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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. 

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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.

Make the Word a Growing Part of Your Life

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Make the Word a Growing Part of Your Life

What’s growing in you? Is clear thinking, spiritual passion, a sense of focus and purpose growing in your heart? Or is confusion, dissatisfaction, despair, hopelessness and anger growing in your heart?

As we work God’s Word into the soil of our heart our life will be growing in the right direction.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 says, “Live in order to please God. We ask you and urge you to do this more and more.” (NIV)

How to make the Word a growing part of your life:

  1. Get a translation you like. The Bible was written originally in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). Unless you can read Greek and Hebrew you will not be reading it in the original language! The King James Version of the bible is written in 1607 Old English.
  2. Get a good study Bible. Many app’s on our smart phones and devices are free! I like PocketSword but it only works on Apple devices. Another one that is very popular is You-Version.
  3. Get in a small group. When you study the Word with other believers, it will inspire you to go DEEPER. Acts 2 tells us they met daily; they prayed together. They studied the Word together; they fellowship regularly, and they had a vibrant faith that saw unbelievers come to Christ on a regular basis.

Perhaps one reason we are not influencing the culture around us is because we are not being influenced by the Word of God and strengthened by the fellowship of other believers.

If the Word is a growing part of your life, it will be what grows your life!

You can listen to the audio message here.

 

Take the Christian Faith as Your Shield

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Take the Christian Faith as Your Shield

“In addition to all these, take the Christian faith as your shield. With it you can put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”[1]

I was privileged to go to Rome in August. We went to the prison Paul was in while waiting to be executed. I stood on the stones where Paul stood. Paul was on death row in Rome. At the end of Paul’s life, as he sat on death row waiting his execution he said in the last chapter he ever wrote, “I have fought a good fight, I finished my race, but greatest of all, I have kept the faith.”[2]

Corrie ten Boom lost her father and sister in a concentration camp. She got out on a technicality and spent the rest of her life telling people about the love of God. She said, “No matter how deep and dark the hell is, the love of God is greater than all that darkness.”

That’s her faith that shielded and protected her.

Relentless, unwavering faith in God will carry you through every battle!

Listen to the complete message here.

[1] Ephesians 6:16 GW

[2] 1 Timothy 4:7

Godly Anger

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Godly Anger

Godly anger motivates us to change the things that must be changed.

Jesus simply couldn’t stand it anymore, so He felt compelled to something radical. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time!

He made a whip from small ropes and threw everyone with their sheep and cattle out of the temple courtyard. He dumped the moneychangers’ coins and knocked over their tables. He told those who sold pigeons, “Pick up this stuff, and get it out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”[1]

In His fury, Jesus quoted Jeremiah 7. He wasn’t misquoting scripture. He wasn’t misapplying scripture. “This is truly wrong! This has to stop!”

  • What heats you up?
  • What causes your mind to race?
  • Is it a small, personal pet peeve that gets under skin?
  • Is it an inconvenience?
  • Or is it a greater cause?
  • Does it affect others who cannot help themselves?

That’s when then Godly anger must move us into action.

This is one of the reasons we engage in world missions. Two months ago today I walked down the crowded streets of Tunis. We walked in groups of four. We couldn’t walk in groups any larger for fear we’d stir up suspicion. We attended a church, a small gather of believers who deal every day with fear. It was very eye opening.

We can’t go in and build a church building. That’s a Western world’s way of doing church. But we can build a community center, a gathering place where relationships are built, friendships are forged, and Muslims experience Jesus love!That’s what motivates us, what moves us into action and calls us to sacrifice our pleasure for the good of others, for the Kingdom of God.

Yes it’s true. Anger is an emotion that can be dangerous and can cause damage.

James 1:19-20 says, “Remember this, everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and should not get angry easily. An angry person doesn’t do what God approves of.”

But I want to challenge the last part of that verse. An angry person actually can do what God approves when they are angry for the right reason, show it in the right way, at just the right time.

Even at this first Passover, Jesus was preparing Himself mentally to lay down His life for the cause, for the good of all mankind.

Jesus came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. It was our brokenness and our sinfulness that led Him to the cross. The Jews said to Jesus, why did you do this? Who gave you the right?

In John 2:18 the Jews reacted by asking Jesus, “What miracle can you show us to justify what you’re doing?”

I love His answer. Jesus replied, “Tear down this temple, and I’ll rebuild it in three days.” The Jews said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple. Do you really think you’re going to rebuild it in three days?” But the temple Jesus spoke about was his own body. After he came back to life, his disciples remembered that he had said this. So they believed the Scripture and this statement that Jesus had made.[2]

For Jesus, His anger that led to action was always about other people. He left us an example to follow.

 

[1] John 2:15-16 GW

[2] John 2:19-22 GW

Anger Can Move You to Action

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Anger Can Move You to Action

When you look at the ministry of Jesus about the only people He ever got angry at were those who loved worship more than they loved man. The Pharisees were in that group. They loved their rules. They loved their worship. But they didn’t love people.

So, what did Jesus do at the beginning and at the end of His ministry? He thoroughly cleansed the temple (John 2). This story is borderline bazaar. The same man who said, “turn the other cheek” turned over tables. The same man who said, “Love your neighbor” physically drove the moneychangers out of the temple!

Jesus’ anger moved Him into action. And Jesus paid a dear price for it. This act of anger was a challenge to their authority. It so infuriated the Jews that it motivated them to begin planning His murder.

Sometimes godly anger will lead us to do what we would otherwise not do, it will lead us out of our comfort zone so we will FIGHT the good FIGHT.

In the “good fight” the shock value very often leads to change. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s peaceful protest stirred an entire nation into action and laws changed, hearts changed, and life got better for the powerless.

In this story, Jesus did something shocking to challenge God’s people and stir up their thinking. Jesus knew that three years from this Passover, He would become the Passover lamb slain for the sins of the whole world.

The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. He found those who were selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons in the temple courtyard. He also found moneychangers sitting there. 15 He made a whip from small ropes and threw everyone with their sheep and cattle out of the temple courtyard. He dumped the moneychangers’ coins and knocked over their tables.[1]

Jesus was very aware that He lived in a dangerous world. He needed to be smart, but He also knew He needed to speak up. So He did. The Old Testament Jewish form of worship involved bringing a living sacrifice to the house of worship; cattle, sheep, and pigeons. This was part of the worship but some had turned it into personal gain.

What was Jesus so offended by? Was it the fact they were bringing all those messy animals into the house of God and it would get dirty? No. Jesus was offended because these men were exploiting the guilt of the worshippers. They were profiting from it. That’s what angered Him!

It’s good for us to examine ourselves:

  • What motivates my anger? The true condition of our heart is exposed by the things that anger us.
  • Do I primarily get angry about the things that inconvenience my life, or am I angered by the injustice that the powerless experience?

The last night we were in Athens, Greece we saw a large group police in riot gear coming by. There were 2,000 protestors. Our guide said, “It’s a challenge but what are those poor people supposed to do? I would do anything for my family!”

There are so many thorny issues in every society. As followers of Christ we must examine every issue through the lens of biblical values, not just through our own personal opinion.

It’s really not so important how I feel about an issue. What’s most important is, how God feels about it?

  • How would God have me to think about this matter?
  • And what, if anything, does God want me to do about it?

[1] John 2:14 GW

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