1 John 4:19 (NIV) – We love because he first loved us.
With anything in life, there is always a starting point. In our quest and longing to love Jesus more, that starting point is the love of God. The apostle affirms for us that we love because he first loved us. He goes at length to establish and explain that God is love and love comes from him and is given by him, essentially centered on, caused and fulfilled by Christ.
Prayer: Lord, we really want to grow in loving you, but let it be all about your love. We admit that there is nothing within ourselves that is called love that wasn’t given by you. So help us to be even more fervent in seeking to know you and love you. In Christ’s name, amen.
Song: “Let Me Love You” by Mark and Elisa Kim. This old song that we sang together in the church was a reflection of the times when we were really seeking to know and grow in love with Jesus more. Lyrics are below.
Let Me Love You
I can’t imagine what if
What my life would be like
What would I be doing now
If I had never met You
Your love is the one thing
That makes any sense
You are the one friend
I can always turn to
Let me love You with my life
Let me worship You in all I do
Let me serve You with all my heart
I owe it all to You
This is all for You, Jesus
Could there ever be a song?
Could words ever express?
How much I love You
How thankful I am for You
Deuteronomy 11:13-14 (NIV) – So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul—then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.
The covenant that the Lord made with God’s people has stipulations. Unlike business contracts that are inundated with consequences to breach of terms, God’s terms are filled with blessings that are still active today. The promise of His blessing to those who follow and love the Lord is now played out in full measure as we grow in obedience and love to Christ. It is for our good that the Lord has given these timeless truths that are fully accomplished through Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your timeless truth of providing for us the true way of blessing that is in Christ. May I, even as today, this very moment, give my heart to you. Help me to love you, Lord. Help me grow in love for you, grow in the Spirit’s work for you glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Song: “Take All Of Me” by Hillsong United. As we surrender our lives to the Lord today, let’s sing that chorus “I love you” as a prayer, deeply desiring to grow in love for Jesus.
Psalm 77:19-20 (NIV) – Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock.
Even though God performed many miracles and led Israel out of slavery and into freedom, the Israelites often found themselves complaining. This is partly because they viewed their time in the wilderness as aimlessly “wandering.” But this was not the case. Despite the circuitous route they took, God had a purpose and was on a mission. What seemed like “wandering” was actually God’s desire to teach, test, and lead them, making sure their faith would hold up once they arrived. He wanted them to be fit for their new destination. In this way, the Psalmist gets it right when He acknowledges that even though God may have left no footprints, He is not far away. He was shepherding and directing His people always!
If you are feeling a bit aimless and without direction, perhaps God is purposely not taking a direct route. He may be taking the time to teach, test, and direct your steps to greater faith and trust in him.
Let us pray that God would set us free from “wandering” and into certainty that He is leading and shepherding us to greater faith and blessing.
Exodus 19:5 (NLT) – You will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth.
1 Peter 2:9 (NLT) – You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
This is who we are – God’s “segulla” (treasured possession)! But part of being God’s special and treasured people is that we have the privilege of sharing and showing others the goodness of God, the same goodness that has saved and delivered us!
Let us pray and ask God to help us fully live out our identity as God’s “segulla” by displaying the goodness of God to our friends, family members, coworkers, and students on our campuses.
Let us worship to the song “Louder” by Matt Redman.
Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT) – Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock…But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.
The Gospel of Matthew includes many allusions to Exodus. We see this in several of the “mountaintop” narratives, such as the Sermon on the Mount, the Transfiguration, and the Great Commission. Here, in the conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasizes the importance of obedience in the life of a true disciple. Listening, hearing, and understanding is simply not enough. A true disciple must be wise and not foolish.
“The ‘fool’ (transliterated ‘moron’) is defined as the obverse, namely, the one who hears but fails to practice Jesus’ teachings. No one in Palestine would build a home on sand…In Psalms and Proverbs ‘fools’ are those who leave God out of their life.” [Obsborne, Exegetical Commentary on the NT, p. 276]
In Christ, we are equipped in every way to live wisely, actively choosing and inviting God into every aspect our lives.
Let us pray for the Spirit’s empowering to live a life of obedience, and worship to the song “Build My Life” by Housefires.
