I Am Loved

by Erin Bird

Today we will conclude our three-week series on three truths from Psalm 139, one of my favorite psalms. So far we have seen through this famous psalm that you are intimately known as well as spiritually safe. Now, we get to celebrate the truth that you are deeply loved by God.

Today’s portion (verses 13-18) is possibly the most famous part of Psalm 139. You hear it when Christians defend the rights of the unborn. You hear it used to encourage someone who is struggling with their self-worth. But even though it is fairly famous, it is still worth taking the time to read again (or maybe for the first time!):

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
(Psalm 139:13-18)

Infatuated with Love

When some people “love” something, whether a rock band, a type of food, a movie franchise, or even another person, they want to know everything about that person or topic they can. It might be more accurate, though, to say this “love” is actually infatuation. But if you have ever been in a serious relationship (whether it resulted in marriage or not), you know that at some point your infatuation moved to a true deep level of love, yet you still longed to know more and more about the other person.

When we read verses 13 through 18, we see David acknowledging the truth that God is “infatuated” with him, knowing everything there was to know about Israel’s famous king. From the very day of David’s conception, God had been intimately and intricately putting David together. This means God knew everything about David. He knew David’s past in his mother’s womb (verses 13-15), David’s future (verse 16), and even David’s present DNA.

And yet, this doesn’t scare David. It helps David feel loved. Just knowing God knows everything about him causes David to burst out “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!” (verse 17)

But God didn’t have these feelings or this approach just with David. God has these exact same thoughts and feelings towards you! God knows you – your past, your present, and your future – and He fully loves you. You are His masterpiece! (Ephesians 2:10) He rejoices over you with singing! (Zephaniah 3:17) You are deeply loved. And He has loved you from the moment He began to knit you together in your mother’s womb.

So may you be encouraged today knowing that no matter what you have done or what you might be going through, God loves you. He has seen all your days, and He has redeemed each and every one of those days through the cross because of His deep abiding love for you.

Holy Week Worship

Holy Week Worship

By Erin Bird

Today (April 1) may be “April Fool’s Day,” as well as Opening Day for Major League Baseball. But far more important than either of these “celebrations” is the fact that this is Holy Week. This is the time of year in the Christian calendar when the global Church remembers the death & resurrection of Jesus, the most pivotal moment in all of history. The historic events of Good Friday and Easter are the hallmarks of the Gospel, and so even though we talk about the Gospel every week at Riverwood, we still want to take time as a church family to vividly recall these historic events.

So let me invite you to three things:

1. Good Friday (7 pm tomorrow night)
We will spend about 45 minutes reflecting upon the willingness of Jesus to lay His life down for us through song, prayer, Scripture, and communion. This event will be for the whole family. (If little ones need a space to decompress for a moment, the nursery room will be open.) We will also livestream this worship event.

2. Easter (9:30 am Sunday)
The Super Bowl/World Series/Olympics/World Cup of the Christian faith arrives! Join us as we celebrate Jesus’ ability to take His life back up through song and a sermon entitled “Love Rose Up.” (Feel free to read Sunday’s text ahead of time: John 10:1-18.)

3. Invite! (friends, neighbors, extended family, coworkers, grocery store clerks, whoever!)
If you haven’t already, extend an invitation to someone to join us on either Friday or Sunday, whether in-person or on Sunday.

Love Jesusly

Love Jesusly

By Erin Bird

Today, we conclude our How to Love series.

Love Like Jesus
Throughout our How to Love series, we have looked at loving others:

  • Humbly
  • Selflessly
  • by Listening
  • Generously
  • with Intention
  • and with Joy
  • while also loving ourselves.

But I can wrap all of that up with one phrase: Love Like Jesus.

If you look back at each of those previous topics, you will notice how I turned the issue to Christ almost every single week. Jesus is to be our example as well as our motivation. To love others humbly and generously and joyfully is to love them the way Jesus loves them.

Which means, loving “Jesusly” is an act of worship. In Matthew 25, Jesus said that when you love others (especially the “least of these”), you are doing it as if you were doing it for Him.

So may you find joy in humbling yourself and selflessly loving others, worshiping Jesus by generously giving your time and energy and life to help others know just how much they are loved by God. And by doing so, you will be exalting and worshiping the One who showed His love to the full by dying on the cross for you.

Love Internally

Love Internally

By Erin Bird

Next week we will be concluding this How to Love series, but before we do, I need to talk about something extremely important. In order for you to truly “love like Jesus,” you HAVE to love yourself.

If you’ve been following Jesus for a while, this idea of “loving yourself,” may sound unbiblical. After all, our culture talks a lot about “loving yourself,” and so therefore some of us just assume it must be an unbiblical sentiment. Others of us think about the portions of Scripture that call us to humility, so “love yourself” sounds anti-humble, so therefore anti-Christian.

But here are two reasons why I believe “loving yourself” is not only biblical, but necessary.

#1. You need to love you because Jesus loves you.
If you don’t love yourself, you are in essence saying to Jesus, “I am not worthy of love.” But that is so far from the truth as to be laughable! You were worth the blood of Jesus. Because God’s image is within you, God saw the highest value you could possibly have, so it was worth the cross to redeem you back to Himself.

So you need to love yourself to honor Jesus’ sacrifice. It as an act of worship.

#2. You need to love you in order to love others.
When you don’t love yourself, you set others up to fail you, which will lead you to fail them. You see, God created you to be loved. But by not accepting God’s love, and thereby not loving yourself, you turn others into a god-like character in your life, seeking to receive love from them. But because they are not God, they can’t love you perfectly. Then, in those imperfect moments, you feel hurt and let down, leading you to be nasty and selfish towards others.

But when you love yourself because of Christ’s love for you, you realize you are complete in Jesus. Therefore, you aren’t as needy for love from others. And out of that stable love for self found in the Gospel, you can then give to others the love God calls you to display.

As you can see, loving yourself in Christ’s love is deeply needed and necessary in order to love the way we’ve been talking about in this How to Love series. So may you bask in God’s love for you by worshiping Him in prayer & song, but may you also honor His love by loving yourself.

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