Tag Archives: love

No matter what, preach the gospel! – Philippians 1:12-17

No matter what, preach the gospel! – Philippians 1:12-17
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 10, 2018

What is important in your life? I mean to the point where you would be willing to leave your home, family, friends, and do what you knew was the most important thing in the world. For some it is sports, some it is music or writing, for others it might be acting or art but for the believer who has given their life to Christ everything should revolve and focus on him who gave everything for them.

For Paul life was Jesus and Jesus was life and this is why for Paul in his life he considered it the greatest thing in the world to preach the gospel. He gave up family, friends, and everything in life to follow him and following him meant telling others about Jesus’ mission and message. Therefore for Paul it meant that no matter what, preach the gospel! Let’s find out how Paul encouraged others to do the same…

READ: Philippians 1:12-17

Someone once said that “The most important thing you have to realize in your life is: knowing your self-worth and by knowing your self-worth you would finally get to know what you deserve. And then you’ll be able to work for what you deserve.” Paul understood his self-worth. He wrote, “Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8 NIV).  For Paul it meant…

I. Preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen! (Vv. 12-14)

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

1. A lot of folks think things happen in life through happenstance but when it is something bad they immediately want to blame God but Paul never did. He knew things happen for a reason and not by mere accident. And for the believer Paul knew that things happen in life for one reason only: to further the gospel. This is why Paul writes, “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Paul was being persecuted for his faith and especially for his preaching the good news. In fact, he was in prison for doing just that! Now he was held captive under house arrest waiting for his trial in Rome, held prisoner under false accusations by the Roman government for telling others the gospel. However far from discouraging Paul it only reinforced in him the providence of God in a Christian’s life. In fact Paul’s imprisonment became a means for him to testify about Jesus! And Paul writes that “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” Evidently those back in Philippi were concerned for Paul but he was enjoying every moment! Paul was not discouraged at all because his imprisonment meant that from the Roman guard to those in the household of Caesar was now hearing for the first time the gospel of Jesus! Paul the prisoner had a second affect as well, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” His persecution made others bolder in sharing their faith! Life for Paul was all about Jesus and that meant preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen!

EXAMPLE: Christians can be a contrary crowd believing that Jesus is the only means of salvation but only sharing with those they feel comfortable with. A group of teenagers visited a home for the elderly in Montego Bay, Jamaica, one young woman noticed a lonely looking man at the end of the room. He appeared to have little left in this world but a bed to sleep on—a bed from which he could not move because of his disability. She began to share the story of God’s love for us. Responding to his interest, she explained the wonder of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us. “It was hard for this man, who had no hope and no family,” she recalled, “to understand that Someone he’s never met would love him enough to die on the cross for his sins.” She told him more about Jesus—and then about the promise of heaven (including a new body) for all who believe. He asked her, “Will you dance with me up there?” She saw him begin to imagine himself free of his worn-out body and crippling limitations. She helped him pray a prayer of forgiveness and faith. When she asked him if she could get a picture with him, he replied, “If you help me sit up. I’m a new man.” Paul believed in preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen!

People do things in life for different reasons: Some out of pride or for praise; some from a sense of duty while others do certain things because of guilt. Paul knew that…

II. Preaching the gospel is an act of love! (Vv. 15-17)

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

1. Paul was not stupid. He knew that not everyone who was preaching the good news did so because they loved the Lord like he did. He knew they did it for varying reasons and he writes, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.” Just like today there were those who wanted to make a quick buck off of anything that was new and that folks were attracted to. During Paul’s day it was usually the latest fad in spirituality. There were those like the cults of today whose founder’s only want fame and fortune. Then there were those who sadly while even within the church itself sought personal recognition or they thought they were in some kind of a competition with Paul. Paul did not care as long as the gospel was correctly preached! So he wrote, “The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.” How sad there were those within the church whose only desire was to outdo Paul or to bring Paul down in some way. Their reasons did not concern Paul because he was happy that Jesus was preached! Make no mistake he disliked factions within the church and wrote the Corinthian church, “For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (1 Corinthians 3:4-7 NIV)” For Paul preaching the gospel is an act of love!

EXAMPLE: Lee Geysbeek of Compassion International told about a woman who had the opportunity to travel to visit the child she sponsored. She decided to take the child, who was living in abject poverty, to a restaurant. The boy ordered a hamburger and the sponsor ordered a salad. When the food came the boy surveyed the scene. He looked at his huge hamburger and over at his sponsor’s small salad. Then he took his knife and cut the burger in half, offered it to his sponsor, rubbed his tummy, and asked, “Hungry?” A child who had next to nothing his whole life was willing to share half of what he had with someone he thought might need more. This child can be a good reminder the next time we meet someone in physical, emotional, or spiritual need. As followers of Jesus, our faith in him should be mirrored through our actions. We encounter people in need every day; some simply around the corner who need of a warm meal or a kind word. What a difference believers can make by doing good and sharing their faith. Paul knew that preaching the gospel is an act of love!

