DECEMBER PRAYER FOCUS

A Journey to Justice

Reflection

Love is Sacrifice

‘I have found that love is a lot more closely related to work than to play. It has a lot more to do with being a servant than with being a hero. When I set about the task of loving, I usually end up giving instead of receiving. Love inevitably costs me something, usually the three commodities most precious to me – my time, my energy and my money. I do not easily part with these resources, because I have them in limited quantities.

‘Tell me how to show love without spending time, energy or money and I will gladly sign up. Tell me that love means sacrifice, however, and I become reluctant to commit myself. Maybe that is why some Christians emphasize the fun, fellowship and fulfillment aspects of Christianity without ever mentioning the sacrifice. It is high time to strip away the false glamour that the world – and sometimes the church – puts on loving. It’s time to tell the truth: true love is sacrificial.

‘The most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, gives the biblical definition of love: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Because God was concerned with the wellbeing of people who were precious to him, he gave – he sacrificed – his only Son; and when you are concerned about the wellbeing of others, you usually have to sacrifice too. You may have to expend your time, your energy or your money for them. You may have to give up your plans, your independence or your privacy. To love as God loves, you may have to part with whatever is most precious to you for the sake of other people.’ – Bill Hybels, Who You Are When No One’s Looking 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6 (NIV).


Reflection

We have a gift – the gift of love. God, who gave us the gift of his son, who is love, is able to create within us a love that draws a response willing to pay the costs associated with loving – our time, our energy. A love that shapes my plans and makes me prepared to pay the cost!


Prayer

Lord you have bathed us in so much love. We pray that we will not live as a people unloved and unloving, unaware of or denying the greatness of your gift of love. We ask that your love will become so real in us that we live with confidence in your presence, knowing that in your love we are safe and able to be adventurous and engage a world that is demanding and, at times, disappointing or that generates our anger. May we be the channels of your love to our age, prepared to pay the cost.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV).
 

Prayer

Lord, you did not require of me perfection or sinlessness or even good behaviour before you sent your Son into the world for me. You came not only as a child to live on this earth, but also to die – to die for me – and all before I ever knew or acknowledged you. Lord, if your great love was capable of this amazing expression, help me to remember and show through my love, however small by comparison, that you did this not just for me but for all the world, and that the awareness of your love for others, even before they knew you, should influence how I look at them. Lord, make me brave and strong to use your gift of love to see your world, with all its complexities and failures, and to know that as you agonize over it I can influence it for good – even if only in a limited fashion.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV).


Prayerful Consideration

Lord, it is easy to love the lovable – those who show me love! You, however, do not require only this of me. How, O Lord, do I love the unlovable or the despised and rejected? Do I need to? There is so much sin – do you require me to love the sinner? Even some of those sinned against are hard to love. O Lord, do I have to love the unlovable?
 

A Time for Thought

Sit in God’s presence and take a thought journey through these difficult questions. Ask God to give you insight and wisdom. Let it impact your lifestyle as you move through the day.

With great love comes great confidence!

Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with 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 22:37-40 (NIV).
 

Prayer

Lord, thank you for ‘that great love which made thee mine’. Teach me to live in love and by love, with the confidence of one who is loved. Let me be a catalyst for change in a world that has both denied and corrupted love. Thank you God for the gift of your Son, Jesus – the gift of love. Amen.

 Prayer Focus provided by the International Social Justice Commission


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