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Love Must Be Demonstrated

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Love Must Be Demonstrated

Love must be authentic, it must be communicated, and love must be demonstrated. We are continuing our blog series, Christmas through the Eyes of John. This is the third of the three things John says about love that will make all the difference.

John didn’t focus on the events and happenings of the Christmas story. He focused on the reason why. Why did Jesus come?

The simple answer is, God loved … God sent. God loved the world and God communicated that love and ultimately demonstrated it.

You can almost hear John 3:16 from this passage: “God has shown us his love by sending his only Son into the world so that we could have life through him,” (1 John 4:9 GW).

What was the action that God took to communicate His love?

He sent His ONLY Son “This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the payment for our sins. Dear friends, if this is the way God loved us, we must also love each other,” (1 John 4:10-11 GW).

God loved … God sent. God demonstrated His love.

Through our Christmas offerings we have opportunity to demonstrate our love for 58 families. That’s helping more families than we have ever done before.

Once again John captures the Spirit of Christmas. The greatest demonstration of love the world has ever seen is in 1 John 3:16. “We understand what love is when we realize that Christ gave his life for us. That means we must give our lives for other believers,” (GW).

Sometimes we lay down our lives simply by opening up our wallets and laying down our money.

“We understand what love is when we realize that Christ gave his life for us. That means we must give our lives for other believers. Now, suppose a person has enough to live on and notices another believer in need. How can God’s love be in that person if he doesn’t bother to help the other believer? Dear children, we must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words,” (1 John 3:16-19 GW).

We’ve asked all who call Lakeview home to give a special offering for Christmas. This offering is over and above our tithes. Tithes belong to the storehouse to ensure this work continues strong day in and day out. We are asking you to do two things: 1) Pray about your part, and 2) Give your Christmas offering as the Lord leads.

If you’d like to make a Christmas gift offering, you can make a donation online here. 

You can watch the complete message on video or listen to the audio here. 

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Love Must Be Communicated

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Love Must Be Communicated

We are continuing our blog series, Christmas through the Eyes of John. This is the second of the three things John says about love that will make all the difference. Love must be authenticated, and love must be communicated.

It’s one thing to have love in our hearts for people, but it’s another thing to communicate our love. What if God loved the world, but He never found a good way to communicate it? What if God just sat on His throne in heaven and felt wave after wave of love for this world, but we didn’t know about it.

It wouldn’t be enough. The giver has to somehow communicate their love, to let the recipient feel it, not just see it.

It’s possible to show up at a food pantry or a soup line and give out food to needy people at Christmas but never communicate love.

Love isn’t just shown by what we do. It’s felt by what comes out of us.

Sometimes children will say to their parents, “Do you love me?” And sometimes parents will respond by saying, “Well don’t we buy you things?” The child is not reaching out for more things. The child is trying to authenticate love. Do my parents really love me?

The best response a parent can give to that question is a big hug and a soft reminder, “Yes my child, I love you!”

It’s possible to do things that LOOK LIKE love without actually communicating love to the people we’re reach out to.

So how did God choose to communicate His love for us?

He said, it’s not enough to just give man things. I must communicate my love in a way that is sensed and felt by them.

So God sent Jesus to earth and said, Touch My Son and you touch Me, hear My Son and you hear Me, (1 John 1:1-3 GW).

And this is the same plan that God has chosen for us. God wants us to communicate His love by touch, by presence, by the tone of our voice and the smile on our face, which comes flows out of agape love.

God put within the heart of mankind the ability to sense the spirit of another person. When someone truly loves with the love of God, it is communicated by more than words or even actions.

I love the story of Tom Cousins. I met him in 1998, at a presentation on community development and impact that asks questions like, “Why are you here? What is it you want from this? What are you really after?”

The same is true of us. Love must be authentic, but it also has to be communicated or it will never be felt.

You can watch the complete message on video or listen to the audio here. 

Love Must Be Authenticated

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Love Must Be Authenticated

We are continuing our blog series, Christmas through the Eyes of John. John says three things about love that will make all the difference. The first is, love must be authenticated. In other words, what does authentic love look like? Where does authentic love come from?

John clearly says it comes only from God. “Dear friends, we must love each other because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God,” (1 John 4:7 GW).

The word he uses for love is agape, and it means divine love which originates with God. Agape love is super-natural. That means it is not something mankind can generate apart from God. And since it is supernatural, it is powerful beyond human understanding. It is life changing.

The world talks about love all the time. It’s found in songs and movies, but the reality is, true, authentic love can ONLY come from God.

John goes so far to say that when we move in God’s authentic love, that’s a clear sign that we have been born again, “Dear friends, we must love each other because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, because God is love,” (1 John 4:7-8 GW).

Do you know why authentic love is so critical? Because when it is at work in our lives, people actually see God through us. “No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us,” (1 John 4:12 GW).

Let me ask. Do you think the opposite is true? Do you think when people operate in hate, they are showing they’re children of the devil?

John says that is actually the case, “The message that you have heard from the beginning is to love each other. Don’t be like Cain. He was a child of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did Cain murder his brother? Because the things Cain did were evil and the things his brother did had God’s approval. Brothers and sisters, don’t be surprised if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love other believers. The person who doesn’t grow in love remains in death,” (1 John 3:11-14 GW).

Authentic love is a big deal. Love comes from God and connects us to God because God IS love.

You can watch the complete message on video or listen to the audio here. 

A Look Beyond What to Why

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A Look Beyond What to Why

We are continuing our blog series, Christmas through the Eyes of John.

The Apostle John had special eyesight. He was a lot like Superman with x-ray vision and can see into deep space. John saw the whole story. He took us beyond what happened and led us to why it happened.