Conclusion:
Preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen! Preaching the gospel is an act of love!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Mother’s Day – Ephesians 6:1-3; 1 Timothy 5:1-5

Mother’s Day – Ephesians 6:1-3; 1 Timothy 5:1-5
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 13, 2018

When we are taught that everyone is “special” then the final outcome is that ultimately no one is. It becomes meaningless. Let me try to explain a little bit. When I was a young boy my father taught me some very important life lessons on how to be a man but it was my mother who taught each of us how we were unique. Notice I did not say “special” because she never said we were special just to say so like a lot of folks do nowadays instead she said we were special when we did something that was truly special. That’s what moms do; they keep you in the real world.

This Mother’s Day I wanted us to focus on why we should respect our mothers. Parenting in general has gotten a bad rap in America today and what I mean is good parenting. It seems as if there is no longer any consistency or heritage of what good parenting is all about. Recently I overheard a mother yelling at her preschooler to get her blankety blank blank bottom into the car. Now I know children can sometimes drive a person to distraction but I believe we need to refocus on what motherhood should be and why believers should honor their mothers. Let’s see why…

 

READ: Ephesians 6:1-3; 1 Timothy 5:1-5

To be fair the same mother that I overheard cursing at her preschooler to get into the car the next week was blowing her kisses and saying “Momma loves you” as she pulled out of the driveway. Let’s see why we are to honor our mothers this morning. On this Mother’s Day we discover that…

I. Christians are to honor their mothers! (Vv. Ephesians 6:1-3)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

1. Here Paul writes that “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Now notice Paul is not speaking to the world in general but to believers. He writes that children are to obey their parents “in the Lord.” What does this mean? While obedience is kind of a foreign word in our nation today we would do well to remember just how important it is. Paul writes that Christian children are to be obedient to their parents in the Lord. Paul meant in their spiritual instruction, in their personal following of God, and in how they respected him. Paul knew if children followed God they would be obedient to their parents. His reasoning was simple: “for this is right”. Obedience some would say comes from respect however many have forgotten that respect is not simply given, it is earned. Paul writes that his readers were to “Honor your father and mother” a reality that is often misplaced in our day. A life that is not focused on the Lord and filled with the Spirit of God is one that can never understand what real reverence means. Honor in our day and age is hard for a lot of people to give others because we live in such a victim-oriented world. It seems as if there is special kind of sport or enjoyment in tearing down anything or anyone that might have earned our respect or be honored in our world. The Boy Scouts of America is the latest victim. No matter how old we are we are to give honor, deference to our parents and especially our mothers. Certainly there are those whose parents may not have been the best sort but Paul is speaking to Christian households here, those who have given themselves to the love and discipline of the Lord Jesus. Paul wrote that this honor is required because it comes from “the first commandment with a promise”. It isn’t the only commandment with a promise from God nor is it the first or primary commandment one is to learn, rather it is the commandment with the promise of God “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Christians are to honor their mothers!

EXAMPLE: I know that any mother can at times be driven to distraction. I remember my mom telling us boys in rather a loud voice to “Just go outside for a while and leave your mother in peace!” Even though there were times we could drive our mom crazy we knew from what she taught us in how to treat the future women in our lives. We were to respect, be polite, and kind to older women, teachers, and all girls period. It wasn’t just a suggestion it was absolutely expected. We were to be gentlemen with any female in our life including our sister! We learn that this is expected from all believers as well. Paul teaches us that Christians are to honor their mothers!

I learned at an early age that boys were to act like gentlemen and girls were to act like ladies. Things like saying please, you’re welcome, and thank you was expected. Manners were taught to us from the time we were toddlers. It is interesting therefore for us on this Mother’s Day to learn that…

II. Christians are to treat women in the church like their mothers! (Vv. 1 Timothy 5:1b-5)

Treat… older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.

1. Believers need to act as to exemplify Jesus in every way possible and especially where their mothers are concerned. Folks inside and outside of the church watch our lives very closely and as part of the family of God Timothy was encouraged by Paul to treat other believers as family. So gentleness, kindness, and morality were to be his motives so that “older women” would be treated “as mothers”. Not all women were treated with the respect they should have been during Paul’s day but Jesus changed all of that. Paul would teach that we “are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” and that there “is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26, 28 NIV)” This is why he tells Timothy that “younger women” were to be treated “as sisters, with absolute purity”. In a world that chewed up people and especially the weak, the orphaned, and the widowed Timothy as a believer was to “Give proper recognition to those widows who [were] really in need. But if a widow [had] children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents (mothers and grandmothers), for this is pleasing to God.” Family was to take care of family and especially their mothers! Paul told Timothy, “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.” Paul is writing about a person’s focus in life. In that day single women and especially widows had very few options; either they had family who could care for them, they begged, or if they were young enough they became prostitutes. Note Paul’s emphasis is on their spirituality. Someone who focuses on her spiritual growth is to be commended while the one who focuses on only her own pleasure is spiritually “dead” without even knowing it already. The family of God is to take care of the family of God and Christians are to treat women in the church like their mothers!

EXAMPLE: My mom used to say that “Manners never go out of style”. Now you would need to realize that she was raised in the backwoods of Wyoming riding horses, driving cattle, living in a circus tent and log cabin, hunting and fishing, and going to a one room school through 7th grade, but her mother put a huge premium on well-behaved children. It is something sadly that has gone out of vogue. Children are seen as young adults, which they aren’t, and are way too pampered. I believe this is why many young men no longer know how to treat the women in their lives. Paul teaches us that Christians are to treat women in the church like their mothers!

Conclusion:

Christians are to honor their mothers! Christians are to treat women in the church like their mothers!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Fight the good fight! – 1 Timothy 6:11-21

Fight the good fight! – 1 Timothy 6:11-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 4, 2018

When the father asked his little boy what he should do when another child tried to bully him, he was surprised when the little tike replied, “Hit him hard, hit him fast, and run like crazy!” As children of the King we are to respond differently to the whims of life than the world would. While we are encouraged to “fight the good fight” it is a matter of faith and not fists. Believers are to be different than the world.

Society today frowns on anyone taking a stand for righteousness. Paul wrote that a “time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NIV)” Paul knew that people could be so perverted that “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:32 NIV)” Yet as believers we are to be different. We are commanded to fight the good fight. Let’s see what Paul wrote Timothy…

READ: 1 Timothy 6:11-21

When others turned away from us there was one who willingly grabbed a hold of us and did not let go. However, unless we are reminded to do so as Paul did with Timothy, we can for get that…

I. We are to grab a hold of the Lord and not let go! (Vv. 11-12)

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1. The number one song in America right now is one by Drake called “God’s Plan” and it has nothing to do with that at all. In fact, sadly, you may not want to know exactly what the lyrics do portray. Rather than discussing with Timothy his sexuality, masculinity, or promiscuity Paul addresses the fact that a man of God should desire to remain pure before the Lord and so he writes that Timothy should as a “man of God, flee from all of this” worldly desire that focuses on selfishness and the love of money. Instead, the man of God should “pursue”, run after, desire, and jump at “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness”!  Later Paul would tell Timothy to “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 NIV)” It is the pursuit of holiness with the character outcome of faithful, godly, patient, gentleness which is hard often to find in men in our day and age. In Paul and Timothy’s time it was a dog-eat-dog kind of world. Today it is more of a live like a dog kind of world where such things as holiness and kindness have gone by the wayside. Paul equates this kind of pursuit as a boxing competition where one does his best to “fight the good fight of faith”. Like a Pitbull that doesn’t let go once its jaws snap shut around its prey the believer is to “take hold of the eternal life to which [they are] called”! Timothy was called to serve the risen Lord just as each of us is when come to Christ. In fact, Paul reminds Timothy that he had made his “good confession in the presence of many witnesses”. This is one of the many reasons why we ask you to come forward publically at the end of worship to make a decision. You are showing others your willingness to have them witness your decision to follow the Lord. We are to grab a hold of the Lord and not let go!

EXAMPLE: The dog was mangy and ornery. A flea-bitten cur if ever there was one. No one would go near him. No one wanted to. He trotted around town as the bully of the streets demanding his due that is until one day he willingly followed a little red-headed girl home. She showed up at her backdoor with the mongrel scratched, a little ragged and bloody, and mussed up. When confronted by her mother on how in the world she got the dog to calm down and follow her home so willingly, the little girl responded, “I just grabbed a hold of him and didn’t let go!” We are to grab a hold of the Lord and not let go!

I am so glad that when God got a hold of me he did not let go either. However there are those that forget and think that this is all there is to the whole matter. So much so they forget there is a command that we are to “follow” Jesus and Paul reminds us that…

II. We are to follow through on our confession of faith! (Vv. 13-16)

In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time–God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

1. Others are not the only witnesses to our decision to follow Jesus. Paul reminds Timothy that when he decided to follow the Lord it was not only fully “In the sight of God, who gives life to everything” but it was also in front of “Christ Jesus” who he made his own public declaration! It was this same Jesus, Paul reminds Timothy, that also “while testifying before Pontius Pilate made a good confession” openly! Paul wasn’t telling Timothy that he could do whatever he wanted to whenever he wanted to because as a man of God called by Christ Timothy was bound by a greater obligation. As believers all are when we commit ourselves to Jesus! Therefore Paul makes it a serious and conscious decision and writes, “I charge you to keep this command” to live a holy and righteous life “without spot of blame”. And Paul meant that it wasn’t something Timothy could do lightly. Too often we allow folks to think that a commitment to the Lord is a moment by moment thing, and it is not. It is a lifelong serious battle. Salvation is a constant ongoing spiritual skirmish in that we are permanently saved, we are being saved as we walk in him, and we will be saved when we see him face-to-face! Until such time we are, like Timothy, to make good on our confession of faith! Timothy was commanded by Paul to stay true “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time”! When would that be? Paul does not give Timothy any time frame or date, but rather he is to keep on keeping on in his walk with the Lord until he returns at the time of God’s choosing! “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.” We are to follow through on our confession of faith!

EXAMPLE: “Keep your eyes on the finish line!” the track coach would remind his team over and over. They were encouraged to “never look back” because if they did they would be in danger of losing the race. Paul wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14 NIV)” Paul wanted Timothy to know that we are to follow through on our confession of faith!

Follow through is important in pitching a baseball, making a free throw with a basketball, or in a spiritual walk with the Lord. If we focus on the things of this world too much we will end up impoverished. Instead, Paul reminds us that…

III. We are to acquire eternal wealth! (Vv. 17-21)

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you.

