Gracefully Truthful

Accepted,Adoration,Character,Christ,church

Read His Words Before Ours!

Romans 12:9-21
Psalm 139:1-7
Luke 19:1-10
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

What a beautiful title!
Loving devotion!

Where might your mind go as you ponder these two words?

I love when my husband devotes time to me. Last night, as we were winding down from the day and he was scrolling the TV channels, he stopped, looked across the room at me, and asked what I was looking at. I shared quickly, thinking it was just a simple query. 

But he put the remote down, and asked me to say more, drawing out what I enjoyed about the topic I was researching. It was a sweet gift to feel the devotion, be seen in that moment and feel his love in a meaningful way through the gift of conversation.

Does this happen every night? Not a chance… sometimes we are just tired by the end of the day, and all we have is our presence.

What are some ways you feel known and loved? 
Who turns towards you with devotion? 
How can we express our gratitude and devotion in return?

Beyond our human relationships, what does it look like to lovingly devote our lives to worshiping Jesus and loving and serving His people? How do we live as Romans 12:10 instructs, “Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another”?

I don’t know about you, but I like the real-life narrative of Zacchaeus. Take a minute to reread his story in Luke 19:1-10.

What did you notice about Jesus?
What did you notice about Zacchaeus?

If you’re new to the Bible, let me share the significance of Zacchaeus’ job as a tax collector. Men in this role were generally dishonest, self-gratifying collectors who lined their own pockets by cheating their fellow Jews! They were installed by Roman occupiers who cared nothing about integrity as long as Rome got its due, plus more. As such, tax collectors were often considered traitors and among the worst in Jewish society. 

Yet, the Holy Spirit draws Zacchaeus’ interest onto Christ, and Jesus calls the much-despised Zacchaeus by name and pursues a relationship with him! (Luke 19:5) Jesus demonstrates how to love people on the path with us, and we get to leave their response to the Lord.

I loved Jesus’ words in the ESV (English Standard Version) translation I’m reading, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down for I MUST stay at your house today” and Zacchaeus responds by… hurrying down and receiving him joyfully!

Have you ever been in the shoes of Zacchaeus? On the receiving end of extravagant love despite who you are and what you’ve done? Perhaps you’ve heard the voice of someone who loves you and looks your way and says, “I want to spend some time with you today!” This is the Jesus kind of love. This is “One-Another” kind of love. This is the lifestyle love we are called to exhibit in our everyday lives as believers. 

I know for a fact Zacchaeus’s life changed that day by the words in Luke…”hurrying down and receiving Him joyfully.” 

Our life with Jesus is one of fellowship with Jesus, and it begins with the same simple act Zacchaeus demonstrated in genuine, joyful humility: receiving Jesus with joy. Jesus Christ, as God the Son, left His place in heaven and came as a baby to live and sacrifice Himself as an atonement (an offering on behalf of someone else) for us. Our wretchedness caused by our sin nature leaves us and Zacchaeus looking like twins, and still, Jesus calls each of us by name to humble ourselves at the cross where His death covers every sin with His own blood. Have you received His offered embrace by confessing your sin and receiving His righteousness? Here, in this beautiful place of welcome, we get to share Christ’s invitation first for ourselves and then with anyone at any time.

Sometimes, like Jesus on the path to somewhere else, our opportunity to share comes at inconvenient times, while other times it might feel like it fits perfectly in our timing. Either way, the embrace of Jesus is meant to be shared and we are meant to readily hold it out.

Are we actively receiving the loving devotion of our Father?
Are we bringing it into our everyday world?

If you haven’t read #HisWordsBeforeOurs in Psalm 139:1-7, go back and do it! In order to love others as God loves us it helps to know more about God and how He loves us.

What goes through your mind as you read those seven verses?
How is the Lord lovingly devoted to you?
How might this reality shape your everyday life as you serve and love those God puts in your path?

Just as Zacchaeus was, so have we been seen and loved by Jesus!
What will we do with this extravagant, embracing, invitational love?
I pray it will fuel us to exhibit genuine, authentic loving devotion to our Savior as His Spirit enables us to bring truth and love to a hurting world!

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