Day 1 – God’s Love through People

  • Today, what would you celebrate today about your missional community?
  • Today, what would you confess or lament about your missional community?
  • Today, what are you hopes for your missional community?

Scripture: Phil 1:3-5 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 

Simple Prayer: God, help me grow in gratitude for my brothers and sisters in Christ, and teach me more of the joy and the discipline of remembering them in prayer!

Devotional

Because God first loved us, because in his love he came to us, because he has invited us into relationship with himself, and because he has given us the privilege or representing him, we love others.  We are called to respond to God’s great love for us by actively showing God’s love to the First Coast and by inviting, encouraging, and equipping one another to live life on mission.  And we do the same with anyone God leads to walk with us.  We are called to love people with the love of God.

How do you remember the people God placed in your life?  Memory is a tricky thing.   It can be very selective.  People remember differently.  When my siblings and I recall what it was like growing up in Leesburg, our answers vary quite a bit.  What we remember is not the same.  And if we recall a particular event – like a wedding, or a special Christmas – our stories vary and might even contradict!  

Such is the nature of memory.

But people matter to God.  How we remember events may be important.  How we remember the people God has given us is more important.  Paul captures this when he thanks God when he remembered people.

When your recall people, do you ever struggle with resentment? Do you think of how they let you down or hurt you?  Do you struggle to forgive?  On bad days, I can slip into that.  Early in his ministry, Paul resented one young man in particular.  His name was Mark (aka John Mark).  He bailed out on a mission and let Paul and Barnabas down (Acts 13:13).  In Acts 15, Paul had a big argument with Barnabas over including Mark on a second mission.  It got so heated they split up.  But many years later, when Paul was writing to Timothy, his heart had changed.  His request: “get Mark and bring him to me, because he is helpful in my ministry.” (II Timothy 4:11) I wonder if Paul had started giving thanks for Mark when he remembered him.  I wonder if that changed his heart.  

People are precious to God.   How we think of one another matters to God!  God is at work restoring right relationship between people.  That’s how it was in the Garden, and that is how it will be when God restores all things!  Paul gives us a two-part strategy for joining God in this work.

First, remember the people God put has placed in your path – especially remember your brothers and sisters in Christ.  That takes discipline.  We are a move-on-to-the-next-thing generation.  Without a disciplined, regular practice of remembering people, we’ll simply won’t do it.   It also requires a practical consideration.  Most of us have a lot of people we could list – and some need remembering before God more often.   Paul had influence in the life of the Philippians.  Who is God allowing you to influence?  Remember them often.  Who is influencing you?  Remember them, too.  Who shaped you to make you more like Jesus?  Who is bothering you?  Who is on your heart?  Remember these people!

Second, give thanks for those people when you remember them  – even they hurt you or let you down.  Give thanks for them because they matter to God, and given thanks for what God has done in your life though them.  “Attitude of gratitude” became a cliché because so many people noticed good things happen in our hearts when we give thanks. Giving thanks builds faith, changes our perspective, cures complaining, and moves us from disappointment to hope.  And when we apply that discipline to people, it can help us grow in grace and move toward being in a right relationship.

Reflection and Practice:

  1. Who is really great at reminding you how much God loves you?  Who do you try to remind?
  2. Who are some people of Your missional community who you find it easy to remember with thanksgiving?
  3. Who else is God putting on your mind?
  4. Is there anything you need to do in response?  When and how will you do it?