9-26-2020 The Love “Quotient
God so loved me (the world)
1 John 4:1-8
Don’t believe everything you see or hear but try the spirits to see if they are of God. Many false prophets have gone out into the world. But every spirit that confesses that Jesus has come in the flesh is of God and if it doesn’t confess that Jesus has come in the flesh it is not of God. And this spirit of denial (even in the apostle John’s time), the anti-christ, was already in the world. We are of God so we have overcome these spirits because He who is in us is greater than that which is in the world.
Those who are in the world do and say things of the world and the world hears them.
Hey! We are of God and those who know God hear us but those who don’t know God won’t hear us either. We are able to distinguish the spirit of truth from the spirit of error (thank you Holy Spirit).
Beloved, let us love one another because love comes from God so when we love that means we are born of God and know Him.
Those who don’t love don’t know God for God is love!
What’s love got to do with? Everything!
Jesus berated the scribes and Pharisees for even though they did ‘right’ things, they did them for the wrong reasons. The ‘church leadership’ did things ‘for’ the people for personal profit, personal gain or personal recognition. They loved themselves more that the people for whom they were responsible.
When we truly love somebody, we put their needs ahead of our own desires. We determine what is right and press in that direction.
Now, I’m not saying we neglect ourselves for if we don’t love ourselves, how can we possibly love anyone else? We first have to have Jesus in our heart (via the Holy Ghost), then we ’become’ the image of God as His love grows in us. We were originally made in God’s image (Gen. 3:26). God is love therefore His true image is love.
Consider the parent/child relationship. When we are born, what can we do for ourselves? As the song ‘War’ says “absolutely nuthin’!” We can see, hear, touch and sense land wiggle. We can’t talk but we can communicate via vocal emissions – we cry. Mom & dad have to discern “Am I hungry?” “Need my diaper changed?” or do I just need a hug? They take care of my total existence. As I grow, I learn to roll over, crawl, walk and eventually run. Through observation and encouragement I learn to communicate through words and not just sounds. I learn to dress myself, feed myself and (if you’re like me) how to irritate people (lol). Mom and dad teach me to do things for myself. Loving myself is learning how to brush my teeth, comb my hair, take a bath (hey! I took one last month! Whatta ya mean I need another one already!) I learn to respect myself so I learn to take care of myself. I learn to love myself. I am a human being created in the image of God!
As I grow, I learn that everyone has had to learn these things. So I learn how to respect other people and their being. I don’t like it when people try to hurt me so I decide not to hurt them. I learn to help people when they need help and when I need help, it comes. And so on. I also discover that as I do good things to people, good things will come back to me! Every time? No. I learn that not everyone has had a peachy creamy life and they don’t always respond the way I expect them. Yet, I also find, there are others who are just plain evil. So, I treat everyone as I expect to be treated, with respect. Irregardless of who they are or how they treat me.
I expect to become the best person I can be. Maybe even become the person God expects me to be. I Learn the things that I can do well and those things with which I probably need help – then receive it.
I find that loving myself is an expression of love. So if I want to learn more about love, I have to go to the source.
God is love.
So what greater source is there to learn about love? He created everything. He is love, therefore He passes His love on to us.
His Holy Spirit shares four aspects of love: first, God loves me, second, I have to love myself, third, I have to give love back to God and fourth I do (in part) by loving others.
If I can’t believe and accept that God loves me, the other three will never happen. So, I learn how does God love me so how do I come by that knowledge?
First I see love in the beauty of the world in which we live. Someone had to create all this beauty. Of course, depending on where I live my concept of beauty may vary. Yet I find that I can find beauty in the sky, the mountains, the forests, flowers, by the lakes, in the city, in a basement. It’s there, we just have to look. God wants us to appreciate His creation, even the things that we may not consider everything as lovely.
People may tell me about God’s love, but, then I have to believe what they say.
I can read the bible, but then I have to believe what the bible says. Did you know that the bible is God’s love letter to man? In it He describes the many expressions of His love and how we can, or should, interact with it. For God so loved the world, He gave (came as) His only begotten Son …
And prayer. My personal communication with the creator of all things. Yes, Father tells us to gather together so we can praise and worship Him in community but He longs for that personal time with us. The time we bare our souls to Him and seek His consolation, help and direction. Where we tell Him how much we appreciate, respect and love Him – one on one, mano e mano, face to face (so to speak) just Him and me.
As Father interacts with me through my seeking Him in prayer, reading the bible and other people, I find that He really loves me and He seeks a deeper relationship. Consider the apostle John, who at the last supper, laid his head upon Jesus’ chest. John implies that he and Jesus may have had a very close walk, together (John 20:2). I learn to love the Lord more and more through my prayer, the bible and other people. I have come to learn that indeed, God loves me. God so loved me, He came into this world in Jesus Christ that with my acceptance of Him, I and anyone who receives Him, can be with Him throughout all eternity.
