Month: June 2019

Love One Another

1 John 4:7-8
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Written by: Brett Humphrey

It’s important to God that we love others. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment of them all, he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40).

It’s interesting Jesus didn’t say anything about how much knowledge we have. He only talked about how much we love. John emphasized the need to love in his letter and stated, “Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.”

When our kids were younger, one of the things we would emphasize with them is how they treated each other when they would have disagreements. We would ask them if they loved their brother/sister as themselves. We would ask them this to help emphasize the importance of loving others while at the same time loving God by following His commands. Like so many things, the question wasn’t what they knew; it was what they did with the information and acted in love.

This emphasis on love has been beneficial to me over the years as well. When I get irritated with someone, I have learned to stop and ask how I can react in love towards that person. I don’t always succeed, but this simple step has helped me in so many ways. When I ask how I can react in love to someone, it helps me see that person as a person and not a problem. It helps me see them as an individual loved by God and someone I should figure out how to love as well.

Thought of the day: In the end, all that matters is God and people. If I don’t show love for others, I won’t be able to experience a genuine relationship with God because if I can’t love people, I can’t love God either.

Prayer: God, thank You so much that You love me. Thank You that You give me the strength to love others, especially when I don’t want to. Please help me to see people the way You see them. Help me to learn how to love You and to love others. Please help me to make an effort this week to show more love to those around me. Amen.

Everyone Matters to Jesus

Romans 10:12-13
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Written by: Ian Rock

We’re hardwired to notice what sets things apart. By simply looking at the shape, color, or texture of a specific fruit, we’re able to identify which one it is. Similarly, defining characteristics like height, hair color, skin tone, and weight are all things we commonly use to describe those around us. Those uniquenesses are powerful, as they point to the creativity and diversity of a God who created us in His image. However, for far too long, it’s been a common practice to judge, typecast, and discriminate others based on those characteristics.

This was true in the time the Bible was written, and it was common belief that your bloodline and heritage would determine whether or not you had the ability to experience God’s love, grace, and salvation. This, just like the prejudices that the world has experienced for generations since, is wildly inaccurate. In today’s passage, Paul sets the record straight. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you, God loves you, and has made a way for you in and through the person of Jesus. No matter your skin tone or body type, everyone matters to Jesus.

Following Jesus means taking on the attitudes and posture in which He used to approach humanity. The Christian life is simply summarized as loving God and loving other people. Notice there isn’t a qualifier on the second part of that statement—we are called to love others the way Jesus does, regardless of their race, political affiliation, and past or present life choices. A judgemental mindset reveals our insecurities, and oftentimes our own disbelief that God could love us as we are.

Unafraid Devo 6.6Thought of the day: Are there any areas in your life that are marked by prejudice or bias? What steps could you take to be more like Jesus in the way you love and serve all people?

Prayer: God, reveal the areas of my heart where I have bias and prejudice. Thank You for loving me just as I am, and give me the courage and confidence to love all others the same way.

Rescue Mission

Luke 10:27-29
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Written by: Shannon Swenson

Even if you have never really been a church person, you have most likely heard the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). A parable is a teaching from Jesus that generally has multiple layers of message and impact.

A parable is like a great movie packed with love, romance, suspense, and a big rescue mission somewhere in the middle. As I read and reflect, I think about who is who in the story. Who is the priest? Who is the good samaritan? Who is the person beaten and left for dead in the ditch? If you think about it, most of us are the person beaten and left for dead and Jesus is the good samaritan.

Left on our own, we all need rescue. We have all done things or have had things done to us that leave us bleeding on the side of the road in need of healing, rescue, and a savior. In comes Jesus, not with flashing lights and sirens, but in tender mercy, grace, and love. He comes in the middle of our mess.

In that day and time, samaritans were the lowest of the low. They were rejected, scorned, and looked down upon. Jesus knew what that felt like. He literally walked through rejection, abandonment, physical beating, and crucifixion. In the ultimate rescue, He rose from the dead so we could join Him in Heaven one day.

The parable isn’t titled “The Good Person” or the “The Thoughtful Person”—It’s “The Good Samaritan.” It’s one thing to know the right thing to do, but what about actually doing the right thing? Remember the lawyer in the story? He knows the right thing to say and Jesus probably knows He is being condescending in His questioning. But Jesus pushes him to think not with his mind, but with his heart. This story is about a change in heart—it’s about not just knowing Jesus, but actually following Him.

