Hearing God’s Voice from His Word
James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
Take a moment and turn your attention to God. Tell God that you desire to trust and obey Him. Ask God to speak to you from His word.
Psalm of the Day
Psalm 92:1-3 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praise to your name, Most High,
2 to declare your faithful love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
3 with a ten-stringed harp
and the music of a lyre.
Read the Entire Psalm
Giving thanks is good for you. Giving thanks is good spiritual exercise. In giving thanks we rightly recognize our dependance on God. We acknowledge His goodness, and we express our gratitude to Him. Speak words of thanks to Him for His faithful love. Thank Him for His faithfulness. He is constant.
1 John 3:11-24 – The Message
11 For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other.
12-13 We must not be like Cain, who joined the Evil One and then killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because he was deep in the practice of evil, while the acts of his brother were righteous. So don’t be surprised, friends, when the world hates you. This has been going on a long time.
14-15 The way we know we’ve been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. Anyone who doesn’t love is as good as dead. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know very well that eternal life and murder don’t go together.
16-17 This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.
Having God’s Ear through Prayer
- Express thanksgiving to God.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal sin to you.
- Confess your sin to Him and receive forgiveness.
(1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sin He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins.”)
- Bring your personal requests to God.
(Psalm 62:8 “Pour out your heart before God”)
- Pray for someone in your small group.
- Join with others from River and pray for Christian Challenge as they meet tonight at River. Ask God to speak through the message and the worship time.
Living as God’s People by applying the Bible
Scripture Reflection from the Sermon
John defines love using the example of Christ. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. Without the sacrifice of Christ, we would not know what love actually is. The funny thing is, everyone thinks they know what love is. Never mind that the definitions are all over the place. Just do a search for “what is love.” Or maybe don’t do that, no telling what might pop up. When we define love using the gospel of Jesus, we move ourselves out of the center of the definition. Humans most often define love, intentionally or not, with what others can do for me. Christ shows us that love is putting the interests of others ahead of our own. This is even more profound when we consider that Christ is the maker and rightful owner of everything. He could actually demand that people serve him; instead, he came to serve, not to be served. We demand, pout, and stew, becoming offended and hurt when others fail to show us the love and respect we think we deserve. Jesus, the Lord of heaven and earth, when reviled and murdered, prayed for those who were killing him. The bar is really high in this definition of love. This is as it should be. Make sure you have not lowered it to make it more “attainable.” Jesus said we are to aim for perfection, even though in this life we will not attain it. When it comes to loving others, aim for perfection. When you fail, confess that failure to God and others, and get back out there.