Big Idea: We have been given the power to Love like Jesus.
2 Timothy 1.7 (CSB): For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgement.
Devotional: I’ve noticed that many of you have shared your opinions on social media about recent events. There is no doubt that our nation is hurting and that many of our neighbors are, too. As we have hurt, I fear that we have become more divided.
In the last few days, I have recalled a statement I made four years ago: “If we’d love everyone with the love of Jesus, we wouldn’t have some of the problems we do.” Paul wrote that when we’re in Christ, we ought to put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity (Col. 3.14), but he also recognized that loving others is tough (Rom. 12.8).
Over the last week or so, many have not done a good job at loving others. We have hurled insults at brothers and sisters in Christ, called others racists, ignored the needs of our hurting neighbors, and so much more. We have forgotten that we are to love our neighbor like we love ourselves (Mk. 12.13) while simultaneously loving God with all that is within us (Deut. 6.5).
How, then, do we love others when we are hurting? Well, Paul told us that God has given us the power to love through the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are able to love with power, just as our Lord did. Understand, loving your neighbor does not mean approving of sin and wrong doing. However, it does mean that we are able to look past the temporal circumstances and love as our Heavenly Father loves. Though our communities are hurting we are able to be ambassadors of Christ’s love and imitate God, as dearly loved children (Eph. 5.1).
-How have you been loving God and your neighbor during recent weeks?
-Think of ways that you can demonstrate love and compassion to those you encounter today.
-Pray and ask God to help you love like Jesus and be a conduit of redemption in your community.
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. —Mother Teresa
Big Idea: Jesus has made us pleasing to God.
Zephaniah 3.17 (CSB): The LORD your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will be quiet in his love. He will delight in you with singing.
Devotional: I first encountered today’s verse about five years ago, but only recently did I begin to understand it. Over the past few months, I have been working through what it means to be free in Christ. I still haven't arrived at an answer, but by God’s grace, I will. This verse, however, has helped me begin to understand what freedom in Christ is. So, let’s be honest for a moment.
I am going to assume that you’re totally convinced that God loves you. However, I would venture to say that you are not convinced that God likes you. Think about it...have you ever considered the fact that God not only loves you, but likes you, too? (I know, it might be a bit mind-blowing!)
Today’s verse shows us that God gladly rejoices over us. In other words, he shows great joy and delight in us! In fact, we’re even told that he delights over us with singing! God is so delighted with us that he sings because of his delight.
Maybe, you don’t feel very pleasing or delightful to God. I would encourage you to remember that if you’re in Christ, then Jesus himself has made you 100% righteous, pleasing, and delightful before God! We did nothing to earn that righteousness. Rather, God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (2 Tim. 1.9).
-Do you believe that you are pleasing to God? Why or why not?
-Read and memorize Romans 5.1-5.
-Pray and thank God for making you pleasing and delightful to him. Ask him to help you wholeheartedly embrace your standing before him.
I am totally pleasing before God because of what Jesus has done and nothing can ever change that!