Closing the Gap 1.2.19

By January 2, 2019 Daily Devotional

Week 52 Day 3

Pray:

Ask God to reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.

Read:

Gal. 5:1-6 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Reflect:

Paul says that externals, mere religious exercises, have no real value in bringing about or revealing our relationship with Jesus.  The only that matters is faith, confidence in Christ…revealed in love to others. Our full confidence must be in Christ not in our efforts.  This kind of faith will show up in love for others. If “faith” in Christ does not show up in actual love for others then it is not the kind of faith that Paul says actually counts.  This “faith expressed in love” theme is common in the Scriptures. Micah said it like this…”He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) John wrote, “For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)  Jesus famously said in the great commandment…“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Not only is it a common theme it is a core theme. Jesus said that the key evidence of being his apprentice is the way we love one another. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)  Closing the gap on faith and love are flip sides of the same coin. Growth in faith in Christ will result in growth in love for others and to really love others well will require a life of growing faith in Christ. This is not to say that those who don’t love Christ can’t love others, they can. But to love others with God’s kind of love is only possible for those who are living in God’s kind of love. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that many have claimed to have great faith in God and have expressed little love for others. In the first place without love for others there can be no real faith in God, at least not the kind that actually matters to God.  In the second place it is unfortunate because it makes faith in God look like a meaningless thing. If a faith relationship with God does not show up in relationships with others then what good is it? In fact, what is it? Is it a real and living thing at all? “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17) James would say it is not a real, living faith. Do not be dismayed, this is not meant to be a rebuke but an encouragement. Our faith can and will result in growing love for others. God will make it happen. If we will set the Lord always before us and if we will make him and his priorities our priorities and if we will do the things that shape our values to conform to his values…then we will see that we are learning to love people more and more.  Close the gap on real faith…you will close the gap on real love.

Pray:

(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today.


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