September 5 – September 11, 2017

WORD

8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep.  For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near.  Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.  14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Romans 13:8-14

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Jesus Christ was very clear that he did not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill the Law.  Considering the way he described our moral responsibilities in the Sermon on the Mount, his expectations of us are higher than the mere behavioral expectations of the Law (see Matthew 5-7).  We have seen this over the past month or so, as we have examined the desire of Jesus for his followers to give themselves to him in heart, mind, spirit, and body.

When we are connected to God in love, we fulfill the Law of God because our desire, born out of love, is to please God.  We no longer fulfill the Law as some sort of checklist while we smugly tick off each “good” behavior we engage in.  The Law becomes a part of us – or as the Old Testament foreshadowed, the Law becomes written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).

Someone could do everything “right” or “by the book” and still break the Law of God if such “obedience” was not done out of love.  Real love always works for the good of the other person, and so it is impossible to fully love someone and break the Law of God.  It is, as the apostle John points out, also impossible to fully love God and break God’s Law. This might rub us the wrong way (read 1 John if it does!), but all it means is that everyday we need to grow in love.  This is a foundational understanding in the United Methodist Church – God calls upon his people to grow and be perfected in love daily.  As we grow in love, for God and others, then we will find ourselves fulfilling the moral expectations God has for the people of God and we will become readied for the kingdom of God.

 

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: Besides this, you know what time it is…

In the Greek language, there were two words for time.  One word, chronos, referred to the time of seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years – what we might refer to as chronological time.  But the other word, kairos, referred to the right time for something – the timeliness of an event, era, or movement of time.  This week, pray that God will reveal to you the timeliness of the present season (the kairos of the chronos, so to speak).  What divine intentions does God have for your moments, your days, and your years?

Meditation Focus: Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light… [and] put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Imagine yourself standing in front of a large closet.  Inside this closet are many garments that are more beautiful than any you have ever seen.  The garments are labeled grace, love, mercycompassion, and purity.  You realize that this is the closet of the garments of Christ.  You reach in to grab one of these beautiful garments in order to dress yourself in the things of God.  However, you realize that you are already clothed in other garments, garments that must be removed before you can dress yourself in Christ.  What are these garments?  What labels do they wear?  Notice which garments are shabby and torn and faded.  How might they be removed so that you can dress yourself in Christ?  In the power of God watch as these garments of darkness are replaced by the garments of light. Now that you are clothed in Christ, how will this influence where you go, who you engage, and how you act?

Journaling Focus: For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers.

How do you experience salvation daily?  Salvation is so much more than a one-time experience with God.  We experience salvation in the past, present, and the future.  As Paul says, we have been saved, we are saved, and we will be saved.  How has God lead you into salvation in the past?  What are you experiencing this week that connects you to God’s saving work?  How might God lead you into further experiences of salvation in your life to come?  How have you grown over the years in your understanding of God’s saving work and your own salvation?  Ponder these questions as you journal this week.

Holy Action: 

Make a list of all the expectations God has for us.  Then write a sentence or two about how you might take specific actions of love to fulfill these holy expectations.  After that, put them into practice!

Breath Prayer: Father, save us through your love.

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