February 15, 2019

"God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). 

The Wizard of Oz said, "A heart is shown not by how much you love others, but how much you are loved by others." When I was a child and enamored with the Wizard of Oz, I thought this was a wonderful Hallmark saying (though I didn't know Hallmark at the time). As I grew up, I began to see that this is the antithesis of what the Bible says about God's love. 

Perhaps sentimentality makes us a see wisdom in the charlatan wizard from Kansas, but the demonstration of love is first seen in the exercise of one's heart for the benefit of another. It is wonderful when there is reciprocation; however, as with God's love in Jesus, there's not always a great response - after all the response to God's love in Jesus was crucifixion at the hands of those God loved. We looked at this concept last week. 

This week we note the "sin" of Adam and God's grace in Jesus. Sin came into the world through one man...and through one man grace overflowed to the many. God's heart is shown in God's love for humanity - God, in Jesus, once for all paid our sin debt so that we could live in perfect communion with God forever. John wrote, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:10-11).

We can't pay the sin debt, that is God's alone. However, we can make the presence of God felt in the way we choose to love. Our heart is not in how much others love us, but in how much we choose to love those that God brings into our lives. When we love with the love of Jesus, we are choosing the way of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. We are choosing the way that breaks down the barriers that divide and build the bridges that unite. 

Prayer for the day:

Lord Jesus, empower us to be an instrument of your love so that the world may see you in us. We pray that we are not so concerned with how much others love us; rather, that we engage in the ministry of love by choosing to give ourselves to others - no matter who they are or where they are in life's journey.


February 5, 2019

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity" (Colossians 3:12-14). 

The words I hear that cause me the greatest level of fear when anyone is talking to me, "I've been thinking." Well, to be fair, I'm going to say the same thing and hopefully it will not cause great amounts of trepidation. "I've been thinking."

It is easy to become a Christ-follower. All one needs to do is receive by faith that Jesus (God's one and only son) came into the world and took the penalty for my sin (and that of the world) upon himself when he was crucified, and that he was raised from the dead on the third day. Okay, maybe easy isn't the correct word, maybe simple is better. However, to live the life of a Christ-follower is not at all easy...though perhaps one could say that it is simple. Paul wrote that we are to clothe ourselves with the apparel stated in the above verse and that the final adornment is to put on love because it binds all together in perfect unity. I guess that sounds fairly simple and maybe easy.

When I thought about this (and this is where it could get frightening), the part that gets difficult is the call to forgive those with whom I have a grievance. Wait a minute! There's a part of me that demands the right to hold a grudge against a person that has harmed me. Yet, God says, "Forgive as you have been forgiven." We even pray it, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."

The call to be a Christ-follower requires us to grow in the understanding and implementation of forgiveness. The evidence of our faith is seen in its increased  understanding and implementation in our lives. This is both a faith issue and a process. The process begins with humbling ourselves before God and asking for forgiveness. The next step is to accept God's forgiveness. Then, we begin the process of forgiving those with whom we have a grievance. This is not easy. It is where the "rubber meets the road" and we begin to walk the road that leads to unity with God and one another. This is where we show ourselves to be "the light of the world."

Prayer for the day:

My Lord and Savior, help me to be clothed in the virtues of your love so that I may become an instrument of your love, grace, and forgiveness. 


January 30, 2019

“Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
“If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-23).

How often do we face obstacles in our lives and begin to wonder about (to doubt) the promises of God? We have faith; however, there is a persistent doubt that creeps into our heart and it undermines that faith. Like the father we say, “If you can…”

Abraham is extolled for his faith is Romans 4; however, when we read his story in Genesis we discover many times that his faith waned and he manipulated situations for his benefit. When it came to the moment that God promised him a son, Abraham (despite evidence to the contrary) believed. When told to sacrifice his son, the writer of Hebrews said that Abraham believed that God could raise the dead. Abraham “against all hope…in hope believed…”

We all face obstacles (whether they be giants like Goliath or stormy seas) that can only be overcome by the power of God at work in and through us. What are you facing this day? How much are you like the father that believed and was still plagued by doubt?

We’ll explore more of this on Sunday as we delve into the story of Abraham recounted in Romans 4.

Prayer for the day:

“Lord, I believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 


January 29, 2019

"We are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:10). 

"Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God" (Warren Wiersbe, On Being s Servant of God)

I have always loved the definition and/or identification of ministry and when it happens. I am reminded that ministry is intentional and that all God's children are invited to participate in the activity. God provides the resources to meet the need of the broken through those willing to be the conduits of love and grace so that God is glorified. 

The Church, at large, is struggling to remember its mandate - "Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you..." (Matthew 28:18-20). What is it that we are commanded to do? Love one another as the outpouring of our love for God. This certainly means acceptance of others that don't think, speak, or act as we do. It means loving those that are different than we are. It means that we are to strive to be a united and uniting body of Christ. The reason for this unity is so that the world may know that God sent Jesus into the world so that we may all know the completeness of the unity of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). To be united and uniting requires an intentional will to love one another so that we may be the conduits of God's loving grace for the outcast, the alien, and the broken-hearted. 

Paul wrote to the Ephesians that the dividing wall of hostility was destroyed so that God could create one new humanity, thus making peace. There's a lot to unpack here and not enough time to do it; however, let me suggest that the peace we broker (as the Church) is one that offers justice, mercy, and grace, meted out in love in the name of our crucified and risen Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. 

With the issues that the community (local, national, and global) faces, please consider how Jesus responded to those that were hurting and outcast. Pray before your respond to social and political agendas that are not in line with your own ideologies. Then, remember before you speak that your are a "loving channel" of "divine resources" to meet "human needs" so that in your life "God is glorified."

Remember, the early church had the greatest impact on the community not by badgering people with theology but by practical application of the theology of God's love for the world. 

Prayer for the day:

Lord, fulfill your purpose in me by using me to be a conduit of your love for every person that you bring into my sphere of influence. 


January 25, 2019

"Apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known...This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" (Romans 3:21-31). 

There was a time when the word "righteous" was a synonym to the word "awesome." Of course, being righteous is awesome but it one cannot equate the two as carrying the same meaning. Righteousness has more to do with moral uprightness and virtue. Paul wrote that God is righteous and followed that with the testimony that no human (apart from Christ) is righteous before God. "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God..." This is not palatable to most people and there is an effort to re-frame who we are and where we stand before God in a morally ambiguous world. 

We confuse the words "justify" and "rationalize" by making them synonymous. Though some see them this way, I suggest that justify brings about a sense of what is true and right; rationalize gives a sense an attempted excuse to make something appear as true and right. For example, I can follow the posted speed limit and be right before the law and thus be justified; or, I can choose to exceed the posted speed limit because of specific reasons and I can rationalize that choice to be right even though I have broken the law. 

Scripture shows us that all have sinned and we seek to rationalize our behavior and cite the reasons for our choices. When rationalization doesn't work we play what I call "the blame game" by pointing the finger at someone other than ourselves. Scripture also tells us that we are able to be justified before God but it is not because of our goodness; instead, it is the goodness of God in Christ Jesus that justifies us. 

Sunday, and in the coming weeks, we will explore this in more depth. The hope that we are given is that when we are in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation - we are truly justified. With that justification in place, we are called to live a life that displays that we are walking with God. Our obedience is an act of thanksgiving, praise, and love. It doesn't save us; it shows that we are saved.

Prayer for the day:

Lord God, help us to look to all that you have done for us in Jesus Christ and trust you for our justification. Then, empower us to live obediently in your love so that our lives may declare your goodness and love for the world. 


January 11, 2019

"What advantage... Much in every way! But what if...?" (Romans 3:1-8)

We're often amazed when people refuse to take responsibility for their actions and/or blame others for choices made. Of course, when it is our choice to pass the buck, it's obviously justifiable. 

As we look at Romans 3 in a four part series, we will note several things: First, that we have the advantage of being entrusted with the word of God. Much like the Jewish Christians of the first century, we have the great advantage of God's revelation (we now have both testaments, whereas the early Christians had the one). Second, God's judgment is right and it is enacted against those that forsake the Law. Third, God's grace doesn't promote lawlessness so that more grace abounds; rather, it is because of human propensity to abandon God's Law that grace is given. Fourth, we are not brought into relationship with God because we obey the Law; instead, because of our relationship with God we choose to strive to obey the Law. 

We live in chaotic and, some would say, evil times. If we ever need to see the consequences of our choices, look at the divisiveness of our nation...and of the Church. Instead of focusing on what unites us, we indulge personal agendas at the expense of others (this comes from every side, the blame is not on any one person). 

The goal of our study is discover order in the chaos, sanity in the midst of irrationality, and hope for all in despair. The place where this is found is in the heart of God. Paul wrote a word that calls us to look in the mirror and see who we truly are. Then, he calls us to a hope that is beyond ourselves, a hope that is found in the open arms of Jesus. 

Prayer for the day:

Our Father in heaven, guide us into the heart of your love and empower us to offer that love to those you bring to us. Help us to see beyond rhetoric and personal agenda. Help us to see the broken in need of healing. Help us to offer the light of hope to those in the darkness of despair. I pray that we be willing to be the embodiment of the love of Jesus for all. 


January 8, 2019

Highlighting Colossians 3:15-17. “Let the peace of Christ rule…Be thankful…Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly…Whatever you do…do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

We are always faced with choices, sometimes we find them easy and sometimes not so much. For the child of God, the choice is simply stated but not so easily lived - this passage gives us direction. 

The 3rd Commandment tells us to refrain from misusing the name of the Lord. Instead of seeing this as a casual cuss word or an off the cuff reference to God, what if we saw this in light of honoring or dishonoring the name of the Lord God of all that is. Please understand, our lives are a testimony of who we are in God’s plan. All that we do matters. With that in mind, our lives are to be a living witness of Christ in us. This brings our lives in line with God’s design.

Too often, we find ourselves at a loss for discerning God’s will. We know that we need to make a choice and we’re caught somewhere between rationalizing and justifying what we think we should do. Rationalization is never a good choice and we often confuse justification for rationalization. Truthfully, if our focus is “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…,” then we will discover the best course of action.

Last thought. Our choices impact God’s word and work in this world. The way that its impact is most greatly felt is in our relationships with one another – and this is to mirror the relationship we have with God. If our relationship with God is giving to others all that we have received in love, grace, mercy, and, forgiveness, then it is likely that we are walking in God’s will for our lives – God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will. ​

Prayer for the day:

Lord Jesus, help me to get to know you better today. Help me to make choices that honor you so that your word and work may advance in the lives of those people I touch. 


December 14, 2018

“The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). 

How often do we find ourselves just wanting to make it through the day? Even with the wonder of Christmas and visions of grandeur as to what the “spirit of Christmas” is supposed to be, there are moments that we just want to survive the season.

Casting Crowns wrote a song several years ago entitled, Thrive.

          So living water flowing through

          God we thirst for more of You

          Fill our hearts and flood our souls

          With one desire

          Just to know You and to make You known

          We lift Your name on high

          Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide

          We know we were made for so much more

          Than ordinary lives

          It's time for us to more than just survive

          We were made to thrive

It’s easy to lose our joy when we lose our focus on Christ Jesus. Advertisers, Hallmark, and so many others keep us blinded from the true Spirit of Christmas. It’s not that anyone is intentionally trying to undermine Christmas; what we see is Christmas through a foggy window. It reminds me of Paul’s statement to the Corinthians, “Now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face…” Of course, the mirror at that time was not nearly as clear as those we have now.
The poor reflection that we see in culture is all that Christmas holds for most people. Clarity of focus is when our Christmas joy is found in relationship with God’s Son, Jesus. When that joy is discovered, we find strength – not to survive but to thrive. This is God’s desire for and design in us. It is then that we become joyful reflections of God’s glory for the world.

Prayer for the day:
Lord, help me to have a clear vision of your love revealed in Jesus so that, during this season, I can be the embodiment of joy that enables others to see you. 


​November 30, 2018

"This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight...that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ..." (Philippians 1:9-10).

As we enter the season of Advent, what are our hopes? What are our expectations?​ What do we anticipate?

Think about the Christmas tree. What does it represent - to you? When we see the tree set up and decorated, what comes to mind? I know that children don't think deep theological thoughts; instead, they have visions of wrapped gifts accumulating and waiting to be opened. Their hopes are that they will receive that special gift that will make their day complete. 

Paul shared his prayer for Philippi, it was a prayer that would carry them through until their hope was realized - the day of Christ. Paul wrote about love, knowledge, discernment, purity, and blamelessness. All of these in place in the lives of God's children so that they are prepared for the return of Jesus. 

If I don't attain all this, will I be prepared for the day of Christ? I'm like the child worried about the "naughty or nice" list. What if I don't measure up? 

Advent begins with hope; fear and despair are not part of the life of the child of God. This Sunday we will focus on the hope we have for the day of Christ and how we can prepare for that day. Remember, we are all children looking with eager expectation for the Day that is coming.

Prayer for the day:

Lord, may your love abound in me more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that I may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ..."


November 16, 2018

How do our lives display “overflowing thanks” to God?

We enter the season of bedazzling lights - the Christmas season is upon us (preceded by Thanksgiving). Lights and life often are seen together and hope springs anew in our culture as we celebrate Christmas. Please note that I didn’t say that we celebrate the birth of Jesus. To be sure, there are religious symbols and overtones to all that is Christmas; however, for many it is limited to the miracle of human perception rather than divine revelation.

What can we do to broaden the perspective so that all the lives we touch can see the wonder of God’s love? I believe that it begins with our overflowing thanks to God for the work that God is doing in our lives. True, it is not always comfortable (being stretched to better “health” rarely is); yet, this work is an expression of God’s love for us – a love that transforms us and those that we love in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
With Thanksgiving ahead, let’s ask ourselves how we can radiate a life of overflowing thanks to God. Let us commit to being beacons of light – not lights that bedazzle – but light that illuminates and thus empowers others to see God’s love through lives overflowing with thanks. How do our lives display “overflowing thanks” to God?

Prayer for the day:

Lord God, I pray that I may be a conduit of your love as I live a life of overflowing thanksgiving. I pray that your power may shine through me so that I may truly be the "light of the world." 


​November 9, 2018
"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).
"Not many of you should presume to be teachers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways..." (James 3:1-2).
Appearances can be deceiving. A person can look like the real deal - remember King Saul. Saul had the physical attributes and the charisma that people often look for in a leader. However, as we move forward in his life we discover that Saul had serious character defects and this ultimately cost him his leadership role and his life. 
The truth is that everyone is saddled with the burden of flawed character - it is the result of the reality of sin. This does not remove from us the responsibility of striving to live righteously before God and those within our sphere of influence (directly or indirectly). We are charged with the responsibility of developing godly character (see the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians and the call to holiness in 2 Peter). Many believe the character of a person is best seen in the face of adversity; however, I suggest that character is witnessed at all times - whether in the trenches or in victory (just as there are "sore" losers, there are obnoxious winners). 
Though we will never be perfect, we are to strive for it through faith. Our relationship with God is not based on how good we are, that is a matter of grace through faith; however, our character must radiate the reality of our relationship with God. If I am a child of God, then I am the light of the world. If I am the light of the world, then I dispel the darkness wherever my feet take me. If I dispel the darkness, then the light of God's love gives sight to those unable to see.
The role of the minister (not just the pastor) is to be filled to overflowing with the loving, healing, and forgiving grace of God. This is a word that not only comes in the words we speak but in the Word we live. 
Prayer for the day:
Lord, let your light shine in me so that others may discover the glory of your Presence and discover life in the fullness of your love.


November 2, 2018
"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else...God does not show favoritism" (Romans 2:1-11). 
Justification or rationalization. Reasons or excuses.
The truth is we all engage in choices in which we see cause and effect. We "justify" our choices (at least in our way of thinking) when, in reality, we rationalize our choices so as not to make us look bad. When the results of our choices come home to roost we give reasons for the negative consequences; however, the reality is that we are really making excuses so that we don't need to take responsibility.
God's word reminds us that there are no excuses because we know God's design. God also makes it clear that God's love is for all people that trust the deliverance offered in Jesus.
This Sunday, we look a little more deeply into the letter to the Romans to see the kind of people that God has designed and the transformation process necessary to get there.
Prayer for the day:
Lord God, thank you for the work you are doing in me to transform me and empower me to serve you. Help me to be responsible in my choices. Help me to have a reason for my choices and to not make excuses when they don't go the way I want. Help me to avoid rationalization for my actions when I live before you as one justified by faith in Jesus. Help me not to judge others (or even myself); rather, empower me to be your minister of grace to those that need to experience your love.


October 19, 2018

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..." (Romans 1:16-17).
It seems that everyone likes a "makeover" story. Reality shows of makeovers come and go. People's lives are changed (at least for the moment). There is joy in the moment of the transformation of home, body, or business. There is a new vision, a new perspective. There is hope for the future. The viewers of the show are left to wonder, "How long will it last?" 
Transformation lasts as long as one remembers that it is a process. The quick fix rarely goes to the heart - it touches the surface, it touches that which is presentable. If we want a makeover that transforms, we must remember the process. The process begins in the head - what we believe; it continues to the heart - what we believe; and, it is completed with the hands - what we achieve. 
The letter to the Romans is one of encouragement to transformation, not a simple makeover. It is the power of God for everyone that believes. The word translated "believes" gives us a sense of process - belief occurs in the moment and continues as a work in progress in the life of the child of God. What work are we committed to in our lives? Do we want a quick fix? Do we desire something that will last? 
I believe, and am not ashamed, to declare that God is calling us to a deeper place. The good news of Jesus (our crucified and risen Lord and Savior) is a message of promise and hope that leads to a transformed and transforming life. We will begin to explore what that can look like as we begin to look at this rich letter from the Apostle Paul.
Prayer for the day:
God, you alone transform the lives of those that call upon your name in faith. It's more than a makeover. You go to the heart and make us new. We know that we have a role to play - we are called to trust and to work out all that you have worked in. We remember the words of the father in the gospel that declared, "I believe, help me in my unbelief." We are like that man. We want to experience your work, yet we are often fearful of what it may require. Let us grow in faith so that we may trust that you love us and your work in us is to fulfill your design for us. 


October 4, 2018
"Continue to work out your salvation..., for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:12b-13).
I'm sorry but I skipped the words "with fear and trembling" because the words are too often misunderstood. The fear and trembling is not about our being afraid of a vengeful God, remember John wrote, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment..."
Fear may be better understood, in this context, as our understanding the nature and character of God and being in awe of the Creator of all that is. If God did this awesome work, then what is our response to the One that spoke the universe into being? We can all respond by working out in our lives all that God has worked in. 
This Sunday, World Communion Sunday, we are celebrating our faith with like-minded faith communities. We are also celebrating the first graduating class of Stephen Ministers at SJCUCC. These seven have committed to working out the grace and love of God in their lives by being trained and now being ministers to those who are hurting. The goal is to walk alongside those that are struggling during their time of need (no matter what the issue or problem). Each has received 50+ hours of training in Christ-centered care-giving. Each is continuing with ongoing training and accountability. When it comes to working out what God has worked in, these Stephen ministers are loving conduits of God's amazing grace. 
Prayer for the day:
Our gracious and loving God, we entrust our lives to you in this day and ask that you connect each of us in the love of Christ for the mutual benefit of all the children of God. Let us be united in mind, heart, and action so that the world may know you. Let us be the embodiment of the peace of God for all people.


September 27, 2018

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5).
I'll be honest...I'm not always sure that I want the same mindset as Jesus. I'm not saying that I want to avoid God's working in me to become more Christlike; yet, at the same time, I'm not sure that I don't want to avoid God's work in me.
Think about it for a moment in light of this section of Philippians. 
Jesus could have used his position ("being in very nature God") as a place of entitlement to advance himself in the world. 
Jesus could have done what he wanted; instead, he chose to be a servant of all.
Jesus could have set an agenda that was self-promoting; instead, he humbled himself and in obedience endured the Cross.
Now, none of us are God and so we don't have the position and entitlement that Jesus could have insisted on. And, there are few of us (if any) that would choose the Cross (or its equivalent) as our act of ultimate obedience. So, as it comes to being of the same mindset as Jesus, this is an extremely uncomfortable proposition. 
More than that, Paul is writing about this mindset regarding our relationships with one another...he doesn't seem to address this as a way of thinking about God. Of course, this is exactly what he did. Our mindset regarding others will be directly related to the relationship that we have with God. If I am willing to put others first, it is because I have already put God first. If I am unwilling to be a servant of those within my sphere of influence, it is because I am unwilling to be a servant of God. There's more, but this gives us enough to start to rethink the words we pray every week, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven...Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors..."
Together, we will explore this mindset a little more on Sunday. Come, join us and be part of the fellowship of people seeking to learn to be more Christlike. As the "famous" philosopher, Red Green, reminds us, "We're all in this together."
Prayer for the day:
Our Lord and God, in view of your mercy, grace, and love for me, empower me to be transformed in the renewing of my mind so that I may more fully display your character - in my thoughts, my words, and my actions.


September 19, 2018
"Each...should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4). 
Self-interest is the focus of people with a sense of entitlement. Please understand, this does not mean that we avoid self-care (in the physical, emotional, or spiritual areas of our lives); Paul is clear in Philippians that we must engage in self-care (that is, look to our interests). However, if all that we do is focused on us, we miss the point of being a Christ-follower. Jesus taught us to "deny oneself" and to "carry our cross daily." Paul encouraged his readers to walk in humility, like Jesus, and to be willing to seek the interests of others, to the point of self-sacrifice. 
The context here is that we do nothing out of selfish motivation or conceit; instead, we willingly look to the best interests of others. If we want others to treat us with love and respect, it would be beneficial to begin in that place with others - "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Many would do well to heed this word.
This Sunday we'll build more on this thought so that we may be more fully aware of what it means to be a Christ-follower. We invite all to come and join us.
Prayer for the day:
Our Father in heaven, empower me to move outside myself and into the lives of those you bring into my sphere of influence. It is not mine to control; rather, it is my responsibility to walk with them in their journey, to discover who they are and how you have designed them for that which is yet before them. Help me, in humility, to look to their interests even as Jesus looked to my best interests and the best interests for all humanity. 


​August 18, 2018
"Let us love one another, for love comes from God..."
God is love. Jesus is the embodiment of love and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to be that love today.
Verses 9 & 10 repeat the display of God's love through Jesus - in his life and especially in his death, paying our sin debt. 
If this love is for us and in us, then we are to love one another. Love is to be sacrificial. Love needs "skin in the game." When this occurs, God's love is made complete in us.
Prayer for the day:
Lord, work your love in and through me for the sake of your kingdom and the benefit of those you've called me to serve - my family, your church, and all those that you bring into my life.