Monday, October 25, 2010

The Purposeful Love

Have you ever thought about the purpose of someone’s love? When a couple is married they purpose to love one another through any circumstance of life until one of them dies. When a child is born, parents purpose to love that child’s so that their needs will be met and they will know care and encouragement. Whether you realize it or not, there is a purpose to every ounce of love you extend to someone else.

Jesus’ love was a purposeful love. He loved for a couple of reasons. He loved God and others to bring glory to God. That is, to declare how good God is. He tells us this in John 17:1. He also purposed His love to serve others. In Mark 10:45 Jesus says that He did not come to Earth to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.

As we follow Jesus’ example let us think about these purposes of love. Again, they are to bring glory to God and to serve others. As you think about the love you share with others, are those your purposes? Are there other purposes to your love?

There are times when we love others to make ourselves feel good. There are times we love others to get what we want. There are times we love others so others will think highly of us. As you think about your relationships you will see that there have times like this in your life. These self-centered attitudes can easily creep into our hearts and destroy something that started with great intentions. When this happens, your love has not been centered on God or others. It has been centered on you. Even when it appeared you were serving someone else, your love was purposed on your self.

How do we overcome this selfishness? First, be aware of it. What are your motives for showing love to that other person? Second, don’t ask what you are going to get out of sharing your love. Look for the benefits of others and don’t worry about how you’ll be promoted, recognized, thanked or loved in return. Finally, seek God’s help. Our hearts are evil. They are centered upon self. We need the working of Christ in our lives to make us outwardly focused on God and others.

There is a purpose to your love. Be willing to explore the purpose of your love so that your love may be pure.

Monday, October 18, 2010

You Can't Earn God's Love

Did you the know Old Testament of the Bible contains over 600 commands from God? In the first century AD, the Jewish religious leaders had studied these laws in such detail that they tell us there are 365 negative ones and 248 positive ones. The negative ones are things people should not do and the positive ones are things people should do. One day, Jesus was in a discussion with religious leaders and they asked Him to sum up all of these laws in one sentence. Sounds challenging, doesn’t it? Sounds important, doesn’t it? What is revolutionary, though, is how Jesus answered their question.

In Mark 12 Jesus says that the most important commandment is to love God with all of one’s heart, soul, mind and strength. He goes further to add that loving others is just behind this commandment. Jesus directly calls people to love God here, but you need to know that this is a recurring theme throughout the entire Bible. And, it is certainly a recurring theme in Jesus’ ministry.

So, how do you love God? That is question with many answers. We often define how we love by what others do for us. Isn’t that the way we define love when it comes to human relationships? We love family members and friends because of the way they care and provide for us. Their words or actions are their expressions of love toward us.

But often we do not define our love for God this way. We define our love for God by what we do for Him. Many of us are actually trying to earn God’s love through our obedience to Him. Instead of allowing our love for Him to drive us to obedience, we try to earn His love through obedience. Make sense? It can be a bit confusing so let me explain a little more.

Here in our Southern Kentucky culture we often think that as we attend our local church we show our love for God. There may be no joy in our going to hear the preaching of God’s word, sing praises to Him or encouraging other believers. Yet, we go because it is our duty to show God we love Him. While it is right to attend church on a regular basis (Hebrews 10:25), we are not called to go to church to show God we love Him. We are called to go to church because we love God.

Did you hear the difference?

Our action is not to earn God’s love. Our action is because of God’s love for us. We don’t act to earn God’s love. We act to express our love for God. Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Love comes first. Obedience follows. Do you love God? Don’t obey to earn His love. Obey God because you enjoy His love and want to love Him back.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why Does Church Membership Matter?

Church membership, though not directly mandated in the New Testament, does seem to be implied in the New Testament. Here's a helpful blog from a friend, Ben Simpson, who is the pastor of West Main Baptist Church in Alexandria, TN. Read carefully and it will be a great help to you.

Monday, October 04, 2010

God the Deliverer

God's great desire is to deliver you for His glory. And He is really serious about this. He is at work to deliver you even if you don't know that you need to be delivered. Because the truth is you need to be delivered from something all the time.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)

God is willing to bring you to a point of desperation so you will learn to trust Him. Are you there yet? I've been there recently. Only when we humble ourselves before Him, stand firm in the faith and trust Him will we find the relief He longs to give and we long to receive.

Where are you along the road of suffering? Are you on the highway of denial or hard-headedness? Have you found the exit that leads to peace? You'll spot it by its sign which reads "Faith in Christ". Will you follow His lead?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Satisfaction in Suffering

Suffering is never easy, but the Bible says it is useful. Here's a sermon I preached at West Main Baptist Church in Alexandria, TN on Tuesday, September 28, 2010. Listen and let me know what you think.