Love and the Church
We Are Called To Know The Love Of The Father
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”
1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
How do we know that we have the love of the Father? We know because we desire to keep His commandments and do in fact keep them. We know that in His perfect love God gave us solid principles on which to build our lives. His perfect way will always bring us protection and peace.
What does it mean to keep His commandments? We live each moment surrendering to His will as revealed in the Bible and through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We seek to please Him in all we do. We allow Him to guide us each step of our lives and work within us to produce good fruit. We keep in constant contact with Him by prayer and Bible reading and we give Him the position of authority in our lives by making choices that honour Him and His word in everything we do.
When we see ourselves as God sees us we will realise that we have unique gifts and talents that He designed especially to be used for an awesome purpose. That purpose was set in place before we were even born (Psalm 139:16)—purposes for the profit of all (1 Corinthians 12:7) and ultimately for the glory of God (1 Peter 4:10–11).
How is our relationship with God affected by whether or not we obey Him? (1 Thessalonians 4:1–2 & 7–8)
The extent to which we know the love of the Father is dependent on our obedience and our knowledge of His Word.
How well do you know God’s word and therefore the extent of His love? Think of ways you can motivate yourself to put daily Bible reading into practice. Here are some ideas:
• Print out a calendar and tick each day off as you read your Bible.
• Commit to doing a devotional every day before you read the newspaper. Give yourself the reward of reading the newspaper when you finish.
• Go back and do the days you missed in this devotional and treat yourself to your favourite breakfast when you finish.
• Agree with a friend to keep each other accountable. Randomly call each other to discuss the devotion of the day.
• Agree with your spouse to do the devotional together before you go to bed at night or first thing in the morning.
• Divide up a book of the Bible into chunks and set a date to finish it by. For example, finish the story of Joseph by Easter.
Love and the Church
We Are Called To Unity In Love
“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things He may have the pre–eminence.”
Philippians 2:1–4, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
There is no place for selfishness in an Army. The safety and effectiveness of the unit depends on a soldier’s immediate and unquestioned obedience. Very rarely will he have knowledge of any part of the battle plan other than the direct order he has been given. Alone or with other rebels at his side and without knowledge of the bigger picture, he could cause chaos: the battle objective would not be achieved and everything necessary to win the war would be weakened. Soldiers in the chain of command have a job to do and a responsibility to others above or below them. There is one mind, one heart and one purpose that make up one powerful unit.
In the same way we must set aside all selfish ambition and completely absorb our will in the will of our Commander in Chief—God. We are not to strive to please men, please ourselves or impose worldly ways on the Church. We must bear with one another, be like-minded, have the same love, be of one accord—be one powerful unit.
What do you do if you don’t agree with your captain? (Hebrews 13:17–18, 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13)
Our Commander in Chief takes the responsibility for dealing with the battle plan. It takes faith to leave a battle to God that we think we know how to win on our own.
Determine today to:
• Obey the Word of God.
• Submit to those in authority to you in the Church.
• Esteem those who labour among the Church and who are over you in the Lord.
• Set aside all selfish ambition or conceit.
• Esteem others better than yourself.
• Leave any battles for God to deal with.
• Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of any areas where you have failed to obey the will of God in His battle plan so as to interfere with the unity of His Church. Write your prayer on the next page.
• Seek God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of anyone else who He prompts you to speak to.
Love and the Church
We Are Called To Love Each Other
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with long–suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
John 17:21, “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
In John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and my Father are one”. Jesus’ prayer for all believers was that we would be one in God. He said that this oneness was the same as the way that He and the Father are one. How incredible that the God of the universe who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit (inseparable), wants believers to have the same oneness with Him!
Why is this oneness so important? So that the world will believe that the Father sent Jesus. If we are busy fighting and bickering about what we believe or not acting as if we believe what is written in the Bible, how will anyone else believe? With oneness comes the love of God and peace (2 Corinthians 13:11). Remember the new commandment that Jesus gave: “Love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another”. If we join ourselves with Jesus we become one with Him in Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17) and that oneness naturally follows with other believers.
If we say that we have fellowship with God but cannot humble ourselves to examine our own behaviour, do we practice truth (1 John 1:5–10)?
If we are walking in the light we will have fellowship with one another and will love one another as Jesus loves us.
Go back and look at the list you made on Tuesday during Week 1 of the devotional (orange). If you didn’t make the list, how about giving it a go now and then move onto the next part of this action when you have finished?
If you did, pray through the list and, as you name each person, ask God to convict you of any area where you are not or have not been acting with all humility, gentleness, long-suffering and love. When you have finished, ask Him to forgive you and restore the bond
of peace and to help you to join with Him so that you will be one with other believers.
