Daily Archives: January 1, 2022

Evening Prayer: January 1st

Creator God, thank you for this day of grace. You have brought us into a new year and we look forward to what you have in store. May we have the strength to allow you to guide us and lead us where you would have us go. Now surround us with your arms and grant us rest. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Daily Scripture Passage: Numbers 6:22-27

Numbers 6:22-27 (ESV)

Aaron’s Blessing

22 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

27 “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

Thoughts to Ponder from John 15:12-14

John 15:12-14 (ESV)

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

      Love. This is a motif that is prevalent throughout the Scriptures. In fact, I have often likened the Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, to God’s love story to humanity. Within its pages is the story of God’s constant love for his creation and his people. Even in those moments where God’s anger was kindled and Israel found herself in bondage, God’s love still was the undercurrent. How often do we read the prophets and even in their pronouncements of judgment do we hear the words that God still loves them, that he will remain with them, that he will restore them, that if they turn for their wicked ways, he will come and heal them and heal their land? It is a constant theme throughout the Scriptures. 

So is it a surprise that we hear this motif played out again in these words of Jesus in John’s Gospel? What should we hear? What should this tell us about God? How should this affect the way we live our lives?

To begin with, we must understand the concept of love in the Biblical sense. The tragic part of our culture and society is the way we have cheapened the word and concept of love. We look to Hollywood movies that supposedly show us “romantic” love. We have pretty much cheapened and watered down the concept of love to a point of fickle emotionalism that changes as our feelings change. I can “love” you today, but I may not tomorrow, depends on my mood and what is going on. I may “love” you today, but I may “love” someone else tomorrow. 

This is not the concept of Biblical love. Jesus, in these few verses, is quite clear on what “love” is. His words say, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Love, as understood in the Godly context, is that which is a way of life that is deeply rooted in self-sacrifice. Jesus is the prime example of this love. Jesus wasn’t motivated by emotionalism. Jesus understood that to follow God, one must be willing to sacrifice, to give of one’s self for another. And that is exactly what he did when he went to the cross. If there is one example for us to see the gravity of God’s love – it is the cross. It is there that Jesus willingly gave himself up for us in order that we may be forgiven for our sins and receive the promise of life. 

This flies completely in the face of our modern culture. Where as our conception of love is about “me”, the Biblical, Godly conception of love is about the other. The love that God calls us to is quite counter to the self-centeredness of our modern culture. Our culture expects others to do for us, but giving of ourselves for another is something altogether different. Godly love is very different.

Something else that one should be cognizant of is who Jesus is telling us to love. These words are penned for those who are believers, family members in the faith. Jesus makes it clear that we cannot claim to be his if we cannot even love our own. Understand these words are not given to love randomly – Jesus is admonishing us to take care of family matters. Jesus reminds us that if we cannot love our brothers and sisters, we honestly have no place in his kingdom. As he reminds us, love is the hallmark of the family and that love isn’t an expectation of what we receive but rather in giving of ourselves. 

A side note, this does not mean allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of. We must use wisdom here. If one always takes and doesn’t give, then we have to make the assumption that perhaps they are not actually family members. Love does not mean being a doormat. It does mean seeing one another as God sees us and having a willingness to be used by God to help one another, encourage one another, and lift one another up whenever we can. 

The nature of God is love and our nature should reflect God’s nature. How have we perhaps failed to love in our “family”? Do we gossip about our brother or sister in faith? Do we turn a blind eye to those who aren’t quite like us? It’s tough. But love must prevail if we are to be the light of this world. Our witness is really dependent on how people perceive our behaviors, particularly towards one another. If we can’t love, do we honestly portray Christ and can we honestly have a viable witness? Challenging words as we begin the new year…but as children of God, we are called to treat one another as children of God – with love.