Archive for category Love
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [NRSV]
These verses are the definitive description of the extremes and expressions of love. Love is indeed the greater power. Love is the great gift. It is freely give, but requires all things to be fully experienced and shared. To be loved takes no effort on our part as the recipient. Yet, it means the most to make good on its reality.
What or Who do you love?
To love a thing, or an idea, or a goal, or a dream, is an impossible investment of love. To say I love donuts, mashed potatoes or country-fried steak may reveal a passion for carbohydrates, but these items will never return love to me.
I can more appropriately say I extremely enjoy the taste, experience of flavor of these items but to love them is to invest in something that can never return love, which will ultimately lead to an emptiness when the temporary fullness passes.
To say that I love my job, my house, my car or my hobbies is also a misinformed valuation. These treasures surely provide, means, space, access and interest in my life, but they will never have the capacity to complete the circuit of love I might try to bestow.
More than semantics, Love should be reserved and invested in persons and relationships that have the potential to love.
God loves us.
What does it say about US and about God, that God loves us enough to trade God’s-self for us on the cross?
God does no see us a objects in creation. We are more than bird, tree, day, night, snow days, or sunshine.
You are my Sunshine.. as important as sunshine is for light, warmth and vitamin D. The sun does not love us knows nothing of us although we depend on it continually. It is not the source of our being loved, but it is a gift from the one who does love us.
The Son, for love
God loves us enough to exchange our inability to return love, so we can love. Our society has doubled-down on being able to so definitely define and determine and self-declare every detail, label and category except for the most stubborn of them all: for example..
Every human that has ever lived has failed to be loving, kind and worthy of the existence we have been born into. Even those in the most deplorable of conditions has value, chromosomes, living and multiplying cells of possibility that are not self-willed into being.
We are born into a world filled with every example of those who precede us with some level of brokenness, self-focused not compassionate moments, some more than others, and some we assume are continually so bent.
I have yet to have business card printed that state my name and underneath that name says sinner.
John Thomas Brantley: Sinner
I profess to this be true and claim it in my daily prayers, but I don’t introduce myself this way. Before I met Wendy, a host of friends, family and church members set me up with people to date. (Worst were those who had dreamed of being a pastor’s wife, yikes!) I finally printed up a card that came closest to the plain “Sinner” card.
On the front it listed in 30 words the reason I would be a good, safe and decent person to spend time with. One the back of the card we 30 word of confessions what to expect when I was not presenting my front side. I presented this card two four women at the end of the first date. Two of them never called back. One called back to ask for a copy because they lost it and wanted to show their friend, but was not interested in a second date. Wendy met for the lunch two days later.
The old tourism catch-phrase from the Virginia board of Tourism stated: VA is for <heart/emoji>. Imagine the bumper sticker from God that reads: “Life with God is for “Sinners” with an emoji of our own face.” We don’t like to see ourselves as such. And if we do we spiral in depression and self-hate which is not the purpose of acknowledging our trouble with loving God.
I have trouble love God and Loving my neighbors.
If I love my neighbors it is typically because they are easy to love and we share things in common. If my neighbor is very different I tend to be cautious and hesitant until we find some common ground. Our common ground with all humanity is that we all have moments where we love ourselves more than we love God or our neighbors and some of us have more times we don’t love even ourselves.
Most of this we probably know in our heads.
The church, the governed, our neighbors and even our families are begging to be loved, valued, included, shown compassion, taught what is meaningful, corrected when we are lost, listened to, trusted, and the like.
The admonition from Paul to the church to model loving one another in the ways we find God loving us:
- Don’t talk about love and not actually love.
- Don’t talk about your expertise becase your not always perfect.
- You may know I love, but do you know those who need love around you?
- You are a person of faith but others are watching when we don’t model faithful speaking and acting.
- Don’t let our stuff and wanting stuff get in the way of actually loving others.
Ask some to be totally honest and ask all these each day:A
- Am I patient with you others around me?
- Do you experience kindness from me?
