Memory Verse of The Week

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15, ESV


Love and Obey 
Carey Madding 
Today's Scripture: “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.’” 1 John 2:4-5, ESV 
Theme: Our love for God will be reflected by our obedience to Him. 

In the Gospel book of Mark, a young man ran up to Jesus, asking about his next steps. He wanted to be sure he was on the path to eternal life. Jesus mentions all the Law of the Old Testament. I can just imagine the young man eagerly bobbing his head: “Yep, yep, and yep. Done all of that.” I can feel – and identify with – his self-righteousness. But Jesus said, “Well, there’s one more thing...for you, specifically: sell your stuff, give your money away, and come follow me.” You guessed it. The young man, the “rich young ruler” as he is called in many versions, declined and went away sad. 
We can talk about money and how it trips us up, and often, that’s the message we hear about this passage. But that can make us self-righteous, also. If I give my tithe and even above, then I can feel that a) I’ve obeyed the basic laws and b) I’ve obeyed the final, impossible law that stumped the rich young ruler. But that’s not so. It is about money, but it’s not ONLY about money. 
There is a request God makes of each one of us which is beyond what we can do. Maybe it’s to forgive an old hurt. Maybe it’s to step out and join a Life Group or serving team. It could be to stop talking about your boss in the break room. Maybe it’s a heart issue: bitterness, envy, prejudice, or anger. Taking the time to ask God what He has been asking us to do—and what it is that we have been resisting—will allow Him to clearly remind us and empower us to obey. 
Just as your teenager’s repeated disobedience can make you doubt their love and certainly their respect for you, our continued disregard for God’s requests and commands signifies a rift in the relationship. We may not hate Him, but we don’t honor Him. We don’t put Him first. His requests are not a priority. The things that applied to my reluctant teenagers apply to me:  
“Delayed obedience is disobedience.” 
“Present yourself. Don’t yell ‘What?’ from the other room.”  
In addition, Jesus’ own words pierce my heart: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15, ESV). 
Make It Personal: Where would you “rate” your obedience? All in, as in “Yes, Sir! Whatever you say!”? Or do you dawdle and hem and haw around? Do you push that request / commandment to the back of your mind and avoid dealing with God’s direction? In whatever way you disobey—by action, lack of action, attitude, or delay—choose to make a change. Bring that “thing” into the light of God’s love. If you know Him and you love Him, choose to obey Him. Take the first step and He will help you do that hard thing! 
Pray: God, I really love being the “boss of me.” I resist (as we all do) giving up autonomy, plans, and pleasures. Help me to sense You, love You, obey You. Remind me of Your great love for me and Your best plan for my life. I want to serve you fully, completely, and immediately. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.  
Weekly Memory Verse: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15, ESV 

Read:  Mark 10:17-27;  1 Samuel 15:22; John 14:15, 23-24; 1 Peter 1:14-16 

Love One Another 
Kendra Intihar 
Today’s Scripture: “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.” 1 John 2:9-10, ESV 
Theme: Our love for God will be reflected by our love for one another. 
Are you on Twitter? I follow a variety of Christian voices on Twitter. Generally speaking, these voices – even when they disagree – have a unifying th

