<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> Day 1 <i><b>Love is the greatest of these</b> <p> If I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.</i> 1 Corinthians 13:2 <p> <p> Loving God and others is what life is really about. No matter who you are or what you do, it comes down to whether you'll live a life of love or not. And there is a vast difference between the two. One is priceless ... and one meaningless. <p> Love is the most important ingredient to any meaningful relationship. It is fundamental to true significance. Your quality of life is directly tied to the amount of love flowing in you and through you to others. Though it's often overlooked, love is infinitely more valuable than riches, fame, or honor. They will pass away, but love remains. You can be fulfilled without these, but not without love. <p> The absence of love leaves a devastating void. When it is not present, your spirituality becomes superficial, your benevolent deeds self-centered, and your sacrifices insincere. In any relationship where love is not your motivation, you can expect it to feel bland and unfulfilling-if not meaningless. When asked to identify life's greatest command, Jesus summed it up this way: to love God with all you are and to love your neighbor as yourself. Will you embrace a life of love? <p> <p> <b>THIS WEEK'S DARE</b> <p> Begin praying this week: "Lord, teach me what real love is and make me a loving person." <p> <p> Day 2 <i><b>Love is life's motivator</b> <p> For Christ's love compels us ...</i> 2 Corinthians 5:14 <p> <p> Anger can fuel hatred in a man's heart until he feels like attacking his enemy. But love can spark kindness in his heart so he lays down his life for his friend. Selfishness can drive a woman to tighten her grip and hoard her resources. But love can inspire her to open her hands and give sacrificially. Love is the purest and most powerful motivator. It gives courage to a coward, wisdom to a fool. <p> When love invades your heart, you are empowered to endure deeper pain, willingly pay a greater cost, and run risks to your reputation for the sake of another. Love causes a soldier to lay down his life for his country, a mother to pray relentlessly for her child, and a gracious God to send His only Son to die for our sins. Love is that powerful. <p> Paul the apostle endured beatings, intense persecution, and hardship throughout his life. He did it for one reason alone: "Christ's love" compelled him. If love began fueling your decisions, what would it drive you to do for your marriage? <p> <p> <b>GO DEEPER</b> <p> Read 1 Corinthians 13. After you have read it, read verses 4-7 again. This time, replace the words "love" or "it" with your first name. Then close in prayer and ask God to help make this a reality in your life. <p> <p> Day 3 <i><b>Love is the key</b> <p> Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.</i> 1 Corinthians 13:13 <p> Love is fundamental to the success of your marriage. Not your current feelings of romance or sexual satisfaction. Not a stronger financial standing or even your spouse's behavior. All of these can circumstantially change, and they will. But when storms rise and conditions worsen, love-driven marriages endure and work through even the toughest issues without giving up. <p> When marriages crumble, couples often claim that it was due to their irreconcilable differences. But genuine love is a master at reconciliation. When love takes over, it compels us to humbly apologize and take full responsibility for our failures, then to fully forgive where our spouse has failed us. Over and over again. <p> Resilient marriages are built on honesty, respect, commitment, forgiveness, and endurance. And love constantly inspires all of these things to grow and thrive within us. Though love reaches far beyond marriage, it is a God-given key to its success. You can strip away most of the pleasures you and your spouse hold together, but your marriage hinges on love. <p> <p> <b>THIS WEEK'S DARE</b> <p> Keep praying this week: "Lord, teach me what real love is and make me a loving person." <p> <p> Day 4 <i><b>Love simplifies</b> <p> Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.</i> Romans 13:8 <p> <p> Love ultimately fulfills every law of God. It persuades us to live out all that is good and forbids us from doing all that is evil. Every act of hatred, subtle deception, or plot of unfaithfulness is vetoed when love takes command in our hearts. Love toward God leads us to obey Him and uphold His rightful place of honor in our lives. If we do so, we will by default not sin against His name. Love toward others transforms our behavior for the better and defuses evil intentions like light dispels darkness. <p> Men who lead by love won't deceive or degrade their wives or their neighbors. When love fills a woman's mouth, she encourages her family instead of tearing them down. When you're focused on love, you will naturally demonstrate patience, tenderness, and kindness. Rather than trying to manufacture right actions and attitudes, let love become your first response and your default position. Then you're set to launch into any circumstance graciously and to land with no regrets. <p> <p> <b>GO DEEPER</b> <p> Read Romans 13:8-10 and study Paul's explanation of how love fulfills all of God's law. <p> <p> Day 5 <i><b>Love is the business of men</b> <p> God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.</i> 2 Timothy 1:7 <p> <p> When a movie is marketed as a love story, we assume it's primarily for an audience of women. If plots don't contain fighting, bleeding, or exploding, men will gladly avoid them. But real love is not merely women's work. It's at the core of manhood, transforming men to be strong and courageous. <p> Love makes a husband put away childish things and embrace his responsibilities to lead his family. It drives him to defend his wife, provide for his children, and even lay down his life if they become endangered. Love motivates a man to confront injustice and take passionate stands for what he believes in, like crossing an ocean to fight for his country. <p> Jesus was the most loving man ever to walk the earth and remains the perfect example of manhood. With passion, He confronted evil, cast out demons, and rebuked religious hypocrites. Out of love, He served sacrificially, rescued the brokenhearted, and willingly died for the sins of the world. Real men embrace this love as the driving force to boldly do what boys merely dream of. <p> <p> <b>THIS WEEK'S DARE</b> <p> Keep praying this week: "Lord, teach me what real love is and make me a loving person." <p> <p> Day 6 <i><b>Love is your job description</b> <p> This is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another.