Mission Devotional - October 25, 2018

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Loved

Opening Prayer: I feel your love as you hold me to your sacred heart, my beloved Jesus, my God, my Master, but I feel, too, the need I have of your tenderness, and your caress because of my infinite weakness. - Charles de Foucauld

Scripture: 1 John 4:19

Journal: Do you understand how deeply you are love by the Father? He is very fond of you. You mean the world to him. When he thinks of you it brings a smile to his lips and a song to his heart. What would it look like to love others with the love you have received from God?

Reflection: There may be no more important verse in all of the scriptures than this one. It lays the foundation for how everything else lines up. It reminds us that the only way we can truly love God is to be completely captured and transformed by his love first. Our love for God can never precede the reality (and experience) of our being loved by God. For we can only love God - and others, for that matter - in direct proportion to how well we understand and experience the depths of being loved by him. That is how our lives - and our souls - are designed to function. We love because he first loved us; not, God loves us because we first loved him. All too often we get it backwards. Being loved always has to come first, otherwise we have no genuine love to offer others - only our desperate need to be loved.

Which begs the question: Do I love God because I have first been seized by the power of his Great Affection? Do I love him because I am should, or do I love him because I do? Is his love the driving force behind my life? Is this - as J. B. Phillips once beautifully said - the “springboard of all my actions?” Is his love the reason for my obedience? Is his love the motivation for my service? Is it the fuel for my ministry?

We cannot start with loving God; we must start with being loved by God. Until we begin to understand how deeply we are loved, we will never be able to love God in the way - and with the passion - he desires to be loved. And we can never love others in a free, unconditional way.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Global Partner Focus: Europe

Pastor of the First Greek Evangelical Church, a historic Presbyterian church in the center of Athens, Giotis Kantartzis leads a church planting movement called “Polis” (or, “city” in Ancient Greek). Giotis’ church is largely responsible for a significant amount of outreach to the thousands of refugees who have landed in Greece. He spearheaded the Houses of Hope project in which several apartments were purchased and converted into refugee housing (with up to two families per apartment). Pray today for concerns about a new building for the Integration House in Exarcheia. There are stumbling blocks with the Greek government. Please pray for open doors.

Habitat for Humanity builds and sells single-family homes to qualified low and very-low income families by developing partnerships with businesses, organizations, churches, foundations and individuals who help build the homes. Pray today for Candida and her family who will become the new residents of the Habitat house that Cedar Springs volunteers have been working on over the last 2 months.

Closing Prayer:

O living flame of love
That tenderly wounds my soul
In its deepest center! Since
Now you are not oppressive,
Now Consummate!
If it be your will:
Tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
That tastes of eternal life
And pays every debt!
In killing you changed death into life.

O lamps of fire!
In whose splendors
The deep caverns of feeling,
Once obscure and blind,
Now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
Both warmth and light to their beloved.

How gently and lovingly
You wake in my heart,
Where in secret you dwell alone;
And in your sweet breathing,
Filled with good and glory,
How tenderly you swell my heart with love.
- John of the Cross