Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why love?

It has been said that love is elusive, watered down…. people talk about love in the way that they love a restaurant, love pizza, love ginger snap cookies and I love you like a love song…well that is how she felt until last weekend…

And then there are the songs that we have been made popular in our part of the world, like
“All We Need is Love”, “What the World Needs Now is Love”, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”

From a human perspective, love can make you crazy.  It can bring lightness to your step and it can also crush your spirit.  The words of love can also be a mask for selfish hunger.

I came across some stats recently as it was discovered that 92% of the people said they loved children, animals were at 66% and only 33% would acknowledge loving themselves.  We have a perfect opportunity to show love and while people are looking for love in all the wrong places…
We are praying for us now that this will be a time and a place where love abounds!

Turn to  1 John 4:7-21

God is love. v7-12
"God is love." As  John R. W. Stott says, "This is the most comprehensive and sublime of all the biblical affirmations of God's being." It means that at the root of all God does is love. No matter how difficult it may appear to us, the fountain from which all God's activity stems is this kind of self-giving love.
In my own words love is simple yet profound!

·         He is the initiator of this love v7-9

John spoke of this last week when He said Christ’s love was uncaused.  It had nothing to do with us.  It was initiated by God.  We love him because He first loved us is how the NKJV puts it in v19.
Nothing outside of Himself draws us to Him.  This is not a try harder kind of love.  It is a deliberate choice on his part to love us.
One of the biggest traps in the Christian life is that “ I must do this or that to gain God’s approval.” 
It is an undeserved love.  Our own righteous acts are like filthy rags.  Isaiah 64:6
And yet, often I think people are out there feeling that they are not worthy of that kind of love as we saw in the stats I just shared.
God is love is as John Stott said “is the most comprehensive and sublime of all the biblical affirmations of God’s being.”  It means that at the root of everything that God does is love.  The place from where the river flows is His self-giving love.

The Father’s Love Letter…. A must read

Last week in our staff meeting, Esther shared a really great insight in this story of us and our heavenly Father who adopted us.  In most cases an adopted family seeks out a child that has chosen to be left or abandoned by their real parents.  However, it was us as children who did the abandoning and God sacrificed His real Son in order to adopt us, the ones who did the abandoning!
We need to really soak in receiving this love.  Many of us have lived the Christian life on an achieving system and we need to move to a place of receiving where we allow His love to penetrate our hearts and minds

·         His love is sacrificial v10

In the Greek language there are three types of love and many of you may be familiar with these three words as related in the Greek.  There is  eros, philo, and agape love.  Briefly, eros love is a strong craving, abnormal appetite, not only for physical things but it can also be for spiritual satisfaction.  Eros love can be both good and bad.  We often see this as the world seeking satisfaction wherever it can.  Phileo love is more of an attachment and a peculiar personal affection for another person.  We often see this as a natural human affection for one another. 
Finally, there is agape love.  This is the only love that our Scripture passage speaks about to us today.  Agape love is Christian love, the love that God has for us.  This love requires a judgment and a deliberate choice on one’s part. 
We need to pray and say Holy Spirit make me desperate for this kind of love to be made real in my life.
It is the love that covers a multitude of sins, a love that turns the other cheek, it’s a love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  1 Corinthians 13
1 John 4:9 ESV In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

·         His love is made visible through us  v11,12

We are called to live in that kind of love.  Often when I hear the words, “you always or you never” it is used in a negative sense and when working with people, the counsel is to stay away from the absolutes, but here it is pure positive! 
Agape LOVE…. This is the most difficult love for us to have for one another and here’s a secret, you can’t truly love like this apart from the love of God becoming real in your own heart. 
It’s IN YOU to love!   How do I know this?
You ought to love one another
God is telling us we ought to love one another.  Based on what He has done for us, we are commanded to love each other. 
"Oh, I just can't love that person. You don't know what they are like. However, if you have been to the cross and you have experienced His unfailing love, it changes you.
Oh, I just can’t love that person…exactly!  We love through His love for us.
The nature of real love is that it gives…ought means that it will happen.  It is a cause and effect truth. 
Yes, it is a process, but at some point the tap will open up.  God loves us and by faith we accept it.  We then love ourselves in a balanced way, love our Father and learn to love other people.

I once had a t-shirt that always brought a smile.
It said
Jesus Loves You
and below it….   I’m trying.  

I really thought that way about love; however the real truth that if it my love, it will always 
come up short. 

At some point, if God’s love is really taking hold in my heart, I will choose to love others lavishly and deeply.

There is a story of a woman with a reputation in Luke 7.  She was a woman caught in the grip of sexual sin.  She shows up at the home of a prominent religious man where Jesus had been invited over.  She creates an uncomfortable scene as she begins to wipe Jesus’ feet with her tears and then her hair.  She then proceeds to kiss them and poured very expensive perfume on them.

The religious people are all thinking to themselves, does He not know who this woman is and how inappropriate this is?  Jesus interrupts their thoughts and tells them a story of a money lender who cancels the debt of two men, one who owed $500- and one who owed $50-.  He then asks the question, who loves the money lender more and of course the reply, the one who had been forgiven the greater debt…

So, then Jesus continues to speak,

“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

It is to the extent that we realize the depths of God’s love for us that we will finally get it…because we all have been forgiven so much!

No one has ever seen God.  God is invisible, but He is calling us to make the invisible visible by our loving acts, deliberate acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and consideration of one another.  Some people may never hear the gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but they can see the gospel according to you!

It has been said that the most effective people at showing love are those who don’t give from a distance, but those who are actively engaged in community.  Incarnation is love in action
The difficult question is:  To what extent do I give up my own level of comfort to love others?  Am I willing to spend myself for the life of another?

Christian love is found in what we sacrificially give to others.  It has been simply said that in this world, there are givers and there are takers.  We have been called to be givers.

His love is made complete in us v13

We saw in v11 that His love is made complete in us.  People see God when we love one another well!
This is not an individualistic exercise.  Our love is made complete in the practical outworking of its quality in our interaction with others and it really does go against the grain.
·         Through the presence of the Holy Spirit
·         Through our reliance on what Jesus has done

Everyone longs to be loved and accepted.  The unfortunate thing is that most people approach it the wrong way.  They keep looking to receive from everywhere else first before the Father.  The love of God is really the most wonderful gift we’ve been given. 
Once it flows to us, it needs to flow from us to others or else it becomes stagnant.  It can’t help but flow.

His love makes us confident v16b-18

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 1 John 4:16b17

His love displayed through us isn’t optional! V19-21

One word…. must!   It must flow, but it has to start with understanding His love for us!

For some of you, you need to walk across the room to the person that you may have been holding a grudge against for possibly years…
The enemy wants to limit us.  He wants us to believe a vision “for a time and a place where love abounds” will not amount to anything.
Grace living in this love is impossible to achieve, that is why we have to receive it.  Live in this love and let the transformation continue to take hold!
Listen for the Spirit’s prompting as you look around and look for someone who is here and who maybe isn’t here that you would be active in sharing into their life.  It could be sharing their burden, it could be sharing their joy. 

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