Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 110 Living Love

1 John 3:16-18

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

We all know what John 3:16 says about love, but do we know what 1 John 3:16 says? When it comes to Love we must 

  • Know Love

Mankind in an attempt to define love has filled volumes and volumes of books and over the centuries love has been the major theme of our music.  When you think about all the classic plays, novels and movies, many have been based on the theme of love and yet if you ask ten people to define love, you get ten different definitions.  John in contrast says “We know love by this…” he gives us the briefest yet deepest definition of love when he says we cannot know love apart from God. He reminds us that God is love, and if we don’t know Him then we don’t know love. Knowing love is knowing God and we can only know love if we believe that Jesus laid down His life for us. The eternal Creator of all things the one who gave life also gave up His life. This is God’s love in action and this is the love our world needs to know not the staged Hollywood love that is here today and gone tomorrow but a sacrificial serving love. It was love that caused Jesus to leave Heaven for earth and become our Savior!  Real love is rare in this world, we worry about running out of oil but the truth is we don’t run on oil, our vehicles do, we, on the other hand, run on love. Love is our greatest resource and yet it seems to runs in short supply while hate dominates our world. So where in the world can we find a good model to follow? Is there such a workable model? How can we come to know what true love is? The best thing we can do is to look at love that came to us, an out of this world love that can into our world. John reminds us that it is Jesus who shows us and teaches us what real love is.

  • Share Love

John tells us that we first need to know what love is but that is not where love stops but where it starts. We must share what we know for love is not a knowledge based understanding of Jesus it is knowledge based sharing of Jesus. Even a shallow understanding of God’s love which was demonstrated on Calvary’s cross should inspire us to give of ourselves completely to others. Love here is defined by what we do because what you do defines you. It is not what you feel, what you think, your good intentions, or even your ideals that count, it is what you do. It is the outcome of your life that speaks about who you are. What Jesus did was He came to us, he could’ve stayed in heaven, He could’ve just press control alt delete and rebooted His whole creation, He could’ve just traded us in for some new and improved model. Instead He chose to come personally and live as a human being, to suffer the effects of hatred, to be nailed to a rough wooden cross. What did He do? He identified with our hurts, our pain, our suffering, love is so intensely action based that it hurts with others. Love compels us to act, to do, to demonstrate, to show, to give of oneself. Love is not measured with unseen heartbeats or great intentions, Jesus says He loves but He did not just say it, He showed it! Jesus put His love on display for the whole world when He laid down His life for us. How are you showing your love? John asks the question “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”  He says that we should lay down our lives for others and if you are willing to die for others then why would we hold back when it comes to material possession? Being willing to give it all is more than just money or material possessions, the  Good Samaritan was willing not only to sacrifice his time, but all his resources. It is the need of others that should provoke the love of God in us. 

  • Live Love 

So we know it and we show it but John said that it should become a life style that we must live love. When Christ laid down his life for us, He chose to forgive, to love with action by coming to die in our place. Love has as its goal looking after another’s welfare, doing something tangible in action not just words. Love is more than just talking it is walking, it is more than just singing but also bringing. In the sacrifice of Christ love made itself known in every breath and every drop of blood. Jesus gained nothing by laying down his life for us and true love needs no reward. His love was not poured out because we earned it or over some self-merit but undeserved. We are not called to talk about love but to take love to others. Loving others requires that we grow up because it takes maturity to live with the tension of what people can be and what they are. Love is what you do because of what He has done.

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Pandemic Perspective – Part 109 Discovering Joy – Part 5

Luke 10:1-21

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. 5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. 8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. 13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

It is here that Jesus reminds us that the results are temporary but the relationship is eternal. You see it’s not just about the here and now but our eternal home in heaven. It’s not about finding our satisfaction in doing something spiritually spectacular but in what our Savior has done for us. It’s about knowing that our names are written in heaven and that He who has begun a good work within us will bring it to completion. It’s about recognizing that redemption means that nothing, neither life nor death, neither angels nor principalities nor powers, nothing in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of Christ. It’s about resting in the reality that we are His and He is ours, forever. Today instead of the focus being on our journey with Jesus many of us have become joy junkies. Instead of seeking the Savior we are searching for the next big thing, that next display of power to pump us up. Instead of coming to church in with a heart of worship focused in awe on the Almighty we come so others can whoop us up and create some kind of artificial excitement. We begin to place our hope in the hype and so we hop from place to place looking for the next big thing. Our contentment is no longer found in Christ and the finished work of the cross but in chasing the next craze. Success was not when they saw the demons submit but when they saw the security of their salvation. Now notice with me that after Jesus had instructed them about this deeper personal joy that the text turns away from their joy to His joy. Many who read this passage focus solely on the joy of the seventy and miss the joy of the Savior. “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” What if the question is not our joy, but God’s joy? What if its not really about what can I do to be happy? But “What makes Him happy?” What saddens me today is that we seem to have reduced His holy word into some kind of self-help technique. Today we rejoice in what makes us feel good, when Jesus focused on the Father.  Why do we sing and worship is it for our pleasure or His? Are we coming to give voice to His victory, to thank Him who is with us, in the good times and bad, in fair weather and in foul even through the day of our death? Are we serving Him to get joy or because the joy is already in us? Unfortunately many of us look at obedience from the perspective of self-benefit instead of the Saviors pleasure. We see obedience from the selfish, I will experience success, instead as simply serving the Savior. Are you experiencing the deep satisfying joy of serving the Savior or seeking the shallow satisfaction found in monumental but momentary success?