Sermon notes – 1 John 3.11-12

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:11-12

by Don Merrit

John is continuing his thoughts that we looked at in vv. 7-10, and as I mentioned last time, this is the central core of Christian theology, the part that everything else is built upon.  Simply stated, this love core flows like this:

  1. God loved us while we were still sinners.
  2. God sent His Son to die for our sins.
  3. We loved God and responded to the Gospel.
  4. God loved our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Therefore, so do we.

We see this pattern at work once again in verse 11.  God loved us, so we should love each other. Then John, as was his custom, takes one more step.  Since no one has ever seen God, and since God loves all of us and we love Him, if we also love each other, God’s love will be complete in us and visibly expressed within His Body, the Church.  This is as far as John has gone so far…

At this point, we can infer that there is another step.  The other step is implied in John’s mentioning that “no one has seen God.”  OK, why did he choose to write that?  Think…

No one has seen God, but if we love one another as God loved us, then His love will live amongst us, and through us all will see it.

I have seen a number of debates about Evolution and Creation.  These kinds of discussions usually have at their core, an assumption that if we cannot observe some “evidence” that God exists, then we can determine that He does not exist.  I’m no scientist, but this seems to be a natural inclination on the part of people who are educated with regard to the Scientific Method.  Remember that one from your school days?  It was the one about observations, and testing theories with observable evidence.

Back to John.  Have you ever thought that it would be nice if you could find the positive “proof” of God’s existence? Yes, something that can be observed and studied?

Are you sitting down?

Read more of Don’s notes: https://lifeprojectblog.com/2022/06/26/sunday-sermon-notes-june-26-2022%EF%BF%BC/

The Reality of God’s Love

No matter what our circumstances might suggest, God still loves us and will never stop.

2 Corinthians 11:23-27

23 Are they servants of Christ?—I am speaking as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent adrift at sea. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Have you ever wondered why a God of love lets bad things happen to you? Or whether your past keeps Him from loving you? But just because you may feelunloved doesn’t mean that you actually are. The apostle Paul could probably relate. In today’s reading we see that he encountered hardship after hardship while following God. And his past was so checkered with sin (And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except for the apostles. Some devout men buried Stephen, and mourned loudly for him. But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and he would drag away men and women and put them in prison. Acts 8:1-3; Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them in shackles to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1-2) that he could have assumed he had good reason to feel unloved.

Yet Paul kept spreading his message of hope—that God loves us and sent His Son to die for our sins. The situation we find ourselves in may be unfair, painful, or humiliating, but it doesn’t mean God has stopped loving us. Sometimes we face difficulty because He is smoothing our rough edges and molding us into His image. Other trials are instigated by Satan but are allowed through the Lord’s permissive will.

Either way, God is working everything out for our good, according to His specific purposes for each believer’s life (And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Rom. 8:28). The key to accepting the truth of God’s unconditional love is to focus attention on Him rather than on your circumstances. When you are learning of Him, talking with Him, and sharing your life with Him, trust and faith will replace doubt and fear.

Unstoppable Love

God’s love for us never ends, but we must open our hearts to receive it.

Romans 8:31-39

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or trouble, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 Just as it is written:

For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We were regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

God is love. It is His very nature to care for His creation unconditionally. This means that no matter what we do, the Lord will not stop loving us. After reading that sentence, many people are going to think of a dozen reasons why they are an exception. So let me make this clear: God loves each of us, and the only thing preventing us from experiencing that love is our own hesitation to accept it.

The truth is, none of us deserve the Lord’s love, and yet He freely gives it anyway. Some people intellectually believe every word of the Bible but still feel unloved because they judge themselves unworthy. Their doubt acts like a dam, keeping the flow of God’s care from their heart—and the barrier will hold as long as the person believes divine love must be earned.

Romans 8:32 (above) tells the good news that “God is for us,” and the cross is a stunning example: Jesus died so we could be purified and enter into a relationship with the Father. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice is itself proof of God’s love, but there are many other expressions of it, including a unique purpose and plan for each of His children. And through His sovereign control, He works every situation—whether good or bad in itself—to our benefit. Won’t you ask the Lord to reveal and help you clear away anything that might be blocking the flow of His relentless love?

The People We Christians Have the Hardest Time Loving. Thinking Through John 13:34-35

The Love of Anger

Increasing Love

A Broadcast with Steven Lawson

At the heart of Paul’s prayer for the Philippian Christians is his earnest plea that they would abound in love. In this lesson, Dr. Lawson examines several key attributes of the love that believers are called to have for one another. As Christians cultivate the love of Christ more and more in their lives, the church of Christ will be strengthened, the lost will be drawn to faith in Christ, and God will be richly glorified.

Supreme Love

All our works for the Lord mean nothing if they’re not done in love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-7

If I speak with the tongues of mankind and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give away all my possessions to charity, and if I surrender my body so that I may glory, but do not have love, it does me no good.

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 

Today’s Scripture is commonly known as the love chapter. Interestingly, Paul didn’t spell out a definition of love but instead described its importance and expression.