- Am I jealous?
- Do I look out for what’s good for me before others?
- Am I as wonderful as I think I am?
- Have you seen me be arrogant?
- When was the last time you saw me treating someone rudely?
- Is it my way or the highway?
- What do I sound like when I’m irritable?
- Do I cheer when my enemies get what’s coming to them?
- Do I celebrate when God shows up?
- Does my faith show in all things?
- Am I always hopeful?
- Am I committed to see our relationship through the hardest things and times?
That is a heck of a check-list.. This makes it easier to simply claim the business card and acknowledge, Yes, Lord! Have mercy on me a sinner!
Here the Good News: God loves us while we are still sinning.
God doesn’t want us to keep living in these broken ways, but that does not stop God from loving us. God does not give up!
Who in your life needs to hear these words? Who in your areas of influence needs to see God showing love through you to them?
The best marker in journey of learning to love are the moments we love like an adult loves. A child loves because she or he needs. And adult loves not only from the point of need, but also because we know that self-love is never enough. We need God’s help. We need the power of God’s Spirit surging through us, because our Sinner List of when we are not loving shows we have the capacity to try, but not the frequency to make it through.
Loving in the Mirror
If we look in the mirror and see only our own reflection we will fail. The task it to seek God through us.. and we will love for ever.
The Greatest thing is the hardest.
You can do it, in Christ!
Come to the table, and start allowing God’s love to shine through you afresh and anew.
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
#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 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]
You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ —by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. [NRSV]
- What is it that someone who is feeling as though they don’t matter need to hear?
- What is it that someone who is feeling unworthy because of poor choices they have made need to hear?
- What is it that someone who feels helpless and vulnerable need to hear?
- What is it that someone who feels broken and worn out from not achieving or completely their work need to hear?
- What is it that someone who is feeling distant from God, with unanswered prayers need to hear?
- What is it that someone who is searching but not finding faith need to hear?
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God [NRSV]
What do I tell someone who is alone, empty, guilty, broken, weary, failing, lost and afraid?
By grace, you are saved through faith, not for what you have done, not done, failed doing or never tried, but by God’s love, God is saving you to be in relationship with God.
What is it that you and I are called to share with a broken and hurting world?
God’s gift for us
God so loves the world that he gave us himself, in Jesus Christ, that we might believe and trust him as the way to find God’s love.
How many people are afraid where you live and work?
All they talk about is how worried, afraid, alone, unworthy, or unhappy they are… all symptoms and signs of not knowing God’s love.
99.9% of those who say that don’t believe in God are also saying they don’t feel or sense God loves them. “How could a God, if there is one, love? And more miraculously, how could God love me?
Look into your own mirror, your own spiritual self: Do you know God loves you?
The correct answer is Yes, because Jesus Christ saves me to prove God’s love for me.
But the question is not what is the correct answer, the question is: “Do you believe this is true for you?”
I know that God loves me and yet I struggle trusting it at times?
It is most clear when I look back at God’s presence in grand mothers, a grand father, a father, teachers, neighbors, church members, authors, theologians, and friends who have revealed God’s love to me, because they have shown me what God’s love is.
Rather than boast in my or your failures, it is essential to focus on the prize, the gift.
God’s love is awesome: For all the reason God should not love me, my behavior, my selfishness, my greed, my pride, my self determination, my hard work, my correct answers, my untruths, my fears, my failures, none of these are the reason that God loves me.
God loves me because I am created of God. Formed of the stuff and creatures of God’s creation. God has never forsaken us and will never forget us. God love is with us.
- This is what the world needs to hear.
- This is what people are dying to know.
- This is why people are fighting and they don’t even realize how far off base they have become.
So what do we do?
Look to verse 10 “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” [NRSV]
Our purpose is to be loved and to show love.
Our purpose is to be in Christ Jesus for the world, that is hurting, afraid, clueless and against us.
Our purpose is determined before we decided, our purpose to learn to love God and God’s people in response.
- God loves us when we were enemies.
