This morning, as our family prepared for our annual trip to Great Wolf Lodge, we simply came to church. The sermon was being handled by another pastor and the music...well, the music is never going to fall under my responsibilities. I also had the unusual privilege of hanging out with another pastor-friend earlier in the week, to just think about 2015 and what it may hold.
Between that time of reflection, and this morning's sermon, a continued theme made a giant impression. We're working through the Gospel of John together, and this section was part of Marshall's text for the morning:
9 “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 “This I command you, that you love one another.
- Joy. I don't just want the theological grid for this. I want this year to be a year I experience more of the joy of abiding in Christ.
- Friendship. I know God loves me. I want this year to be a year where I also know that God likes me. Through the work of Jesus Christ on my behalf, again, not just theologically...but experientially, I want (like Abraham) to believe God and have that credited to me as righteousness, and be called God's friend.
- Rest in His love. One humbling element is when you realize that your best friends you have are probably the people you've disappointed and let down the most. But that's what makes them your best friends...they are there for you...even in the failures. I want to remind myself that my friendship with God is based upon His working, and His choosing!