (love, hearts, candy, chocolate, cards, etc).

Let’s use these paper hearts to think about some things we love. Take a heart and write down one thing you love on it. It could food, a toy, a person, a song, or whatever. If you love it, write it down.

(Parents should write some things down too. After kids fill out their paper hearts, have kids share what they wrote, and share yours with them.)

Okay, now lets put them in order in front of us. Put the heart with the thing you love most at the top and put the heart with the thing you love least at the bottom.

We use the word love for a lot of things, especially around Valentine’s Day, but if we want to learn what true love is, we need to look at God’s heart. Do you know what God loves most all?

(Show kids the heart with the word “PEOPLE” written on it.)

God loves people. People are at the top of God’s list and at the bottom of God’s list and everywhere in between. For God, people are always more important than things.

God loves you, and now we get to share that love with others. Check out what this Bible verse says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God.” -1 John 4:7. Let’s say it out loud together. “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God.” -1 John 4:7

It’s great to have things you really like, things like pizza, puppies and ice cream. But the longer we follow Jesus, the more we learn to put people at the very top of our list.

Let’s flip our hearts over and make a list of people we can show love to this week.

After kids make their list, have them pick one heart and talk about how they can share God’s love with the person whose name they wrote down. Help them make a plan and put it into action.


God, thanks for loving us. Thanks for putting us at the top of your list. Help us to have a heart like yours. Amen.

Extra Prayer Activity:

Put the hearts with names on them somewhere you’ll see them all week and choose one each day to pray for together.

Just For Fun:

Check out this awesome Valentine’s Day breakfast idea for kids.

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Getting to the Bottom of Love

As soon as I got out of the car, I knew I was in trouble.  I felt a cool breeze on the seat of my pants.  Uh oh, I thought, ripped jeans.   I reached back to see how bad it was but couldn’t find any hole.  No breaches in my britches.  No rips, no tears, nothing.  I thought I must be imagining things. 

A normal person would probably have investigated further, but I was in a hurry.  I had a boatload of work to do so I shrugged it off and ran into the cafe.  I had my laptop and only a couple of hours to knock out a serious amount of writing.  By the time I’d found a table and set up my stuff, I’d forgotten all about my little problem.

Then I went up to order a drink.  At the counter.  In front of every customer in the place.  That’s when I noticed that pesky breeze again.  Not good.  I casually investigated, pretending to reach for my wallet, but still couldn’t feel a thing.  

Despite my lack of evidence, I couldn’t escape the sneaking suspicion that something had gone terribly wrong south of the border.  A quick trip to the restroom confirmed my worst fears – a five inch rip right down the rear of my jeans.  Five inches!  Think Grand Canyon in denim.  Now what was I supposed to do?

If I’d been four, I would have yelled for my mom. At forty, I called my wife.  “Uh, honey, I have a situation.”  She wasn’t surprised.  I always have a situation.   Fifteen minutes later, though, she came to my rescue with a new pair of pants. 

It made me think about how the Bible says that love never fails.  Of course my wife was going to come bail me out.  That’s what we do.  It didn’t matter that she had her hands full with a 3 year old to drop off at preschool and a job to get to soon after that.  When one of us is stuck, the other comes to the rescue.  Even in the most embarrassing situations in life, that’s what love does. 

Around Valentine’s Day every year, we hear a lot of talk about what we call love, but usually it’s not love at all.  It’s selfish infatuation.  It’s all about how you make me feel or what you can do for me.  We talk about falling in love, falling out of love and losing that loving feeling.  But the fact is, you can’t lose real love.  You don’t fall into it.  You don’t fall out of it.  You choose it. 

That’s why love never fails.  It’s based on a choice, not a feeling.  The choice to love is to choose to be committed to the good of the person you love no matter what bone-headed thing they do.  Sure, feelings of passion and affection comes along for the ride, but sometimes they dry up.  Love, however, keeps on going.

When I was at my worst, God chose to love me, and trust me, he’s seen it all.  He was there in my greatest moments, and He was there in my lowest.

If you think standing in a restaurant showing off your backside is humiliating, imagine how it feels to stand before a perfect God with all of your life fully exposed before Him. 

And yet, instead of condemning me, God came to my rescue.  He covered my shame.  He gave me new clothes.  That’s what love does.  It rescues.  It bails us out.  No matter what we’ve done or where we’ve been, love never fails.

God’s love never fails because God never fails, and He is committed to you.

Maybe instead of sending someone a Valentine’s Day card this year, a better way to celebrate would be to show them some good old-fashioned selfless love.  Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it.  Overlook an embarrassing mistake.  Come to someone’s rescue who would otherwise be hopelessly up a creek without you. 

And if you see a guy in a coffee shop with the seat ripped out of his pants, pretend like you didn’t.  I’m sure his wife will thank you later.