This Week’s Theme
The Love of God
1 John 4.7-12
(The Knowledge of the Holy [KOTH], Chapter 20)
The apostle John charges all Christ-followers to love Jesus’s disciples; since love comes from God, the one who is loving has both been born of God and knows God. Conversely, the one who does not love does not know God at all. An intimate relationship with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will definitely express love – love to God and love towards others. And, of course, this love alone can cast out our fear. “To know that love is of God and to enter into the secret place leaning upon the arm of the Beloved – this and only this can cast out fear. Let a man become convinced that nothing can harm him and instantly for him all fear goes out of the universe. The nervous reflex, the natural revulsion to physical pain may be felt sometimes, but the deep torment of fear is gone forever. God is love and God is sovereign. His love disposes Him to desire our everlasting welfare and His sovereignty enables Him to secure it. Nothing can hurt a good man” (KOTH, p. 99).
Surely, then, love flows from one who has been reborn from above, born with God’s own DNA, given life through the Gospel to become one with the Lord (John 1.12-13; John 3.3, 6-8; 2 Cor. 5.17). Actually, the one who fails to love reveals clearly that they do not know God because God is love. One who is connected and intimate with God will certainly show, by whatever degree, God’s own nature in their relationships and actions.
The writer makes clear the nature of this love he exhorts them to share. Here is God’s love, he says, “made manifest among us”: God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. Because of this, the nature of this love was not in response to the love that people had for God. Rather, “in this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins.” The logic of this devotion is clear and compelling: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (v. 11).
John makes clear, now, how false theological claims about God are made. No person has ever seen God, yet, if we in fact love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. The Spirit-filled community, experiencing love to each other, are a token of the true knowledge of the one, living God. “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (v. 14). The Gospel, which was spawned in God’s love for the world, climaxes with his love being experienced together by those who live in Christian community. God’s divine purpose, which began in love, will one day consummate in perfect communion with humankind and God, in forever-formed relationships of love.
Preparing Our Hearts
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Our Father which art in heaven, we Thy children are often troubled in mind, hearing within us at once the affirmations of faith and the accusations of conscience. We are sure that there is in us nothing that could attract the love of One as holy and as just as Thou art. Yet Thou hast declared Thine unchanging love for us in Christ Jesus. If nothing in us can win Thy love, nothing in the universe can prevent Thee from loving us. Thy love is uncaused and undeserved. Thou art Thyself the reason for the love wherewith we are loved. Help us to believe the intensity, the eternity of the love that has found us. Then love will cast out fear; and our troubled hearts will be at peace, trusting not in what we are but in what Thou hast declared Thyself to be. Amen.
~ KOTH, p. 97
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, amen.
Praising Our God
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.
Listening to His Voice
Chronological Reading for the Day
Thursday: 1 Cor. 16; Acts 19.21-20.6
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling
Responding in Faith
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Departing to Serve
Thou hidden love of God, whose height,
Whose depth unfathomed, no man knows,
I see from far Thy beauteous light,
Inly I sigh for Thy repose;
My heart is pained, nor can it be
At rest till it finds rest in Thee.
~ Gerhard Tersteegen (KOTH, p.102)
Affirmation for the Day
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another (1 Thess. 4.9).
Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4.7).
For Your Weekly Journey
Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
The Mercy of God, Psalm 103.1-14
Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy