Archive for April, 2018

1 John 4:7-21 Love because we’re loved.

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Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. By this, we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. [NRSV]

We love because he first loved us.

Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

It would seem simple, easy and direct to follow the commandment to love one another.

At the heart of this is the most recent addition to the promises we make when we become a member of the United Methodist Church. We promise our prayers, presence, gifts, service, AND our witness.

This last step is what brings our faith full-circle. The first four are a progression toward the fifth which was assumed since we know what happens when we ass-u-me too much?

Love must be shared to be found.

The idea of sharing our witness is the intentional living a life of Love that does not assume people will automatically see Jesus in my actions.

We gather in worship today to play music/sing and worship for whose benefit?

If we say the number one reason is my me, what I get out of it, we would benefit more from re-learning why do “church” in the first place.

The church is a place that we gather to pray, grow in spirit, share our talents and practice our faith with one another. But we come to worship, the largest gathering of our church for

#1 God.

#2 Those around us and those outside the church

#3 For our own faith and strength.

We live in a consumer society that generally assumes its a three-in-one product, but that is not always true.

Getting the Horse in front of the Cart

vs 21 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love”

Our witness is to a world that is afraid. Where we see and hear fear, we know love is absent or at best weak or at risk. We talked about making disciples and faith sharing for three months of sermons. Some of you have shared faith-sharing stories and I’m excited and proud of your boldness and progress.

When you hear me say, “I am afraid” I have lost hold of God’s hold on me.

We all know fear at different parts of our lives: new environments, as we grieve lost relations, when we cannot control a given situation, etc. When we meet people in moments of their fear, we have the very best opportunities to connect people with God.

It does not take long to hear someone share:

I’m scared,

I’m alone,

I’m afraid,

I’m lost,

I’m frustrated, etc.

it is a great time for faith sharing and witnesses of God’s love.

1 John Reminds us that God loves us. The example is most clear in the sacrificial gift of Christ, AND yet there are times we still let fear cheat us out of our inheritance.

Said another way: On our worst days and nights is the time we most need to be taught or reminded how very extraordinary it is to be loved by God and God’s people.

The tendency, when someone is scared, is to boldly retreat into protection and self-preservation mode or to rashly grab the reigns of self-made control mode. Neither example is relying on God’s love and strength to protect or order our lives.

God is love

There is no fear in love

When you see, experience or faced with those in fear, its time to practice loving as God loves us.

The Heart of the passage

We have the very best example of love in Jesus Christ

He takes our sin and makes us new, calling us to live lives free of sin and fear.

Some days we believe and trust this love

Other days we forget and trust something or someone else and we find the broken state of fear, hurt, rejection, guilt, shame, etc.

We belong to the body of Christ that reminds and encourages us to trust God instead of ourselves or our friends or our enemies, instead we challenges and inspire each other trust. God.

John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer is an example of the witness we are called to share:

Put on these words and trust God to make you whole, give you peace, surround you with love and share this with the fearful divided world around us:

I am no longer my own but yours. Put me to what you will rank me with whom you will. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen. [John Wesley, Covenant Prayer]

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1 John 3:16-24 Love: Trust in Action

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We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?  Little children, let us, love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this, we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. [NRSV]

Since the formation of Protestant Reformation and the Renaissance of the 1600’s, we have been growing from simply trusting doctrines handed down through the tradition of the church to explore what it means to have an individual understanding of faith. Examples: forgiveness is no longer found through visits to the priest, rather we recognize that we only have to ask God in Christ directly and forgiveness is given. The understanding that each of us is a minister in the priesthood of all believers and clergy are those called to specific roles within the church’s ministry. We have had the opportunity to read the Scripture in our own native languages instead of exclusively in Latin, Greek or Hebrew. [Note: Those who cling to the KJV have no perspective that the 1600’s since the texts were first written still had scripture and those since have had the benefit of other translations and discoveries, but alas that is an aside.]

The Risk of Self over Community

With the individualization of faith, we have expanded to points of risk.

For both those who say they don’t need the church or are threatened when the church is called to following the Holy Spirit in new directions.Don’t stand alone. Don’t trust your own heart and mind, is our life God’s?

1 John 3 is a reminder to not simple love as the concept in our head, but to actually love people. The goal is not to simply know the truth in our head or heart, but to stand up for and live Truth in presence of evil and deception.