- God’s hope, dream and desire is for us to find our belonging and once we are whole our works become the signs for others.
- We love the poor, not to prove our worthiness, but because, before we had Christ, we were totally poor, no matter how rich or poor the world might label us.
- We feed the hungry, not to earn our way, but because our hunger is satisfied in Christ. When we think and are driven my/our worldly worries and fears, we remain malnourished.
- Once we have feasted in the love and power of God’s table our spirits are filled. But we see, hear and know word full of those who hunger for what is right, who trade their own understanding or perspective for what is good in the moment or good in principles, but far from Good in God’s love.
The greatest way to find assurance of our own faith and trust, is to share the gift with others.
I offer that it is not just feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, comforting the sick, healing the broken, forgiving the debt and trespasses, it is when we learn to love our enemies that God’s love and lesson comes full circle and complete.
You can surely find someone in this fellowship this morning who will love you, yet while we are not perfect, I doubt that our enemies are fellow church members.
When we understand and experience love for someone that is not based on what they can do for us, but what we do for God that we understand love.
This is the simple task that is the most difficult of our lives. Loving without expecting reciprocal love.
Typically we say, if I show them love, they will love me back. What if love says, if I show them live, they will know how to love me back, but they might never do that.
This is what makes our task difficult, even with God as our example and our salvation.
What it proves is that that we actually cannot complete this without God’s work.
When we reach the breaking point of our own limitation, we see/know where God’s salvation and love makes us whole.
- So the answer to the question, “Do I love God?” is never enough, I need God’s help.
- So the answer to the question, “Do I love my enemy?” never enough without God’s love.
- So the answer to the question, “Do I need God help?” the answer is Always, even to the end.
God’s joy is to love us.
Christ is the proof and our eternal hope.
Our purpose is to trust God to love and help love the world, including our enemies.
Let’s get to trusting God, because we love God, not just need to be saved. We are saved to love, that ‘s gift.
Therefore one must be subject [to authorities], not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason, you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. [NRSV]
Faith Sharing: Early in our journey toward sharing the gift of our faith, we need to address the WHY question. Why share our faith. Over the next few weeks, we will explore some basic reason WHY we share our faith.
Today’s text from Paul in his letter to the church in Rome we will look at two:
- Because of Love
- Because we have limited Time
Paul reminds us of Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbor. God loves us and how to relate and interact with others around us reflects and influences others.
Invest/Trust/Living Sharing LOVE
- Don’t get side tracked with politics, trust God is using every authority for God. If they are not, they must answer to God, err on the side of being a responsible citizen.
- Don’t get weighted down with debt, If you must be in debt, do so in showing love, respect, and honor, to THOSE who it is due.
- Do not split hairs over the law of the land or the church, devote your selves to loving sinners, so they/we will go sin no more.
Look at the times, read the signs, know it is closer to the end than the beginning.
Live as though the test is TODAY, rather than next week.
Our physical bodies, our earthly structures, our laws and rules, needs and wants need to be focused on what is spiritual, Godly, and Christ-like.
- Live worried about your wealth of love instead of things
- Live focused on caring for sinners instead of comforting the found.
- Live devoted to satisfying the hunger of your spiritual relationship/s, for eternity instead of pacifying your physical urges and weaknesses.
Our Question: Why do we need to be sharing our faith with others?
We who know love trumps and triumph over all, need to show a
- self-gratifying society,
that accepting world’s idea of good and the world’s understanding of love is not the love that stands with you in ‘firey’ furnace.
How do we share our faith in these conditions?
- One way is by honoring and respecting those whom honor and respect are due.
- One way is by being the best citizen and neighbor under the laws of the world’s authorities. If any leader, authority or government is not Godly, the leaders and representatives will be accountable,
- One way is loving sinners, as sinners, who a seeking to not be sinners. (We don’t love a gambler by betting our farm when they have lost theirs, we love them but help them make new better choices.)
Why not let someone else share their faith?
