Posted by: lepages | February 27, 2010

Love!

This a sermon I preached at Renhold Chapel on Valentines Day, with some links to my previous preach at Rutland Road.

The Bible base for the evening was 1 John 4:7-21

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No-one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
New International Version

Love is a very popular word – on the radio a popular end of call greeting on radio 1 is ‘love you’ – what does that mean??!! ‘I like your show’ and ‘I like you letting it be known that you like my show’ Certainly doesn’t compare with the love God has for us v10

What does it mean for us to love God?
God’s love is sacrificial – its not some warm, lovey, dovey nice idea, full of nice warm fuzzy thoughts!!

Is our love for God made known by our being in church on a Sunday?
Is it made known by our singing hymns and songs to him, telling him how much we love and appreciate him in our prayers?
Well, yes, and no!!

If you’re married one of the most important things we can do is to say to our husband or wife ‘I love you!’ Its the same with parents/children. I had a recent text message conversation to that effect with my daughter as she went off for the weekend.

But if you said to your husband/wife ‘I love you’ every day, but then did nothing else to show that person that you loved them, do you think it would make for a happy marriage?

Our love is made known not only by what we say, but what we do also – we do things which will please our partner. God has done and continues to do things for us to make his love known – he gave his one and only Son, he gives his Spirit, he arranges things in life so that we know that he leads us beside still waters, so that he can restore our souls,

I’m not the most efficient person – I’m not very good at keeping to schedules with Bible reading programmes and notes, I get diverted and end up spending much longer exploring references than one might expect from the notes – the result a 2 month reading guide may well last many more months than that – and yet, how often do the words I turn to be just the right words to speak to me on the particular day that I do turn to them – I often think the Lord has arranged that specially through my inconsistencies!

What do we do beyond saying words to show our love for God?

John 14:21,23,24
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him…. If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

The way we show God we love him is by being obedient to what he asks of us. In the same way that our husband or wife, parent or child will do things that bring us pleasure as a demonstration of their love for us, so when we act in obedience to what God asks of us, we make our love for him known to him, and he appreciates it – and so, as a result Jesus says, v23, he and the Father will come and make their home with us – I think we can almost read into that a sense of God saying, when we live like that he will be at home in our lives.

Isn’t it lovely when you go into a home and immediately feel ‘at home’?

That’s what it’s like for God when we show our love for him by living in obedience to what he asks of us.

Now, what does it mean to live in obedience to God?

I could go through a list of things, starting with repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, but I don’t want to do that. I’d like to pick up on a sentence we were reflecting on at Rutland Road last Sunday.

It’s Philippians 1:27
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.”

John Terry, the former England football captain hasn’t conducted himself off the field in a manner worthy of his role… and as a result has lost his role as England captain.

Last Sunday in Beds on Sunday, the front page headlines were of an Anglican minister who had not conducted himself in a manner worthy of the gospel.

A good test of whether your actions are such that will show love to God is to ask yourself, ‘Is this action worthy of the gospel?’ Will it bring honour to God, or dishonour? Will it result in the faith being held in high regard or in it being despised?

At the end of Acts 2 we read of the early disciples:- Acts 2:46,47
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

It’s recorded of Jesus that he “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men…” Luke 2:52

A good test of your life is whether you are favoured by others – I recognise there are those who may oppose you as a Christian – they did the early disciples – but as a broad general rule – do others generally appreciate you? Because as we live in obedience to God, showing our love for him by living in obedience to him, it tends to make us nice people! Jesus is a great person to be around – he attracted people to him, and if we are like Jesus, living in a way which honours him, others may be attracted to us and through us attracted to the Lord.

Do you know what the term ‘Christian’ means?
‘Christ like ones’

Do you think you live a life worthy of that title, because that is what we’re called to do?

Paul writes ‘whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ’

‘Whatever happens’
Powerful words. Paul writes this letter from prison, in chains, under Roman guard and he says ‘Whatever happens to me here in prison – conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ’. Paul says to the Philippian Christians he is writing to, ‘Whatever happens to you – conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.’ Scripture speaks to us and says to us today ‘Whatever happens to you in your life, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ’.

Like John Terry who is expected to behave in a manner worthy of his role at all times, not just when he is on the pitch, so we are expected to show our love for God by living a life of obedience to him at all times, not just on a Sunday in church or at a midweek prayer meeting or Bible study!

‘Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.’
If you’re facing a tough time at work, if you’re facing a tough time with your health, if you’re facing a tough time in your marriage, if you’re struggling financially, if you’re facing a struggle as the people of God with opposition being brought against you, if people are giving you a hard time, and even if there’s nothing negative going on in your life and your life is absolutely blessed, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. This is how you show your love for God.

If John Terry has received some negative press recently, Prince William has been getting some pretty positive press recently. His tour down under to New Zealand was getting some stick as he arrived, but he went on to win hearts and see a bit of a swing in the media’s reaction to him. He lived worthily of his position as royalty – taking time to show appreciation to others, taking time to enter into where others were at, pitching himself at their level – some haven’t liked his dress – feeling that somehow he ought to be dressed smarter than smart casual – but his approach has brought respect.

Interestingly though, in this minor change for royalty, he hasn’t stepped back from his special position as Prince in the Royal family, he hasn’t ignored his position and just gone out to please himself, as far as we know. He has sought to conduct himself in a manner worthy of his position.

I don’t know whether you have ever thought about what your position is as a Christian?

If you are a Christian here this evening, if you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord, your Saviour, your Master, the one who came to rescue you, then you are now an ambassador for him. I don’t know whether you knew that or not?

How many of you, prior to this moment would have said ‘Yes, I’m an ambassador.’?
Hands up!

1 Corinthians 5:17,19b,20a says:-
“.. if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! …. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God was making his appeal through us.”

If you’re a Christian, you are in a privileged position as an ambassador for God, you are to represent him to others, and to communicate his good news, the gospel, the message of reconciliation, that God wants to put us back into a right relationship with him to others.

The thing is that like being a Prince, being an Ambassador is not only a big responsibility, its also a privileged position. Ambassadors have access to areas that others don’t. They live privileged lifestyles. We as ambassadors for Christ have access to areas that others don’t – we can come right into God’s presence and not only represent God to others, but represent others to God.

The interesting thing is that in fact we as Christians are far more than ambassadors – as if that was not enough!!

We are like Prince William, members of the Royal Family – and not just the Royal family of the British Isles and the Commonwealth, but of the King of kings.

God adopts us into his family as his sons and daughters – you are therefore not only ambassadors for the King of kings, but you are Princes and Princesses!

Do you value yourself?
Because you should!
If God sees fit to choose you to be one of his sons and daughters, to be one of his ambassadors, you are a highly valuable person and living a life worthy of the gospel means recognising that you are a valuable person, that you are adopted as a son or daughter of the King of kings, that you now are his ambassador. It means knowing, understanding, experiencing the fact that you are loved by God, and so loving him back by living your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

We read earlier in 1 John 4:19
“We love because he first loved us.”
and we also read a definition of love:- (1 John 4:10)
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

That is love! Being prepared to sacrifice on behalf of another who doesn’t deserve it.

God has shown how much he loves us, and as we come to remember the depths of that love as we break bread together and share in communion, let’s pray that we know and experience that love for ourselves by the Holy Spirit. And let’s dedicate ourselves afresh to living a life worthy of this wonderful gospel, to living a life that really shows that we love God and we want to live lives that show that.

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