In order to love my neighbor, I first have to first receive the love of Jesus. Second, I have to love my neighbor like He loves me. I am not always on my best behavior and am almost always asking for His forgiveness.

In order to love my neighbor, I also have to know who that is. There’s not one person you and I will ever lay our eyes on who was not created in His image and is incredibly loved by Him. Maybe my closest neighbors are people I go to church with and spend time with on a regular basis. Perhaps my mission field needs to be much broader and I need to spend time with those people left bleeding and wounded on the side of the road; the ones in need of His rescue.

Unafraid Devo 6.5Thought of the day: Have you forgotten that Jesus loves you even when you are the least loveable? Do you need to expand your mission field? What is your next step in being on mission with Jesus?

Prayer: Father God, thank You that You rescue me from my wounds and my own unwise choices on a regular basis. Thank You that You do it with love, mercy, and grace. Help me to take my next step in sharing the greatest rescue mission of all times with people in my neighborhood and at work. Thank You Jesus for using rescued people to help rescue people. Amen.

Love Has No Shadow

John 13:34-35
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Written by: Michael Burgard

We’ve all been there, sitting in a restaurant next to a table with a family that has a little one who is not having the greatest day. Before you know it, you’re glancing over trying to see what the parents are doing to keep their child quiet, all while your conscious is secretly judging their parenting skills and thinking what you would do if that was you.

This exact thing happens to us as Christians. Everything we do and say is representing to the rest of the world what our God looks like.

So could you imagine what it would look like “to the rest of the world” for you, instead of staring at their table, to go over and show grace and love to those parents? I know this can feel awkward and downright frightening, but with a little bit of courage you could show them something they likely haven’t received in awhile: grace and love. In return, they just might see a little bit of the overwhelming love our God gives us. This is a simple parable, but imagine all of the situations you could apply this to in your life.

By our love He will be known to all. His love shall provide light to all dark places. When we receive Jesus as our savior, we receive something that everyone desires to have: love. God provides perfect love to us, but He also commands us to share it with others. When God gives us love, He also gives us relationship with Him and with those around us. Those relationships can grow through the love and understanding that God provides and teaches us to have with one another.

Unafraid Devo 6.4Thought of the day: As you go throughout your day, try looking back at this verse each time you have an encounter with someone who is in a different situation than you. Try to think about how you might be able to see their point of view, and show that individual the love God has provided to you.

Prayer: God, I ask You to help me fully understand the perfect love You have for me. Teach me to provide that same love You give to me to those around me that I encounter throughout my day. God I pray You give me the courage to love those around me.

Growing in Kindness

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Written by: Kyle Glenn

Kindness is a powerful word. It is underrated and there is no denying that there is too little of it in the world today. Sometimes we think of it in terms of simply being nice or gentle. We have heard parents say “be kind to each other” and it sounds like the goal is just not to fight.

The Bible speaks very differently about kindness. Just about every book of the Bible gives us a picture of what kindness looks like. Many times it costs the giver greatly.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. – Titus 3:4-5

This was a kind act, but it was also painful. Real, genuine kindness comes from the Holy Spirit and moves us toward people even when they don’t deserve the kindness and we don’t feel like giving it.

God modeled what kindness looks like for a follower of Jesus. First, we are to be kind to those closest to us. Too often, I get this wrong. There are days that the people I can be most unkind to are my spouse, kids, and closest friends. Secondly, we are to be kind to our enemies.

“Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” – Luke 6:35

Kindness doesn’t always feel good in the moment, but we serve and give because that is what Jesus did for us.

What a person desires is unfailing love. – Proverbs 19:22

Acts of kindness inform people that we value them and it points them to God, who loves them more than we ever could.

Unafraid Devo 6.3Thought of the day: How are you showing kindness to those closest to you? Who have you been unkind to? Who is the Holy Spirit challenging you to be more kind to?

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, for being kind to me. Holy Spirit, lead and direct me today to be more kind than I would ever be on my own. Today, lead me to the people who need to experience Your kindness lived out in me.