- God loves you and me. God instructs that we respond to love by loving. We have skin in the game because we have been loved, we respond in love.
- Jesus is coming soon and you and I have to answer for those we have not reached out to love.
Examples of Loving
Jesus gave the command to feed, clothe, visit and encourage not as an exclusive list of rules/laws to fulfill, but as examples of everyday loving…
Love those who need to be loved so that your loving acknowledges God’s love.
Witness Trusting God by being honorable, respectful, contributing the good of neighbors and citizens. AND let people know that is your drive/motive/purpose.
Model for your neighbors: honor, respect, and responsibility so they see you trust God.
Love, not so that they see YOU are a good person, rather that they KNOW God’s love drives you.
Participate in community responsibility not so they approve of you, but they see God can conquer brokenness.
The Temptation is to leave the light shining on ourselves.
This is the daily, “home work”
love others, participate in community life
1. In response to God’s love, AND
2. with the urgency that the world comes to know Christ through your faithfulness.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [NRSV]
Here the Good News:
While we were still sinning, God loved us. Sending Christ to make us whole.
The Core of this passage from Hebrews is found in two parts:
- a. It is impossible for us to eradicate of sin
- b. Jesus does what is impossible for us to do, on our behalf
Grace: God loves us, God hopes we will complete the love, Offers us Faith, We trust, love complete.
God sanctifies us through the body of Jesus
Through the body
- Before we were born God knows us. God is working prophylactically on our behalf.
- Before we have any responsibility of sinning, we have God’s helping grace.
- It is God choosing for us to have a body, born in a broken world, God joins us in the journey.
- All different, unique both autonomous and interdependent
The Goal is Wholeness, Perfection, and completeness.
- God is working before we are ready to work
- God is making a way where there is no way
- God is ultimately ready to complete our brokenness
WHAT IS OUR PART?
This Sanctifying process of Maturing God’s work in our body, time, live, and even then God holds our hands through the muddy, mucky mire.
The Equation of Grace
The maturity of faith is the growing in trust through practice.
Practice: This is the root of my suggestions of “homework”
We practice, stretch, test and mature our faith by taking steps toward God
- Christian Fellowship
- Christian Accountability
- Witnessing, Sharing, Teaching, opening our faith to others
God is not interested in our management of the rules as much as our practice of trusting God in each day.
- Practice with our words
- Practice with our bodies
- Practice with our actions
- Practice with our thoughts, songs, and stories of faith
- Practice with our Hospitality, Worship, Intention Study, Service, and Generosity.
Our purpose is not the be right, correct and blameless, our goal is to be faithful.
- Our Confirmation Class has begun discussion of this journey
- Our SS Classes and Small Groups practice the community
- Our church is the struggle to be the body of Christ with our bodies.
- This is the practice of Lent and the life as an Easter People.
Let’s help one another practice.
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
“You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
“It was also said, “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be “Yes, Yes’ or “No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one. [NRSV]
Core Values of One Made New in Christ
Core Value Number 1 (Murder with Words)
How you communicate affects your relationships and your identity.
Sticks and Stones AND words can kill someone’s spirit, reputation and ability to be included into the community.
Word’s spoken in anger carry poisoned daggers that kill one’s spirit, identity, reputation and relationship to the community.
- “Well I only thought it, I didn’t do anything wrong”
- “What’s in my own head doesn’t hurt anyone.”
- “I was so angry at what I saw on FB I had to teach them a lesson, I didn’t kill anyone.”
Core Value Number 2 (Satisfying Self in a Covenant Relationship)
How we respect one another, affects both them and us.
Sexual sins occur first in the heart and head. Stop the sin there to avoid going further to lessen the effect on others. But best of all see that sin occurs before the action.
- Don’t be looking
- Don’t just love the one you are with
- Don’t invalidate the person by objectifying the person and justifying a behavior that is harmful to God, self AND the other person.
Our society has so twisted the self-satisfaction, self-pleasing and self-affirming our sexual selves has become paramount in movies, songs, and laws and even in the church.
