New Hope Notes
Chooses To Love
The Irresistible Church
Pastor Elwin Ahu
Today I will be talking about the ninth trait in our Irresistible Church series. How does a church become irresistible to Heaven? It is all about choosing to Love. However, love is a word that is overly used today. We talk about loving football, ice cream, and loving someone in our family.
We use it in so many ways that it gets diluted when it come to talking about people who are lost. I like to remind myself what love is all about by looking at different phrases and answers that kids give to what love is.
Here are some of the responses from children of their perspectives on love. Jan, who is eight, was asked why love happens between two people. Her response was, ďNo one is sure what happens between two people but it has something to do with smell. That is why perfume and deodorant are so important.Ē Mike, a nine year old, was asked what people do on a first date. He said, ďThey tell lies to each other to get interested enough to get themselves a second date.Ē Kenny who is seven was asked, ďIs it better to be single or married? He replied, ďThis gives me a headache to think about that kind of stuff, Iím just a kid I donít need that kind of trouble.Ē Nine year old Alonzo was asked, ďWhat are some of the ways to make someone fall in love with you?Ē Alonzo answered, ďDonít do things like have smelly and green sneakers on. You might get attention but attention ainít the same thing as love.Ē
Sometimes we get love so mixed up in this world that we donít really know what love is.
So what is the Biblical perspective on love? We hear at weddings quotes from 1 Cor. 13 that love is kind and patient but does not envy. But Paul who wrote the chapter had no weddings in mind. Paul was writing to a church that was so messed up. When reading verses 1 thru 13 you are going to see that Paul was telling them about divisions among themselves, law suits and sexual immoralities that were happening and splitting the church apart. Paul says in 1 Cor 13 that we should focus on what is going to unite us together as a church. Paul writes, "If I speak with the tongues of men 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 all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
Paul is saying that they could speak the most religious language, sing the best songs, and have the biggest church, with choke people attending and all the dances and songs, but if you donít have love, it isnít worth it. If love doesnít exist behind your actions, why even do it? The church has to have roots and foundations in love. You can have the largest church that serves all kinds of people but without love, it is for nothing.
In his book, Pastor Wayne writes about the essence of this entire message. If a person merely attends church because he wants a safe place for his family to learn about God, or ministers to his neighbor because a pastor told him to, or serves food to homeless people because he sense an inequity in the worldís distribution of resources, or attends youth group because he wants a fun place to go while his parents attend the church services then that action or ministry will almost always wane over time. The greatestóand most sustainable Ėmotivation for ministry must be love. We must serve because we love God and love others. Without love, we wonít have the sustained impetus, strength, or energy to risk over the long haul.
Pastor Wayne is saying if we donít have love as the basis of everything we do, this church will end. So how many of you would want this church to be around for another hundred fifty years? With us not loving God, one another and our community this church will crash. The problem with Christians is not that we donít know what Godís word is - we know the word, we read the word, we sing the word. The problem is the lack performance of that word. So how do we get ourselves to love deeply? We love so superficially, which gives us an out if they hurt us. We keep our love on the surface and donít love deeply. How do we love the person who has wronged us, said some terrible things to us or wrote some insults to us? How do we love the person who talks stink behind our backs? The problem is not in being ignorant of what God wants of us but in performing what He wants and loving the unlovable. We all struggle with that sometimes in our lives. So Ö
