This week, there is a tiny but powerful word used: if. First, let’s make it clear that God’s love for us is not conditional. He gave an eternal gift willingly through the death and resurrection of Christ. However, it’s important to note that as believers, there is a link between love and obedience. Christ’s love for us drove Him to action. Love cannot exist without action.
The word love – mentioned three times in this single verse – has a powerful root. Love, in this context, translates to agape in the Greek. Agape is unconditional love – it requires nothing in return and abounds in grace (undeserved favor). We could read the verse like this: “As the Father has unconditionally loved Me, so I deeply love you with a love that requires nothing in return. Now dwell richly in My abounding grace.”
Last year, I wrote an open letter to my four boys on being men. This year, I write to a special young woman who’s been a divine interruption in the life of our family—especially those four boys I mentioned. You know who you are. And, while you are infinitely inimitable and beloved, there are other women who will understand or need to hear this unsolicited wisdom [my opinions are also free of charge] I’m going to speak into your life on International Women’s Day.
The fourth gospel is essential. John gives us a direct look into the heart of Jesus—into who Jesus is. It was a book that was written for one purpose: that we might believe. What a blessing to have a book written primarily to help us understand the character of Christ and the meaning behind the events the Son of God performed so we would believe that Jesus saves.
I can’t believe we’re closing out on the book of Hebrews this week. Wow. I pray God has stirred your heart as you studied this half-marathon book. You found out—just like I did—how these 13 chapters required a whole new level of spiritual effort. God wanted you right here in this book during this season you’re living. This season has purpose and you are more beautiful for it. Let’s listen to what God speaks to us this week, and then on Sunday we’ll begin a Christmas Quiet study. This study is a bit different in that it has a short, daily reading to encourage stillness, and includes a moment for conversation with children you might have in your home or church.
Every morning God whispers – in some way or another – “make space for Me.” How does your room look for Christ? Is there “white space” in your day? Is it clutter-free so God has a place to sit? Is there room in the margins for you to allow Him to pen you love notes? He’s worth your time. He’s worth your day. He’s worth your life.
Seems like we just kicked-off Colossians yesterday, but I **blinked** and this week we wrap up with a short 18 verse study. Beginning in early May we will do a quick stint in Philemon and read of Paul’s plea for his friend, Onesimus (Philemon is only one chapter, and it’s the final of Paul’s Prison Epistles). I have some BIG NEWS to share soon regarding Divinely Interrupted. The suspense is killing you, isn’t it? Okay, fine. I’ll go ahead and spill the beans.
We live in a world that loves to market that positive self-talk, feel-good, “live a happy life” message. It’s on the radio, in the bookstore, and touted from the pulpit because it’s what our itching ears want to hear. It’s a “light and fat-free” message of comfort, and it is exactly the noise that Satan wants us to hear.
This week we conclude the book of Ephesians. We’ve studied it for six weeks – verse-by-verse and chapter by chapter. Next week, we’ll continue our journey studying the Prison Epistles, which Paul wrote, and turn our attention to Colossians. But until then, chapter 6 of Ephesians is hard not to love because it contains practical instructions on how to act (and the world could use more of that these days!).
No matter how you choose to celebrate Christ this season, let the Messiah–not the mayhem–reign in your heart. May you be richly blessed in Him!
Read: Titus 3:3—7
3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Reflect: So often, religions try to tack on extra to-dos we must accomplish or achieve in order to be “good” and receive Christ’s acceptance. But Titus 3 reminds us that we’re all “foolish, disobedient, deceived, and enslaved.” There is no righteousness in us, but God–in His kindness and love–sent Jesus. Don’t undermine grace–there’s nothing you can add to it so you’re found worthy of salvation. Simply accept it as a free gift and let God be magnified.
Respond: Loving Father, it says in 1 John 4:8 that You are love. This is difficult for my feeble mind to comprehend. Therefore, I choose to stand in awe of the unknown and ask for You to continue to expand my understanding of the width, height, and depth of Your love (Ephesians 3:18).
Tot Time: God is kind and He is love. Ask your tots, “What these two words mean? How can we show kindness and love to others?”