Core Value Number 3 (Don’t Look at the Line, much less cross it)
Marriage is the basis for integrity and of the family unity.
Marriage is a covenant with God, while you can’t change your spouse you can add to their relationship with God or you can pull them away from God by your actions of both fidelity and by infidelity. Everything we do affects our spouse. Don’t get into a marriage covenant if you are not holding God the whole time because marriage is not always easy nor simple.
Core Value Number 4 (Integrity Speaks truth in love)
Speaking as a person of integrity.
Speak the truth.
Don’t dodge the difficult conversations, don’t blame anyone or anything. Speak with respect, certainly don’t add God’s name to your ideas, thoughts or excuses. The practice of taking an oath or swearing our testimony assumes that most of the time we are untruthful except on these special circumstances.
- “Don’t lie to me, we are in church.” But if we weren’t at church it might be alright to bend the truth, is the implied false assumption.
- “I’m not under oath” I don’t have to be completely truthful with you because we are not in court. The rules are flexible to benefit me, especially when I might be in the wrong.
- I said, “Yes, your honor, I believe I completely certain that No, I have no recollection of having said what you thought I said or did. That is my honest testimony”
Jesus said: The ten commandments were easy, I’m stepping up the game.
How will we ever measure up? Don’t be Discouraged:
Jesus model’s some real life issues that we twist:
Jesus said: you will need to out behavior the most devout religious leaders. Jesus said this knowing we also say/think things like:
- I want to be right
- Its what they do in the movies/tv, in songs, etc.
- I want there to be an absence of conflict, so it’s ok to keep quiet even if it is not true
- I want to be served and satisfied
- I want to be able to say/do whatever gets me out of this mess in the name of grace and love
- I don’t want accountability; I ask you to continue trusting me in grace.
- It’s my turn
The Remedy starts small:
Jesus begins with the small stuff.
- Start with how you treat the people that are around you every day.
- Be a truthful person of integrity
- Speak with strength, but know your words matter, speak truthfully.
- Speak with integrity
- Be one who respects boundaries
- Don’t objectify people
- Don’t forget marriage is about covenant and not being served
- If you are looking away from God, spouse or good, you are looking at what is evil, broken even in the name caring for ourselves.
- Speak with respect, boundaries, and integrity and you will be trusted, blessed and respected.
Don’t let your words kill someone’s spirit
Don’t objectify people in the name of pleasing yourself
Don’t believe you can buy your way out of sin
Don’t let your body kill your spirit.
Don’t think you are caring for your spirit by pleasing your body
Don’t believe your actions only harm yourself.
Don’t look for excuses, look for Christ.
Community Support: The Role of the Church
It is quick and easy for us to judge, blame and segregate ourselves in the name of protection or ideology.
- Help those who are blaming find Christ
- Help those who are destroying marriage to refocus on Christ/Covenant
- Help those who focus on pleasing themselves to see they sin and model loving them.
- Model speaking the truth instead of swimming in the ocean of blame, regret, fear, etc.
We are people of the New Life in Christ, Protect the heart of God within you and do not trade it for the world.
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. [NRSV]
Christ Came to for sinners like us.
One of the Core faith questions is: Why did Jesus have to die for our sins? If God created the world in the first place, why not just speak the word, MULIGUN or DO-OVER and “so be it!”?
How many backyard ball games have been remedied by the power of the “do over”?
The relationship God creates humanity for is one of mutual trust, respect, and love. When we trust our own will, when we disrespect God’s rules, and when we turn “love of God” into “love of self,” we give up the innocence, wholeness, and life. We have no more than our own life to offer, and if we give it up, then we have no relationship with God.
In the Garden of Eden, once sin broke the relationship, Adman and Eve were out of the God-relationship and had to work on their relationship with God rather than only enjoy a relationship with God.
In the Flood and Noah, God tries the do-over, but sin continues to show up as quick as the remedy cleans the way, sin returns and the same as before the cleansing.