1. Begin by loving GOD.
Without loving God first, we wonít have an understanding of how He loves us. Without understanding how he loves us, how can we pass it on to other people around us? The degree of how much you love one another will reflect how much you love God. If you canít love that person very much, then you canít love God very much. If you love that person only ifÖ.then you will love God only if. If Iím loving that person only under these conditions, then I am only loving God under those conditions. The Lord says to love Him with all of your heart - without conditions or reservations. That means we need to love one another the same way. The Bible says "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:7-8)
The two greatest commands are to love God and love one another. God always comes first and if you are struggling with someone else, donít worry or bother with them. Refocus your attention on the Lord. The Bible tells us, "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." (Jas. 4:7-8)
James is saying to wash your hands and submit and draw near to God. Let me give you a lesson in spiritual warfare. The world needs to be seen as black and white. It is either of God or it is not. There is nothing grey or in the middle. The word that is messing all of us up is ďTolerateĒ. We are supposed to tolerate even sin. We are told that the world is not black and white. We are taught to tolerate these things in the middle. However, either Love or Hate. We cannot mix the two. James is saying that if you are having a problem loving someone, submit to God because He is love and you should resist anything from the enemy. The more you fill yourself up with God there is no room for the other stuff. Then your love for one another will flow from your over flow of Godís love for you. Donít skip on worship, when you come to worship, really come and worship. Wednesday nights are extended worships, if you having anything sinful going on in your life, attend Wednesday night services and worship God and clean it all out. Because if you canít and there is no room for God, then you canít love one another. Press into God and submit to Him because you donít know when you could be hit with something devastating.
I received an email that was very critical and insulting of me. I showed it to my wife so that she could check me. She asked me if it was true. I told her to tell me if it was true. I took it to the Lord and asked that if one word was true, for Him to scrub out my heart and show me where I was not right. I knew that I needed to fill myself with Godís love so that I could start to pray for that email writer. Pressing into God is praying to God to help you clean yourself up and praying for the person that you are having a hard time with. Just pray, you donít have to see or talk to them right away. But do your daily devotions.
2. Connect to the SOURCE.
Love doesnít appear over night. Love takes time to build and nurture. The love in your heart will grow if you connect to the right source and cultivate that seed.
We plug ourselves into the wrong sources like television and expect to get the right definition of love. Remind yourself to plug into the right source as the Bible tells us,
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5) John is saying that the fruit doesnít fall far from the tree. The Lord is saying if I am the vine and you are the branches and you are connected to me, then your fruit is the one I want you to bear. Love that you show others is the same love that I show to you. What is that fruit? Read on "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Gal. 5:22-23)
There is only one fruit that is born from the vine. That fruit is love, but there are nine different manifestations. What kind of fruit was God speaking of that grows on vines in Paulís day?
Grapes grow from the vines, and when picked, it comes in a cluster. Can you count how many types of fruits are on this vine? Just one type -grapes. But here are many different manifestations of the cluster, with some in different forms, some smaller than others and some with different colors. A small green grape has not grown as fast as the others, but it is still a grape and from the same vine. Paul is saying that love comes in many different shapes and forms. If it is not of love, then it will be the work of the enemy.
You cannot grow this fruit if it is not cultivated. The Bible tells us that "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." (John 17:22-23)
3. INITIATE, don't HESITATE.
Be the first one to extend love to someone. Be the one to take the first step. We all want to be loved even despite the faults that we have. To receive that, we need to give it out first. Paul says "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (Rom. 12:18). "With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love." (Eph. 4:2)We learn to love God and others by loving first.
A missionary named Doug Nichols went to India to minister, but he did not know the language. He went to learn the language in India and in the process he contracted tuberculosis which put him in a sanitarium. This was not a clean place and he did not want to be there but he had to stay there. In part, due to his language barrier, no one paid any attention to him. Doug was very discouraged. He felt that the work that he was sent there to do was going down the tubes. But there was another man that was too weak to get up to use the bathroom each night. One night, Doug look across the way and managed to get up and walk across to help him get up. The man was too weak to walk, so Doug took him in his arms and carried him like a baby to the bathroom and the toilet hole in the floor. He stood behind him and cradled him in his arms as the man took care of himself. He then carried him back to his bed. As Doug turned to leave, the man reached up and grabbed his face and pulled him close to kiss him on the cheek. He said, ďThank You.Ē Doug said the next morning there were doctors, nurses and patients waiting to ask him for the tracks and books that he had brought. Others asked questions about this God that he worshiped - about the one that came into the world to die for their sins. In the next few weeks all the literature was given out and many in the sanitarium came to know about Jesus Christ. Doug did not preach a sermon, not even communicate in their language. All he did was take an old man to the bathroom. Anybody could have done that. Doug did not hesitate. He initiated. The people did not care of how much he knew, they saw of how much he cared.