Read:  Romans 12:10; John 13:34-35; 1 Peter 3:8-9 

Through a Glass Darkly 
Carey Madding 
Today's Scripture: “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” 1 John 2:11, ESV 
Theme: When we lack love, we walk in blindness and denial. 
Recently I’ve decided that I look better in “selfies” than I ever look in other pictures. Whether posed or candid, they just are not as good as the ones I take myself. It could be that since I can see my image, I open my eyes wider. Maybe I don’t squint, or my smile isn’t crooked. could be that I have a filter on my phone, “upgrading” and “prettifying” those portraits. I’ll have to check that out, but honestly, I don’t want to know. I want to believe that’s really me, without retouching and smoothing out of wrinkles or skin tone. It could be that I want to believe a little white lie. 
There are some prejudices that go far beyond bias. In our country, there have been times of injustice to many, many people groups. Treatment of First Nations people started it off. Later, all kinds of immigrants were hated and abused: Irish Catholics, Chinese railroad workers, “Okies” fleeing the Dust Bowl to the West Coast, the Japanese internment camps of WWII. We can look at the genocide of the Jews in the Holocaust and the horrible way even those who survived were treated, and we recoil. We can assure ourselves that this will never again happen. Some hate, we recognize as truly evil, and we vow to end it. 
But God says we must put aside ALL hate. Emmanuel Acho states, "Color and ethnicity are part of what makes people human, and to deny any of us our particularity is to deny our humanity.” Africans were captured, shipped, sold, and separated from their families. We look at the aftermath of slavery and its legacy of racial prejudice and tension...and we are still in the middle of it. We must put aside hatred and distrust of white or black, law enforcement and protester. Even though changes must be made, hate is not the way forward.  
In fact, we must end distrust of all people groups that look, think, and act differently from us. Hatred of immigrants will not end the situation at the border. Hatred of Muslims or the undocumented worker or LGBTQ+ people is not God’s plan! We must actively seek to love those with whom we differ. God’s plan IS love.  
In my own mind, I am doing great at this, and I have no bias. But that’s not actually true. It’s the flattering filter I use to excuse myself of my issues of hate and prejudice. Only God can pierce the façade that I present not only to the public but to my own self. I am deceived.  
Self-examination is hard to do, especially when the mirror is you. So, flip the lens to focus on God's view. Who does He love? How does He love me? How does He love others? Reflect that love to others, also. 
Make It Personal: I’m not sure of your biases or prejudices, but I know you have some. We all have some. We can dislike smokers or overweight people, rich people or the homeless. God says all of it is wrong. Put aside all anger and hate. Ask Him to shine His light into the darkness of your heart. Ask Him to purify you and bring you into the light of love, removing all denial and sin.  
How can we do our part to end hate? We cannot understand everything, but we can try to understand some things. Focus on love, because love is the answer. Because of Christ's love, you are loved, even in your sinful nature. He loves you—unconditionally. So much so that He gave of Himself for you. Share that love with everyone, not some people. 
Pray: God, You alone can pierce the darkness of sin and reveal it for what it really is. I give you permission to test me, try me, see if there is hatred and prejudice in me. Then I ask Your help in overcoming, in loving all people as You love them. I ask You to empower my feeble efforts to change and to make a difference. In Your Name I pray. Amen.  
Weekly Memory Verse: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15, ESV 

Read:  1 John 3:14-15, 4:20;  Matthew 5:21-22;  Ephesians 4:22-32; 1 Corinthians 13 

How to Hate (and Love) the World 
Kendra Intihar 
Today’s Scripture: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15, ESV 
Theme: When we love the things of the world, we leave no room for God.  
Let’s talk about the world. God so loved the world that He gave the world Jesus (John 3:16). Ponder a God who would willingly enter into the condition of His people to literally become our transgressions (2 Corinthians 5:21). A God Who would soak up the corruption that plagues us because He can’t bear to see us chained up by it (Galatians 5:1). That is intense love, friends. 
God created this world, and He declared that it was good (Genesis 1:31). God’s creative work is evident from the smallest atom to the largest redwood, and beyond the earth’s atmosphere stretching out into the infiniteness of the universe. It is good.  
But God also tells us that we should not love the world.  
I spent a lot of years confused about how God could love the world so much yet tell me not to love the world. It doesn’t make sense until you learn what God loves about the world. Do you know what He loves? He loves His beautiful creation. He loves you. He loves your heart. He loves your creativity. He loves your attempts to talk to Him. He loves the way you tenderly care for your parents, your children, your pets, your friends. And He wants you to love those things in others.  
But the world’s systems—things like hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, worldly philosophies, greed, impurity—and all of the invisible boundaries we install between ourselves and His other children? Those things and others like them are “of this world.” They set themselves up as idols in our lives, and they draw our focus away from God by settling in our hearts as sin. When these things take root in us, they don’t leave any room for God. God will not dwell in His temple alongside these sins (1 Corinthians 6:19). Friends, these are the things God means when He says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” 1 John 2:15 (ESV).  
Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14), and He wants to fill your heart so full of the Holy Spirit that all of the worldly garbage we tend to carry no longer has room in there. He wants you to be free from it. Love the world (the creative, wonderful, mysterious, living earth, and all of God’s children inside of it), but hate the world (corruption, factions, anger, selfishness, and everyday idols that ensnare us in sin). Our sinful nature died with Christ, and we have been raised to new life in Him. There is only room for one God in our hearts.  
Make It Personal: Ask God right now to tell you what you are idolizing. What are you focused on that is drawing your attention and affection away from Him? Is it ambition? Is it greed? Is it politics? Is it social media? Is it gossip? Is it the news cycle? Think about what consumes your thought life, even if it’s hard to admit. Friend, you are beloved of God, and He cares too deeply for you to not fill every corner of your heart with His Holy Spirit. Let’s pray together that God would loosen our grip on the things of this world so that we can say, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). 
Pray: Father, we are a people who are prone to carrying “the things of this world” in our hearts. These things are heavy and burdensome, and they are addictive. We can’t let go of them without Your help. Lord, show me in this moment the things that are preventing me from giving You all the space in my heart. Help me to lay down my idols and forsake earthly things. Help me to live like I’ve been rescued. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 
Weekly Memory Verse: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15, ESV 

