Day 144

The Love of Your Life

Wisdom Psalm 66:13–20
New Testament John 13:18–38
Old Testament 1 Samuel 13:1–14:23


In February 1977, Bishop Festo Kivengere was part of a group of church leaders who delivered a letter of protest to the dictator, Idi Amin, speaking out against the beatings, arbitrary killings and unexplained disappearances taking place across Uganda at that time. The next day, Festo Kivengere’s friend and leader, Archbishop Janani Luwum was murdered by Idi Amin and Bishop Festo was driven into hiding and then exile.

Soon afterwards, Festo Kivengere published a book entitled I Love Idi Amin. In the book he explained the extraordinary title: ‘The Holy Spirit showed me that I was getting hard in my spirit… so I had to ask for forgiveness from the Lord, and for grace to love President Amin more… this was fresh air for my tired soul. I knew I had seen the Lord and been released: love filled my heart.’

Love is more than a feeling or an emotion. It is a decision about how we treat one another. Jesus was the supreme example of love in the history of the world. He tells us to love God, to love one another (John 13:34–35), to love our neighbour as ourselves and even to love our enemies. He demonstrates all this in his own life through loving everyone (even Judas who betrayed him as we see in today’s passage), and laying down his life for us all in love.


Psalm 66:13–20

13 I will come to your temple with burnt offerings
   and fulfill my vows to you—
14 vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke
   when I was in trouble.
15 I will sacrifice fat animals to you
   and an offering of rams;
   I will offer bulls and goats.

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
   let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
   his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
   the LORD would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
   and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
   who has not rejected my prayer
   or withheld his love from me!


Love God

When you are in trouble do you ever make a promise that if God were to answer your prayer you will do something (… or you won’t do something ever again!)? The psalmist made such a promise – and when his prayer was answered he fulfilled his promise. He wrote, ‘I will… fulfil my vows to you – vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble’ (vv.13–14).

God loves you. He does not withhold his love from you. The psalmist praises God: ‘He stayed with me, loyal in his love’ (v.20, MSG). Your love for God and others is a response to his love for you. ‘We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19).

God, in his love for you, hears and answers your prayers. If you want to enjoy God’s love to the full, experience answered prayer and show your love for him, there is one thing you need to avoid: the psalmist writes, ‘If I had cherished sin in my heart, the LORD would not have listened’ (Psalm 66:18).

If there is sin in the past, you can confess it and repent of it and be forgiven. What really blocks our relationship with God is if we deliberately plan to sin in the future. Then we cannot come into God’s presence with a clear conscience. This blocks the experience of his love.

It is because God, in his love ‘has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer’ (v.19), that in response the psalmist wants other people to listen to him: ‘Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me’ (v.16). It is so encouraging to hear other people’s testimonies about what God has done in their lives. It inspires the rest of us and increases our faith.


Lord, thank you for your forgiveness, mercy and love. Thank you for the many times when you have listened and heard my voice in prayer (v.19). ‘Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!’ (v.20).

New Testament

John 13:18–38

Jesus Predicts His Betrayal

18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’

19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”

22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”

25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”

37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the cock crows, you will disown me three times!


Love one another

Nothing is more of a hindrance to the message of Jesus than a lack of love between Christians. If our nations are to be changed, if people are going to turn back to following Jesus, we must start loving one another. This means loving Christians of different churches, denominations, traditions and different views to ourselves.

It means loving one another in the local church. Disunity destroys. Love unites. Love attracts others to the person of Jesus. Loving God and loving one another in Jesus’ name must be our overall ambition above all others. That is the kind of love that can change the world.

Here we have three men (Judas, Peter and John, author of John’s Gospel) who have radically different relationships with Jesus. They represent each of us at different moments in our lives.

John, the beloved disciple, knew the love of Jesus in a very intimate way. Of all the disciples he was the closest friend of Jesus. He was the one dwelling next to him (v.23). Four times in this Gospel, John describes himself as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’: here (v.23), at the cross (19:26), at the empty tomb (20:2) and with the risen Jesus (21:20). He reveals that we are all called to be in close communion with Jesus.

Out of this intimate experience of Jesus’ love, John’s Gospel and letters speak so much about love. He records that Jesus told his disciples, ‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’ (13:34–35).

People fail to love for different reasons. Judas betrays Jesus in spite of being so close to him: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me’ (v.18). Satan entered into him (v.27). Here we see the very opposite of love. Judas hated love. He was in revolt against Jesus. Yet Jesus continued to love Judas.

Peter loved Jesus. But he was a complex personality with a very human vision of Jesus and his mission. Peter said that he would lay down his life for Jesus (v.37), but Jesus tells him, ‘You will disown me three times’ (v.38). And that is what Peter did (18:15–18,25–27). Yet Jesus continued to love Peter.