1. Paul was fearful that Timothy could lose sight of what truly mattered in life. He wasn’t far afield either where his concern was focused because so many over the centuries have wandered from their faith when caught up in the lust of acquiring wealth. He tells Timothy “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God”. Sadly, far too many folks who profess faith in Christ have lost their focus when they begin to think that wealth, worldly power, or fame is far more important than their eternal walk with God. There is nothing we own or acquire in life that will matter when we are face-to-face with Jesus! It is the Lord “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” in life! We have need for nothing else. Paul continued by telling Timothy to “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” It is through this kind of living that others will see one’s faith. It is how we are to display Jesus to the world! In fact instead of trying to acquire worldly riches, it is “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” The life we live now lays brick by brick the eternal life we will live with the Lord and that can either be a comforting or disconcerting thing! So Paul ends his letter to his young friend by reminding him to “guard what has been entrusted to [his] care.” He was to make the concerted effort to “Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.” Not every bit of “godly” wisdom from the world is truly of God and can, like a faulty compass, lead one astray! Paul finishes by tacitly reminding Timothy of God’s love for him by stating, “Grace be with you.” We are to acquire eternal wealth!

EXAMPLE: As a kid I always hated those Twilight Zone TV shows that depicted someone wishing for wealth or something else and then getting more than what they bargained for. My Dad used to tell us kids, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” Sadly we have all seen the personal destruction of those who have gained fame and fortune only to see it disappear or be utterly destroyed by both. I have learned that the things of this world are just so much shadow. Nothing we gain now will matter when we are gone. What matters is what we eternally invest our lives in. Jesus correctly taught, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)” Paul reminds us that we are to acquire eternal wealth!

Conclusion:

We are to grab a hold of the Lord and not let go! We are to follow through on our confession of faith! We are to acquire eternal wealth!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Love one another! – 1 John 4:7-21

Love one another! – 1 John 4:7-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 25, 2018

After the horrific shooting in Florida a lot of folks are asking what went wrong. Some blame guns, law enforcement, the public school system, or society itself. At its core I believe it reflects how we view ourselves and God. Interestingly in the midst of all this discussion Pastor Billy Graham died. Perhaps God decided to take one of his children home to heaven this past week in order for us to refocus on what I mean. As believers we are to love one another.

In our society many have elevated their children to a status of child worship while others totally ignore their kids and want others like schools to raise them. We allow children to be exposed to any and everything and no longer protect childhood innocence. We have reduced God to a myth and humanity to animals and wonder why life is not considered sacred. John knew that believers could lose sight of what love of God meant. Let’s learn what John wrote…

READ: 1 John 4:7-21

If young lives matter then our society would stop the sale of alcohol and end abortion because both are slaughtering thousands of children. The return of our society to honoring human life has to begin with a refocus of believers loving one another. John relates this is how we know for certain if someone is actually a Christian or not.

I. Christians are to love one another! (Vv. 7-12)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 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 begins this section by writing “beloved” or “dear friends” in the NIV using the word agapētos which means a love that sacrifices. This is important because John was continuing his theme of what it meant to believe in Jesus. So John writes “let us love one another” because he knew that this kind of “love comes from God” himself. John knew that “Everyone who loves” in this way “has been born of God and knows God.” John was not talking about feelings here. Rather he knew the proof was in the pudding so-to-speak in that “Whoever does not [sacrificially] love [a fellow believer] does not know God, because God is love.” God is the perfect example of this kind of love! In fact “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” If we say we believe in Jesus we will also love his children. John knew that “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Sinful people don’t love a holy God but as Paul would declare, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 NIV).” John’s notion is the fact that “since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” John understood human nature and its skeptical attitude toward anything or anyone that would love them unconditionally. And he knew that those who tended toward atheistic notions that what they could not see they could not believe and writes, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” Tada! That’s how we know who true believers are! We see him in the lives of believers as they love one another! Christians are to love one another!

EXAMPLE: What have you done for a fellow believer this past week; without being asked, without being prompted, and without expecting anything in return? It is often easy for Christians to display kindness, good deeds, or compassion to the unsaved – the world expects us to do so, but what about those who love the Lord? Have you been a secret saint in the life of a Christian, and I mean by more than just praying for them. It can be easy to stand far off and pray because we do not have to get our hands “dirty” so-to-speak. I mean going down into the trenches where the rubber meets the road and discipling a new believer, mentoring someone, or helping a fellow Christian in some way. Christians are to love one another!

Love is more than being “hooked on a feeling or high on believing”. It is how we as believers in Jesus Christ show others the love of God in our lives. In fact John teaches us that…

II. Whoever lives for Jesus loves God! (Vv. 13-16)

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And 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.

