He Loved Us First – 1 John 4

He Loved Us First – 1 John 4

Read 1 John 4

What is your motivation for loving others? Some Christians may say: “Because it’s the right thing to do” or “Because God tells us to in the Bible.” 1 John 4:19 (NLT) tells us the true reason we are to love others: “We love each other because he loved us first.” If our hearts have genuinely been changed by Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins (because of His love for us!), that love should be spilling over into the lives of others.

What does love look like? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV) describes it: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This is real love – the love God has for us, and the love we are to give to others.

Prayer: “Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me first with your perfect love. Thank you for Jesus’ sacrifice so that I could have a relationship with you. Help me today to love others unconditionally. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Samantha Rasch

Intercession Brings Mutual Growth – Ephesians 3

Intercession Brings Mutual Growth – Ephesians 3

Read Ephesians 3

When Paul mentions that he is bending his knee for those in Ephesus, most of the time we read his prayer as something that is prayed for us. We even throw in an “Amen Brother!” because it is exactly what we’re needing at that moment. But! What I think we need to also do is take his example of contending for others and operate in the same fashion. It is literally what Jesus does for us (Romans 8:34).

When we begin to pray for others, we gain insight into what growth in those areas would look like. We can can see the great work that God can do in people when we relinquish control over the outcome. I encourage all of us to find someone that needs growth in a specific area, and to pray for it until the growth comes. More often than not, while they grow we grow, and we end up with a greater understanding of what we were praying for in the first place. Interceding for growth in a fellow christian’s life also gives us an ownership in their walk, which is a step toward becoming a discipler of believers.

With that said, try these two things:

  1. Find someone you can invest in prayerfully
  2. See if the growth you are asking the Lord to bring in them also comes in you

— Mitchell Ressell

But Now… – Ephesians 2

But Now… – Ephesians 2

Read Ephesians 2

Fixer Upper, This Old House, House Hunters Renovation…are television shows dedicated to the remodeling of homes. We have entire cable networks to feed America’s hunger for seeing old homes restored. We love the idea of taking something that is broken down, and seeing it transformed into something beautiful.

Perhaps this is a trait we inherited from our Creator. God loves renovation projects too. He has been restoring things since the beginning of creation, and the human race is his greatest DIY project. Ephesians 2 provides a contrast between who we were before Christ, and who we are now in Christ. The “before and after” pictures are startling! My problem is, I can sometimes pull up the “before pictures” in my mind and frame my identity by those things. I can easily forget the teaching of Ephesians 2 – “But now in Christ Jesus…” My identity is in Jesus because he has made me one with him.  But now in Christ Jesus, I am…

Spiritual practice for today: read through Ephesians 2 highlighting all that you were without Christ (“before pics”) / then do the same with all that you are in Christ (“after pics”). Spend time thanking God for the renovations he has made in your life, then meditate on your new identity in him. Turn each thing into a statement you can say out loud to God and to yourself – “But now in Christ Jesus, I am ______.”

— Kent Liles

Blessed and Chosen – Ephesians 1

Blessed and Chosen – Ephesians 1

Read Ephesians 1

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.  (Ephesians 1:3-5 ESV)

My story had a rocky start- the daughter of  a young, unwed mother, a father who wasn’t sure he wanted a role in my life and other challenging chapters that helped shape me early on. However, my grandmother was and has remained the one constant in my life. Not only did she provide the path for me to meet our Savior, but she cared for me, loved me, and adopted me as her own.

I love that God designed a perfect plan for all of us imperfect people with our imperfect stories.  When I feel that life is overwhelming, I take rest in the fact that the God of the universe who set the planets into motion, cared enough for me to plan a way to be adopted into His family through Jesus Christ. I feel loved and cared for, knowing that He is on His throne, and will welcome me as His own beloved daughter in Heaven one day.

I pray that no matter your story, you will take comfort in this too.

— Jamie Twaddell

 

The New You – Colossians 3

The New You – Colossians 3

Read Colossians 3

There was a time in my life when I would read this chapter daily. I even had the entire chapter memorized for a while. At this time in my life I had to be reminded daily the version of me that had died and the version of me that was now alive. The person that I had taken off and the person I was to put on. How often do we look in the mirror and see a different person than we did before Christ entered our lives? How often do we all need to be reminded of the freedom Christ won for us?

This chapter reminds us of all the things Christ has done and all of the things He is doing. We are commanded to put these things to death, to execute them. We are to take them off and put on the new self! I myself love the feeling of putting on clothes right out of the dryer. They feel warm and fresh. I would never grab a workout shirt from the night before and throw it on to go throughout the day with. But that’s exactly what we do when we keep going back to our old ways. I would challenge each of you to read this chapter once when you are either sweaty or dirty and then once more after showering or putting on fresh clothes. Give yourself a physical representation of the fresh new clean self that you are in Christ.

Jake Ikerd