INTRODUCTION: We conclude today our series on the Seven Realities of Experiencing God and the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus. We have been asking “Where Do We Go from Here?” God develops our relationship with him, assures us of his love, and invites us to work with him to accomplish his purposes. God’s invitation creates a crisis of belief. Are we going to join him? What we do in response to God’s invitation reveals what we truly believe about God. The good news is that when we accept God’s invitation and join him in his work, we experience God in a personal and powerful way. I come to know God by experience when I obey him and he accomplishes his work through me. Jesus asked the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the gift of the Holy Spirit. He promised them that they would receive power and be his witnesses. The disciples obeyed and experienced God like never before.
GOD IS LOVE. HIS WILL IS ALWAYS BEST (2:1-4).
*You are to focus on your love relationship with God. Be faithful to what God has told you to do already.
Jesus told his disciples: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4).
The disciples obeyed and waited in the Upper Room: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting”(2:1-2).
*God will give you the assignment he has for you when you are ready. “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them” (2:3-4).
Obedience is the outward expression of your love to God.
GOD IS ALL-KNOWING. HIS DIRECTIONS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT (2:5-12).
*God sent the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost when thousands of pilgrims had come to Jerusalem to worship. “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven” (2:5).
*When you follow God’s directives, he can do more in a short time than you could ever do in a lifetime. “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?’... Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’” (2:6-12).
God’s way is the right way because he knows the future.
GOD IS ALL-POWERFUL. HE CAN ENABLE YOU TO DO HIS WILL (2:14-21; 32-41).
*God empowers you to complete the work he has called you to do. Peter had betrayed Jesus but Jesus led Peter to repent and gave him a new mission (John 21). Filled with the Spirit, Peter stands up and preaches boldly to thousands. “Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem…this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (2:14-21).
*God calls and equips you. He gives you the power and gifts to accomplish his will. Peter preached: “’God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it…He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear…Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah’ (2:32-36).
*When the people saw God at work among them through the obedient disciples they were drawn to Christ and were saved and baptized. “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’…Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (2:37-41).
Affirmation comes after obedience. You experience God when you obey him and he accomplishes his work through you.
INTRODUCTION: We are examining the Seven Realities of Experiencing God and the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus in our series “Where Do We Go from Here?” When we are in right relationship with God and sensitive to his leadership, then we will be ready to do what he invites us to do. God speaks in a variety of ways to get our attention and invites us to join him in his work. God develops our relationship with him, assures us of his love, and invites us to work with him to accomplish his purposes. God’s invitation creates a crisis of belief. Are we going to join him? Are we going to follow him? Are we going to accept his invitation? What we do in response to God’s invitation reveals what we truly believe about God.
ONE RESPONSE TO GOD IS TO DENY, DOUBT OR DECLINE.
*God’s invitation for you to work with him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action. Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go…Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:16-20).
*Encounters with God are God-sized and require faith and action. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
*When we refuse God’s invitation to join him, we miss experiencing God and seeing him accomplish his work in the world. Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted (Matthew 28:16-17).
What we do in response to God’s invitation reveals what we truly believe about God. True faith requires action.
THE BEST RESPONSE IS TO ADJUST AND BELIEVE GOD.
*You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what he is doing. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave manyconvincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…” (Acts1:3-5).
*You may need to make adjustments in one or more areas of your life:
Beliefs (about God, his purposes, his ways, your relationship, etc.)
*You cannot stay where you are and go with God at the same time. Obedience is costly and requires dependence on God. Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:6-8).
The One who calls me is also the One who enables me to do his will.
Parkview Baptist Church is facing a crisis of belief. We are going to have to make major adjustments in the days ahead.
We will need to make some decisions that require great faith and dependence on God. Are you ready?
INTRODUCTION: We are examining the Seven Realities of Experiencing God and the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus in our new series “Where Do We Go from Here?” When we are in right relationship with God and sensitive to his leadership, then we will be ready to do what he invites us to do. God speaks in a variety of ways to get our attention and invites us to join him in his work. The reward of relationship is the lasting bond and trust that develops between people over time. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 131:1). People in a good and trusting relationship can accomplish great things together. God wants that kind of relationship with each one of us. God develops our relationship with him, assures us of his love, and invites us to work with him to accomplish his purposes. Peter experienced this when Jesus appeared on the shore of Galilee and restored their relationship. Defeated Peter became dynamic Peter as a result.
