Devotion: This is Love

by / 0 Comments / 380 View / December 5, 2013

For personal reflection or small group discussion.
 
 This Christmas devotion follows the This is Love video based on 1 John 4:9-12.
 
Watch 00:00-00:28 and consider the following questions that the video presents:
 
Where is hope? Where is love? Where is life?
 What is something to stand for and trust in?
Could such a gift exist?
 
 We live in a world that can seem hopeless or filled with hatred. How have you seen or experienced this?
 
 How would you answer the question, “What is something to stand for or trust in? Could such a gift exist?”
 
God answers this question with, “Yes! Such a gift does exist, and it’s in My Son Jesus Christ.”
 
Read 1 John 1:1-4.
 
 Spoiler Alert: This “Word of Life” John is talking about is Jesus. Jesus was with God in the beginning. Jesus has always been God. And in Jesus, God’s love is tangible. Love isn’t just a nice thought. It’s not just a warm feeling. It’s not something hidden away in the corner of my heart. In Jesus, God’s love has flesh. It has blood. It can be heard, and seen, and felt.
 
 Reread 1 John 1:1-4. How have you heard, seen, looked at, and touched the Word of Life?
 
The Season of Christmas is full of things to stimulate and distract us. Many things fight for our ears, our eyes, and our attention. The things of the world (I John 2:15-17) can distract us from the Word of Life, Jesus Christ.
 
 At this time of Christmas, we are again called by God to hear HIS WORD preached, taught, and shared. We remember the GIFT of the Christ Child who was born in a lowly manage, held by His parents, and who grew up and touched and healed people who were broken. We look to the CROSS where Jesus paid the
punishment of our sin. We handle, eat, and drink the bread and wine, Christ’s body and blood, given for us for the forgiveness of our sins. We remember how the Word of Life has come to us in our baptism and given us the promise of eternal life.
 
 As Christians, this is how we answer, “What is something to trust in?” The answer is not “what”, but “who”–Jesus Christ!
 
 Watch 00:29-01:02 of the video.
 
 According to the video (and 1 John 4), how did God show His love among us?
 
 What do we learn about God’s love by the way Jesus was sent into the world?
  •  God keeps His promises.
    W
    hen sin entered the world (Genesis 3), the relationship between creation and the Creator was broken. But God loves His creation and promised He would redeem it by sending a Savior (Genesis 3:15). Our Savior, Jesus Christ, would pay the price for OUR sin by His own blood (I John 1:7; Hebrews 9:22). Through this sacrifice of love, Jesus Christ rescued us from sin, death, and the devil (I John 4:10; Hebrews 2:14). God is true to His word and faithful in His love for us.
  • God’s love is near. It is not a distant or an abstract idea. God’s love pursued us all the way to earth. This
    tangible, in-the-flesh, incarnated love of God was sent into the world. Love was sent into this messy and messed up world. Love came to a world with all kinds of issues and all kinds of brokenness. God sent His Son to show that He loves the world (John 3:16), His creation, and will restore it.
 What is God’s intent for sending His love into the world?
  
1 John 4:9 says this, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (emphasis added).
 
 Love was sent into our world so that we might live through Him. So that we might experience life as God
intends it. And life as God intends it is perfect. It means all of the good stuff God meant us to experience and none of the junk that has seeped into our world through sin. God hates the brokenness that stains our world.
 
 So He sent Jesus. And when we look at the life of Jesus, we see Jesus pursuing brokenness wherever it’s found. Love was sent to make things right. Jesus pursues brokenness wherever it’s found.
 
What are ways we read in the Bible in which Jesus pursued brokenness?
He gives sight to the blind. (John 9)
 He gives hearing to the deaf. (Mark 7:31-37)
 He gives speech to the mute. (Matthew 9:27-33)
 He heals the sick. (Mark 1:40-45, Luke 4:38-44, Luke 8:40-48)
 He restores the crippled. (John 5:1-15, Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12)
 He drives out demons. (Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-38)
 He feeds the hungry. (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17)
 He even raises the dead. (Mark 5:21-43, Luke 7:11-17, John 11:1-44)
 He gives up His life for us (Mark 10:45; Mark 16:33-39; Luke 16:46)
 
 Love was sent to make things right. Most importantly, Jesus was sent to make right the relationship between man and God. Jesus took the brokenness of the world upon Himself to restore our relationship with God (Romans 5:19). Jesus took on suffering and death in order to fix our broken bodies and souls dead in sin. Jesus gave up His life so that we might know eternal life and live this life to the full (John 10:10-11). He makes all things new.
 