Jesus sets before you this amazing challenge: ‘As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (13:34). Jesus loved you by laying down his life for you. He says that you are to follow his example and show self-sacrificial love. This is the mark of a true Christian. ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’ (v.35).

Love is the most effective form of evangelism. When people see real love they see God. The best way to start to tell people about Jesus is to love them and to love other followers of Jesus.

Generally, in the world, people get into groups with people they are naturally attracted to and who think the same way as them. We are meant to be quite different. The church of Jesus Christ brings us together with a variety of people from different backgrounds, of different interests, different ages, ethnicities, races, perspectives, lifestyles, opinions and different views: all who love one another.


Lord, help us to love one another as you have loved us. May we see a new love between Christians of all churches, denominations and traditions in the local, national and global church. May the world be changed by our love.

Old Testament

1 Samuel 13:1–14:23

Samuel Rebukes Saul

13 Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty-two years.

2 Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Mikmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes.

3 Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!” 4 So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become obnoxious to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.

5 The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Mikmash, east of Beth Aven. 6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.

Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. 8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.

11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.

Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favour. ’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”

13 “You have done a foolish thing, ” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.”

15 Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred.

Israel Without Weapons

16 Saul and his son Jonathan and the men with them were staying in Gibeah in Benjamin, while the Philistines camped at Mikmash. 17 Raiding parties went out from the Philistine camp in three detachments. One turned toward Ophrah in the vicinity of Shual, 18 another toward Beth Horon, and the third toward the borderland overlooking the Valley of Zeboyim facing the wilderness.

19 Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears! ” 20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines to have their plow points, mattocks, axes and sickles sharpened. 21 The price was two-thirds of a shekel for sharpening plow points and mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening forks and axes and for repointing goads.

22 So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.

Jonathan Attacks the Philistines

23 Now a detachment of Philistines had gone out to the pass at Mikmash. 14 One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armour-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.

2 Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six hundred men, 3 among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left.

4 On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh. 5 One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba.

6 Jonathan said to his young armour-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few. ”

7 “Do all that you have in mind,” his armour-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”

8 Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. 9 If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the LORD has given them into our hands. ”

11 So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” 12 The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armour-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson. ”

So Jonathan said to his armour-bearer, “Climb up after me; the LORD has given them into the hand of Israel.”

13 Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armour-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armour-bearer followed and killed behind him. 14 In that first attack Jonathan and his armour-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.

Israel Routs the Philistines

15 Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.

16 Saul’s lookouts at Gibeah in Benjamin saw the army melting away in all directions. 17 Then Saul said to the men who were with him, “Muster the forces and see who has left us.” When they did, it was Jonathan and his armour-bearer who were not there.

18 Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God.” (At that time it was with the Israelites.) 19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the Philistine camp increased more and more. So Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.”

20 Then Saul and all his men assembled and went to the battle. They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords. 21 Those Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines and had gone up with them to their camp went over to the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit. 23 So on that day the LORD saved Israel, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.


Love like God

There are times in your life when you may feel outnumbered by problems – illness, temptation, attacks on your faith and so on – but God is able to save you when he acts on your behalf. However much you seem to be outnumbered by your enemies, when the Lord acts on your behalf you will be saved.

Trust God not just when things are going well, but also in the difficult times. God is looking for men and women of faith.

Samuel said, ‘The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people’ (13:14).

God’s heart is full of love, compassion, mercy, justice and creativity. He is looking for people who are like him – like Jesus. Only the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart can make you like Jesus.

Saul failed. God had told Saul to wait until Samuel arrived. When Samuel was delayed, the people became restless. Saul cared more about what the people thought than what God thought. He became impatient and panicked (vv.6–12), just as we so often do. Learn to be more patient – to wait for God to act – and not panic if little things go wrong. Do not rush into rash decisions in the heat of the moment.

Jonathan, on the other hand, trusted ultimately in God’s love. He said ‘Perhaps the LORD will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few’ (14:6).


Lord, please give me a heart like yours – a heart of love. Help me to trust in your unfailing love. Thank you that your love is poured into my heart by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to me (Romans 5:5). Lord, please pour your love into my heart today.

Pippa adds

In John 13:35 it says,

‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’

I remember the first time I came across a group of young Christians working together. I was so struck by their unconditional love for me and for each other that I desperately wanted to be part of this group. Hopefully it is the same thing that people experience when they come on Sunday to the services, or come to Alpha or get involved with any other church community – that people are struck by the love that they have for one another.



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Festo Kivengere, I Love Idi Amin (Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1977).

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel (commentary formerly known as Bible in One Year) ©Alpha International 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Compilation of daily Bible readings © Hodder & Stoughton Limited 1988. Published by Hodder & Stoughton Limited as the Bible in One Year.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers.

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel

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