pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Live Agape Love

Reading: John 15: 9-11

Verse 9: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Remain in my love”.

Today is the first of three days in this passage from John 15: 9-17. Each day centers on love – the defining characteristic of God and of Jesus’ life and ministry. As followers of Jesus Christ love should be our leading and defining characteristic as well. As we begin, let us clarify what this love is.

The word for love that Jesus uses in this passage is “agape”. This is not a romantic love or a brotherly love. Agape love is a sacrificial love – it is a love that places the needs and sometimes wants of the other ahead of our own. Agape love is unconditional love – a no-matter-what love. Other loves can be sacrificial or unconditional when elevated to this highest form of love. But agape love will remain sacrificial and unconditional by its nature.

In today’s three verses the focus is on remaining or abiding in God’s love and in Jesus’ love. Verse nine invites us: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Remain in my love”. Here we get a picture of the nature of this love as well as how to remain connected to this powerful and divine love. God loved Jesus and, in the same way, Jesus loves us. The breadth of this love was first demonstrated in the incarnation. Leaving all divinity and power behind, God humbled himself and took on flesh and dwelt among us. This necessary step allowed Jesus to model what God’s love looks like when lived out to the full. In this we see that love is an action, not a noun. The depth of God’s love is demonstrated in sending Jesus to the cross to die for our sins. This sacrifice replaced the old system. In the old system there was a price paid too, but the guilt and shame remained. The offering of a bird or lamb or cow met the price but the animal’s life could not bring forgiveness. Only the blood of the perfect one, Jesus Christ, shed in sacrificial and unconditional love, could wash away our sin and the guilt and shame as well. Only Jesus’ no-matter-what love can do that.

As followers we too are called to live agape love. The commands to love God and to love neighbor are rooted in this agape love. This day may we love God and others as Jesus first loved us.

Prayer: God of love, the breadth and depth of your love is amazing and powerful. It is both humbling and enabling. It is undeserved yet abundantly given. Use me to model and reflect this love to all I meet. Amen.


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Offering a Witness

Reading: Psalm 96: 1-9

Psalm 96 calls us to sing praises to God and to declare His gift of salvation day after day.  It reminds us that God is great and majestic and strong.  It urges us to bring an offering to Him and to worship God in the splendor of His holiness.  In these opening verses of the Psalm we get a clear picture of who God is and what our response should be.  The overarching theme of this Psalm is the call to declare our unfaltering allegiance to the one true God.  This is both a corporate and a personal call.

As the church, no matter what the denomination, we are called to proclaim the good news, to worship God alone, and to bring relief to the oppressed and the needy.  As the church this is what God clearly expects of us.  The two greatest commandments – to love God and to live neighbor – are lived out by doing these three things.  Ask a non-believer what a church should do and odds are they will name at least two of these three.  In an ideal world, all churches would be growing in their love of God and changing the world for the better each day.  All churches should be known for their compassion, love, witness, forgiveness, and service.  And all of God’s people said, “Amen”!

But in order for the church to be known for these characteristics, as members of these churches we must first be known individually for these traits.  No one comes to the faith because of a church.  They come to faith by first experiencing what faith lived out looks like.  They experience this vicariously when one loves or serves them in a radical or unexpected way.  It draws them in and opens their hearts so that the Holy Spirit can begin to work in them.  This day and each day, may our lives be the offering we bring to God and may our lives be a living witness to the splendor of His holiness.