Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, May 9. Read John 13:31-35. 1) What was the “new” command that Jesus said he was giving his disciples? 2) How did he demonstrate this to them during that meal? 3) What did Jesus say would be the way the world would know the Twelve were his disciples?
Tuesday, May 10. Read Romans 14:1-4. 1) The Roman church had its own set of problems centered around the resentment of the Jewish members against the Gentile members. 2) What did Paul say their responsibility to weaker members? 3) How might these instructions be called loving?
Wednesday, May 11. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14. 1) What are some of Paul’s general instructions to these Christians? 2) In verse 14 what does he tell them to do? How would these instructions be called “love”?
Thursday, May 12. Read 1 Timothy 1:3-5. 1) What did Paul say was happening when he left for Macedonia? 2) What was his central instruction to them?
Friday, May 13. Read 1 John 4:7-12. 1) John was writing to a church community that was troubled within. In what ways do you think that love might change that? 2) How integral was love to one’s relationship with God? 3) How did God demonstrate his love for us?
Saturday, May 14. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer of the Week:
O God. We want to be loving people. Please help us to grow in perseverance, in noble intention, and in love. May we engage each other more and more, working to help each other on the road to Christ. In his name we pray this to you. Amen.
Hymn of the Week:
How Sweet, How Heavenly, is the Sight
by Joseph Swain, 1791
How sweet, how heav’nly is the sight,
When those that love the Lord
In one another’s peace delight,
And thus fulfill His word.
When each can feel each 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
Thro’ ev’ry bosom flows;
And union sweet, and dear esteem,
In ev’ry action glows.
Love is a golden chain that binds
The happy souls above,
And he’s an heir of heav’n who finds
His bosom glow with love.
Devotional Article of the Week:
Surprised by Love
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)
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 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?