Heavenly Father I come to you in humility. I truly want to have fellowship with You and obey Your commandment to love one another as You love me. I don’t want to get in the way of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Lord, as I name each one of these people and pause to hear Your voice, please convict me of where I have not been acting with all humility, gentleness, long-suffering and love (go back to Tuesday Week 1).
Love and the Church
We Are Called To Love The Lost
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Matthew 18:10–14, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
Unless we become as little children, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is so reluctant to lose one of these lost humble ones that He will leave the 99 and search them out until He finds them. They are incredibly valuable to Him. It is not His will that one of them should perish. He specifically tells us not to look down on them. The opposite of looking down on someone is to esteem them!
Jesus’ desire is that we also seek these lost ones and point them to the Father: “As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21). It was because of the incredibly great love that God had for the world that He sent His only Son to die. He was the perfect one, the only one He had that was without sin. The best Son; the favoured Son; the beloved Son. It was this Son that He sacrificed for the lost. How incredible must His love be for the world that He would do that! If God loved us on the basis of our performance we would all fail miserably. He does not. God’s love is unconditional and so should our love also be for the lost.
How do we gain a love for the lost?
As we abide in Jesus the love that He has for the lost will naturally become apparent in us.
Pray for God to give you the ability to esteem non-believers and to impart to you the love that He has for them.
If you are not confident about sharing the gospel, find out how to go about it and research the answers to a few of the questions that you are likely to be asked. There are no objections to the gospel that have not already been answered.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you to a person whom He wants you to speak to and listen to His prompting. Pray that the Holy Spirit will remind you of what to say. Think of the names of people you know who are not believers and start praying for them.
My Prayer for Salvation
Heavenly Father, I pray that You will enable these people to become as little children; that You will search for them as the Good Shepherd; that You will open their eyes and turn them from the power of darkness and convey them into the Kingdom of the Son of Your love in whom they will have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins; that they should not perish but have eternal life; for it is Your will that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.
Love and the Church
We Are Called To Live A Life Of Joy
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say rejoice.”
John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
If you had the key to complete and utter joy in your life wouldn’t you want to grab it and hold onto it and never let it go? We go through many seasons in our lives—harsh winters, wet autumns, balmy summer days, fresh spring moments. Do these seasons impact the joy you have in your life? The answer to a joy that never changes according to the season is found here! Jesus said, “these things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full”.
“But hang on a minute,” I hear you say, “Jesus lived the last three years of His life reviled and hated and hunted and eventually died a horrible death. How is that joy?” The joy that Jesus speaks of is the complete union He had with His Heavenly Father. That relationship and the Father’s infinite knowledge of what was to come, overrode all hardship. Here is the key to joy: keep His commandments and abide in His love. Do this and your joy will be full.
Read Matthew 26:39–46. Note how many times Jesus came to the Father to ask Him to “let this cup pass from me”. Now read verse 41. Even Jesus said that the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. What is revealed in the passage that enabled Jesus to go and face death with joy so that He was finally able to say, “Let us be going”?
The Holy Spirit will give us the ability to see a beneficial purpose to every trial and an inward sense of joy and peace from the Father.
From today determine to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).
Confess and ask God’s forgiveness for any sin in your life:
The area(s) where my flesh may be interfering in my joy is/are:
Give God an offering of praise and thanksgiving:
Lord, I praise You for the fuller knowledge that You have of this situation than me and I praise You that I can trust You to work things out for good. Thank You for the relationship I have with You and that You always have my best interests at heart.
Ask God to help you to endure your current pain as you wait patiently for His plan to be worked out. Lord, I know the plans You have for me are not to harm me but to prosper me. Help me to endure this trial I am currently facing with the joy of Your Spirit.
Love and the Church
We Are Called To Live A Life Of Joy
“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Matthew 20:28, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
How are you getting on with your Living Out tasks? We can all readily acknowledge that it is difficult to love people who are determined not to receive what we offer. We all have days where we feel like saying, “I give up. I’ve tried my best and it’s not working. I wash my hands of them. My life would be a lot easier without this hassle”. Instead of allowing ourselves to wallow in this state we need to turn back to God. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and act on what He tells us. He will never turn us away when we ask Him to fill our empty ‘love tank’ so that we can love the people that He places in our path.
Jesus came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. Our heart’s desire can be aligned with His when we make a choice that through love we will serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
Read Genesis 39:1–6. How did Joseph find favour in Potiphar’s sight? Read Proverbs 3:34 and James 4:5–7. Did Joseph’s attitude have anything to do with the Lord’s blessing?
Even when our difficulties do not appear to be changing in the time we have allocated to them to change, it is the peace that comes from the Father’s love that enables us to love as He did.
Pray and ask God to fill your love tank so that you can love the people that He places in your path. Then, consider Matthew 5:23–24. Is there anyone in the Church who has something against you (or who you have something against)? Think of a way that you can restore your relationship with them.