</i> 1 John 3:11 <p> <p> People from every nation, tribe, and tongue have it in common-everyone is longing to be loved. It's inbred, God-given, lifelong, and deeply felt. "Would someone please love me?" is the unspoken cry from billboards, television shows, magazines, and T-shirts. We work constantly to get others to notice our worth and validate us with their attention. We will even give ourselves to someone with hopes of receiving love in return. But ironically, people rarely take their focus off themselves so they can meet this need in others. Selfishly, we may even overlook our own spouse. But he or she needs it just the same. <p> Love, however, is your primary responsibility in marriage. Did you not vow to a lifelong love at the altar? Are you not the one God has privileged to fill your mate's love tank? And remember this: when your spouse deserves your love the least, that is when they need it the most. No one on Earth is more strategically positioned, commanded, and called on to love your mate than you are. <p> <p> <b>PRAYER</b> <p> "Lord, I thank You for the spouse You have given me. Teach me to love them in a way that meets their needs and honors You. In Jesus' name, amen." <p> <p> Day 7 <i><b>Love is fertile soil</b> <p> ... that you being rooted and grounded in love ...</i> Ephesians 3:17 NASB <p> <p> When we plant a living seed into healthy soil, we expect it to blossom. And just as flowers in a greenhouse are supplied with an ideal environment for growth, so a home filled with love provides the ideal atmosphere for people to bloom. <p> We know that children who grow up in loving families tend to sleep deeper, stand taller, and venture farther than those who are never secure in their parents' love. Likewise, when you provide safe, loving soil for your spouse to grow in, they will be more likely to flourish with confidence, knowing they are valued and secure. <p> What happens when someone is loved over the years? Their needs are met, dreams encouraged, opinions heard, and successes praised. They're assured of your patience and forgiveness when they fail, and free to express themselves honestly without fear of your judgment. They'll even weather intense seasons of disappointment with the stability your love supplies. Admit it-we'd all love to be loved like that. <p> <p> <b>QUESTIONS</b> <p> How will your mate be affected by living with you in the future? Will they become radiant or saddened? Confident or angry? Will you dare to create a loving environment for your spouse to grow in? <p> <p> Day 8 <i><b>Love is best when God is first</b> <p> "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart."</i> Matthew 22:37 NASB <p> <p> Loving your spouse more than you love God is a form of idolatry. Far too many marriages suffer from this inversion. It places a created thing higher than the Creator. God should always be the first and primary object of our affection. He created us to love Him, and something unexplainably beautiful happens when we direct all of who we are at delighting in all of who He is. It is proper worship of the One who is worthy. <p> If love is the greatest thing you can do, then loving with all you are is the greatest expression you could ever make. Furthermore, if God is the greatest object of love, then awaken to the priceless purpose you have been given. You are wired, commanded, and invited to do the greatest thing in the greatest way for the greatest One. There is no higher calling. Yours is the most important over all of creation because you have been made in His image and are uniquely designed to express love in ways the rest of nature cannot. <p> Embrace this eternal privilege. Let every breath be an opportunity to learn how to better love the God who first loved you. <p> <p> <b>THIS WEEK'S DARE</b> <p> Commit this week to prioritize a few minutes with God every day. Include prayer and Scripture reading. <p> <p> Day 9 <i><b>Love is most when God is first</b> <p> By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.</i> 1 John 5:1-2 NASB <p> Keeping God first blesses your marriage more than any other practice. Everything in life takes on new value and meaning when it becomes an instrument for you to live out your love for God. Rather than placing yourself at the center of your relationships, all your energies and assets should be tools for worshipping Him. A husband might think his marriage would suffer from making God his greatest delight. On the contrary, it will flourish as he draws closer to the One who created marriage and loves his wife infinitely more than he does. God understands more than anyone what your marriage needs. <p> As you abide in Christ's love, the love you have for your spouse will increase in the overflow. Drinking His love in daily and expressing it back to Him fulfills you in ways your spouse cannot. This enables you to cherish your bride or groom like never before. The closer you get to Him, the more you will be like Him, think like Him, and passionately love your mate like He does. <p> <p> <b>GO DEEPER</b> <p> Read 1 John 4:19-21. According to this passage, why do we love in the first place? Look at how God's Word repeatedly calls us to love others. <p> <p> Day 10 <b>Love keeps God 's commands</b> <p> <i>"The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves me."</i> John 14:21 <p> Loving God is a wholehearted, lifelong adventure. It's not a part-time job or Sunday-only affair but a complete devotion of ourselves to seeking and treasuring who God is. Every thought, value, and action can become another way to say "I love You" to God. And loving Him is the perfect <i>why</i> behind <i>what</i> we do. It begins by confessing our faith in His Son Jesus (1 John 4:15; 5:1), and then is fueled by an ongoing obedience to Him-in everything (John 14:21). But our love makes following Him a relational delight rather than a religious chore (1 John 5:13). And as we daily abandon sin and do what He says, the peace and joy we derive makes us love Him even more. <p> God's Word says we also love Him through the ways we treat, serve, and love others (1 John 3:17; 4:11-21). So every conversation and interaction in your marriage is a new opportunity to bless your spouse and to demonstrate your love for God as well. Ultimately, how you love and respect your mate reveals every day the sincerity of your love and respect for God. <p> <p> <b>THIS WEEK'S DARE</b> <p> Commit this week to prioritize a few minutes with God every day. Include prayer and Scripture reading. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>The Love Dare Day by Day</b> by <b>STEPHEN KENDRICK ALEX KENDRICK LAWRENCE KIMBROUGH</b> Copyright © 2009 by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick. Excerpted by permission.<br> All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.