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March 28 Devotional

Opening Prayer:  Lord Jesus, be my one thing, be my first and truest affection. May nothing else in all of creation compare to the love and affection I have for you. Amen.

Scripture Reading for the Day: Luke 10:38-42

Journal: What are the greatest affections of your heart and life these days? How do they compare and/or relate to your affection for Jesus?

Reflection: There is a created order to all things; an intentional design. When that created order is followed, life is the result. But whenever that created order is not adhered to, there is chaos. That’s why Jesus, when he was asked by “an expert in the law” in Matthew 22 which commandment was the greatest, immediately responds (from Deuteronomy 6:5): “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” For there is even - and most particularly - a created order to our “loves.” Unless we love God with all of our being first, we can never truly love anyone or anything else with the love that we were created to love them with. As Henri Nouwen put it years ago, “The second love, can only be a reflection of the first.” 

Therefore, when we love something or someone more than we love God we have gone against the created order - which produces all kinds of disorder and chaos. The saints and the poets knew this well and have discussed it in detail through the ages. In fact, centuries ago Ignatius spoke of this very phenomenon when he used the term disordered affections. It is a phrase that has really had some life in me lately. 

I actually think that’s what Jesus was getting at when he was talking to the rich young ruler. He looked at him and loved him because He realized that the real issue was that this young man’s affections were disordered. And Jesus wanted so much more for him than that. That’s why He tells him that there’s still one thing he lacks. One thing. It is the same one thing that Martha lacks here in Luke 10. That one thing is making Jesus our one thing. That one thing is having Jesus as our first and truest affection. For if Jesus is our first and truest affection, then the other things (or the many things in the case of Luke 10:41) of this life seem to fall in order. Our lives become centered on and rooted in the love of Jesus.

Unfortunately disordered affections can be a very difficult thing to recognize. Because the things that end up occupying most of our time and energy (which is a very good way to tell what’s really in the center of our lives) are often very good things: job, work, accomplishments, reputation, service, ministry, achievements, hobbies, exercise, even family activities. But Jesus was pretty direct in saying that when anything takes precedence over our affection for him, we have made that thing the center of our lives - a spot that was designed only for Him to occupy. So the questions we are left to answer regularly are: What occupies most of our time and energy and focus these days? What is our one thing right now? And what does it really look like to hold Jesus as our first and truest affection? The answer to these questions can give us a pretty good idea about whether our lives, and our affections, are properly ordered.

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Tim and Barbie K. are currently working to translate the Bible into the “Makori” language. Their goal is to see a “Makori” church effectively using its own translation. Pray today for Tim, as he proofreads across Gospels, to make good suggestions to the team and for Barbie, as she proofreads the Arabic script version, for alertness to problems. Pray also for their safety during a period of unrest in their region.

Worldwide Development Association has a mission to serve the church worldwide by developing Christ-like character in people and equipping them to disciple others according to the pattern Jesus used to train his disciples. Cedar Springs and Global Mission Group members Carroll and Shirley Coakley are part of this organization’s international staff and serve on short-term mission teams to Myanmar. Pray today for the Coakleys.

Closing Prayer: When at last I cling to you with all my being, for me there will be no more sorrow, no more toil. Then at last I shall be alive with true life, for my life will be wholly filled by you. (Confessions by St Augustine)