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."
INTRODUCTION: Today we continue the series called 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). Last week we learned that patience and kindness are two basic hallmarks of love. Another basic mark of love is truth. “Love…rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). Most people misunderstand the phrase “keeping the peace,” and think it means avoiding confrontation. But repressing the truth rather than dealing with the truth causes trouble. “Someone who holds back the truth causes trouble, but one who openly criticizes works for peace” (Proverbs 10:10 GNT). Love speaks the truth. “We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ” (Ephesians 4:15 NLT). How do we go about speaking the truth in the spirit of love?
HOW TO SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE
*Check your motives. What is the right motive? To help, not to hurt. “Perhaps you think we’re saying these things just to defend ourselves. No, we tell you this as Christ’s servants, and with God as our witness. Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you” (2 Cor. 12:19 NLT).
To go from shallow to intimate relationships, you need to go through the “tunnel of truth” where you deal with issues you really don’t want to deal with.
*Plan your presentation. “Intelligent people think before they speak; what they say is then more persuasive” (Proverbs 16:23 GNT).
Keys to presenting the truth in love:
Plan when you are going to say it.
>Don’t say it when the person is tired, under pressure, in a hurry.
>Do say it when…
--It is the best timing for the person
--The person is rested and ready to hear it
--You both are at your best
--You have privacy
Plan what you are going to say. “The right word at the right
time is like precious gold set in silver” (Proverbs 25:11 CEV).
>Introduction: How you introduce a touchy subject will determine whether it’s going to be received well or rejected.
#Don’t start with sarcasm or anger.
#Do start with humility and gentleness.
>Illustrations: Help the person to picture what you want to say.
#Do choose illustrations the person understands.
#Don’t just choose illustrations you like.
Plan how you are going to say it. “Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal” (Proverbs 12:18 GNT).
--Thoughtlessly, or it will hurt the person.
--Offensively, or it will be received defensively.
--Lower your voice.
--Say it in a gentle and humble way.
*Give them affirmation.“Anxious hearts are very heavy, but a word of encouragement does wonders!” (Proverbs 12:25 TLB).
You deeply love and care for the person.
You will pray for them and help them.
You believe they can change.
The relationship can be better and that you can be even closer as a result of this confrontation.
*Risk their rejection. Apostle Paul risked rejection and it turned out well:
“I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while…You were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God…And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter (2 Corinthians 7:8-9, 12 MSG).
INTRODUCTION: Today we continue a new series called 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). Last week we learned that love needs to be our number one priority in life. Nothing we say or do matters without love. So how do we define love? What does love look like? Paul begins to list several characteristics that define love. Patience and kindness are two basic hallmarks of love. Paul writes, “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4). How do we practice patience and kindness?
THE SECRET TO PATIENCE.
*In order to be a patient person, you must cooperate with God.
God’s part is to provide the circumstances.
Your part is to provide the response.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady” (Romans 5:3-4 TLB).
*Three things will help you respond with patience:
Discover a bigger perspective. A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11).
Deepen your love. When you are filled with love, almost nothing will irritate you. But when you are filled with anger, almost anything will irritate you.
Depend on Jesus’ power. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy (Colossians 1:11 NLT).
THE SECRET TO KINDNESS.
*Kindness is love in action. Let’s consider four lessons from the Good Samaritan:
*FIRST, start seeing the needs of people around you. Kindness begins
with the eyes. “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him” (Luke 10:33 MSG).
Why don’t we see the wounds of the people around us? Busyness. “Look out for the good of others also” (1 Corinthians 10:24 NCV).
RATE YOURSELF: Do I see the needs of others? (SENSITIVITY).
1 No 2 Rarely 3 Sometimes 4 Often 5 Yes
*SECOND, sympathize with people’s pain. “when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity” (Luke 10:33 TEV).
Sympathy begins with the ears. “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
RATE YOURSELF: Do I listen to the needs of others? (SYMPATHY).
1 No 2 Rarely 3 Sometimes 4 Often 5 Yes
*THIRD, seize the moment. “Kneeling beside him the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them” (Luke 10:34 TLB).
