Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Circle
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 1:1-14 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: The Apostle writes, “In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will . . .”
My wife and I had been married almost 13 years. It was evident that we were not going to be parents. At least not in the old fashioned way. We had gone to all the doctors and gone through all the humiliation of trying to have children with medical assistance. We were poked and prodded, examined, and charged a lot of money, without success.
Then, one day out of the blue, a young couple from Canada called and asked if we’d like to have their baby. The girl was four months pregnant, a young teeenager, and the boy was was just shy of twenty years old. They were not ready for a child, and Canadian law prohibited abortion after three months.
Wendy and I were delighted and excited to have the chance to raise a child together, so we said, “Yes! We want to be parents!”
We contacted the necessary agencies and lawyers to qualify as adoptive parents in our home state (at that time) of North Carolina. After criminal background checks and examinations of our home and finances, we were deemed acceptable to adopt a child.
As soon as we knew we were able to adopt this child we took action. Before we even met our son, we had baby-proofed the house, read a thousand books on how to raise a child, decorated his room, bought all the things necessary to making a baby comfortable and happy, and started praying for his health and well-being. All of this before he was even born.
Why? Because we loved him. We hadn’t even met him yet. He was still in somebody else’s womb. But we loved him. We loved him more than we loved anything else in the world. Because we knew he belonged to us.
Why did God do everything He has done for us? Why did He save us before the foundation of the world? Why did He send His Son into the world? Was there some sort of divine obligation He felt? Did some ancient law dictate that He had to do something to save us? No. He did all these things because He loves us. There is no condemnation for us because He loves us because we are His children. There’s no reason beyond that.
As the apostle says, “In love, He predestined us for adoption . . .”
Recalibrate: Whom do you love (agape love) the most? Why? Who told you to love that person? What convinced you to love that person? Or is it just because?
Respond: Spend time contemplating and meditating on the idea that God loves you and gives you everything that is His, just because.
Research: Read 1 Corinthians 13.
Remember: “Bring praise to God’s glory” (Ephesians 1:14, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
Make the shape of a large heart on the ground. Stand in the middle of the heart with your little one and say “I love you.” Ask your little one to find all the things that they love and fill up the heart. Tell your child that Jesus’s heart is so big that there is room inside for all of us.
Take time today to go around your house and make a list in either words or pictures. Write or draw at least 12 things you love most about the place you live. Draw the people, pets, and items that make your life happy and healthy. Share your list with someone and take time to thank God for the many blessings you have in your home!
Paul wrote to the Ephesians that we, as Christians, are called to be “holy and blameless before Him.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not someone you can call “blameless.” Once, when I was four years old, I stole a pack of gum from the grocery store. I felt horrible! Eventually I confessed and returned the gum to the store. It was a very tough thing for me to do, but I learned a lesson: You feel much better after you confess. Once I had confessed my sins, I was blameless again. If we continue to ask God for forgiveness, we are not only being honest with Him but also showing Him that we are sorry for what we did.
God is a god who doesn’t hold anything back. I feel like when it comes to giving, I give what is convenient for me. When it comes to being gracious, I forgive when it is easy to do so. When it comes to loving, I love only when it is effortless. Praise God He isn’t like that! Ephesians says that He has “showered his kindness” or “lavished” it upon us. He gave His life when He had every right to keep it. He forgave even when it cost Him His life. And He keeps on loving even when people might not love Him back. What does this abundance of love mean to you? And how does this affect the way that we in turn love other people?
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.