+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)
O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Morning Reading – 1 John 3:13-4:6 (NLT)
So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.
If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.
Discerning False Prophets
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.
God’s children: love like Christ.
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.
So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.
– 1 John 3:16 –
Love like Christ: Jesus laid down His life once, therefore we ought to lay down our lives repeatedly in self-sacrificing love. John’s concern is to encourage obedient and active love from believers.
+ Demonstrates a believer’s true character, or righteousness.
+ Relieves a believer’s guilt in not being able all needs no matter how generous.
+ Reminds believers that God judges our real motives because he looks at our hearts.
Answered Prayer: “There is nothing mechanical or magical about prayer. For it to be effective, the will of the intercessor needs to be in line with the will of God; and such a conformity of wills is brought about only as the believer lives in Christ.” (Smalley)
Questions for consideration:
- Can you think of examples when you sacrificed your self-interest for the good of others? Please explain.
- When you think of the needs of the people in your sphere of influence, or believers around the world, which ones touch your heart? How have you responded? Please explain.
- When you consider that God knows our motives – “to him all hearts are open, all desires known, and from him no secrets are hidden” – does that comfort you? Please explain.
- When you pray, do you want what you want or what God wants? Please explain.
Morning Prayer: Love So Easy and So Hard (John van de Laar) –
Can it be that easy, Jesus?
Can it be that hard?
That what You want for us is just to love
and be loved?
Is it possible that even those who have tried the hardest,
signed on the dotted line,
sat for years in classes
and strained their eyes from reading,
dressed in all the most appropriate garments,
and spoken with only the most measured words…
that these can miss You?
How can it be when those who have hardly tried at all,
who have damaged themselves and others so much,
that in the end they have nowhere else to turn
but to throw themselves on Your grace…
that these are the ones You search out?
How do we make sense of this, Jesus?
How do we love so scandalously, so inclusively?
How do we allow ourselves to be loved enough,
that all our hard and sharp edges
grow soft and round?
Help us to find the humility and courage,
the boldness and grace,
that in our loving and being loved,
we may somehow ignite our world with a compassion so fierce
that violence and abuse,
rejection and condemnation,
neglect and greed
“The Greatest Commands” – Atrium singing at Embassy Suites in Huntsville, Alabama. Exposure Youth Camp 2015.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen