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Keeping Christ central

A weekly series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration

In a recent staff devotions, I asked our team a simple question: “How many of you have thought sometime today, ‘God really loves me’?”

Everyone in the room had John 3:16 memorized, knew other verses about God’s immeasurable love, and could chime in on “Jesus Loves Me” in the time it takes to say flannelgraph. So every hand shot up, right? In actuality, four hands out of 30 went up. Only four.

And this isn’t unique to HOPE. In asking this question to dozens of followers of Jesus, I hear the same thing:

I just don’t think much about God’s love for me on a daily basis, and if I’m honest, I struggle to believe it.

This struggle isn’t usually due to lack of information. We know God’s love led to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. But our conviction that God’s love secures our salvation doesn’t always translate into confidence that He really wants us near Him today. It’s like we are playing the old game of “He loves me”—pull off a petal—“He loves me not”—pull another one, laughing at our foolishness even as we hope for some feeling of certainty.

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Dave Wasik preaches at Rehoboth Church in CongoDave Wasik, HOPE’s vice president of operations, recently had the privilege of preaching at Rehoboth Church in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The following passage was excerpted from his sermon.

John 15:1-8
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

What are the parts of our lives that distract us from God? What are the idols in our lives that prevent us from giving our Savior our full attention? Do we have relationships in our lives that pull us away from God, rather than bringing us closer? I know I have some – my television, money, possessions like clothes and computers. This is a sinful tendency in my own life – I am so surrounded by “things” that I sometimes miss God’s voice in my life. Continue Reading…