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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. 

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 Sees a Battle

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John Sees a Battle

John writes, In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was already with God in the beginning. Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him. He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity. The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it (John 1:1-5 GW).

John sees a battle that we cannot see with our eyes. John sees a battle between light and darkness, between good and evil, between life and death, and he’s telling us that is the world that we live in.

John says that is the reality. You will encounter darkness in this world and in your own heart too. You will fight against the forces of death in this world and in your own life.

But John believes the power of love is greater than the power of hate. He teaches that love will win the day, and in the end, love will prevail. And these themes are visited throughout John’s gospel and his Epistle to the churches.

You can experience the message this blog is taken from (audio or video) here.

Christmas through the Eyes of John

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Christmas through the Eyes of John

Today we begin a Christmas blog series, but don’t worry. We won’t be talking about shepherds, mangers, and a pregnant woman taking a long trip on a short donkey.

Our series is a study from the Book of 1st John. And yes, this is the same John who wrote the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation.

I think the other gospel writers acted sort of like reporters. They told us what happened at the birth of Jesus.

Matthew wrote; “The birth of Jesus took place in this way,” and he unpacked the details. Luke began with; “I thought it’d be a good idea to write an orderly account, so you know what has been told is true.”

And they wrote the stories they heard from others because none of them were at Jesus birth. They wrote about angelic visitors, wicked rulers and two common people chosen by God for an uncommon task.

But John wasn’t much like a reporter. He was more like a mystic. John told us why Jesus birth happened; why He came, and why it mattered.

When John shares the story of Jesus, He doesn’t take us to the manger. He takes us to the beginning. I mean, the very beginning, to eternity past, to a time before our world, our universe existed.

Going all the way back, John writes, In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was already with God in the beginning. Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him. He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity. The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it (John 1:1-5 GW).

So, go with me on a journey in my upcoming blogs over the next few weeks, as we see Christmas through the eyes of John.

The Power of the Holy Spirit is for Children of All Ages

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The Power of the Holy Spirit is for Children of All Ages

It’s interesting to me in the Old Testament we primarily see only God the Father. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and within those pages, there are 99 names of God—God the Father, but God the Son of God was mentioned only once, and God the Holy Spirit just three times.

As you flip the pages from Malachi (the last of the Old Testament) to Matthew (the first book of the New Testament), suddenly everything changes. The whole family—the Trinity, the Godhead—Father, Son and Holy Spirit all showed up.

Immediately we see story after story of God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. There are a 125 references to God, the Son and 90 references to God, the Holy Spirit.

In Luke’s story, we see the Holy Spirit filling children.

An angel showed up to tell Zacharias what was going to happen to him and his wife, Elizabeth. They were up older and wanted a child. He is one of the leaders in the temple, and he went there to pray. The angel said the most amazing thing to Zacharias, soon to be the father of John the Baptist. “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”[1] A fetus can actually experience God’s presence.

While with us at Lakeview, Jay Culvert—a missionary to the inner cities of America— told an amazing story about an inner city pastor named Isaac Olivarez. He said in Isaac’s neighborhood, where he was planting a church in Denver, Isaac saw this lady strung out on drugs—an addict. She was noticeably pregnant. The first time Isaac met her, he felt impressed to ask her, “Do you mind if I pray for your baby?” And she was very nonchalant about it, as if she didn’t care.

He stood right there in the street and after asking, put his hand on her stomach and prayed over this baby that was inside her body. Every time afterwards, when he would see her, he would pray over the baby.

The day that child was born, the doctor said, “You can’t take this child into that environment. The child is addicted to drugs. We need to have an adoptive parent. Do you have any family, any friends? Do you know anyone who would take the baby?
She said, “No,” but then she remembered the pastor. The found Isaac and his wife, and they adopted that little one. Those things aren’t by accident. The Spirit of God lead him to pray over this baby in the womb.   If a baby inside of its mother can be filled with the Holy Spirit, then children of all ages can experience the power, the joy and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.

Some of you parents are very worried about your children. You have a son or daughter that might seem out of control and often filled with anger. Your prayer shouldn’t only be, “Lord, take away the anger that fills their heart,” but let your prayer also be, “Lord, fill their heart with your the Holy Spirit!” God into the bedroom and pray over them.

The Prophet Joel wrote: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit on all My servants—men and women alike.”[2]

God has promised that your children and grandchildren can be filled with the Holy Spirit! Pray and believe towards that end!

[1] Luke 1:15 NKJV

[2] Joel 2:28 NKJV

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