Ephesians 4:31-32 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
“Christian faith transforms identity because it transforms relations… It is no accident that the New Testament lists of sins to avoid are lists of community-destroying acts and the lists of virtues to embrace are lists of community-enhancing acts.” [Snodgrass, Who God Says You Are, 93]
It’s important to note that these verses takes place within the body of Christ. It is in community that we learn to live as imitators of God, living out our genuine faith. We are not to simply get rid of our old ways, but made completely new in how we relate to one another. Let’s pray that our relationships with one another will become more authentic as we imitate God, reflecting and embodying God’s love and that it will overflow onto others outside our church as well.
Let us worship to the song “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher (Click here).
Galatians 5:16-18 – So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
“God has authenticated us as those who are truly his own. To put that in another way, it is as we live the life of God empowered by his Holy Spirit that we demonstrate ourselves to be the authentic people of God.” [Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 716]
Walking and imitating God is an ongoing process. Imitating God and walking in the way of love is a daily decision and does not need to be grand gesture. It is a simple choice to walk in the path that God has already set for us in Christ. By sealing us with his Holy Spirit, we can walk in ways that are like God. It is the Holy Spirit that daily empowers and enables us to imitate God. Let’s pray that God will empower us through His Holy Spirit to walk in the path that God has already set for us in Christ.
Let us worship to the song “Anointing” by Jesus Culture (Click here).
Philippians 4:8 (NIV) – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Rather than focusing on right or wrong behavior, how we can practically imitate God is to imitate His character. We need to imitate God’s character to walk in his way of love. And practically, we can focus on any one attribute of God. One aspect is to live holy because God is holy – God has set us apart for himself, so we are to live as those who are set apart for his purposes. Holiness is not just about distancing ourselves from things (or people) that pull us away from living for God. It’s more about drawing near to God. Let’s pray that God will help us to identify those things in our lives that pull us away from him.
Another aspect is having the mind of Christ. Our minds are battlefields. Rather than fighting futile battles that goes on in our minds, let’s pray that our thought life and minds will be renewed and centered around God and his purposes.
Let us worship to the song “Don’t Ever Stop” by Passion (Click here).
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NASB) – Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
“If humanity is created in God’s image and likeness, then God’s character is the primary role model deserving commitment from us. Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 5:1 for believers to imitate God at first glance may seem a bit outrageous, but if humans are created in God’s image, then what makes better sense? Much about God we cannot imitate – his power, his knowledge, or eternal being – but imitating God’s character is the most important part of our identity formation.” [Snodgrass, Who God Says You Are, 147-148]
As plainly as these verses say to be imitators of God – we can simply turn and obey, because we have Christ in us. We imitate God because he is our loving Father and we want to be more like him. We imitate God because he loves us. Let’s pray that our life response to him will be to say yes, and begin to take steps toward imitating him more in all areas of our lives.
Let us worship to the song “More Like Jesus” by Passion (Click here).
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV) – Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
What validates us as genuine and authenticates Christians is Christ’s love for us and in us. God calls us his beloved children, and his ultimate demonstration of his love for us is in his son, Jesus laying down his life as a sacrifice. This is our starting point. It’s not about what we feel, think, hope for, or desire. It’s about what God has already done for us in Christ and who God says we are – that is the absolute truth for us!
Let us pray with thanksgiving that we are so loved by God, and our lives are determined and authenticated by God’s love for us in Christ first and foremost.
Let us worship to the song “Love Won’t Give Up” by Elevation (Click here).
Matthew 18:1-5 (NIV) – At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.And he said:“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
“I am just starting to learn how to love more. I believe this is my lifetime goal. I want to love God with everything within me. I want to love my neighbor as myself.” [Baker, Heidi. Compelled by Love, 17.]
This is an amazing quote from a person whose life has already impacted so many people and has had what many would consider a very successful ministry. Even in all this, Heidi Baker remains humble and steadfast, and recognizes that she has one lifelong goal – simply for God to expand her heart to love more. She has devoted herself to be lifelong learner to love God and her neighbor today, more than she did yesterday.