Love in Truth and Action

Jesus laid down his life for us—and are we to lay down our lives for one another? { We hope that is just a figure of speech, and only in rare, once in a lifetime occasions, right? }

We can have all love figured out in our head; we can understand what is just and good, what is right and wrong and separate that from the life we are called to live in our homes, work/school, community, and world.

The risk of leaving the church behind for the individual is that we most easily become self-determined, self-validated, self-understood, self-comforted, self-medicated, but never truly loved nor made whole.

The deception is what “I” figured out at the expense of those

What good does it do us, our God, or our brothers/sisters who are in need, for us to know love, blessing, grace, and peace

Again with the Little Children language

Like, little children, let us, love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us;

UMC Lesson of the Week: Our hearts and minds are but ONE way to know the heart of God.

Wesley: teaches us that the primary way God speaks to us is through scripture. So, as UM’s we trust scripture as our primary reason that we know God is love, and how God loves us, and how God calls and expects us to love in return and to love one another.  All these things and more come from scripture.

But how do we use scripture?

Scripture first, through (3) Three lenses, a. TRADITION, b. REASON, and c. EXPERIENCE. Never through one or two, but balanced through all three.

  1. What the believers have understood and experienced since the beginning.
  2. What our reason reveals from the study, testing and measuring.
  3. What the Holy Spirit reveals directly to us in our experience of God at work

Only a, and focus on rule and history

Only b, and we focus on mind, opinions, and ideas

Only c, and we have no foundation, and risk separation

1 John 3: reminds us to:

  1. Place ourselves in God’s perspective when we look at tradition and rules of the church.
  2. Place ourselves in the mind of God when we view ourselves and our neighbors.
  3. Place ourselves in the Spirit of God when we venture out on our own strength and ideas.

God is Greater than our hearts:

  • God has seen more than we see
  • God has done more than our experiences
  • God has loved longer than we have
  • God has waited longer than we wait
  • God has died that we might live

Bottom line: God knows more and knows better than you, me or us.

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. 

To trust God with our history, present and future is our goal and direction.

Am I on course toward God? or am I trying to fit a square peg into a God-shaped hole?

We believe in Jesus as God’s greatest act of love.

God loves us is not just the right answer to a good question.

  • God proves it, love us when we, build a tower with our will and call it God’s
  • God lives the word but coming to be one of us
  • God’s way is the way of reaching to us in sin, pride, greed, fear, and death and loving us even when we deserve it least.
  • That proves love in action.

 

Our response to this love, is to love

  • Our response to God’s commandments, is to trust and follow.
  • Our response to God living in us, is to live out our faith daily.

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1 John 3:1-7 Known as Loving Children

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.  And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. [NRSV]

This text embodies the simple yet life-changing message of salvation.

  • God loves us
  • God loves us even when we rebel and reject
  • Goes does not force us to love but hopes we will trust Christ
  • God knows we deceive and are deceived
  • God Be in God is to be whole, sin does not exist.
  • God calls us to be in the truth

Preventing Grace/Love: The Love the God has for us started before we were created, before we were born, before we came into this word, God was already loving us.

As United Methodist, we call this love the first part of our salvation. God loves the world, and all of us in the world. This does not mean that everyone is behaving, acting or thinking in ways that reflect God’s love. The starting point is God’s love for us, for us all.

As United Methodist, we call this love God’s preventative love. The love that goes first. As every loving parent loves the child before they are born, hoping and dreaming of the life and joy they will experience and become. (The truth of the human example is that not every parent loves their child. Not every parent hopes and dreams for the life that child might become. Not every parent knows how to love and certainly not love selflessly)

Our salvation is not based on our parent’s love, it is grounded in God’s eternal love, that Goes first.

This preventative love shows the example of love, trust, and hope for a shared relationship. Remember the first time you made yourself vulnerable to express to someone that you loved them and they rejected or ignored your feelings or declaration? It is emotionally painful, but we find other persons or other times that persons are ready and able to love and we try again.

Saving Grace/Justifying Grace: The second express of love that forms our faith and relationship as a Christian, as a child of God, is God’s second dose of loving us, not in our ignorance, but in our rejection of ignorance of God’s love. God sends his son, Jesus, to express human love and relationship.

Through sin: pride, greed, longing for self-reliance, and self-determination we declare: “I want” or “I need” or “I must” or “Look at what I made” and we in our immaturity and foolishness we express the world is for our purpose and our benefit. We grow and mature looking for rational and measurable ways to prove what we can measure, calculate, predict, plan and control and we leave little to no room for the love shared with God. It is self-love.

It is for self-loving people that Jesus came to show God’s love was extended first and continues to be offered even when we close the door to God’s love. God continues to love us; God continues to hope we will love in return.

The Cross of Jesus is God’s gift of grace that says, First I loved you when you didn’t know how to love and now I love you even when you reject, refuse, ignore or deny my love.

Note: For all the love God shows, God does not force love upon us. That would void any room for love in our relationship with God.

Christ is God’s second offer over love. This act of sacrificial love proves the nature of God’s love and the power and reality that sin is that which keeps us from returning love, trust, and faith in God’s love.

Can you remember a time when you reach out to help someone who may have hurt you in the past and you offer to try to renew or restore the relationship and yet they spurn, reject, ignore you even more? God’s love stands as an eternal love that spans all time and all generations. What Jesus did by allowing his life to be given for ours make a way for us to find God even when we burned our bridges.

As a child, I had the privilege of living near the woods, near a creek, both were filled with God’s creatures and seasons. The creek was deeper than I felt safe to wade across and I would find limbs and old board to try and reach to the other side, but being unable to reach the distance and not able to withstand the force of the stream, and unable to secure both sides without the current dragging my efforts away. I required someone who could bridge the distance.

Through the sacrificing love of the Cross, Jesus makes a way through sin, for me. He proves and paves a way to God, even where I have failed.

As United Methodist we acknowledge that God loves us, acting first and acting knowing our sin, through Christ.

Sanctifying Grace/Love: The third expression of love comes in the process of “abiding in God.”

You’ve heard a parent say something like: “as long as you are living in this house you will follow my word.” As a rebellious child we press the limits of these in our process of maturing. Especially if they “House Rules” are not loving. God’s law is eternally grounded in love.

We live in a give-and-take process of learning and practicing what it means to love as God loves. We grow practicing and testing what it means to trust God’s love, when we convince ourselves and others we have such great alternative choices. The choice eternally remains for us to choose how we see the world is better than God’s way, but that comes at the cost of our relationship.

Perfecting Grace/Love: The final expression of God’s love and grace is when we are in the heart of God.

There is not sin, no distance, no separation present; sin has no reality there. We are whole. We are promised this in eternity and we also experience moments in our faith journey in this lifetime. This is our shared journey.

The invitation of First John is to the community of faith, like ours, that knows God’s love, but we are called to be loved, love and grow in love in would that:

  • Loves it self
  • Love is defined by each individual
  • Love that not love but is temporary gratification
  • Love that is only physical and not eternal
  • Love that is contrived and manipulated.
  • Love that is not love AT ALL.

God is doubling down on LOVE being the language and path for our relationships.

We find it impossible to love some people.

Our seeming impossible to love in some circumstances.

This is where we point to the deception where the world is calling Love and Good and Truth that none of the above.

The most loving thing to do for one who is blind is to clear their path, help them when need help and let them practice seeing until sight is given in heaven.

The same is true in all our earthly relationships. (Do not home, do good, practice the path toward God.

What our of our differences in this broken and sin-filled world?? [ Look to 1 John 3:1-7 ]

See what love the Father has given us

that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are.

  1. Seek the truth of God’s love and know God loves us.

The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be, has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.  

  1. When the way is unclear, know the truth looks like GOD’s love.

And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. [WHOLE] 

  1. We complete the cycle of love, when we find ourselves in God’s love.

Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 

  1. When we don’t trust God, our hearts are not in God’s.
  2. We live in a world filled with those who run from God, twist God’s word, and don’t love.

You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. 

  1. To live in God is to be free from Sin.
  2. To live in God is to be in the truth.

Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

  1. We are frequently and easily deceived and mislead others.
  2. Just because a group says this is love, does not make it so..

God loves us even in our sin, hoping that we grow out of sin, toward wholeness in him.

PRACTICAL UNDERSTANDING

Some people are born with an easier journey toward God

Some are born with a more difficult path

If the path is not leading someone to God, it is not the right path.

We come into the world that is sinful and divided, Our goal is to find our way to God’s heart

We cannot find our way to God’s heart without confronting our sin and the sins of the world.

If we excuse each other to remain in sin, we forfeit the God’s gifts of grace for self and others.

Where divided people call on the name of God that they are following the TRUTH

Know the power of deception is enormous, we must be willing to question ourselves and learn from one another, learning from our failure rather than fueling our division.

The final word in this passage is about deception, the final challenge is to NOT deceive nor be deceived.

  • The greatest threat to God’s love is that that we listen to a voice other than the voice of God.
  • The first story of faith in the scripture is the children and a talking snake, the children listen to the snake instead of listening and trusting God. Sin follows sin corrupts, sin divides.
  • 1 Jn 3 vs7 The Right path, the right direction, the way to God, has nothing to do with my opinion, nor my theology, not my understanding, nor my experience. It is about our continuing to find our selves right when we belong, together, IN God.

Where we are divided, we are separated from God: What must we do to return to the heart of God.

Here is the call for us to lay down our traditions, our brains, our opinions, our faith and place ourselves at God’s direction. God will complete all that follows.  (the sins we struggle with are not as much the Top Ten, but the little assumptions, fears and ignoring when God is with us, to love and help us, always.

john@brantley.net

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1 John 2:1-2 Children Need to Love Rules

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My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. [NRSV]

Three perspectives about sin:

  1. I determine my reality and morality, you are responsible for your own.
  2. I occasionally sin, but not the “big ones” and if I do Jesus will get me out of hot water.
  3. I am a sinner, but Jesus covers me with Grace, so its ok to continue to do as I please and let Jesus step in when I need him. (Oh, that’s basically the same as number 2)
  4. I am a sinner and no matter how hard I try I will continue to be a broken vessel, in a broken world, and totally rely on God’s grace in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to renew and guide me, every hour of every day.

Most of the world lives with the confidence of option number one. I am the master of my own life and sin is either the infraction of a moral code or the ignorance or carelessness of someone else.

First John is a letter appealing to us in our weary state of sin to remember that sin is more than breaking rules, disobeying the law, or having anything to do with our definition of appropriate behavior.

Sin is..

[ http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/we-confess-our-sin ]

We Confess Our Sin

Genesis 1:27 asserts that we’ve been made in the image of the Creator. Like God, we have the capacity to love and care, to communicate, and to create. Like God we’re free, and we’re responsible. We’ve been made, says Psalm 8, “a little lower than God” and crowned “with glory and honor.” We believe that the entire created order has been designed for the well-being of all its creatures and as a place where all people can dwell in covenant with God.

But we do not live as God intends. Again and again, we break the covenant relationship between God and us. We turn our backs on God and on God’s expectations for us. We deny our birthright, the life of wholeness and holiness for which we were created. We call this alienation from God, sin.

A distinction should be made between sin and sins. We use the word sins to denote transgressions or immoral acts. We speak of “sins of omission and commission.” These are real enough and serious, but they’re not the essential issue.

The issue is sin in the singular. Sin is our alienation from God, our willful act of turning from God as the center of life and making our own selves and our own wills the center. From this fundamental sin, our various sins spring. Sin is estrangement of at least four kinds:

Separation from God

Sin is breaking the covenant, separating ourselves from the One who is our origin and destiny. It’s trying to go it alone, to be out of touch with the God who is the center of life. Based on the story in Genesis 3, the church has described this break in dramatic terms: the Fall.

Separation from other people

In our sin, we distance ourselves from others. We put ourselves at the center of many relationships, exploiting others for our own advantage. Instead of loving people and using things, we love things and use people. When confronted with the human need, we may respond with token acts of kindness or with lip service or perhaps not at all.

For some people and some groups, we’re totally indifferent or actively hostile. Sin is a denial of our common humanity and our common destiny on this one small planet.

Separation from the created order

In our sin, we separate ourselves from the natural environment. Greedily we turn upon it, consuming it, destroying it, befouling it. As natural resources dwindle, as possibilities increase for long-term damage to the atmosphere and seas, we pause to wonder. But our chief concern is for our own survival, not for the beauty and unity of all God’s creation.

Separation from ourselves

We turn even from our own center, from the goodness, happiness, and holiness that is our divinely created potential. Sometimes it seems that there are two wills warring within us. As Paul put it, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).

Paul continues: “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). Like Paul, we discover that we are powerless to extricate ourselves from sin. Though we work ever so earnestly at various means of saving ourselves—being good, going to church, reading the Bible—these in themselves cannot save us. Sin is not a problem to be solved. It’s our radical estrangement from God, a separation that only God can heal by a radical act of love. We yearn for this reunion, this reconciliation, this redemption, this salvation.