Exodus 19:4 (NIV) – I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.
Whether eagles actually do this or not, God uniquely carries us and draws us to Him. It is easy to view Exodus as God simply taking us from a place of slavery to the land of promise. But it is so much more! One of God’s primary actions in Exodus is to bring us to Himself, and in the process, to form a people that will use their freedom to enjoy Him more and more.
Today, let us draw near to God and simply enjoy belonging to Him and Him alone. May God’s Presence bring the rest and comfort that you need.
As we express our love for God and His nearness, let us also worship to the song “I Belong to You” by Jesus Culture.
Luke 9:30-31 (NLT) – Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus.
“When we read the story of the exodus, we are not just reading about some events that occurred in the distant past, but acquainting ourselves with patterns of divine redemption that are still being worked out in the world today.” [Alastair J. Roberts, 10 Things You Should Know about the Exodus, Crossway]
As you take time to reflect and remember all that we received from God, pray and ask Him to open your eyes to see how He is working in your life at this very moment! Perhaps He is performing an Exodus miracle right now, orchestrating circumstances to bless you more, healing and forgiving you, or shepherding you into greater freedom so we can enjoy greater worship together!
Let us worship to the song “Jesus Saves“ by Elevation Music.
1 Peter 1:18-20 (NLT) – For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.
This is how secure and powerful this salvation plan of God is! God’s plans were never in any doubt, danger, or peril—for Jesus dying on the cross and resurrecting from the dead has always been God’s plan for us. Each of us have been saved from the empty, powerless, directionless, and hopeless life that once governed us. We have been rescued and ransomed not by mere gold or silver, but by the precious blood of Christ—the sinless and spotless Lamb of God! The idea of ransom is to redeem or to make an exchange. Hence, Jesus took our shame and exchanged it with His glory, and our sin-heavy burdens with His embrace and forgiveness. Even our faithlessness and tendency to go astray, has been replaced with the yearning to following Him in faith. Today, this is who we are—our worth and hope comes from the precious blood of Christ!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for the immeasurably great power for us who believe. Not a worldly or human power, but the same mighty power that raised you from the dead and seated you in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Today and this week, we pray for your resurrection power to be at work in us. May you bring greater glory to your name through us, your church. Amen.
Isaiah 53:6 (NLT) – All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.
The passage says that we have all strayed away. It is easy to follow when it sounds easy, pleasant, and it works for our benefit—in other words when following doesn’t require much faith. However, the faith that the Lord was teaching the Israelites in the desert (and us), is to trust in His power, promise, and rescue when everything around us tells us that it is going to be difficult, it might lead to death, and there is a good chance that it might not work out. We witness this with the Israelites in the desert, when things got a little difficult (such as feeling a little rumbling of hunger in the tummies). Fear led them to panic and for their survival instincts to kick in, resulting in grumbling and to the eventual forming of the golden calf.
However, when Christ took the burden of sin upon Himself, He also took that inability to trust, follow, and to obey from us. Our doubts, our fears, our instinct to run away is now ransomed with His faith, courage, and the yearning to draw near the Lord. Today may we have the faith that the Lamb of God has made possible for us.
Prayer: “Lord Jesus, thank you for choosing me and changing me, even as you chose and changed your servant Paul; continue your transforming work in me this day and this week as I seek to stay close to you, my source of love and joy. Amen.” [Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year. Page 214]
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrow that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
What the Lamb of God has come to do is this: to take upon himself all of our weakness, sorrow, and sin that weighs so heavy—and put it all on himself! We all know what this burden feels like—the burden of our weakness, when we just don’t know what to do, and the burden of death as life becomes so hopeless. That is why Jesus, the Lamb of God, was known as a man of sorrows, as he bore the depth of our rebellion, sin, and punishment upon Himself.
Today are you full of burden? Is your heart heavy? Instead of carrying it yourself or try to deal with it alone, stop and look (pay attention), for this Jesus, the LAMB of God has taken our burdens upon HIMSELF!
Prayer: “Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” [Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year. Page 211]
Continue in prayer as you listen to this song “Forgiven” by Bethel Music.