Once I R-E-A-L-L-Y learn that God loves me, I realize that I have to learn to love myself. It’s one thing to learn about God’s love – how things should be, it is difficult to return that love, or show it to others.
“You have the face only a mother could love.” A simple phrase. One intending to bolster confidence. Even if nobody else loves me, mom still does. Unfortunately, that phrase has always stayed, at least, in the back of my mind. For whatever reason, I rationalized that nobody else could really love me, only mom.
Yes, in many areas I have been reasonably successful. I lifted weights in competition (Olympic style) and was reasonably successful. Never won any titles and never lifted the ‘big’ weights for my weight class even though I was a lot stronger than what I actually lifted.
On the job, I did my job well enough that my co-workers and those with whom I interacted trusted me to always get the job done and help others to resolve issues. I actually had a very good reputation on the job. The big difference on the job is that I worked for the Lord and not just the FDA, who employed me.
The greatest gift I ever had was back in high school. In my senior year a sophomore wrote in my yearbook “to a senior who always had time to talk with me”. His name was John. Let’s put this into perspective. This comment was written nearly sixty years ago! Even today, I appreciate his remark.
I was in a certain Pentacostal church I was in a couple of decades ago. We were in a praise and worship and things had quieted down, waiting on the Lord. Someone gave a prophetic word in his spiritual language and again there was silence, for a long time. I heard some words in my heart, but I kept silent because I was fairly new at this church and quite frankly, I was a nobody. What right did I have to speak out. Finally someone else spoke some encouraging words. Immediately I also heard “”That’s not what I said!” Again, I still didn’t speak out, for the afore mentioned reason. I never did tell anyone what I had heard and I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit for some time after. ‘nuff said.
Father is still working on me to speak what He gives me and not be concerned about what anybody else thinks. Still, today, should I be in a room filled with pastors, bishops, prophets, etc. I’m still a little inclined to hold my peace, thinking the Lord would surely speak through them before me. But I am learning.
I am still growing. God will stay with us and work with us so we can become ALL that He expects from us.
Even if I intellectually understand God’s love, if I don’t truly love myself, how can I give love back to God? So how do I do it?
Prayer is the first aspect of returning love to God. Prayer is communicating with our Lord. Prayer requires that I spend time with Him. In today’s world we can communicate with others via phone, email, text, etc., but here’s a hint: Father desires personal contact, not long distance, but face to face. Obviously we can’t jump into heaven and say “Hi Dad!”, so Father wants us to sit down in a quiet place and focus on Him. He wants us to share our heart, mind, our soul. He desires us to be honest and open. When we hurt, He will comfort us. Should we be angry (even at Him) He will bring us peace – in our heart and our mind. He also desires for us to acknowledge Him for who He is and what He has done. We appreciate it when others appreciate us. do we think God is any different?
Communication is a two-way street so we also have to listen. Father talks with us through our prayers, reading the bible and talking with other brothers and sisters in the Lord. At times, He even reveals things to us through the world around us – birds, animals, weather, situations. We do have to look and listen.
The prophet Daniel prayed 3 times each day. We do have to find time in our busy schedules. We may start with just a few minutes but don’t be surprised that time will stretch out. We allow His love to work, not only in us, but through us to those whom we encounter. We will see our desire to be with Him growing and He will show us different ways to express our love –writing, singing, a musical instrument, drawing or even just ‘plain’ talking’. We just ask the Holy Ghost to be with us and guide us in whatever we do so we can do it better and come to know that we are pleasing our heavenly Father. (amen?)
We also give back to God through our tithes and offerings. In the Old Testament, God supported His church through tithes and offerings and that continues today. Individual churches can’t survive without support. Like you and me, the church also has bills as well as ministries.
In this world, another way to show our love for God is to love those around us. Jesus tell us that whatever we do to the least in the kingdom (our brothers and sisters in the Lord), we do unto Him. Jesus takes our outreach to others personal as well as what they do for us. In the gospels, Jesus talks about caring for the widows and orphans. Visiting the sick and those who are incarcerated. Notice, He didn’t specify the reason for being in jail. He talked about feeding the hungry and providing clothes for the needy and so much more. Those of us who are found doing these things discover that we please God.
Does this mean we do these things 24/7? If we did, we would quickly burn out. But as Father presents the situation before us, we do that with which is within our capabilities when Father asks. Should I spend myself completely, what have I left to share? God has given us ‘common sense. Use it so all can be blessed.
Remember, the early church brought their tithes and offerings into the apostles who then distributed it to those in need. When we act as a team, people are better served.
So we find that love has four aspects: 1) love God, 2) love ourselves, 3) give back to God and 4) do for others as we are able.
We also discover that our support of the church we attend enables it to continue to bring the Word of God and minister to the congregation and those who need help.
All of this should be done willfully and from our hearts always asking the Holy Ghost for direction and help in whatever we do.
What does love got to do with it? EVERYTHING!