Covered: Jeremiah 31-33, 52, Ezekiel 1, 36,37, Daniel 1-4
Not Covered: Jeremiah 34-51, Habakkuk, Lamentations, Ezekiel 2-35, 38-40, Joel
Scripture Memory: Love – John 13:34-35, 1 John 3:18
Covered: Jeremiah 31-33, 52 // Ezekiel 1, 36, 37 // Daniel 1-4
This week’s reading is so intense! Jeremiah gives us a promise that God will hear us and answer us when we cry out to Him (Jeremiah 33:3), God uses the prophet, Ezekiel, to raise to life a valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37), and God delivers Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego out of a blazing furnace (Daniel 3). If you’ve ever thought the Bible was boring…think again! Wow!
Not Covered: Jeremiah 34-51 // Habakkuk // Lamentations // Ezekiel 2-35, 38-40 // Joel
Some of the things we missed in our reading this week were equally as intense. Remember Josiah from last week’s reading? The wee little 8-year-old king? Well, his son (Jehoiakim) became king after him, and instead of trusting the word of the Lord, he actually burned the words of the prophet. Not really a chip off the old block, huh? The book of Lamentations was also intense, but not necessarily in an action type of way – more like a “woe is me” please do something God kind of intense. But what we see in the book of Lamentations is that following God doesn’t guarantee an easy/carefree life. The books of Joel and Habakkuk also give us a glimpse into the hearts of prophets who struggled with pain and suffering in their lives; but something we see is, no matter how hard life might get for them, their faith remained in the Lord.
Scripture Memory: John 13:34-35 // 1 John 3:18
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)
18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18 NIV)
When Jesus came to earth, He did something amazing. He took all the Old Testament laws (roughly 613) and narrowed it down to one simple command – love others, as I have loved you. This is a pretty big bite to take. Jesus didn’t say love others as you love yourself, or when it’s convenient, or when it’s self-serving. Jesus said, “Love others, as I have loved you.” And Jesus demonstrated His love for us by giving His life for us on the cross. Which means, in order to love others as Jesus loved us, we have to be willing to give our lives for others.
Could this possibly mean dying for someone else? Possibly. But I think it means so much more – I believe Jesus was talking more about LIVING for others than DYING for others, which if we’re honest, is extremely hard. We’re pretty self-centered and selfish people! Oswald Chambers describes it this way, “It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God.”
I don’t know about you, but this is definitely true in my life. I want to love others the way Jesus loves me. I even talk about loving others the way Jesus loves me, but when it comes down to actually doing it, I can be a slacker. The Apostle John (one of Jesus’ closest disciple, and actually the self-proclaimed “Beloved Disciple”) knew that we would be good at talking about it but would struggle with taking action in loving others. That’s why he wrote what he did in 1 John 3:18 (see above).
John was writing to a group of people a lot like us. They were living in a world full of evil, self-centeredness, false Christians, etc. and many of them claimed to “love others in the name of Jesus” but never did anything about it. John just scripturally gave us the old adage – talk is cheap, but actions speak!
John wants us to see exactly what Jesus wants us to see – if God’s love is truly in us, we can’t help but love others actively! And when we do this (truly begin to love others as Jesus loves us), two things happen. 1) People are helped! We begin to live like Jesus and meet the needs of those around us. 2) People begin to see the love of God in us. When we live love loud in our culture, people can’t help but ask “why.” When we love others with the love of Jesus, it is so countercultural that people will notice and ask why. Then we will be able to tell them – you matter to God, therefore, you matter to me. When we do this, the love of God truly begins to infiltrate our world.
But if we’re honest, this is tough. Really tough. Especially that annoying neighbor, that cousin with different political views, that jerk of a boss at work, the person who wounded you deeply, etc. This is why it’s so important for us to stay plugged into God’s Word, walk with Jesus, and allow ourselves to be filled with His Spirit. It is tough to love others like Jesus, but God gives us everything we need to do this. Our memory verse for VBX this past week was 2 Peter 1:3a, “God has given us everything we need to lead a godly life.” (NIrV) If we are followers of Jesus, God has given us His Spirit to live within us. GOD IS LIVING INSIDE OF US. We have the capability to love others the way God has loved us. The question is – will we?
- What are some ways you can begin to love those around you in action/truth instead of just words/speech?
- How can you tangibly show the love of Jesus to those in your life?
- Are you plugging into God’s power to live a godly life and love others like Jesus?
Written by: Andrew Bates
Photo Credit: Sharon McCutcheon