I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
 
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
Revelation 2:2-5

It’s been an exciting journey, working through this devotional together over the month. I pray that the stories have challenged and excited you, made you laugh, and made you cry. I pray that these stories have encouraged, enabled, and empowered you to think through the issues we as individuals, as churches, as communities, and as a nation, face.
 
The foundation stone of society, family, has never been under such pressure as today.
 
God’s intended foundation stone for understanding family, marriage, has never been under such pressure as today.
 
This means that we as individuals, as churches, as communities, and as a nation, have never been under such pressure as today, for we are, all of us, members of families. These families may be biological, they may be cultural, they may be religious, but they are families nonetheless.
 
In weeks one and two, we explored God’s plan for marriage and families, and how we have failed to live up to God’s plans. The reality is that as humans we have failed, and we will continue to fail to live as God intends for us. This does not mean that God’s plans are wrong, merely that we cannot keep them perfectly. The fault lies with us, not with God or his will.
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As Christians, we are called to pray and fast, to seek to know God’s will, and then to live it out. This means that we are to submit ourselves to God, to God’s will, and to put aside our own desires and wishes.
 
We cannot do that as long as we submit ourselves to the will of the world.
 
We are truly thankful for God’s revelation as to his will for marriage and for families. The wisdom of God brings life and light to all who live by it.

And yet, when we fail to live by God’s will, we see brokenness and suffering. We see hatred and division. We see pain and death.
 
Christians are not immune to these failures, in some ways we suffer them more deeply than others, for we know the truth and have been convicted by it. We know that we are called first to love God, and to love our neighbours as God loves us.
 
Yet too often, we love our neighbours as the world does, and love God the same way.
 
Or we fear God, and hate our neighbours.
 
Yes, we must persevere in the face of hardship and persecution. Yes, we must be steadfast to the will of God.
 
But we must do this by loving God first and foremost, and loving our neighbours in the way that God loves us. Sacrificially. Patiently. Respectfully. We must hold firm to our first love.
 
If we cannot do these things, then our witness for Christ is forfeit.
 
(To be continued…)
 
Heavenly Father,
We thank you that you love us, and call us to new life in you.
We thank you for the gifts of marriage and family. These gifts are blessings to us that reflect your will for all creation.
May the Holy Spirit help us to stand firm in our first love, that we would devote ourselves first and foremost to you, through prayer, fasting, and a life that is modelled on the life of Jesus Christ.
Grant that all Australians may show mutual respect for one another as we prepare for a plebiscite.
In Jesus‘ name,
Amen

Devotionals written by Ben & Thea Pratt with editorial assistance by

Warwick Marsh & David Rowsome from Canberra Declaration with thanks for input and advice from an interdenominational editorial team. The team at the Canberra Declaration also thank the team at the National Day of Prayer & Fasting for their kind assistance