Read:  Colossians 3:2-3; 1 John 5:4-5; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 

Eternal Matters 
Kendra Intihar 
Today’s Scripture: “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:16-17, ESV 
Theme: The world can only temporarily fulfill our desires, but God’s love lasts forever.  
I have a lot of vices, but having the newest, the best, and the “brand name” things is not one of them. I must admit, though, that when it came time to pass my (practically antique) iPhone 6 down to my daughter and get a new iPhone last summer, I got a little excited. It wasn’t the “latest” model, but it was still new and pretty expensive by our family’s standards. And it was so shiny. And pretty. And sleek. And full of untapped storage space. And after I got it all set up and began using it, guess what? Yep. I dropped it. My shiny new iPhone now bears a hairline scar all the way across the length of the screen. It’s annoying. It obscures words when I’m scrolling. It is an ever-present defect on the device I carry with me all the time.  
Mostly, I’ve learned to ignore it, but a couple of days ago, my daughter asked me if I was sad that my screen had a crack in it. I’ll tell you the same thing I told her: Yes. And no. The crack in my screen reminds me of the temporary nature of the things of this world. The glimmer of my fancy new iPhone wore off really quickly, and as silly as this may sound, I felt – still feel – a little humbled by it. It will be years before I get another new phone, so I’m bound to live with the damaged one until then, and the crack in my screen is a reminder not to get too attached to shiny objects.  
In Galatians, Paul tells us that the desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh are at war with one another, “to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Paul famously wrote in his letter to the Romans that he felt incapable of doing what he knew he ought to do (Romans 7:15-20). Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever feel that your worldly desires are pulling you hard away from Christ? Me, too.  
Our lust for physical pleasure, our insatiable desire for shiny objects, our unmerited pride in our possessions – these things are not God’s best for us, and, in fact, they distract us from denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following Him (Matthew 16:24). The sin living inside of us causes us to act in selfishness (Romans 7:20). But there is hope. Our sinful nature has been crucified with Christ! That means we are no longer bound to obey the things of this world. Instead, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20a, ESV). Brothers and sisters, we have the authority in Jesus to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ instead of to our sinful nature (2 Corinthians 10:5). 
This world as it exists today? It’s temporary. “Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away” (1 Corinthians 7:31, NLT). “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24b-25, NIV). The “word of the Lord” is the Gospel. It is the Good News of God’s boundless love for us, revealed in Christ Jesus. Everything else is temporary. 
Make It Personal: When you “walk by the Spirit,” you are made impermeable to the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). When you walk in your own flesh and power, you do not have that protection. Yet in Christ, you are a new creation, led by the Spirit. Have you failed today? Get up. Dust yourself off. Declare that this present age – the one that’s passing away – has no power over you. Because of Christ in you, you are eternally victorious.  
Pray: Lord, I am so distracted by shiny things. I confess that I have loved the things of this world in ways that have prevented me from denying myself, taking up my cross, and following You. I humbly ask You to forgive me for walking by the flesh, and I ask that You remind me of my newness of life in You. It is no longer I who live, but You who lives in me. Remind me that You are God “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:1) and help me to walk by the Spirit. In Your eternal Name I pray. Amen. 
Weekly Memory Verse: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15, ESV 

Read:  Matthew 24:35; Romans 12:2; Psalm 119:36-37 


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