18 May 2015

THIS IS WHAT LOVE LOOKS LIKE


1 Thess 4:9-10

Have you ever said something you wish you could take back? And when your confronted and guilt sets in,  you say “sorry, please forgive me”, and they respond with “why should I forgive you?”  You answer with “I’m a Christian.” Wrong answer! Why? The name Christian is something that gets abused today by many in the church. When we use the term Christian to get ourselves out of a bind thinking everything is going to be ok and all were doing is destroying the name that has been given to us at such a high price [meaning the cross]. It’s one thing to say that you are a Christian; it’s another thing to prove you are a Christian by the way you live your life. There should only be one way in which we are to live! Godly for the glory of Christ, in the gospel. See, how we respond to the gospel and God’s word will directly and indirectly influence how we respond to others in the church and outside the church….even the ones who seem unlovable!
  • Just as we need the Spirit to show us ours sin and desperate need redemption.
  • Just as we need the Spirit to save us from the flaming judgement of God.
  • Just as we need the Spirit to sanctify us unto holy living and aspirations pleasing to God.
  • Just as we need the Spirit to keep us holy and blameless before a holy God.
The same rule applies when it comes to loving one another. You and I cannot love one another in our own strength! You will fail; you and I need to rely upon the Spirit’s work in our lives as we take this journey home. God’s ultimate goal and desire is that we reflect the image and likeness of God. See God’s glory is reflected in and through our lives. The Apostle Paul said “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” Phil 2:12-15

Loving other is hard work! Spiritual sweat…….it’s something that each and everyone us need to submit or yield to; this is something the Spirit wants to see displayed in our lives. As the bible says when it comes to the idea of loving others! Because there is no room for “but I can’t love that person" Jesus said love your enemies…….Matt 5:43. Jesus said love those who hate you……Luke 6:27. Paul said love your wife…….Eph 5:25. Paul said love your children…….Eph 6:4. The Apostle Peter said love covers a multitude of sin…….1 Peter 4:8. Again, Jesus said they will know you are my disciple if you love one another…….John 13:35

When genuine love is on display for the whole world to see, then love has no limitations to what it can do outside the church in our communities. How do I know I love as the bible speaks of? First, are you born again under the saving grace found in Jesus Christ alone ?Secondly, is your passion for the church and others selfless for the glory of Christ? Paul leaves us bread crumbs to how we are to strive as God’s reflections in this kind of unlimited love.

YOUR LOVE SHOWS

Paul says you have had the greatest teacher, teaching you how to truly love others. “taught by God”  (v9) it’s the expression that conveys the idea of an inborn knowledge made available by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. See, the type of love the bible teaches is the characterized by God’s divine nature. What do I mean by that? The way we can understand true love is found in the attributes of God. Because God is love. We read in John’s epistle “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:8-11. This is where we are taught what true love is! Not some fabricated or emotional rush that makes us fell warm for a season or lusting over your boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s a love that is sacrificial, a character of who we are, not something we do ,but something we are. You can read a thousand books on the subject….but none will ever come close enough o truly explain what love is. Why? God is love and He is the plumb line in how were to love the ones sitting in the pews of our church. Genuine love is displayed outwardly, by inward change of heart….that only God can change and supply. As Ezekiel said “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Eze 36:26. Just as we lack the ability to abstain” from sexual immorality [sin] without the Spirits empowerment, we also lack the ability to love others without God’s sovereign help. God transforms our lives, not only to walk in holiness, but to love others as He loved us. Do you truly love those sitting in this sanctuary?

YOUR LOVES GOES

Not only did they outwardly display a genuine love [not manufactured] but a genuine love for their church family. They also loved the surrounding churches, which have been set apart from God. How does this work in the Christian life? Through the transforming work of the gospel. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Cor 5:17. Their new nature gave them the ability to not only to love their church family, but also the ability to love the surrounding churches that embraced the true gospel. It says “what you are doing to all the brothers’ throughout Macedonia” (v10a). What is Paul trying to say? They had a deep rooted relationship with God, which naturally gave them a deep rooted love for other believers in the surrounding churches. Such as Philippi and Berea as it says in the book of Acts. As one writer summed up this verse “their love for other churches literally went the distance.” Not only are we called to love our church, but God calls us to love His churches as well. Remember what Paul wrote in the beginning of his letter “your….labour of love”  (1:3). They genuinely and I mean they really cared for their surrounding brothers and sisters. Think about how important it is, that we do care about true evangelical churches that are filled with our brothers and sisters. These are hard days and troubling times for many churches……

