Being Known and Loved

Happy Monday to you. This is a day unlike any other. It is full of hope and rich blessing just for you. And when it is gone, it will never come again. Spend it well, for spend it you will. Take this moment to draw near to the God who knows you and who loves you.

PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)
Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN.

SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)
Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Luke 4:21-30

Three of this week’s four Scriptures mention prophets and prophecy. Three point out that our Father-God has known us, chosen us, nurtured us and strengthened us from before we were ever born. And one reveals the centrality of love to what we are called to do in this short space we call life.

Together they form a continuum of when, how, by whom, and why we are called to ministry and service.

“The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don’t swear, and good church attendance.” —Francis Chan

“This may rock your theology, but people do not go to hell because of sin. People go to hell because of unbelief.” —Brady Boyd, New Life Church, Colorado Springs

PRAYER FOCUS: Being Known and Loved

God sent prophets like Jeremiah to speak truth to a world that was hard of hearing. Whether by sin or by stubbornness, God’s people had stopped listening. They had stopped loving Him. The prophets were God’s messengers. They called the people back to the God who had chosen and blessed them, back to the God who loved them and whom they had abandoned.

But the prophets were also mediators. They interceded between a sinful people and a holy God. They uttered the cry of humanity before the heart of their Creator, asking Him, in His love, to forgive them.

Francis Chan is an evangelist, pastor and author. He and his wife Lisa founded the Cornerstone Church in Ventura, California. In 2008, Chan wrote Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. We recommend his work highly.

In preparing this week’s Monday Prayer we discovered two passages from Crazy Love that very nicely captured our intended message. Chan invokes both the prophet Jeremiah and the personal, powerful love of our Heavenly Father:

“After reading [Jeremiah 1:4-5], I meditated on it for the next four days. It spoke of God’s intimate knowledge of me. I had always acknowledged His complete sovereignty over me, but these verses took it to another level:

“The word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’”

In other words, God knew me before He made me.

When I first digested this, all of my other relationships seemed trivial by comparison. God has been with me from the start—in fact, from well before the start. He determined what Jeremiah would do before he was even born…I questioned whether that was also true of me. I remembered Ephesians 2:10, which tells us that we were created “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” That meant…my existence was not random, nor was it an accident. God knew who He was creating, and He designed me for a specific work.

God’s next words to Jeremiah (vv. 6-10) assured me that I need not fear failure:

“Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

When Jeremiah voices his hesitation and fear, God—the God of the galaxies—reaches out and touches his mouth. It’s a gentle and affectionate gesture, something a loving parent would do. Through this illustration I realized that I don’t have to worry about not meeting His expectations. God will ensure my success in accordance with His plan, not mine.

We, no less than Francis Chan, are loved by the God of the galaxies. We, like Jeremiah, are known from before we were formed in our mothers’ wombs. We, like the prophets of old, are called to deliver God’s message to a world that isn’t listening to Him. We respond in love, with love, because we have His love.

As we meditate on our Father-God this week, and seek Him in prayer, remember that this is primarily a love relationship. Prophecies and knowledge will end. Tongues will cease. But love never ends.

For now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:12-13)

It’s Monday Morning. Will you speak words of love—a message of truth—to your world this week?

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark U.S. case, Roe v. Wade, that legalized abortion. Let us note this milestone with great sorrow and sadness. May we pray for the Lord’s mercy on a society that could somehow confuse this murder of innocents with health care. Let us also pray for women who have had abortions, and for those who are now contemplating it. God loves them and knows them, even as He grieves the lost children.

Some abortion facts to ponder and pray about: (source: U.S. Center for Disease Control)
• Since 1973, there have been more than 50 million abortions in the United States.
• On average, women having an abortion list three main reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 3/4 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.
• Approximately 12% include a physical problem or their health (not necessarily severe) among reasons for having an abortion.
• Less than 1% report being made pregnant by rape.

“The right of the unborn not to be killed and the right of a woman not to be pregnant may be at odds, but they are not equal rights. Staying alive is more precious and more basic than not being pregnant.” —John Piper

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