THE GRACE FACTOR IN RELATIONSHIPS.
*Relationships are built on grace: I accept you just as you are. “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs’” (John 21:15).
*God’s favor comes through Jesus. Jesus continually brings God’s acceptance to us no matter what we have done. “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11).
*Grace can only be received as a gift. It is never earned. God invites you to join him in his work even though he knows you are not perfect. “For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9 GNT).
God restores us to a right relationship by his grace throughJesus.
THE LOVE FACTOR IN RELATIONSHIPS.
*Relationships thrive on love: I want the very best for you. “Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep’” (John 21:16-17).
*God’s unconditional love comes through Jesus. “But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8 GNT).
*Love works through the problems in a relationship and reaffirms the commitment to the other person. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. “For I am certain that…there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 GNT).
God loves us. God values us. God wants the very best for us.
THE HOPE FACTOR IN RELATIONSHIPS.
*Relationships grow through shared purpose: I want to go forward with you. “Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep...Follow me!’” (John 21:17-19)
*God’s purposes come through Jesus. God wants us to be on mission with him in this world. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples in the upper room and said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
*In general, God has given every disciple of Jesus the Great Commission. More specifically, as we develop our relationship with God through his Son Jesus, he invites us to join him in what he is doing around us. “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” (Matt. 28:18-20).
God provides meaning and purpose and hope through his Son Jesus.
INTRODUCTION: We are examining the Seven Realities of Experiencing God and the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus in our new series “Where Do We Go from Here?” We have discovered that God is always at work around us. We need to look and listen. But what do we do in the meantime? We need to work on our relationship with God. When we are in right relationship with God and sensitive to his leadership, then we will be ready to do what he invites us to do. God invites us to join him in his work. God speaks in a variety of ways to get our attention and invite us to join him in his work. How does God speak to us?
GOD SPEAKS AND GETS OUR ATTENTION.
*As I develop my love relationship with God, God will open my eyes to see where I can join him. Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does” (John 5:19-20).
*Four important factors when God speaks (from Henry Blackaby):
It is unique to the individual: Moses and the burning bush.
The person is sure God is speaking: What is your name? “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3:14)
The person is clear about what God says: “Set my people free.”
When God speaks and reveals truth, that is an encounter with God.
*Jesus revealed himself to the disciples through their normal work of fishing. Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee…“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”“No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” (John 19:1-7).
When God speaks and gets our attention, he is inviting us to join him.
GOD SPEAKS BY THE HOLY SPIRIT IN DIFFERENT WAYS.
*The Holy Spirit leads us to understand spiritual truth and reveals to us God’s purposes and ways. Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you” (John 16:13-14).
*The Holy Spirit speaks to us through:
The Bible (1 Corinthians 2:14-15).
Prayer (Romans 8:26-27).
Circumstances (Romans 8:28).
The Church (1 Corinthians 12:27).
*The disciples encountered Jesus in their circumstances through an act that only God could do. “Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead” (John 21:7-14).
God speaks to us by the Holy Spirit to reveal himself, his purposes and his ways. When God speaks, it is an invitation to join him.
How is your relationship with the Father? Are you sensitive to what God is doing around you? What is he saying to you? What is he saying to our church?
INTRODUCTION: Where do we go from here? That must have been what the disciples were asking as they huddled together in an upper room after the death of Jesus. But Jesus arose from the grave bringing a completely new reality. Jesus showed his disciples the way through the new reality in his post-resurrection appearances. We are examining the Seven Realities of Experiencing God and the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus in our new series “Where Do We Go from Here?” Last week we discovered that God is always at work around us. We need to look and listen. But what do we do in the meantime? We need to work on our relationship with God. God is not necessarily looking for those who are able. He is looking for those who are available and willing to follow him.
GOD PURSUES AN ON-GOINGLOVE RELATIONSHIP WITH US.
*Jesus appeared to the disciples at their most vulnerable and critical time.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19).
God loves us and cares for us. He wants a genuineconnection with us.
DEVELOP A REAL AND PERSONALCLOSENESS WITH GOD:
BRING YOUR FEARS TO HIM.
The disciples were afraid. On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders (John 20:19).
Jesus calms our fears and brings us peace and joy.Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20).
Jesus renews our purpose for living. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (20:21).
Jesus gives us the power to carry out his mission. And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:22).
You develop your relationship with Jesus when you trust him with your fears and worries.
BRING YOUR DOUBTS TO HIM.