God offers to keep the relationship for us, even if we break it, if we will trust God to provide, lead and love us. But the offer is short lived and God’s will is questioned and rejected.
In the “Shark Tank” deal, God offers 100% of the profits, gives 100% of the resources, for us to choose life instead of death, knowing we will throw the whole deal away again and again. To seal the deal: God gives us the life we cannot restore, at God’s full cost, because the one thing God desires most is that you be freed from death, freed from the power of sin and free to ‘be’ with God, all of us.
Still, we listen to voices of talking snakes, tempting devils, and convincing logic within our own minds and we throw the gift away.
For us, Sin: That which distances us from a relationship of trust and love with God and the People of God.
Traditional, the Cardinal Sins our favorite, go-to list that usually needs our attention:
- Wrath, and
Virtue: That which helps build a relationship of trust and love with God and the People of God.
- The Old Testament virtues are to Love God with all your
- mind and
- The New Testament virtues are
- Hope, and
We can spend all day a church, feed five hundred people and sing praises till the cows come home and with one little word, we fail God.
Look at the short list
- Pride, misplaced achievement
- Greed, the assumption that things and money are our peace and hope and joy.
- Lust, Self-gratification of power or the absence of love in our relationships, satisfying only the body or mind.
- Envy, Not being content or satisfied, but alway wanting.
- Gluttony, satisfying the body, thinking that daily bread will bring us wholeness.
- Wrath lost in Anger, anger is, at times a healthy response, but when anger seeks revenge and dominance we come to the dark side.
- Sloth. Apathy and Laziness, the waiting for what we deserve to be given to us.
The remedy and our salvation:
The Gospel Remain, Jesus Christ who dies for our sins and his resurrection for our eternal life.
Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested
- We come to communion as it is our reaffirming Christ’s life has been given for our life
- We come confession our sins and trusting God’s promise to save
- We come to the table to eat, not of gluttony, but of grace
- We come giving praise for God’s mighty acts and not our own
- We come because we see the wealth in a life of giving ourselves to God
- We trust God’s power is greater than our own.
- We come knowing that we are empty without God’s mercy
- We come knowing God would be justified in being angry with us, but instead God set’s a place for us at the table.
So come, You life is waiting at the table
- Gilligan’ s Island
pride, The Professor
- greed, Mr. Howell
- lust, Ginger
- envy, Mary Ann
- gluttony, Mrs. Howell
- wrath, The Skipper
- sloth, Gilligan
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- Lion Witch and Wardrobe: Gluttony
- Prince Caspian: Envy
- Dawn Treader: Greed
- Horse and His Boy: Lust
- Silver Chair: Sloth
- Magician’s Nephew: Anger
- Last Battle: Pride
- STAR WARS
- Pride, Luke
- Greed, Boba Fett
- Lust, Han Solo
- Envy, Obi Won Kenobi
- Gluttony, Jabba the Hut
- Wrath, Darth Vader
- Sloth. StormTroopers?
- Pride, professor Gilderoy Lockhart
- Greed, Dumbledore of knowledge
- Lust, Snape for power
- Envy, Wormtail
- Gluttony, Duddley Dursley
- Wrath, Voldemort
- Sloth. Horace Slug-Hornn
Show Time Series
- Gwen as Wrath.
- Bridgette as Sloth.
- Lindsay as Lust.
- Beth as Envy.
- Courtney as Pride.
- Izzy as Gluttony.
- Heather as Greed.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. [NRSV]
Let’s have a conversation
- Talk about bowl games
- Resolutions and getting in shape
- the weather
- Or about purpose, meaning and life.
LATIN ‘Fiat’: So let it be
- Before “Let there be light” there was Word,
- God starts creation with conversation.
- John’s gospel is about telling, explaining and persuasion to believe.
- Before the bang of creation was the Word.
There was the relationship of love without the expression of love. If these us only self to love, love is not possible. God formed the meaning of love in our creation and spoke us into being.
A conversation of relationship rather than just order.
- John does not say in the beginning there was
- Mathematics and
- Rather in the beginning was the relationship, conversation and love.