1. Now the reason John could write what he did was because he walked with Jesus for 3 and a half years and he had believed in him as his Savior and Lord. John’s entire life was lived for Jesus and so he writes, “We know that we live in him and he in us”. How could John be so certain? Was he deluded or was it simply wishful thinking on his part? The answer is NO “because” John writes that God “has given us of his Spirit”! The Holy Spirit is God living in the believer and is his stamp in us for his presence and power in our lives! Jesus promised his disciples that “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26 NIV).” Paul would tell believers that “you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13 NIV).” John absolutely understood what had happened and continues by stating that “we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” It was a reality and a certainty for John because of the Spirit of God that lived in him testified to the fact! For John placing one’s faith and trust in Jesus was everything. It meant that you had chosen to willfully follow Jesus no matter what. That you willingly said “no” to your distrust and to your own selfishness. Therefore for John the truth was that “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.” There was no doubt about it in John’s mind “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” Why? John knew that “God is love.” He is the absolute example of sacrificial love for mankind! And “whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him!” Whoever lives for Jesus loves God!

EXAMPLE: The world is unimpressed by Christians because they no longer see the sacrificial love of God displayed in their lives. Hudson Taylor was headed for the mission field in China. Several ladies and his mother were onboard ship to say their “goodbyes” and his mother stayed behind. She smoothed the wrinkles out from the blankets on his bed and told her son, “Hudson, you must take care of your health. Without health you won’t be able to complete the task God has given.” He rolled his eyes and said he would. She went ashore and stood on the dock. As Taylor’s ship left he wrote: “I eyed my mother running along the dock and waving her handkerchief. She stopped at the end and contained herself no longer. The cry of her mother’s heart overpowered all sounds. It was at that moment that I had a better understanding of God so loved the world and his ache when His children walk away from Him.” Whoever lives for Jesus loves God!

Worship is not how we show the world we love God. Building bigger churches, having hymns or choruses, or even good preaching, and simply living good lives will not display it either if the world is not paying attention. John knew it was more than these things. He wrote that…

III. Whoever loves God will show it! (Vv. 17-21)

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. There 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. We love because he first loved us. If 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. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

1. Having the presence of God in one’s life is a powerful thing. There is not a believer who ever lived that does know what this means. It’s because of the presence of God in the Holy Spirit we have direct access to Jesus. For John one’s actions spoke a lot about one’s faith and so he declared, “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.” Jesus’ love is made complete among us when we display his love to fellow believers. Judgment has no fear for us! “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” Christians have absolutely no fear of eternal punishment. Besides, when the Holy Spirit resides in a person they want to do those things that please God. Those who do not truly know God fear him or they fear he might go after them in some way if they are not “good enough”. Sadly there are those who actually think that they have to “balance the scales” in life to make sure they have the same amount of good deeds or more in order to be loved by God! Nothing could be further from the truth! John reminds us that “The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” John related that if we truly have believed in Jesus then “perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” Wow! What a wonderful truth! John finishes this section on the love of God and our love for others by reminding his readers “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar” about what he says he believes because “anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” Whoever loves God will show it!

EXAMPLE: What have you done for the lost world this last week? What will you decide to do in the following week? There are many places where you can volunteer to serve in our community. Elementary Schools need volunteers to read to kids, shelters need volunteers to feed, cloth, and counsel the homeless, addicted, and disenfranchised. Food pantries need food and help to distribute meals, food, and clothing. Disaster Relief needs volunteers to be trained and go to continue cleanup efforts in California and down South. Senior adults need friendship, house cleaning, and your time. What will you do this year, this month, this coming week to show your community the love of God? Whoever loves God will show it!

Conclusion:

Christians are to love one another! Whoever lives for Jesus loves God! Whoever loves God will show it!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The way of love! – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

The way of love! – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 18, 2018

What is love? It is a question that poets, prognosticators, and psychologists have tried to answer. Love’s theme fills hundreds of thousands of books, songs, and blogs. Tina Turner cynically sang, “Oh what’s love got to do, got to do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion? What’s love got to do, got to do with it? Who needs a heart, when a heart can be broken?” Most contemporary songs in today’s society have reduced love to either feelings or lust, whichever fits the needs of the moment. It reflects the shallow and sometimes cynical view folks have for the meaning of love for their lives. However, if we are to understand Scripture we have to answer the question, “What is love?”

The Bible does define for us what love is. It begins with God himself when we learn “God is love.” (1 John 4:8 NIV) Love’s definition is furthered clarified when he showed what his love is all about in sending his Son. (John 3:16-18) This love of God transforms the individual from the inside out to the extent that they are changed forever in their personal relationship with him, their personal attitudes and their interactions with others. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV) and “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 4:12 NIV) The problem is what does the rest of the world see when it looks at the life of a believer? Does it see the love of God revealed in us? With all the misunderstanding, negativism, and cynicism concerning love in our day and age, the question we need to answer this morning is, “What is love?” More specifically, what are love’s attributes? Let’s find out the way of love for ourselves…

READ: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Since we are so close to Valentine’s Day and we are talking about love I made up the top ten things women may not want to hear on their first date:

10. I love the way the light shines on your nose…
9. I picked these up at the cemetery on the way here…
8. Don’t worry I tasted each piece of candy to make sure there were no nuts inside…
7. Your cooking is almost as good as my mother’s…
6. I take my mother’s ashes everywhere, why?
5. I have my own private apartment in the basement…
4. You’re way prettier than the last girl I dated…
3. Look, two tickets to the hog wrestling championships!
2. Momma always goes on my first date…
1. I am sure this ring won’t turn your finger green…

Love can be confusing but in these verses from Paul…

I. We discover what love is! (Vv. 13:4, 7-8a)

Love is patient, love is kind.… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