Thomas stubbornly doubted Jesus’ resurrection and demanded proof. Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (20:24-25).
Jesus confronted Thomas’ doubt and disbelief. A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:26-27).
Jesus encouraged Thomas’ faith and sparked his loyalty. Jesus said, “Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed (John 20:27-29).
Jesus continues to bless all who put their faith and trust in him. Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
When fear and doubt trouble you, go to Jesus. Focus on your relationship with him. Jesus will calm your fears and bolster your confidence.
Where do we go from here? Look around. Listen. Work on your relationship with God. We can discover the way as we follow Jesus step by step.
INTRODUCTION: Where do we go from here? That must have been what the disciples were asking as they huddled together in an upper room after the death of Jesus. We ask the same question when we go through major changes in our lives, our circumstances, our relationships, and our health. Where do we go from here? We ask it when we are at a crossroad, a new situation. We need to know which way to go. We are at a crossroads at Parkview Baptist Church. We have lost a staff member. We have a new reality and we need to know the next step for our church. Henry Blackaby in his book Experiencing God reminds us that Jesus is the Way. Jesus arose from the grave – a completely new reality. Jesus showed his disciples the way through the new reality in his post-resurrection appearances. Let’s examine the Seven Realities of Experiencing God and the post-resurrection experiences of Jesus as we begin the new series “Where Do We Go from Here?” We can discover the way as we follow Jesus step by step.
GOD IS ALWAYS AT WORK AROUND US.
*Mary Magdelene and the gardener. “Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus” (John 20:11-14).
*Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus. “Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast.” (Luke 24:13-17).
*They were so focused on their own situation and circumstances that they missed Jesus.
*Application: Parkview has a history of being on the cutting edge, of seeing where God is at work.
LOOK AROUND, SEE WHERE GOD IS AT WORK, AND JOIN HIM.
*Jesus spoke to Mary by name and she realized his presence: Listen. “[Jesus] asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means “Teacher”)” (John 20:15-16).
*Jesus broke bread with Cleopas and his friend and their eyes were opened:Look and see.
“As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:28-32).
*Application: Parkview’s DNA is to be sensitive and obedient to God’s leading. We need to continue that legacy.
God is at work around us right now. Are you listening? Are you looking? Or are you focused on your own grief? Your own opinions? Your own demands?
Let’s aim to listen and look around to see where God is at work and where Jesus is leading us.
INTRODUCTION: We have spent the last several weeks in our series 40 Days of Love based on the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be your highest goal!”
(1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). Love should be our greatest priority in life. Love is more than slogans and warm feelings. It’s more than inspiration or romantic intimacy. Love is basic to who we are and how we live in this world. We need loving relationships. We were made for loving relationships. Love starts here. There is a reason for that. Love begins with God.
GOD LOVES US.
*God designed us for loving relationships.
--Creation was perfectly designed for our enjoyment. – “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
--God wanted a personal and eternal relationship with us. “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness’”
WE DENY GOD’S LOVE.
*We were made for loving relationships but instead we have brokenness in our connections
to God, others and nature.
--The original break with God – Adam and Eve (Genesis 3).
--We continue to choose our way over God’s way.
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
--We seek answers, purpose, meaning, and life but we only find brokenness and temporary satisfaction and eventually death.
“There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak” (Proverbs 14:12 Message).
“The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).
The Good News is that God still loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. How do we know that?
JESUS CONFIRMS GOD’S LOVE.
*The GoodNews is that Jesus restores us to our loving God.
--Jesus took care of our sin problem, conquered death, and has the power to give us eternal life.
“It is this Good News that saves you…Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said” (1Corinthians 15:2-4 NLT).
“The Good News is about his Son... and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 1:3-4 NLT).
--God proves his love for us by sending Jesus. “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NRSV).
--God repaired our broken relationship with him through Jesus. “He loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God” (1 John 4:10 Message).
--Jesus gives us peace with God and the abundant and eternal life God intended for us from the beginning. “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” (John 3:16).
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (Romans 5:1 NLT).
INTRODUCTION: Today we finish our series 40 Days of Love* based on the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). We have learned that patience, kindness and truth are basic marks of love. True love forgives and is not selfish. In order to practice love, we need to cultivate some habits of a loving heart. Paul wrote, “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7). These qualities reflect God’s love for us: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). How do I develop and maintain a loving heart?
DEVELOP HABITS THAT REFRESH ME PHYSICALLY.
