Summary: God showed how much He loves us when He gave His Son to die for us.

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The Cost of Showing You Care

Despite the sluggish U.S. economy, this year lovebirds still planned to shell out an average of $123 each on Valentine’s Day, up from $120 last year and eclipsing the $101 of 2006. The total estimated cost for the U.S.: $17 billion, according to estimates by the National Retail Federation.

The federation’s survey polled 8,447 consumers and found that 61 percent planned to celebrate the holiday. The most romantic age group was the 18- to 24-year-old set, 72 percent of which were getting ready to shower their sweethearts with everything from candy to jewelry this February. But it was the 25- to 34-year-olds who planned to spend the most cash—$160 on average. Men intended to spend $163 on their valentines; women, just $84. Some of the most popular gifts men said they would buy were flowers (58.2 percent), candy (45.0 percent) and jewelry (26.5 percent).

Love by the Numbers: 2008

• Sweets for Your Sweetie

This year, confectioners were churning out between 8 billion and 9 billion conversation hearts (enough to stretch from coast to coast and back again), as well as 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, according to the National Confectioners Association.

• Putting It on Paper

Nearly 57% of both men and women planned to purchase Valentine’s cards this year, down from 63% in 2007. While electronic cards have elbowed in a bit, paper Valentine’s cards are still huge business, with approximately 190 million cards sold each year, according to Hallmark.

• Bountiful Blooms

America’s 22,753 florist shops sold 214 million roses for Valentine’s Day in 2007, up from 189 million in 2006, according to the Society of American Florists. Valentine’s Day is the No. 1 holiday for florists, capturing 36% of all holiday fresh-cut flower purchases and 40% of the dollar volume.

• Just “I Do” It

According to one survey, 2.3 million marriages take place in the U.S. each year—more than 6,000 “You-may-kiss-the-brides” per day—though just 9% of marriages happen in February. For lovers contemplating the plunge, expect to shell out an average of $4,435 for a ring. Average cost of the big ceremony: $27,852.

(The above information was taken from “The Cost of Showing You Care” by Melanie Linder.)

We spend lots of money every Valentine’s Day to show our love. But there is a limit to what we will spend.

But when God wanted to show the world how much He loves us, He spared no expense. He didn’t give us gifts purchased at a store. He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ. “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.”

Last week I began a new series on John 3 called Eternal Life: The Live Jesus Gives. Today I am going to share with you part 2: Love Without Limits.

1“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. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

In the original Greek, there are no quotation marks. So we don’t know if these words are from Jesus or John. But whether they were spoken by Jesus or written later by John, these words are true and extremely important to us today.

John 3:16 has been called “the heart of the Bible.” Let’s learn about God’s love by examining this verse piece by piece.

1. “For God” – The greatest LOVER

If we wanted to learn the meaning of the word “love,” we might look in a dictionary. [Pick up dictionary] But a dictionary is not the best place to look for a definition of “love.” The Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). God defines love. If we want to know what love is, we must know who God is and what He has done.

2. “So loved” – The greatest LOVE

The word “so” emphasizes the intensity of God’s love. “For God loved the world so much…” (NLT).

[Open dictionary] Here is how the dictionary (Merriam-Webster Online) defines “love”: (1) strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (maternal love for a child); (2) attraction based on sexual desire; (3) affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests (love for his old schoolmates).

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