“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” I John 5:14
Day 11- Faith and Hope
Day 12- Love
Yesterday we prayed for hope and faith, two ingredients essential for walking through this year with contentment.
- remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV)
Today we are praying for God to fill us with His love for others, because, as we saw in I Corinthians 13:13, while we are to abide in faith, hope, and love, the greatest is love.
- "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13 ESV)
Jesus commands us to love one another. Sometimes, when the birds are singing and the heart is warm, this is an easy command to obey. But other times, when conflict occurs, and anger or sorrow crowd the heart, it seems impossible. We all have people in our lives that are difficult to love, yet Jesus doesn’t give us an out. Loving others, ALL others, is the standard. No exceptions.
- Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)
If I have any confusion on how Jesus wants me to love, I just look at Him and His actions. They were sacrificial, others-oriented, and gave God the glory.
- But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:35 ESV)
This is what Jesus did. He loved Judas who betrayed Him. He loved those who mocked Him and did not mock in return. He loved His disciples and followers who would fail Him, deny Him, and hide themselves away in fear. So what excuse do I have?
- Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)
If I do not forgive and put away anger, even anger that is deserved, I cannot love. The Lord instructs me to be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving. That is what love looks like.
- And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, (Philippians 1:9 ESV)
Paul prayed for the Philippians’ love to overflow. I pray the same for myself. I cannot muster enough love for immediate needs around me. There are so many people in my life, and some of them are a challenge to like, much less love.
- And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31 ESV)
This is the answer: love God first. Love God most. Love God with everything that is in me. When I am intimately connected with the Father, His love can fill me and overflow onto the people in my life.
- Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. ... Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-8, 10-12 ESV)
Our love for each other demonstrates the Lord to the world. Loving the unlovable shows unbelievers the God they have never seen. That is why our love for every person we come in contact with is so important. It is also impossible without the supernatural intervention of the Lord. So let’s get to it and pray!
Today’s prayer offers some brain and/or heart prods to help you think through the people God has given you to walk through life with. Identifying why they might be difficult to love will help you pray for them. Maybe the Lord has placed this challenging person purposefully in YOUR life and MY life because they are our ministry. If I don’t show them the love of Jesus, who will?
Day 12 Prayer
You are love. You are also holy, pure, and perfect. Yet, somehow You love me and I so rarely deserve it. Your love to me points me toward the love you instruct me to have for others.
Lord, I confess my love is often selfish. I return love more than I love first or love selflessly. I desire to love more like You.
I have trouble loving some of the people in my life:
- A spouse (conflict, frustration, waning of feeling?)
- A child (rebellion, difficulties, strife?)
- A parent (past hurts, neediness, lack of acceptance?)
- A boss (demanding, unkind, unfair?)
- Co-workers (lazy, gossips, back-biting?)
- The waitress who is slow, the store clerk who is unhelpful, the person next to me who responds rudely,...
Jesus, it is only through Your Spirit that I could ever love like You love. Please fill me with Your Spirit so much that I return evil with good, that I offer my coat when someone ask me for my shirt, that I turn my other cheek when I am slapped. There is not that love inside of me, ever, without You.
As I look ahead to 2017, I want to love more this year than I have ever loved before. I don't want to look to any other person to measure my love. I want to only look to You.
Lord, may others see You through my acts of love. May my love create open doors to tell others about You. May this love bring glory to You.
I pray You would make my love abound.
I pray we look back on 2017 with amazement in all the ways God grows our love. There is no better megaphone to tell the world of Jesus than how well we love them!
- Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:9-10 ESV)