Morning Prayer Thursday, 22 July 2021
Carriers of Love and Hope in a Hurting World
And live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:2 NIV®
God‘s redemptive love for us is beyond anything this world offers us. There is nothing we can do to earn it. It is a free gift that God has chosen to give us. It is, however, our responsibility to accept his gift by faith. Some of you will know the hymn written by James Rowe: the refrain of which is, Love lifted me!/Love lifted me!/When no-one but Christ could help/ love lifted me! Love lifts a broken heart – not just any love but the love of God. God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5: 8 NIV®)
Sometimes friends abandon us, families may fail to understand us, God’s love for us never changes. Even when we act unlovably, God continues to love us, he embraces us. We are emerging from the pandemic but there is still some darkness around; and the difficult circumstances which we face leave us confused and anxious. God has promised never to leave us hopeless, and only his love can truly lift us up and restore our sense of hope. God never walks away from us, we sometimes walk away from him in an effort to find relief from our problems elsewhere. When we cry out and return to him, he lifts us up in love, as in the powerful story of the Prodigal Son. God’s love for us is infinite and unchanging. When we tap into his love daily we will be given strength to do the impossible. In Matthew 24: 12–14 NIV®, Jesus tells us to persevere in our love for God through difficult times: Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
As God begins to transform our hearts through his grace and kindness, we become vessels willing to reciprocate this type of love. We begin to realise the twofold effect of loving God and loving others – not just friends and family, but others who cross our path every day. Once we learn how to abide in his love, our feelings of jealousy, greed and anger die a quick death; and instead we extend grace, kindness and the love of God. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10 NIV®) When the disciples asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment, he replied: ‘Love the Lord your God will 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 neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ (Matthew 22: 36–40 NIV®) In other words, we are being told to let God’s love help us to love others even when they are unlovable, pray for them, love sacrificially. This is a lifetime task; And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4: 21 NIV®) As Christians, we are being observed by others, especially in our neighbourhoods. Here is a testimony given by Ash from the UK. ‘I bought a house in London and had some tenants who were very kind. They paid their rent on time, they cleaned the house…..It was their love, peace, and joy that ultimately led me to accept Christ as my Saviour.’ In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan was the only person who stopped and took care of the wounded man. Here there are three principles about loving your neighbour:
1) lack of love is often easy to justify, even though it is never right;
2) our neighbour is anyone of any ethnicity, creed or social background who is in need;
3) love means acting to meet the person’s need. Wherever you live, needy people are close by.
There is no good reason for refusing to help. (Footnote Luke 10 ‘Parable of the Good Samaritan’ Life Application Study Bible NIV)
The importance of showing love to each other as Christians serving in the Church cannot be overstated. Psalm 133: 1 tells us: How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. God created us to be in community – first with him and then with other believers. David Jeremiah refers to this as an important imperative. Our Christian relationships enable us to develop confidence to face whatever life may throw at us. In the Epistles, St Paul emphasises the importance of doing good to all, especially in the Church. Galatians chapter 5 speaks of the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Always, let us consciously cultivate and display these attributes in our relationships. As God’s family let us encourage and support each other as brothers and sisters, and stay connected to the Church as we work towards the building up of his Kingdom.
Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, please help us to commit ourselves unreservedly to loving and serving you. Help us to be carriers of Love and Hope to this hurting world. Help us to reach out to people in need. Help us to find it in our hearts to love others, even the difficult ones. Father, we pray for our neighbours, family and friends who don’t know you. Reveal yourself to them and show us practical ways in which we can be your hands and feet to them, even if it is inconvenient. Speak, serve and love through us, so that our neighbours, family and friends will be drawn to You. We pray this in your loving name, Jesus Christ.
Father God, we pray for the world, please deliver us from lies and false news, violence, cruelty, corruption, physical and sexual abuse, human trafficking, greed, natural and manmade disasters. May we pray and strive to pass on a better world to successive generations. Good Lord deliver us.
Father, we pray for people in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands who have suffered immense losses from recent heavy floods. We pray that they will receive the assistance necessary for full recovery. Please comfort those who are mourning the loss of loved ones. We pray this in your loving name, Jesus Christ.
Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven to earth come down,
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesu, thou art all compassion,
pure unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter every trembling heart.
Charles Wesley (1707- !788)