A self absorbed creator would only need mechanics. God starts with conversation relation and meaning. That purpose is to love which requires relationship conversations as purposeful constructs.
Long before galaxies were formed far, far away there was god who had all power purpose and possibly. The meaning at work is not only order but the why before the order.
God so loved that creation was indivisible with Gods identity and purpose for creating.
Speech assumes a conversation and conversation assumes a relationship and the desire to be in relationship is the core of love and thus God speeaks because God wants love, relationship and meaning
Start a new year committed to preparing for God conversations.
In a world that is so desperately seeking a world void of God, you and I have a mission to bridge the gap of chaos.
Love gives the meaning to our lives else we are a purposesless existence
People live that way every day
Is fairness a principle of gravity?
Is justice necessary in physics?
Is kindness or needed in science?
Does mathematics demand love?
What would we see things develop and evolve if it to find a more perfect interdependence and relationship?
Genesis. God speaks order because God desires to love more than to exist
That’s why God would die for us. It is what gives meaning to our existence and god’s identity of love.
Because of sin, where we love ourselves more than loving god abs o e another god speaks the word of recreation in Christ to restore our relationship
2017 Resolution to
- Talk with God
- Talk with family about God
- Prepare to open conversation to God beyond bf out family and friends
Where there is fear and division open conversations rather than taking sides and dividing relationship
Explain why you believe what you trust
keep choosing chaos over love
Applying Titus 3
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is sure. I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works; these things are excellent and profitable to everyone. 9 But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing.Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring. To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith,so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. [NRSV]
The importance of encouragement
Paul and company write to celebrate the good and faithfulness of the church’s work in Thessaloniki.
The call to growth
- The target encouragment is growth, spiritual growth
- The third of the 5 fruits of a healthy and growIng church is Intensional Spiritual Growth.
- Look at what Spiritual Growth can do
- Quilts, nearly 50 years of show and sell, 1.5 million for this building, mission teams and individuals reaching gout in our ccommunity count and to the end of the earth, counselors and campers at Glisson, from the 200+ of us. Plus our shared ministries,
- The encouragement. S to look back to see what has brought us through to the moment, but more than a celebration of the past it is a passionate call to prepare for the generations that follow
The goal of fulfillment of purpose
- Our purpose is to t me service rather to serve in he name and life of Jesus Christ, by Christs glory strength and spirit.
- Call and challenge one another to grow in spirit…
- if you are in a as class be faithful to prepare study and pray
- If have been in a class doe a while pray about starting a small group
- If you have not connected with a Sunday school class or small group as a weekly part of your Spiritual Growth program, let’s get you connected, praying, studying and sharing.
- Our goal is 100% participation in a small group or Sunday school class.
- Invite new friend neighbors, coworkers friends from school to join our commitment to grow in spirit
- We are not Calle to maintain the faith we are called t grow in the faith and serve with christs help.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us. [NRSV]
- God able, god is on duty, Holy Spirit is living and working
- The treasure is entrusted to you
- God Guards us, We guard the Good News
Ashamed of the testimony
- Remember the Treasure: Jesus appeared lived and died, Reborn resurrected to give light thru the gospel.
- Don’t be ashamed of sharing the Good News
- Paul knew Timothy would hesitate at times, and Paul knew we, the church, would as well.
- Power and love, both hand in hand, not one without the other
- Power: Boldness,
- Love: Tenderness,
- Together each temper and strengthens the other
Laying on Of hands
Connection by Physically and Spiritual Connecting via “laying on of hands”
- Play your hand on someone’s shoulder or head or take them by the hand
- In the strength of prayer and the compassion of love, tell them
- God loves you. Christ gave himself for YOU, God lives in your, Receive the power and love fo the Holy Spirit. Know these treasures and live your life sharing them with one another.
Connection physically and spiritual communion with Christ in bread and cup.
- Come to the table and be made new in Jesus Christ, and filled with God’s Holy Spirit.