1 John 4:8 (NIV) – Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
“When verse 8 says “God is love” (cf. v. 16), it is important to note what John is not saying. He is not saying that “God is loving” (though this is true). Nor is he saying that one of God’s activities is “to love” us (though this is true as well). John is saying that God is love, that “all of his activity is loving.” Love is the essence of his being. But the reverse is not the case. We cannot say, in other words, that “love is God,” as if any display of affection suddenly qualifies as divine. John is carefully defining the character of who God is and what it means to live in relation to him.” [Gary Burge, The NIV Application Commentary – The Letters of John]
Because of a painful relationship or lack of relationship in our childhood, we often question God’s love for us and are damaged in the sense that we don’t know how to be loved. This can play itself out in our lives without us realizing.
Take time to honestly offer and open your heart to God. Receive that “all of his activity is loving”, and let the Father heal those areas in your life that need his unique and powerful love. As you place your trust in God for those areas, worship to “Not Afraid” (Click here) by Jesus Culture.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV) – For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
“Prayer brings together love and power: the relation of love that grows up between God and the person who prays, and the flowing of power from God to, and especially through, that person. That is what Paul’s prayer here is all about. Essentially, it is a prayer that the young Christians may discover the heart of what it means to be a Christian. It means knowing God as the all-loving, all-powerful father; it means putting down roots into that love — or, changing the picture, having that love as the rock-solid foundation for every aspect of one’s life.” [N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone – The Prison Letters, pp. 38-39]
When’s the last time you’ve been loved like in the passage above? Knowing the all-loving, all-powerful Father means we experience a love like no other – a love that surpasses knowledge and is all together powerful in making us alive. Pray through the above passage and worship with “Pray” (Click here) by Worship Central.
When was the last time you saw or experienced something and all you could say was, “Whoa!” During the last moment of worship at the college conference, all we could say was “Whoa!” because it was just beyond words. And we need more of that… to be blown away by God… We need more moments where all we can say is, “Whoa… God…”
I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed… the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory… To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. (Colossians 1:25-29)
Christ among us is our hope of glory… our only hope of glory. The only hope you have is Christ in you. The mystery of the world is Christ in relationship to us. This is why we proclaim. That’s why Paul’s so excited. I want to see others experience this!
Don’t go back home and just be conquerors… we’re called to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). Don’t just be students, professionals, parents… you’re called to be “more than” these things. Conquerors can only hope in what they themselves can achieve. We are to live as more than conquerors, and as more than conquerors we hope in what Christ is able to do! Christ in us, the hope of glory! WHOA! [Notes taken from P. Nate’s Post-conference Sunday message given at AMC]
Let’s sing “One Thing”! (Click here)
Why is there a hype machine? Because all creation is groaning (Romans 8). And we’re groaning… groaning for something to save us… But because of our hope in Christ, we are not groaning in despair, but eager anticipation of what God has promised to bring to fulfillment.
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:2-5)
For most of us, our suffering is not persecution like the apostle Paul experience. Our suffering is missing out on the things… especially things that have been hyped up by the hype machine. When we follow God, we are going to fear, at times, missing out on what we once participated in, or on what everyone else seems to be doing. Maybe coming to the conference, some were afraid of missing out on more studying, or going to a particular event, etc. When we hope in Christ, we actually boast about missing out on the hype. Hope grows when you are willing to stay behind even if you are the only one. Hype disappoints because there is not love there. Hope in Christ never disappoints because God’s love is being poured into our hearts through the Spirit.
Pray and let the Spirit help you… groaning alongside you, interceding for you… encounter Him and trust Him… The Spirit will lead us to what God desires for us. [Notes taken from P. Nate’s message given at the College Conference]
Let’s sing “Open Heaven”! (Click here)
Oftentimes we equate hope with hype. Remember the Fyre festival? A lot of hype, celebrity endorsements… but instead of a luxury festival, it looked more like a refugee camp.
This happens so many times where the hype machine works on us, building expectations. Rarely does it live up to the hype and we get disappointed. Or maybe it’s kind of okay… but how long does it last though? And is it ever really life-changing? Then we become cynical, not wanting to believe in hype/hope anymore.
Romans 5 contrasts hype to our hope in Christ, a hope that never disappoints. Moments like this weekend, we get a glimpse of what is real, good, how God call us as His children… everything makes so much sense… grace breaks through and breaks down the barriers of hype to reveal true hope.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
How can we live in this hope that is so much more than the hype of this world?