This type of love isn’t human in origin; it comes from our heavenly Father and is part of His very nature (We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. 1 John 4:16). What the apostle’s describing is an unselfish, sacrificial love that acts on behalf of someone else. God’s desire is to transform all believers into the image of Jesus (For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; Rom. 8:29). And we are most like Christ when we display such selfless care for one another.

The first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13 issue a warning. Without the motivation of love, all our good deeds—including service for the Lord—will profit us nothing. In God’s eyes, a loving spirit is more important than impressive words, knowledge, faith, generosity, and self-sacrifice. When we stand before Christ to be judged for our good works, any deeds done for selfish reasons will not be found worthy of reward.

We’re all blind to some degree regarding our motives, so discerning why we serve God or do good deeds can be difficult. Pray to know your heart’s hidden intentions, and ask the Lord to replace any self-centered motivations with His more excellent way of love.

Active Love

People love to talk about love. Love, love, love; all we need is love. Love is the answer. Love conquers all… God is love.

I love pizza!

Maybe it’s all true; I won’t argue against it. Yet if we stop and think about it, don’t we sometimes reduce the whole subject of love down to the level of a slogan, a cliché even? We all might be familiar with what love feels like, but what does it look like in practice?

Not surprisingly, the Scriptures have much to say about love. In fact, Jesus Himself had some things to say on the subject, as did His Apostles. We know that God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son to die for us. We know that the greatest Commandment was that we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength, and that the second greatest was that we should love our neighbor as ourselves.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul said a great deal about God’s grace, and how He showed us His love through His grace. Then, he went on to discuss our response to God’s grace, and once again, he wrote about love; this time of our love for one another. Here’s a sample:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Read the rest of Don’s blog at: https://lifeprojectblog.com/2022/04/21/active-love/

Love Always Hopes

 

“…It (Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes…”1 1 Corinthians 13:7 

We’ve heard the phrase “Hope for the best but expect the worst”. I’ve never liked that saying. Why would I expect something I don’t want? Wouldn’t it be better if I expected what I was hoping for? I understand the concept behind the phrase though; be prepared for anything.

In Mark Chapter 5, we meet a woman who, I am certain, had heard this phrase many times. You see, she had suffered with a bleeding condition for the last twelve years. She was desperate and was losing all hope of ever feeling well again. She had spent all of her money on doctors who would give her medicine and treatments and basically say, “Well Ma’am, hope for the best, but expect the worst”. And even though she hoped for the best with all her heart, she did indeed get the worst. In fact, Scripture says that her condition worsened instead of getting any better. This woman was losing all hope of ever being healed, and to deepen her despair, she had to suffer alone because her culture deemed her unclean. But she still had a lingering thread of hope. She had heard of a Man named Jesus and how he had miraculously healed people. She hoped that she could see this man and this time she didn’t expect the worst. She had heard of His love for the people and began to think that if she could only touch the hem of his robe, then she too would be healed. Her hope began to grow and then one day she hears a commotion on the street below: Jesus was coming! She gathered all of her strength, and disregarding the glares and whispers, she pushes through the crowd and reaches out. Falling to the ground, she touches the hem of His robe and instantly feels her body healing!

Her hope in the Lord not only healed her body that day but also her soul. Jesus didn’t criticize her for being out in public, nor did He call her out for having touched Him. He simply looked at her in love and said, “Your suffering is over”! She had expected a possibility, and instead received the BEST!

When we put our hope in the Lord, great things happen. God is Love, and Love ALWAYS HOPES!

– Daily Encounter

Love is Kind

 

“And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up. That’s why whenever we can, we should always be kind to everyone…” Galatians 6:9-10 (TLB)

 

The great leader Mahatma Gandhi was planning to travel by train one day and, because he and a companion were running late, he got on board just in time, but one of Gandhi’s sandals fell off and landed beside the track. They stood there watching his sandal go off in the distance, when Gandhi did a strange thing. He reached down and removed his other sandal and threw it along the track where it landed beside the other sandal. His friend was puzzled by this rather odd behavior and asked why he had done it. Gandhi said: “One sandal is no good to me. But perhaps a poor person will come along, discover both sandals, and be happy that he now has shoes”. This is kindness—and a natural part of Mahatma Gandhi’s life. Instead of worrying about his loss, he thought of the person who would discover and benefit from a complete pair of shoes.

Everyday we are faced with multiple opportunities to show kindness to those around us. When you hold the door open for someone, say “thank you”, share a smile with someone, provide encouragement or words of affirmation for someone who is feeling down… kindness is thinking of others before ourselves. Being kind is part of what love is and is a great way to be an example of Christ to others. Kindness crosses all languages and boundaries and is an act that is easily seen and understood by others.

In a world where everyone is often too busy to think of others, let us choose to be intentionally kind. Someone may be carrying an overwhelming burden, but our kindness could be just what they need to keep going. It may even lead them to Jesus! When we obey in being kind to others, it is amazing to see the blessing and encouragement God gives us as well.

Suggested prayer: Dear God, it can often be easy to focus on “me”. My needs, my feelings, my desires, etc. Today, I ask that you shift my focus to others. Help me be your presence to those around me through the kindness I demonstrate. May it lead others to discover the One who IS love… You! Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.