Matthew 22:37-39 NIV 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
1 John 4:9-11 NIV 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
“For us, it was in the embrace of the Father, in the embrace of brothers and sisters who loved us as ‘dear friend.’ It was in the embrace of spiritual fathers and mothers who loved us as ‘dear child’ … that we experienced healing and wholeness. It was in that embrace that God met us in that way.” (NYE, Stephen Ramos)
Prayer: Father, we praise you for bringing us to the end of 2023 with “I Belong” to propel us more deeply into your embrace of healing love. Help us to receive your greater embrace so that others may be embraced by you and know your healing and wholeness for your kingdom and glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship the Lord who reached for us and embraces us completely at every moment by singing “Son of Suffering” by Matt Redman (click here).
Galatians 2:20b (NT Wright’s translation) And the life I do still live in the flesh, I live within the faithfulness of the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
“Who then are we? We are the Messiah’s people, with his life now at work in us. And, since the central thing about him is his loving faithfulness, the central thing about us, the only thing in fact that defines us, is our own loving faithfulness, the glad response of faith to the God who has sent his son to die for us. This is the very heart of Christian identity” (Tom Wright, Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians).
“The living within the faithfulness of the son of God is about participation in the life and faithfulness of Christ. How wonderful it is that we get to live within the faithfulness of Christ lived out in real time. This is a reason for celebration because of Christ’s redeeming of each person from self-focus and self-destruction to now living with full confidence and hope because of the faithfulness of Christ and we are invited to participate in that loving God and loving others because we belong to him.” (P. Mark Kim)
Prayer: Father, thank you for calling us into participation in the life and faithfulness of Christ. Help us say “Yes!” to your life at work in us that makes living for you by faith possible, powerful and full of hope. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship our Savior with singing, “I Have a Savior” sung by CeCe Winans (click here).
Galatians 2:20a(N.T. Wright’s translation) I have been crucified with the Messiah. I am, however, alive—but it isn’t me, it’s the Messiah who lives in me.
I Belong to You (Elijah Oyelade) Chorus: I live, yet not I You are the One alive in me
The life that I live is not my own I belong to You
“Those who belong to the Messiah are in the Messiah, so that what is true of him is true of them. The roots of this idea are in the Jewish beliefs about the king. The king represents his people… His point here is quite simple: all who are ‘in the Messiah’ are the true people of God” (Tom Wright, Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians).
“…being crucified with Christ also means that we are resurrected with him, in the way of being ‘born again’ the old life is gone and the new life has come through Christ. We are living… but it isn’t me, but Christ lives in me, or the KJV ‘yet, not I’ the version that Elijah Oyelade uses in his song… When God says that we are his, we are truly his!” (P. Mark Kim)
Prayer: Father, thank you that who we are is new resurrection life, that is, yet not I but Christ lives in me! Fill us with your resurrection power to live as your people in the reality of what is true of Jesus is true of us. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship as we sing “Resurrection Power” by Chris Tomlin (click here).
Romans 14:7-8 (NIV) For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
I Belong to You (Elijah Oyelade) Unto You Jesus All my life I give
I belong to You I am Yours for life
“These lyrics from Elijah Oyelade capture a few distinct and important connections: In the chorus, the reference of belonging is tied in with the surrendered life, ‘all my life I give’ and this surrendering is a wonderfully freeing and saving experience and reality. The exchange of surrendering of self is with now belonging to God. Now this exchange is very unequal… Our surrendering is only for our good and we get back so much, much more! It is entirely unfair because we get infinitely a better deal on this exchange for trying to grasp for our own lives, while we are offered an infinitely better and truly fulfilling life in Christ!” (P. Mark Kim)
This song speaks of God’s grace and our response of freedom, and a life prayer reflecting our identity that overflows in us from Jesus himself.
Prayer: Father, thank you for your grace. Fill me afresh with your Spirit. Unto you Jesus, all my life I give, I belong to you, I am yours for life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
In worship and prayer, let’s sing “I Belong to You” by Elijah Oyelade (click here).
Let’s read aloud the following passages and prayer:
Ezekiel 36:26-28 NIV 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.
1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 NIV 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Romans 14:8 NIV If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Prayer: Father, thank you for giving us salvation through Jesus. Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord! Hallelujah! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship by singing “The Praise is Yours” by Matt Redman (click here).