1. Mariah Carey once sang: “I wanna know what love is….. I want you to show me.” We discover that all Mariah had to do was open her Bible in order to find the perfect example of love! Paul writes exactly what this kind of love is all about. We discover that love is patient, or as some translations state, “long suffering.” Yet the idea is not one of patiently putting up with something or someone, but rather that of steadfast devotion. There is a serene tolerance involved whereby the believer, as Paul admonishes is to “Be completely humble and gentle; [by being] patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2 NIV) Love is also kind, again as in being “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV) Love always protects like a covering or a like a mama bird that shelters her young with her wing, and love always trusts in the one who gave us the example of love. However, we as believers are also to trust in one another as well because we are to be the embodiment of Jesus in the world! In other words, the love a Christians displays sees the best in a fellow believer. How in the world could love do that, are we to be like a Pollyanna and blindly see the good in everybody? Nope, we are to reflect Jesus’ love in that we are to always hope in him and what he can do with our lives: That we look to the bright side of life even in difficult circumstances. Love is able to do this because like Jesus it perseveres. It stays the course set out for it in life, it keeps on keeping on when others falter and persists when others only see failure. Love is all these wonderful things: kind, patient, protective, trusting, hopeful, and persistent! When it is, it never fails! This is what Godly love truly is!

EXAMPLE: In a morally corrupt world we see what the redefinition of love accomplishes. It focuses on self-gratification and reduces love to its basest instinct of emotional lust. Love becomes about selfish relationships and self-seeking, instead of the foundational truth it is supposed to be. Like the redefinition of marriage that ignores the familial outcome of emotional stability and the continuance of humanity. Contrary to the amoral selfish redefining of marriage, this is why God resoundingly condemns it. At its core godly love is sacrificial and is never based on what you get out of it, it is based on the change that has occurred in your sinful human nature that makes you love others in spite of yourself! This why the apostle John would bluntly write, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” (1 John 3:10-11 NIV) This is what Godly love truly is!

For Paul, love was more than what you can gain it flows from what you have already obtained. We have found out what love is, we also have to learn what it is not. So, here in these verses…

II. We discover what love is not! (Vv. 13:4b-6)

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

1. The singer Jennifer Hudson sang: “If this isn’t love, tell me what it is!” Jennifer should know that love is more than losing weight in life! Paul related that God’s love “does not envy, it does not boast, and it is not proud.” Again, in other words, the love of Jesus does not stoop to petty jealousy or green-eyed behavior. Jealousy is just another word for insecurity and at its core it is selfish. God’s love does not care about what others have or obtained, but rather rejoices with another’s success in life, especially when it is obtained in a godly manner! Nor does the love of Jesus brag about itself to others, but rather it knows its place. God is to be glorified in all things. Therefore Jesus’ love does not puff itself up in the eyes of others, like a gangsta thug or short-term sports hero for its own gain. In a world where being crude and sarcastic has reached all time new lows, the love a Christian is to display is not to be rude or crass. Godly love therefore never seeks the lowest common denominator; it has the highest of standards. It does for others rather than for itself, never seeking its own desires first. In other words like Jesus it is sacrificial! Love keeps a lid on its anger and in so doing it does not keep track or a record of the wrongs others have done to it. And unlike the world, who knows “God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, [and] they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them”, (Romans 1:32 NIV) love “does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” of God! Notice anything about the picture painted here by Paul of what love is not? The love of God as expressed in the lives of believers is to be nothing like what the world offers. That’s why the world does not understand it nor does it understand Christ or Christianity. In Christ we discover what love is not.

EXAMPLE: I always laugh when the world tries to define what Christianity is supposed to be. Recently there has been a desperate redefining of what the world thinks a Christian’s faith should be like. We are to swallow and accept the attitudes and actions of others and never ever say anything that they might take as “bigoted” concerning their personal perversion. Contrary to what the media would try to persuade you to believe, Christianity is not based on what we feel about Jesus, it is based on what Jesus taught and at its core is the fact that a person can only claim being a Christian after they have confessed their sinful condition and placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ himself. Like societies redefinition of love, the Christian faith is not based on selfish emotionalism. And this morning, we have learned from Paul what love is not.

Conclusion:

We have discovered what love is and we discovered what love is not!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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God’s everlasting love! – Romans 8:31-39

God’s everlasting love! – Romans 8:31-39
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 11, 2018

Nothing lasts forever; the Second Law of Thermodynamics makes sure of that. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is commonly known as the Law of Increased Entropy. While the quantity, the mass, of everything remains the same (First Law), the quality of matter/energy deteriorates gradually over time which is “Entropy” and is defined as a measure of unusable energy within a closed or isolated system. I know, boring physics lesson, but absolutely not relevant in the spiritual laws of God because we learn that there indeed is something that lasts forever – our relationship to the Creator of all things!

