Church programs for Monday, Jan. 22 will resume their normal schedule at all locations this evening.
Leawood’s Sunday night in-person worship has been moved to 4 pm for Sunday, February 11.
1 John 4
14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the savior of the world. 15 If any of us confess that Jesus is God’s Son, God remains in us and we remain in God. 16 We have known and have believed the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them. 17 This is how love has been perfected in us, so that we can have confidence on the Judgment Day, because we are exactly the same as God is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love because God first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars. After all, those who don’t love their brothers or sisters whom they have seen can hardly love God whom they have not seen! 21 This commandment we have from him: Those who claim to love God ought to love their brother and sister also.
1 John 5
4 because everyone who is born from God defeats the world. And this is the victory that has defeated the world: our faith.
Enough people read the GPS every day that it’s virtually certain that some of you are looking forward confidently to good things right now. Some are just hoping things don’t get any worse. Sadly, some no doubt are concerned that illness, poverty, loneliness or even death are what lies ahead. No matter what your current circumstances, John urged you to remember every day that your ultimate destiny rests in the hands of your God, who “is love.” And John said perfect love—that is, God’s love—casts out fear. The faith in Jesus John wrote about was not abstract, sterile belief. It was a passionate, living, active trust that Jesus was no fairy tale, but was and is exactly who he said he is. That conviction can sustain you in building the kind of life that can defeat all the evil, hatred and negativity in this tired old world.
Lord Jesus, thank you that your love is a fixed point I can depend on in an ever-changing world. Keep me steady, stable and loving every day of 2024. Amen.
I had the privilege of having dinner with Brennan Manning, an admired speaker, author and Franciscan monk who died in 2013. His life work was to share the news of God’s love and grace for people. He would say things like, “Let your relationship with God be less of a rule book and more of a love affair.”
I remember feeling encouraged and relieved hearing the truth that God loves us beyond our sin and failure. I also felt the scandal of a grace that says God loves us all the same. Preachers, prostitutes, social workers, politicians, addicts and missionaries–God loves us all the same.
As I look back on my journey of following Jesus, my early years were marked by anxiety around my ability to resist temptation and keeping score of my “successes” and failures. It wasn’t until I heard and trusted in the message of grace that my relationship with God changed. I felt a shift in my heart and began to trust that God’s love was beyond anything I could comprehend. I went from a “driven by works trying to earn God’s favor” kind of faith to a quiet resting in the grace and goodness of God’s love.
We were keeping a 9-week-old puppy for a few nights, and he had an “accident” on our comforter. I took the comforter to the laundromat to use the industrial washing machine. I met a man named Pat and we struck up a conversation. I learned he had just moved to the area to care for his father who is in the last stages of heart failure. We had a good visit and I invited him to church. He was so grateful and said he wanted to come. I shared with him not out of a religious duty but from a place of knowing that God loves Pat and wants to encourage him. I hope to see Pat in church this Sunday. I know he’ll be encouraged by our community and the message of God’s love for everyone.
I pray we all move from fear to trusting in God’s amazing love and sharing God’s love because He first loved us.
* L’Engle, Madeleine. Many Waters (A Wrinkle in Time, Book 4). Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). Kindle Edition, p. 318.