This devotional guide prepares its readers for the last, summary sermon of the Seven Deadly Sins series. The sermon focuses on love – the central quality missing from ALL the seven deadly sins. That’s what makes them deadly, i.e., their violation of the central commandment from Jesus. Let this devotional guide your week and think deeply about what it means to love.
Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, October 30. Read Matthew 5:43-48. 1) What was the street version of the command you heard in Jesus’ day? 2) On the other hand, what did Jesus say? 3) Why was it so extraordinary?
Tuesday, October 31. Read Matthew 19:19:16-22. 1) What did someone in the crowd ask Jesus in this text? 2) What did Jesus say the man had to do to be perfect? 3) Why do you think this was so troublesome for the man? 4) How did that command relate to the great command?
Wednesday, November 1. Read John 15:12-17. 1) What did Jesus say his commandment is? 2) How did Jesus’ demonstrate it? 3) How does it apply to our own lives?
Thursday, November 2. Read Romans 12:9-13. 1) What does it mean for love to be “genuine?” 2) How does Jesus want us to love each other? 3) What are some other implications of love?
Friday, November 3. Read 1 John 2:7-11. 1) What do you think the “new commandment” was of which Jesus spoke? 2) What does hating a brother or sister do to love? 3) What effect does loving a brother or sister have on us?
Saturday, November 4. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 1 John 4:7-12. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assissi, 1182-1226
Hymn of the Week:
How sweet and heavenly is the sight
by Joseph Swain, 1782
How sweet, how heavenly is the sight,
When those that love the Lord
In one another’s peace delight,
And so fulfill His Word!
When each can feel his brother’s sigh
And with him bear a part!
When sorrow flows from eye to eye,
And joy from heart to heart!
When, free from envy, scorn, and pride,
Our wishes all above,
Each can his brother’s failings hide,
And show a brother’s love!
When love, in one delightful stream,
Through every bosom flows,
When union sweet, and dear esteem,
In every action glows.
Love is the golden chain that binds
The happy souls above;
And he’s an heir of Heaven who finds
His bosom glow with love.
Devotional Article of the Week:
Surprised by Love
Could this be the greatest love story of all?
by Phil Ware
Oh, how can I give you up …?
How can I let you go?
How can I destroy you …?
My heart is torn within me,
and my compassion overflows.
… for I am God and not a mere mortal. (Hosea 11:8-9 NLT)
Sentimentalists, don’t get your hopes up by this title; this isn’t a “chick flick” worthy story. It is, however, about the truth that underlies every single one of those stories that has value. In some ways, what we discover together here is far more important than any other story no matter how sentimental. This is the discovery of truth — the surprising, experiential, multi-faceted, ever-repeating reality — about love and all genuine love stories.
Love is unpredictable. There you have it. That’s it. That’s a truth you can bank on!
Love is unpredictable. Love does the unexpected. Love is full of surprises. Love is new even in the face of mind-numbing monotony. Love twists when rationality says go straight. Love forges ahead when logic says to make a major change. Love doesn’t budge when conventional wisdom says run. Love moves like the wind when common sense says “Be still and hide!” Love does the unexpected!
O I know that is not the exact definition of love in Scripture (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 for example). I can’t quote a verse as a proof text that really summarizes what I’m saying … at least not one verse that says it exactly. But I can get you proof.
God is love. He shows it instead of just saying it. Or better yet, he says it by doing it. He can be tough or tender. He can be patient or pushy. He can rage and he can whisper. He can show his power and he can hide in the quietness of his creation. He can punish and he can suffer under the scourge. He can thunder and he can weep for a dead friend and his sisters. He can demand allegiance, but he can also risk everything to win our hearts.
God is not unpredictable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Yet his actions will always appear a bit unexpected and surprising if we do not humbly recognize that he is driven by one truth that trumps all others … his love for us … his gracious, undeserved, and unexpected love for us.
That’s not to be confused with sappy emotions without gut-wrenching sacrifice. It should not be mistaken for spoken intentions without follow through. This love should never be reduced to politically correct sounding speech with hollow character. We’ve let baby boomer sappiness and TV-driven sentimentality replace the real grit and authenticity of true love … unexpected, undeserved, sacrificial love. God will do the unexpected to reach the undeserving … to reach us. He always has. He always will. That’s what his book is about. Even more, that is what his ultimate message, Jesus is about. And that is what he is at work doing in your life and mine … even when the unexpected turns of our life leave us ripped up and full of questions.
… will you trust that whatever he is up to in our world, your world, its about finding a way to reach you and your heart even when you can’t understand all the why’s of life?… will you join him in his passion to touch everyone — even the ones most of us can’t stand or wouldn’t waste time to reach — and change them by his love?