 Think back to the first part of the video. What do you see that needs to be made new…at your school? …in the church? …in your own personal life?
 
 Making things new includes you. Making things new includes all the baggage in your life. It includes all the brokenness in you. It includes the messes that you have made of relationships, of the world around you, of your understanding of God’s will.
 
 We have things in our lives that are broken things that we have said to hurt someone, things that we are ashamed of, regrets in our lives that we cannot change or fix. We have pursued all kinds of things that leave us empty and have hurt people along the way.
 
 Take time personally reflect on the broken things (relationships, habits, attitudes, etc.) in your life.
 
 God calls us to confess and repent of our sin before Him. We can be honest about our brokenness. We can take our broken life, that bad habit, that hurt you’ve caused, that thing you’re ashamed of, and we can confess them to God.
 
 Sin might seem like a spiritual thing. Sin might seem like something that is not real, like it is just some abstract religious idea. But it IS real. It is as real as disease; it is as real as oppression; it is as real as hunger; it is as real as death.
 
 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:9
 
 When we ignore our sin, when we pretend like it is no big deal. In doing so, we only fool ourselves. Nobody else is buying it. God is not buying it.
 
 Take time to confess your sin before God. The words of this prayer might provide helpful words for your reflection. 
 
 O God, heavenly Father, I confess to You that I have grievously sinned against You in many ways, not only by my actions, but also by my thoughts and desires, which I cannot fully understand, but which are all known to You. I earnestly repent and am heartily sorry for all my many offenses against You. I pray, be
gracious to me a poor miserable sinner! Out of your goodness have mercy on me, and for the sake of Your dear Son, Jesus Christ , my Lord, forgive my sins, and strengthen me in love toward You and in service to my neighbor, that all I do may be pleasing in Your sight and bring praise to your name, in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
(Lutheran Book of Prayer, page 96, Concordia Publishing House, Copyright 2005)
 
 Dear friend, “If we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
 
 Scripture teaches that when we confess, God forgives us, God washes us clean, God makes us new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16-18). YOU ARE MADE NEW!
 
 And here is the thing: it is not just to know “this fact” in our heads. God’s love is not just a thought or a feeling. God’s love is tangible, audible, observable; it is present to strengthen us.
 
 God sends His people throughout the world, to receive and bring His forgiveness. We hear our pastors tell us we are forgiven during worship or other settings; we confess our sins to others and receive their forgiveness; we forgive others as God forgives us in Christ. As a community of believers, we receive Jesus’ body and blood in Holy Communion, which is forgiveness “poured out for many” (Matthew 26:28).
 
 Watch 01:03-01:25 of the video.
 
 How does God’s love affect how you interact with others?
 
 You have been shown love and mercy by God through Jesus Christ. As recipients of this love, God calls you to live a life of sacrificial love for others (I John 3:16-18). Through the truth of God’s Word, Christians understand we are sinners in need of God’s grace. Others around us are in the same situation. As we grow in our understanding of God’s mercy for us, we too understand that God’s mercy is for everyone! Just as God loved us first, we are called to love others. (I John 4:11-12)
 
 This does not necessarily mean your interactions must be constantly marked by extraordinary acts of love or charity. You are able to serve people in your many vocations of life (son/daughter, brother/sister, student, team member, church member, etc.). In these vocations that God has placed you, you can show care and compassion for others and point them to Jesus and His love.
 
 Watch 01:25-1:40 of the video.
 
 On Christmas, we celebrate God sending His Love down to earth to take on human flesh and live among us. Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that we may be forgiven from our sins. On the Last Day, Jesus will heal all the brokenness and restore all hopelessness of the world. We look forward to that day! Indeed, God so loves us! By the power of the Holy Spirit given to us in our baptism, may we also love one another.
 
How can you celebrate God’s love this Christmas?
 
With whom can you share God’s love this Christmas?
 
 Let us share this hope with others as we celebrate with great rejoicing! Merry Christmas!
 
Published December 2013

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