May we come to the Lord with childlike faith and humility recognizing that we are just beginning to learn to love. Let us pray that God will expand our hearts to love more and worship to the song “Yours (Glory & Praise)” (tap here) by Elevation Worship.
Ephesians 3:17b-19 (NIV) – 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.
“I’m a prisoner of love. I have given my life for love. It is joy unspeakable and full of glory.” [Baker, Heidi. Compelled by Love, 31.]
Heidi Baker radiates joy as she speaks of her relationship with Jesus, and her relationship with the children that God has called her to love. This joy is rooted in understanding and living in the incredible love of Christ. There is inexpressible joy as we make ourselves completely available to God’s purposes.
Are you out of joy today? Joy comes from being deeply loved by God, and that love bubbling out of our lives. Let’s pray like this today: “God, as you have loved me, may I give my life for love and experience unspeakable joy in doing so.” In thankfulness, let us worship to the song “YourLove Defends Me” (tap here) by Matt Maher.
John 3:30 (NIV) – He must become greater; I must become less.
“My heart cries out, ‘Oh, Lord, let me be undone!’ I choose not to stand up, grow up or get a grip. I want to fall down. I want my hands and my heart to stay loose, yielded into His heart and His love. It is about being made more like Him, not more like me. I will contend to be undone. I will ask Him to help me stay undone. Not finished, always ready, always wanting to be more like Him. His life and His love poured into my empty life, to fill up and overflow from this little jar of clay. What is a Christian? Someone who is like Christ. Maybe we are not Christians yet, but by God’s grace we are becoming Christians, becoming more like Him. Growing smaller rather than growing up. Going lower still until we become nothing and He becomes everything.” [Baker, Heidi. Learning to Love, 124-125.]
As we desire to love and minister to others, we sometimes make it about ourselves. At times, we reason that there has to be this “perfect storm” in order for us to start loving others. But God is always ready. Let’s pray that God will reshape our thoughts and our lives so that it is all about him – not about what we can or cannot do, what we like or don’t like to do. May God become greater, may we become less!
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NIV) – For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
“The gospel is not just a mechanism for getting people saved. It is the announcement of a love that has changed the world, a love that therefore takes the people who find themselves loved like this and sends them off to live and work in a totally new way. The energy to get up and go on as a Christian, as one who works for the gospel comes not from a cold sense of duty, not from a fear of being punished if you don’t do your bit, but from the warm-hearted response of love to the love which has reached out, reached down, and reached you.” [Wright, N.T. Paul for Everyone 2 Corinthians, 62.]
The word “compel” connotes a strong force that thrusts us toward something we would not ordinarily do. It is also accompanied by a sense of urgency. We were called by God in love to live a life of love. We can live in this way because of Christ’s victorious work on the Cross! Let’s pray that today, Christ’s victorious love will permeate every part of our lives and compel us to love those around us!
2 Corinthians 5:13 (NIV) – If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
“Learn to live in the intimate love of God. Believe that God can take you who are well fed and well clothed and make you hungry, thirsty, desperate, and completely dependent on your Father’s love so that your eyes will see those around you who are in need of fresh bread from heaven. If you are that someone in the desert who will die without a drink of water, God can pour out His Spirit so that your heart is compelled by love.” [Baker, Heidi. Compelled by Love, 8.]
It’s not difficult to see Heidi Baker’s passionate love for the most broken and destitute people in the world. What we don’t see as easily is what compels her to love – an intimate “out of her mind” love for Jesus. It is her active intimacy with Christ that results in her love for others. Without this personal intimacy, it is not possible for her to love and it is not possible for us to love. May our love for others begin here – with an intimate love for our Lord.
As we worship to the song “Lord I Need You” (tap here) by Matt Maher, let’s confess our need for him and be drawn into His presence today. Let’s experience afresh his deep love for us.