Brotherly Love Like The Gospel

“Brotherly Love Like The Gospel”
--from March 24th  --
Day 1-2 written by Pat and Liz Neuschwanger

Day 1

Read Read John 13:1-20
Devotion theme:  Our focus needs to be Christ and the example that He is
It has taken me a really long time to change habits and begin (yep, only the beginning…) to spend time daily in God’s Word.  I still don’t do it regularly enough, but a major reason that I finally decided to change my behavior was that I had always started my days worried about how far behind I was.  Exactly what I was behind “on” was irrelevant.  As soon as I woke up, my mind immediately “defaulted” to something negative (i.e. I haven’t made that appointment for furnace cleaning that I told my wife I’d do several days ago; I haven’t taken time to help my son with work on his home that he is trying to tackle by himself; I haven’t prepared position descriptions to allow interviews to get people into my group at work in order to take burdens off of people who are already working very hard; and the list goes on…).  This is a theme of mine and pervades many of my devotions because it is something that has dominated my mind for a long time.  But I learned from God’s Word that He (yep, the Creator of the Universe knows me by my name!!) loves me more than I will ever be able to fathom!  So why wouldn’t I begin each day by “reprogramming” my brain to the “tune” of God’s Word and His plan for my life?!?!?!  Jesus provided an example for us in every aspect of His life.  In this instance, He loved His disciples so much that He humbled Himself by washing their feet.  This had nothing to do with their behavior or anything that any one of them had done (God’s grace can’t be earned; it is given).  The reminder for me and for us is Christ’s example of loving His disciples based on who He is and His example of how to treat others.  It has nothing at all to do with how they (or we) have acted.
So, if Christ is our example, the way we should treat others is very straightforward – with Brotherly love like Jesus exemplifies.  In the forefront of our minds should be the thought that, if God freely gave me His grace to me in spite of all I’ve done, why would I not love like He does?
Are there relationships in your life where your view/treatment of others could or should be changed?
Consider making this part of your prayer today.

Day 2

Read John 15:12-17
Devotion theme:  Reminder:  God chose you (and me).  It wasn’t based on anything we’ve done…
Have you ever stopped to consider, “How much does Jesus really love me?”  We know that none of us are perfect, yet Jesus chose to bless us anyway…  But what did “choosing us” entail?  Let’s paint some of the background here…  Jesus was in a really, really good place at the time that “He chose us”.  He was sitting at God’s right hand with quite literally “not a care in the world”.  But He had compassion on us.  So much so that He decided to step down out of glory (a perfect, glorified, more wonderful than we could ever imagine situation) into a broken world.  And Jesus knew exactly what hardships, struggles, and pain He was destined to do before He ever set foot in this world.  Yet He did it anyway.  He CHOSE to put Himself in our place and bear the weight of punishment for our sins while He Himself never sinned.  Doesn’t seem fair at all, does it?  That should give some indication of the depth and breadth of His love for us.  So, with that background, I hope that reading the statement the “He chose us” resonates very loudly with you now. 
Therefore, knowing that Jesus chose us, as His Word states in John 15:16, in spite of everything we’ve done in our past (and may not really want to talk about…), means a LOT!  This mindset should inform every other relationship that we have an inspire each of us to “love one another” (John 15:17), regardless of anything the other person has done.  But our minds scream to us that, “This isn’t fair!!”  It absolutely is not…  But that’s what God and His Son, Jesus, did for us. 
Consider this reminder and context as you identify relationships where Brotherly Love is desperately needed right now in your life.  What actions will you take as this scripture paints a further picture of how special it is that God chose us…, especially as it pertains to relationships in your life?
So let’s now consider anew what it means to “Love one another as I (God) have load you.” (John 15:12).
Consider adding a comment on the app so others can understand your feelings/feedback.  You never know when someone is thinking the exact same thing…

Day 3

Read 2 Peter 1:3-11

Faith is not an effort.  That seems like a really small statement, but so much arguing and unfolding of words have been spent on working through that idea of the hundreds of years of biblical interpretation.  For me, faith is the belief part.  It is agreeing with God that He is who He says that He is.  That is not an effort so much as a place to start.  But in this passage, the effort seems to be made after that.  I guess it helps to see that faith is the starting point and therefore the foundation for the effort.  It starts on the inside, and then as you will notice in this progression here, it begins to flow out.  At the end of the flow, at the furthest point outside of us, the longest extension of the result of faith, is brotherly affection, which is the inward disposition that flows out to the last phase, love, which is the outward expression.  At the end of the definition of faith is brotherly affection shown in love.  

That is what is supposed to be in our hearts, but Peter doesn’t stop there. He says that they are yours and are supposed to be continually growing.  That is the part I think I can pay attention to.  Old age and more information have tended me towards cynicism and disdain for people.  I watch the news and grow frustrated with people and want to shut them out.  The more time people spend on social media, the more people grow critical and frustrated at others.  That is the opposite of what my faith is supposed to be doing.  For me, this is a great thought to spend some time wondering what has not been faith-forward and what I should consider.

How have you seen a disconnect in your “faith” leading to “brotherly affection” and “love?”

Why do you think this has happened in you?

What steps can you take to make a change spurred by this passage in 2 Peter 1?

How does this become part of your prayer today?

Day 4

Read Romans 12:9-21

This gospel stuff really does change everything in life.  There is little in life that impacts this much of your life and changes or even sets the stage for every single relationship and how it works, why it should be working, and what my responsibility is in it.  Paul really unloads it here for us.  He is fully in the realm of relationships and what they should look like.  Let love be genuine, as if he knew that we would look for loopholes and easy ways out of what we should be doing and how we should be acting, he slams that door shut pretty quickly on that.  He even expounds on the idea of showing brotherly affection with the teaching that we are to outdo one another in showing honor.

I can find about 5 things that I should pay attention to in these verses, but I am also inclined to want to scan them over too fast for comprehension.  Fight the urge to fly through this list and rather spend time thinking about what you need to see and pay attention to.  

Who around you do you need to work on showing honor to and what does that look like?

Where do you find your love not being fully genuine and deep down you are struggling with that person?

Where do you need to pay attention to the teaching of not avenging yourself in word or deed?

How does this become part of your prayer today?

Day 5

Read John 13:31-35

I grew up with two brothers.  I am the middle child.  We got in trouble for a whole lot of things, but certainly not all of the things we should have.  My brothers and I were never really overly close growing up.  There are quite a few times I can remember getting the speech that we were supposed to be a family and that families didn’t treat each other like that.  One specific thing I remember my mom always saying to us is that we were going to regret the way we talked to each other one day.  

I always think of those memories when I trail down this type of scripture.  The world will know us by the way we are toward the other disciples of Jesus.  That is a more depressing thought than if you were to say back in the day, “the world will know we are Altom’s by the way we treat each other.”  Maybe we have curved a bit of this love better approach toward the lost and those outside the faith, but the idea of the world understanding our love for the disciples, is a pretty discouraging thought.  It makes me think of my own contributions to this poor image and what I can do about it.

If your love for the disciples is a tell of your love for God, like Jesus paints here, what do you think people see in your love for the disciples?

What do you think it means to love “one another”?

Why do you think love for one another reflects love for God the way Jesus connects it here?

How does this become part of your prayers today?

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