All other religions teach us that mankind has to try hard to be better, do better, or that we have to do something grand in order for God to love us. Yet here in the beautiful gospel message of Jesus we find something totally confounding and wonderful for mankind. There is nothing we can do except trust what God did for us in Jesus. The message of Jesus teaches us about God’s everlasting love for us and Paul was amazed by it. Let’s discover what Paul wrote about God’s everlasting love…

READ: Romans 8:31-39

We are a bunch of consumers. We consume everything including relationships and what matters most to the world is how one can profit from any and everything they consume in life. However, the most important fact the every believer needs to learn is the fact that in Jesus we have everything we need in life. Paul understood that nothing matters in this life but the absolute fact that…

I. God’s everlasting love has given us everything! (Vv. 31-32)

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

1. Paul had just gotten through telling the Roman church that God foreknew whom he would call to be saved. However even though God knows who will be saved we do not know. God is infinite and all knowing and we are not. I always wondered why folks have such a problem with predestination when the Scripture is very specific concerning the teaching. It is totally amazing that God’s plan for salvation has been all figured out from eternity on! Paul would write “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 NIV)” This is the amazing tremendous truth of the gospel message and we discover that Paul was totally blown away in the knowledge that God loved us that much and so he asks, “What, then, shall we say in response to this?” We forget that it was our choice, meaning the first human beings created by God chose to sin when they did not have to and yet even though God knew they would he already had a plan in place to redeem mankind! This is why he would teach, “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22 NIV)” God became a man to redeem sinful mankind therefore “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And the answer is that “no one” because “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” God’s everlasting love has given us everything!

EXAMPLE: In the Charles Dickens book Oliver Twist which is about an orphan who is eventually put to work picking and weaving oakum, a loose fiber obtained by untwisting and picking apart old ropes used for caulking the seams of sailing ships, at a workhouse. Oliver, who toils with very little food, remains there for six months. One day, the desperately hungry boys decide to draw lots; the loser must ask for another portion of gruel. The task falls to Oliver, who at the next meal tremblingly comes up forward, bowl in hand, and begs Mr. Bumble for gruel with his famous request: “Please, sir, I want some more”. Far too many Christians have the Oliver Twist misconception about their walk with God. They think they have to come begging to God and plead with him like starving orphans to give them “more”. Paul reminds us that God’s everlasting love has given us everything!

We are not orphans left at the table of God begging for spiritual scraps and in fact quite the opposite! Scripture proclaims that believers are “children of God (John 1:12-13)”! And Paul reminds us that…

II. It was for us that God’s everlasting love was proclaimed! (Vv. 33-36)

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

1. When Paul stopped to ponder what God did for all mankind he could not help but wonder why in the world would he do such a thing? But even more was the fact there would be those who tried to either pull people back into trying to earn their salvation or those who would say that we could never be loved by God. This was simply not true so Paul asks “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” Who could possibly do such a thing? The answer of course is “No one!” The reason was obvious for Paul because “It is God who justifies.” God is the only one who can justify us because he created all things and it is he who has the plan to redeem us! So, “Who is he that condemns?” There is only one who could and it is “Christ Jesus, who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us”! Jesus doesn’t condemn us because he willingly saved us! God’s everlasting love was established by Jesus because of what he willingly did and by what he continues to do: intercede for us! Therefore the fact is “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” And for Paul the answer again was obvious: No one and nothing! These things in life Paul stated in increasing intensity do not separate Christians from Christ and nothing and no one can! For Paul who himself was facing imprisonment for his faith and possible death he knew with certainty the love of God because he understood that just “As it is written” in all of Scripture concerning those who held out the truth of God’s love, it was “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” It was for us that God’s everlasting love was proclaimed!

EXAMPLE: There is a wonderful little book by Robert Munsch called Love You Forever. It is both sad and silly but it relates the love a mother has for her baby boy. From infancy until he grows to be a man she sings her song to him: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” Even as toddler when he drives her crazy, as a young boy when she wanted to sell him to a zoo, or as a teenager when she felt like she was in a zoo she still sung him her song: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” Finally when she is old and sick her son then holds her close and sings her song to her and after she passes away he creeps into his baby daughter’s room and sings: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like for always, As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” As wonderful as our love is for our children we discover that it was for us that God’s everlasting love was proclaimed!

God loves us forever and nothing in all creation can change that. Because of this Paul wanted his readers to fully understand just what that loves means for us, that namely…

III. Nothing can separate us from God’s everlasting love! (Vv. 37-39)

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1. Was Paul being delusional or just hoping against hope that what he believed was true? Neither because Paul had firsthand knowledge of what he was writing about. Over and over he would relate how Jesus had changed his life. He would testify that “the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. (Galatians 1:11-13 NIV)” Paul had been changed by his faith in Jesus so it was with complete confidence he could say “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” It did not matter to Paul if he faced hardship, trouble, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or the sword! He was absolutely “convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing in this life, whether it was manmade, spiritual, self-inflicted, occurring now or in the future Paul had “learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” In fact he would declare, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13 NIV)” Paul wanted all believers to understand that nothing can separate us from God’s everlasting love!

EXAMPLE: One thing I have learned in life is that people grieve differently from one another. There is not one single way to do so. There has never been a week that goes by that I have not remembered something about my father even though he died when I was a teenager. This is one reason why the words of Jesus made such a huge impact on me when he told his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)” Jesus is with me always. Ponder that for a moment. Not simply as a memory, wishful thinking, or a future hope but he is actually with me always. How fantastic to know that nothing can separate us from God’s everlasting love!