Three physical habits of a loving heart:
Rest – “It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night…God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest” (Psalm 127:2 TLB).
Balanceddiet – “You made my body, Lord; now give me sense to heed your laws” (Psalm 119:73 TLB).
Regularexercise – “Honor God with your body”
(1 Corinthians 6:20 NLT).
DEVELOP HABITS THAT RECHARGE ME EMOTIONALLY.
Three emotional habits of a loving heart:
Solitude – “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he [Jesus] said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).
Recreation – “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’” (Luke 7:34).
Laughter – “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is slow death to be gloomy all the time” (Proverbs 17:22 GNT).
DEVELOP HABITS THAT RENEW ME SPIRITUALLY.
Three spiritual habits of a loving heart:
Dailyquiet time – “For this reason we never become discouraged. Even though our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 GNT).
Small group – “Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it's just too bad, because there is no one to help him. (Ecclesiastes 4:9 GNT).
Worship – Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30 The Message).
Which habit of a loving heart do you need to work on the most – physical, emotional, or spiritual?
Remember: The quality of your relationship with God determines the quality of every other relationship you have. The habits of a loving heart begin with a personal connection with Jesus Christ. Have you opened your life to Jesus and begun to keep company with him?
INTRODUCTION: Today we continue the series 40 Days of Love* based on the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). We have learned that patience, kindness and truth are basic marks of love. Another key mark of love is forgiveness. All of these traits rest upon the key idea that “Love isn’t selfish” (1 Corinthians 13:5 CEV). A selfish person is not concerned about being patient or kind or forgiving. A self-centered person does not really care about truth. We are a “self” conscious society. “They all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain” (Isaiah 56:11). You cannot be selfish and loving at the same time. “Selfishness only causes trouble” (Proverbs 28:25 TEV).True love is not selfish.
ANTIDOTES TO SELFISHNESS
*Build strongrelationships. “You are members of God’s very own family… and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian” (Ephesians 2:19).
“Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer” (Hebrews 10:25 GNT).
*Give yourselfaway. “It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others” (Ephesians 2:10 TLB).
Jesus said, “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live” (Mark 8:35 TLB).
*Practice self-denial.“Look out for one another's interests, not just for your own. The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had” (Philippians 2:4-5 GNT).
Jesus: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Who will you build a relationship with this week? How will you give yourself away this week helping others? How will you deny yourself this week and follow Jesus?
INTRODUCTION: Today we continue the series 40 Days of Love* based on the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). We have learned that patience, kindness and truth are basic marks of love. Another key mark of love is forgiveness: “Love… doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do” (1 Corinthians 13:5 CEV). Love is forgiving. The ultimate test of love is how you respond when somebody hurts you. Take this forgiveness quiz by answering True or False to each statement:
______ A person should not be forgiven until they ask for it.
______ Forgiveness includes minimizing the offense and the pain that was
______ Forgiveness includes restoring trust and reuniting a relationship.
______You haven’t really forgiven others until you have forgotten the
How did you do? Here is the answer to each True/False statement. (all answers are false)
A TEST OF LOVE
*Forgiveness is not minimizing the seriousness of the offense. Being wounded and being wronged are two different things:
Being wounded is accidental.
Being wronged is intentional.
*Forgiveness is not resuming a relationship without changes.
Forgiveness is instant, but trust must be built over a long period of time.
Forgiveness takes care of the damage done by “letting the person off the hook,” but does not guarantee the relationship will be restored.
*To restore a relationship, the offender must:
Demonstrate genuine repentance.
Make restitution wherever possible.
Prove they have changed over time.
If a person repeatedly wrongs you, you are obligated by God to forgive that person. But you are not obligated to trust that person. You are not obligated to let them continue to hurt you. You are not obligated to instantly restore the relationship.
THREE STEPS OF FORGIVENESS
*First Step: I relinquish my right to get even.
“Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it” (Romans 12:19 TLB).
Three reasons to forgive others:
God has forgiven you.
Bitterness makes you miserable.
You are going to need more forgiveness in the future.
The Lord’s Prayer says: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 NKJV).
*Second Step: I respond to evil with good.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28).
*Third Step: I repeat the process as long as is necessary.
“Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, ‘but seventy times seven!’” (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT).
Don’t try to forgive on your own power. Recognize and accept God’s forgiveness of you. Then ask for his strength and power to go through you to forgive others.
*Material based on the series by Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in California and the author of "The Purpose Driven Life."