Daily Devotions

Love, the Great Challenge

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For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another (1 John 3:11)

 

Love is such an overused word, it has almost lost its meaning. The English language is frustrating, because it only gives us one word for such a profound word. To be able to say, “I love watermelon” shouldn’t be the same word as saying, “I love you,” to a child at their birth.

 

Love has been overused in the Christian faith as well. We use the word “love” every week in prayer, Scripture, music, and/or the sermon. But, has it lost its power?

 

Love is challenging, hard, and demanding. God calls us to love, often in situations when it would be easier to ignore, or even hate. “Love your neighbor as yourself!” I served a church in Northwest Indiana, just outside the city of Gary, throughout much of the 1990’s. White-Flight was a constant reality. When an African American family would move into a neighborhood, unethical realtors would go door-to-door encouraging homeowners to move, before “property values go down.” The vast majority of homeowners made the move, unwilling to stay and show Christian love to their new “neighbors.” Sadly, most rationalized the move and compartmentalized their decisions, so that it didn’t affect their faith.

 

Real love has its challenges. It takes sacrifice, endurance, and principles. Love is often less an emotion, and more an intellectual commitment based on what the faith community believes is proper. Today, pray for the situations in your life where loving is difficult, even damaging. Think about where you may have made your love too small and limited. Ask God to make love so imbedded in your soul, that all you say and do is defined by love’s values.

 

Deep love is life-changing, both for you and those around you. God can do great things with those who love.

A Day Blessed By Jesus

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Today, rather than considering a specific Scripture lesson, I would like us to take a moment and prepare ourselves for the rest of our day. Read through this relaxation devotional and then put everything down and do as described.

Begin by taking deep breaths, in...and out... Do this ten times.

Be sure you are lying down or sitting in a comfortable position, with your eyes closed.

Continue your deep breathing as you picture yourself at your favorite locale. I usually think of my grandparent’s lake cabin where I spent my summers growing up. I picture myself floating on my back on an inner tube. It is a sunny day, with just enough breeze to keep it from being too hot. It must be August, because the Minnesota water is actually warm. I am gently rocking on top of the water. ...Think of your own perfectly comfortable moment.

Do not forget your deep breathing. Feel each muscle group relaxing. Feel your neck and shoulders slump, as the tension recedes. Your back is loose and flexible. Your legs are without any muscle tension. Your neck and head are relaxed, without any notion that you are even having to hold your head up.

Rather than getting tired, you are energized, as you think about the energy you feel, not wasting it on unresolved tension. You begin to think about your day. Think about each meeting or activity. Think about the people you meet. As you envision these events, continue to focus on your breathing... Each event, each person, each situation is met with openness and a feeling of opportunity. You are at ease and smiling. Picture yourself visiting with the people around you. It is comfortable and easy.

Now, everything fades away, and you see a man coming up to you. He says, “hello.” You return the greeting. You feel at ease and he wants to listen... tell him about the day ahead. Tell him your thoughts, worries, hopes, even your dreams. Then, listen, as you hear him praying for you. Have your mind create a prayer for Jesus to share with you.

When you’re done, say “goodbye,” embrace Jesus, and come back to your special place. Remember to breathe deeply. Now, you are ready for the rest of your day. You feel energized, yet relaxed. You are comfortable and feeling a sense of peace in every part of your body.

Move away from your special place and back to where you are sitting or lying down. Take five more deep breathes. Open your eyes, and intentionally smile. You are ready for a great day, because it was just blessed by Jesus. Amen.

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