Conclusion:

God’s everlasting love has given us everything! It was for us that God’s everlasting love was proclaimed! Nothing can separate us from God’s everlasting love!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The expression of God’s love! – John 3:16-21

The expression of God’s love! – John 3:16-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 4, 2018

How do you express your love? Since February is the month when we celebrate love because of Valentine’s Day I thought it would be good for us to pause and reflect on what love truly means for the believer. And being able to express, know, and understand what love is supposed to be is extremely important. Far too many carry false notions and understanding of what love is all about therefore it is important for Christians to be able to help others truly know the expression of God’s love.

When I first meant my wife she was my best friend’s kid-sister who took perverse joy in teasing us. Being the “mature” High School freshman I was I was not impressed by a 13 year old Junior Higher. Now for 42 years I am very impressed and interested in my best friend’s kid sister. Of course it took a lot of time, effort, and commitment for me to express just how much I care about her. It still does and I still do! God did the same thing for us and his plan took thousands of years to express fully. Let’s take a look at the expression of God’s love…

READ: John 3:16-21

Valentine’s Day originally was celebrated to honor one of several martyred “saints”. One for marrying Roman soldiers against the Emperor’s will and another who imprisoned for his faith wrote his final letter to his wife and signed it, “From your Valentine”. The oldest known valentine in existence is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. In this popular passage from John…

I. We see the expression of God’s love in how he gave us himself! (Vv. 16-18)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

1. The message contained within these verses is so profound and simple that it mystifies the spiritually blind and confounds the spiritually ignorant. Yet in a world that hungers for real love there is no greater expression of it than what we discover here in John’s Gospel. In the past the mythological creations of mankind were vain attempts to try to explain the angry world around us. We saw the wrath of gods in the weather, we experienced the inhumanity of mankind, and the march of death and tried to make sense of it all. It is only here in Scripture where we discover the profound truth that God does indeed exist, he created all things, has a plan in progress and that “God is love.” And here we discover that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son”! He did not bring forth a child like himself, he came himself as a child, grew to be a man, was tempted in every way we are, remained pure, and willingly died for us for the simple reason “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”! This is the key to knowing and experiencing God’s love for one’s self – you must believe in him! If you do you will never “perish but have eternal life”. That’s a pretty special love gift! In fact we cannot be forced, coerced, or pushed into belief. The choice is ours because “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God’s final judgment will come later when he returns to gather his children to himself. Jesus, God in human flesh, related that “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” We condemn or free ourselves by the choice we make. What a marvelous thing to discover in this love message from God that we see the expression of God’s love in how he gave us himself!

EXAMPLE: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few” is a line from a wartime speech made by the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on August 20, 1940. I have to laugh because when I hear this I am reminded of my friend Andy from 1st grade. He was in “love” with a little blond girl in our classroom. I thought he was bonkers and in a sense he was. I found him one day out on the playground in tears. When I asked him what happened he related that he had offered the girl his cookies from his lunch. He wasn’t sad because she refused them he was dismayed because she had actually taken and eaten them! Andy now understood what sacrifice meant. We see the expression of God’s love in how he gave us himself!

The only time I truly like total darkness is when I want to go to sleep or when I want to see the stars. Sadly it is tough to see the stars clearly because of all the ambient light that shines into the night sky. There are those who try to proclaim another truth than the one Jesus did and the only way to see the difference is by shinning the full truth of the gospel against its darkness. John related that…

II. We see the expression of God’s love by its illumination! (Vv. 19-21)

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

1. Recently I watched a diatribe by a young atheist on YouTube who vainly tried to refute the life of Jesus. She not only distorted historical facts but did not know the historicity and evidence of biblical facts. It was laughable. As we learned before, no one forces anyone to believe. That’s why it is called “faith”. However, Jesus taught that there are consequences both good and bad for making one’s own choice concerning God. “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” The sad but utter truth is that evil does not like exposure. Whether it is a political cause or a religious sect, neither wants folks to look to closely at the real truth hidden behind the veil of lies. Fanatical religions and myopic socialism has murdered hundreds of millions. Jesus’ teachings are the only truth that demands and asks one to take as close a personal look as possible. However be forewarned if you are trying to hide something, you will be exposed for what you are: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” John later on in life would write, “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. (1 John 4:13-15 NIV)” This is why atheists rail against Jesus and false religions try to hide the truth. Jesus taught “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32 NIV)” There is no fear of faith or of God for those who are willing to trust Jesus with their lives because “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” How wondrous to know that we see the expression of God’s love by its illumination!

EXAMPLE: I remember reading the Bible before I came to Christ; I barely understood any of it. After accepting him as my savior and Lord my ignorance changed and I could not read it enough. It made sense and it fit! Kind of like when I first began my relationship with my wife. I had dated several girls and when I dated her things began to change. But the change wasn’t complete until I married her. I no longer see her as my “girlfriend” but rather as my wife and believe me that is a whole lot deeper relationship emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The same is true when we come to Christ. Before it’s only head knowledge, shallow, and kind of boring but after experiencing the power and presence of the Holy Spirit we see the expression of God’s love by its illumination!

Conclusion:

We see the expression of God’s love in how he gave us himself! We see the expression of God’s love by its illumination!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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