Because of what Christ has done for us, we can now live in the realm/kingdom of God’s favor through His grace. We have the favor of the King on our lives. Let’s boast in this! [Notes taken from P. Nate’s message given at the College Conference]
John 1:43-51 – The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote —Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
Nazareth is unimpressive. Nathanael assumes he knows all there is to know about Nazareth. Nonetheless he takes Philip’s invitation to come and see. That’s all he had to do to receive Jesus’ prophetic word and vision for his life.
Do you feel like you know all there is to know about worship, or prayer, or church or Jesus? Do you have low expectations when you go to church, or small group, or campus meetings? Do you want to see the greater things that Jesus has in store for you? Lay aside any misgivings and just come and see! Sing “Fullness” (Click here). [Notes taken from P. Ed’s message given at the College Conference]
Many times we are fooled by the unassuming appearances and don’t realize the real value of what’s in front of us. The famous street artist, Banksy, whose art has sold for over 1 million dollars, set up a cheap stand on the streets of NY, selling his work for just $60. Most people ignored the stand assuming the works of art were of little value. Who would believe that a world renowned artist would display and sell his art in such a humble manner? Sometimes we just don’t recognize the real worth of things right in front of us.
Jesus talks about the kingdom of God in similar terms in Matthew 13:44: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.”
The kingdom of heaven is something valuable that we want to possess. But it’s hidden in a field. To most people it was just another field. But something caught this man’s attention, he saw something there to cause him to stop and investigate further. He saw something past the grass and weeds. It wasn’t obvious or flashy. We need to be able to look beyond the mundane appearance of things, to see something that is far more worthy underneath the surface. [Notes taken from P. Ed’s message given at the College Conference]
Have you felt this kind of excitement in discovering the kingdom of God in the midst of the ordinariness of life? Ask the Lord to reveal His kingdom to you! Let’s sing “Great Things” (Click here)!
Psalm 73: 23-28 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
Asaph almost let go of God, but God did not let Asaph go. The goodness of God was present and pursuing him all along. When Asaph met God, his heart was healed – the veil was removed. He was able to see God’s unrelenting grace in his life. His heart changed from complaining – what’s the point? to “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”. This is the power of the Cross of Jesus. When our hearts fail, we can fight back because God holds on to us. How do we fight? We believe by yielding to God at the Cross. When we yield to God, we win.
As we worship to the song “At the Cross” (Click here), let’s yield to God and praise Him for His goodness and glory. Let’s proclaim He is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever.
Psalm 73:13-14, 16-18 (NIV) Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.
When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
The psalmist concluded, why should I keep following God when all I get are troubles while the arrogant keep succeeding? We may also get tempted to exchange what we believe with where our thoughts may be taking us. When this happens, our hearts are not beating as they should. But God has made a way through Jesus Christ – where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17b).
“The first step out of the sinkhole of resentment and envy is worship. The psalmist enters the sanctuary, and in the presence of the true God his sight clears and he begins to get the long-term perspective.” [Timothy Keller; Kathy Keller, The Songs of Jesus, p.169]
In God’s presence, Asaph was changed and saw how it really ends for those who reject God –all their power will come to end. Let’s pray for the Spirit of God to rain down upon us and transform our hearts to beat as they should for the Lord. Let’s praise God and surrender to Him as we sing the song “Open Heaven” (Click here).
Psalm 73:4-9 – They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
The psalmist describes why he was envious of the arrogant and wicked. “They seem to be carefree and unconcerned about tomorrow. For them, life is now – and now seems to be forever…They are like “gods”…First, they do not seem to suffer from the frailties, adversities, diseases, and toilsome labor common to humanity…Though their hearts are full of evil schemes, the wicked succeed and prosper. Second, the wicked do not regard God and his commandments. Instead they are puffed up with pride.” [Temper Longman, III & David Garland, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p.561]
The arrogant see no need for God and think they are just fine without Him. We need to remember that even as believers, we are but a page away from having similar thoughts. Don’t we tend to set God aside when life is progressing smoothly?
Let’s humble ourselves and pray that God would forgive our pride and sense of self-sufficiency. As we worship with the song, “Lord, I Need You” (Click here) – let’s profess, with thankfulness, how much we need the Lord every hour.