From United Methodist Member’s Handbook, Revised by George Koehler (Discipleship Resources, 2006), pp. 74-75

Sin is the reality of three important pillars/foundations:

  1. Sin is I think and act in ways that separate me from God and God’s people.
  2. Sin is the evidence that I am choosing and behaving in ways that distance myself from God and others.
  3. Sin is the evidence that I am not trying, working, trusting God to ‘save’ me in my daily life.

These correspond to the three rules of what it means to be a United Methodist:

  1. Do no harm
  2. Do all the good you are able to do
  3. Practice being in love a loving and trusting relationship with God and the people of God.

We live in a broken and sinful world.

  1. When people, groups, governments, cultures, businesses, families, parties, agenda organizations, classes, families couples, and individuals declare and decide they know a better way to order and understand our self, our world, God and all in the universe that is OTHER than God’s design and purpose, we distance ourselves, we move away from God and this separation is sin.

Not all sin has the same immediate consequence, but all sin is a movement away from God.

In God’s grace, we have the ability to repent,

1. to acknowledge that we are wrong, incomplete, not the designer but the created, and we choose or ‘re-choose’ to follow, trust and seek God’s way. Turning away from our own strength, heart, soul, and mind and affirming our reliance on God and the people of God who are also following God.

Repentance is our way of returning to God, move from separation from God, moving back, thinking back toward God.

While we might need to repent every day. The hope in 1st John is that we might not continue to sin the first place

The Three Rules of Methodist Theology are intended to help us keep from sinning.

  1. Do no harm
  2. Do all the Good you can
  3. Participate in worship, studying, and serving and practicing the things of God so that we continually grow, moving and living in God.

The great divide in our culture is who is on the ‘correct’ side of what God is doing and believing and revealing.

We look at scripture as our first and primary resource. Jesus is our best example and our means of repentance and grace we discussed above.

Jesus preached to groups and to individuals without regard to sin, rather because all are sinful. God is revealed and shows up in Jesus because we are separated from God.

With every person, who comes to Jesus, or Jesus reaches out to be with, he accepts in sin, forgives, and calls them to sin no more.

God loves us no matter what, and is ready and willing to forgive us, but expects us to not living in the safety-net of grace.

Get back on the high-wire and live life fully, trusting God to be the source of balance, force, and function.

The three rules are simple enough to learn and remember, but built into them is the affirmation that we know without God, we are lost in sin/ we are separated from God, our purpose, our meaning, and our fulfillment.

  • If someone says that don’t need God, they likely don’t know God and cross the boundary into resisting God’s grace.
  • If someone says that DO need God, they try to trust God at times, but generally, wing-it their own way until that breaks down or becomes overwhelming.  [ The need to practice the three rules is key ]
  • If someone says that need God but are not reflecting God’s heart, they may be saying or thinking they need God but are further over the boundary from God than they suppose.

1 John is affirming that Jesus is working on you, and me and all of us and the whole world.

Keep in mind that Jesus offended many people, ‘followers and ignore-rs.’  [Our culture is lost in the murky waters of what is offensive to the destruction of us all.]

1 John reminds us that Christ is interested in loving, saving and extending grace to us all. —All who will refrain from moving away.

The test:

  • Is my way of living, thinking, acting revealing my trust of God’s word and God’s love?
  • Is my way of living, thinking and acting revealing my self-awareness that without God I am alone and lost.
  • Is my way of living, thinking and active revealing God’s desire to rescue and prevent, but not without choosing God’s saving help.

Examples: Am I loving rules more than a relationship with God?

  • Am I loving my comfort over your discomfort?
  • Am I loving my interpretation compared with what God is about to reveal to me through your faithfulness?
  • Am I loving my understanding of love more than God’s word call me to go and sin no more?
  • Sin is walking in the dark with saying “I can see fine.”

God is the light that exposes the darkness in all of us, calling us to trust Christ actions AND words.

Our culture is in a relentless attack on the body of the church, the scriptures, and the understanding of what God’s will and purpose for us truthfully is.

There is a collective and corporate sin, darkness leading into darkness for fear of the light. For the light of Christ may reveal that those who love without the Word and those who trust with Word without love are both wrong.

Back to the three rules:

The first two are directed toward our personal actions, how we love and avoid hurting.

The third is the affirmation that the Bible, the church and the traditions of the faith filter and keep us away from sin.

The key is not to keep one or two of the rules to faithfully balance all three.

  • Am I faithful in following Christ?
  • Am I a sinner?
  • Am I a United Methodist?

Practice all three rules and you will find the grace of Christ drawing you toward God and your enemies in love. This is the measure. God is not only interest in you, God longs for us all.

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