John seemed to be able to see the cosmic battle between darkness and light. It’s why God chose him to write the Book of Revelation. He saw our fight with sin and the encounters we’d have with demonic forces.

And unlike any other writer, John saw the power of love. So much so, he became known as the Apostle of Love (I always want to say that with a deep voice). John was kind of the Barry White of the gospel writers.

John was so fixated on love that his name evolved into John the Beloved. If you look at how many times he mentions love in his writing compared to the other gospel writers, its kind of astonishing.

  • Matthew – 11 times
  • Mark – 5 times
  • Luke – 12 times
  • John’s Gospel – 44 times
  • John’s Epistles – 40 times

Only John captured the depth of God’s love for our broken world and wrote what is arguably the greatest verse in the entire Bible, John 3:16: “God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life,” (GW).

It’s interesting that all the other writers completely missed the profound statement Jesus made on love; “By this shall everyone know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35 GW). That’s such a clear call that should guide every church.

Jesus said we should be known more for our love than for our judgment. In the very next verse John 3:17, says Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world … the world was already condemned. He came to save the world through the power of God’s love. It seems to me the church needs John’s writings more today than ever.

Christmas is all about love and during the Christmas of 1885 Christina Rossetti wrote:

“Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine; Love was born at Christmas, Love incarnate, Love divine; Love shall be our token, Love be yours and love be mine.”

We’re going to look at three things John says about love that will make all the difference in the next few upcoming blogs. Stay tuned!

You can watch the complete message on video or listen to the audio here.

Jesus Incarnated … Christmas through the Eyes of John

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Jesus Incarnated … Christmas through the Eyes of John

Our job is to do exactly what Jesus did. Jesus INCARNATED.

Break down the word carnivorecarnalflesh.

As followers of Jesus our job is simple. We do what Jesus did. Jesus incarnated. We incarnate. We enter the world of others. We don’t come to condemn, we come to understand their world and to care.

We are touched by Jesus, and we, in turn touch others. It’s really simple. This is the message we heard from Christ and are reporting to you: God is light, and there isn’t any darkness in him (1 John 1:5 GW).

Throughout the rest of John’s pastoral letter, he seems to deal with the same themes over, and over again:

  • The brokenness of our flesh.
  • The pain and darkness of our world.
  • The endless battles between life and death.
  • And the unlimited power of Jesus love that overcomes the world.

The amazing book of 1st John ends with a great awareness: We know that we are from God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we know the real God. We are in the one who is real, his Son Jesus Christ. This Jesus Christ is the real God and eternal life. Dear children, guard yourselves from false gods (1 John 5:19-21 GW).

Aren’t you glad that Jesus came in the flesh to give hope to my flesh and bring peace to a broken world!

Watch or listen to the complete message here.

 

John Helps Us See Jesus in the Flesh

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John Helps Us See Jesus in the Flesh

There’s another reason God sent His Son in the flesh.

God sent his son, Jesus, so we could see God, we could touch Him, we could hear His voice and feel His love for us.

So John writes, The Word of life existed from the beginning. We have heard it. We have seen it. We observed and touched it. This life was revealed to us. We have seen it, and we testify about it. We are reporting to you about this eternal life that was in the presence of the Father and was revealed to us. This is the life we have seen and heard. We are reporting about it to you also so that you, too, can have a relationship with us. Our relationship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing this so that we can be completely filled with joy (1 John 1:1-4 GW).

By the time John wrote his letter to the churches, some were already following a false doctrine that claimed Jesus wasn’t really human. They believed that Jesus did come and appear as a man, but He was not in really human. He was a Spirit. He ate with man: he suffered with man: he even experienced death, but it was for appearances only.

They doubted the gospel narratives and mocked the supposed miraculous conception and birth of Jesus, questioning whether He was even on earth before His ministry began at the presumed age of 30.

Even in this very day, there are many people who seek to to discredit both the divinity or humanity of Jesus, or flatly deny His existence on earth.

In John’s letter to the churches, his passion was to show Jesus as fully God and fully human. John wants us to know that Jesus lived life in the flesh, so we could live victoriously over the flesh.

John says, “We saw Him. We touched Him. We heard Him.”

In fact, even though Jesus is not here, we still see him! The truth is, we still touch Him! Jesus is still changing our lives, still helping us to overcome the brokenness around us and in us.

And nothing has changed! We too can experience Jesus. He touches our hearts. He speaks to our minds. He fills us with joy.

Watch or listen to the complete message here.

John Sees Humanity

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John Sees Humanity

As we continue our blog series, Christmas through the Eyes of John, there’s another word that John often visits. It’s the word flesh, which is sometimes translated humanity.

It’s one of the great themes of John’s writings. The Word became human and lived among us. (John 1:14a GW).

God didn’t send an angel to earth to communicate His love for all mankind. Instead, God chose to send His Son Jesus.

Maybe God said, “Son, I want you to go to earth and find out what the human experience is all about. I don’t want man that I created to think I’m a distant God. So, Son, go find out what it’s like to spend nine months in the womb. Find out what it’s like to grow up fully human … to experience flesh and blood … to know toil and to experience physical pain. I want you to taste sorrow and to know the deep hurt of losing a family member.”

“Maybe he said, “Son, I even want you experience the challenge of temptation that every human being feels so strongly.”

So, He did. The Word became FLESH. The Word took on humanity.

Today I can say with all confidence there is nothing about your life, nothing about your struggles, temptations and pain that God doesn’t fully understand through the experience of His Son who became flesh.

Watch or listen to the complete message here.

This is the third blog in a series: read John Sees a Battle and  Christmas through the Eyes of John.

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