  • Many churches are fighting for survival
  • A decline in membership
  • A decline is serving and helping where help is needed.
  • Internal conflicts, which needs forgiveness, repentance and restoration.
  • The strong influence from the world.
  • Financial struggles that have lead many …especially rural churches, to close its doors.
For some of us, we might think that is ok! We can drive down the road a little further and go to the next one, that is bigger and better and it a lot offers more for my family. Do you hear how that sounds? Its selfishness. Small rural churches that were established by a couple of families hundreds of years ago, that had a desire and a hope for reaching their community with the gospel. And for a season it does and then we see a massive decline.
Why? The next generation grows up and they see bigger is better and they forget the ones who founded the church for the purpose of the gospel. They don’t want to serve or give, to help keep the message going in their community. We live in a generation that is me centered, and me focused. We forget about those whom God has placed in our lives and we tend to seek what’s best for me. This is the exact opposite of the Thessalonica church! They loved with cared deeply about their surrounding brothers and sisters.The church was never intended to be an island in its own community or a Lone ranger when it came to the work of the gospel. He has called all true "BIBLE BELIEVING" churches to do His work together. We are not in competition with First Baptist in Arnprior, Nepean Baptist, Pineland, Potters House, Lyndock, Eganville, Purdy, and Community and so on! We are to work together to keep each other accountable and strong during these hard times….when the world is trying so hard to conform the church to its standards. We are to take interest, invest our lives into one another.

As one writer said “one of the true tests of our love for others is our ability to rejoice when God chooses to bless others more than He blesses us….God’s love in us enables us to love others the way that God loved us – unconditionally. When we willfully withhold our love from others, especially those who belong to God’s church, we rob others of the love they deserve, and we rob ourselves of the joy that comes from loving others.” Nothing thrills me more as a pastor to know that the churches we support and churches I love, are preaching the truth this morning. It reminds me of what Paul wrote to Philemon. “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” Philemon 1-7. The churches in Thessalonica were on a journey together and they wanted their fellow brothers and sisters to know they cared and that they were here for them.

YOUR LOVE GROWS

Just as we are to grow in our relationship with God, we are to grow in our relationship with one another. This is something that needs to be done and happening more and more in our lives. However, as exemplary as the Thessalian’s love was, it was not perfect! And Paul wanted them to grow more and more…..striving each and every day for the glory of His name. See, loving one another is not an item you check off your list of things I did today. It’s not I said “I love my wife already” so I don’t have to say it anymore. It’s not that I was kind to my neighbor and I can be miserable with rest of my community for the remainder of the day. Loving others is an ongoing activity in the life of a child of God. Just as God is progressively sanctifying us minute by minute, we are to progressively [meaning actively] loving others more today than you did yesterday. Loving others is to become easier, not harder, as we walk the road to Heaven. Why? This is a sign you are genuinely growing in your Christian life. One of the greatest examples of that love is found in John’s gospel in the 13th chapter when Jesus washed the disciples feet. And what’s amazing about this portion of scripture is that it starts off with wonderful truth about God’s everlasting love for His set apart children. “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” John 13:1. God’s love is endless and his love for them knows no end! And He gives us a truth that we are to do the same…..  “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13:15. Loving, sacrificing and serving one another in the same love that never ends. It’s called pursuing love for the glory of His name. It’s the idea of excelling more and more” this should be our virtue as a church and as individuals under the gospel. Where have we seen this kind of growing love displayed?

HOW ABOUT……In the life of Joseph…… “And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.” Gen 45:15. Jonathan…..  And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.” 1 Sam 20:17. In the purpose of Jesus Christ….. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” Rom 5:6-9. In you and me…… “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Heb10:23-25. Love is not, an emotion or a flash in in the pants, but a deep rooted joy, that only comes from the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit. This is what we are to be pursuing as we strive in holiness and walking in purity. A love that super exceeds for the glory of His name. A love that as Jesus had that went both deep and wide. Our love must have no limits or boundaries. As one writer said “we cannot obey God’s command to love one another “even more” if we selectively choose whom we will and will not love.”

Let me leave you one more example! David finally became king over all Israel, he inquired if there were any left of Saul’s house or family by saying“Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake” 2 Sam 9:1. Normally, this would be bad news for the former king’s family because the new customarily killed all remaining relatives to remove the threat of any of his heirs from retaking the throne or stirring up trouble in the kingdom. “…And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, ‘Mephibosheth!’ And he answered, ‘Behold, I am your servant.’ And David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.’ And he paid homage and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I'” 2 Sam 9:5-8. And David responds with “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson.  And you and your sons and your servants shall till the land for him and shall bring in the produce, that your master’s grandson may have bread to eat. But Mephibosheth your master’s grandson shall always eat at my table” 2 Sam 9:9b-10. 

What a picture of God’s love. We are all helplessly crippled by sin. We must humble ourselves before our king as Mephibosheth did before David. Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, who for years relentlessly pursued and tried to kill David was provided for and placed at the king’s table as David graciously said he “shall always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth was treated like the king’s son, he was accepted graciously at the king’s table, he was able to be in the king’s presence, and he was able to be provided with all that he needed for the rest of his life even though he was helpless to do anything else.  Mephibosheth couldn’t even provide for his own living. Wasn’t that us before we were saved?  To know that we can dine at the Lord’s Table, someday at the great marriage feast with the King of kings, and we will forever abide with Him, even though helpless, cripples (by sin) who could never survive in our own strength or by our own means. When I read about this account!  I think remind myself of the grace that He has shown me! Can you and I, love others here, and in the true church like that?

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