The Good Samaritan did what he could with what he had at that particular moment. “Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. Don’t tell your neighbor “Maybe some other time” or “Try me tomorrow” when the money’s right there in your pocket.” (Prov. 3:27 MSG).
To be a kinder person like the Good Samaritan you must be willing to be interrupted. You must be willing to take risks. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18 NASB).
RATE YOURSELF: Do I quickly respond to a need when I see it? (SPONTANEOUS KINDNESS).
1 No 2 Rarely 3 Sometimes 4 Often 5 Yes
*FOUR, spend whatever it takes.
There is always a cost to kindness. “Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here’” (Luke 10:34-35).
Kindness is doing something for somebody without expecting anything in return (Isaiah 58:7-11 NCV). “The Lord is merciful! He is kind and patient, and his love never fails” (Psalm 103:8 CEV).
INTRODUCTION: The most important things in your life are the relationships you have and the love that binds those relationships together. When asked one day “what is the greatest commandment,” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”(Matthew 22:37-39). The Bible can be summarized in one word: relationship. Love God. Love your neighbor. Today we begin a new series called 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 needs to be your number one priority in life. Why?
LOVE IS THE SUPREMEVALUE IN LIFE.
*Love governs our relations with God and with each other. Relationships are built on trust and commitment. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39).
* Relationships – love – are what matters most in life. “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14).
Human love wears out, but God’s love lasts forever.
LOVE IS THE PRIMARYOBJECTIVE OF LIFE.
*First Corinthians 13:1-3 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
*If I don’t live a life of love…
Nothing I say will matter (13:1). Words without love are worthless.
Nothing I know will matter (13:2). Brilliance without love equals zero.
Nothing I believe will matter (13:2). Faith without love does not matter.
Nothing I give will matter (13:3). Giving is not necessarily loving.
Nothing I accomplish will matter (13:3). Relationships are more important than accomplishments.
LOVE IS THE GREATESTPOWER IN LIFE.
*God has shown us how to leave a lasting legacy – fill your life with love.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
*God wants us to live a life of extravagant love and love like Jesus loves.
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that” (Ephesians 5:2 MSG).
Love needs to be your number one priority in life.
*Material based on the series by Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in California and the author of "The Purpose Driven Life."
INTRODUCTION: Why do I need to go to church? What difference does it make? The prophet Habakkuk discovered that we need a fresh word from God in the middle of everyday problems and national crises. Regular worship provides us with new insights into who God is and puts life’s problems into perspective. Habakkuk learned that we may not get all the answers but “the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” (Hab. 2:4). Habakkuk ended his book with a prayer (Hab. 3:1). Chapter 3 has several musical notations (Hab. 3:1, 3, 9, 13), was written to be played on stringed instruments, and was given to the music director for the choir to sing (Hab. 3:19). The prayer is a hymn of worship and praise to God. Habakkuk encouraged his people to worship. Why do I need to go to church? You need frequent celebrations of God.
WORSHIP PROVIDES A PLACE OF PRAYER.
*The prayer of petition asks God for something. In this case the prophet asks God to intervene in the present day like he did in the past. He asks for a fresh manifestation of God’s power and deliverance. He asks for mercy in a time of judgment. A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:1-2).
It is okay to ask God for help. Church is a place to pray.
WORSHIP PROVIDES AFFIRMATION OF GOD’S TRUTH.
*We gain answers to our prayers and new insights into who God is when we enter his presence in worship. God answered Habakkuk’s prayer with a vision of a future intervention by God to deliver his people (Hab. 3:3-15). God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth (Hab. 3:3).
*Worship leads us to change our attitude and will to align with God’s truth and promises. Habakkuk learned submission to God’s will. He accepted God’s verdict and timing. Faith requires patience as well as obedience. I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us (Hab. 3:16).
God reveals himself to us and gives us insights into his purposes when we take time to wait for him in worship.
WORSHIP PROVIDES A SETTING FOR PRAISE & TRUST.
*The worship experience leads to confession of faith, repentance, commitment and renewal. Habakkuk moves from complaint in chapters 1 and 2 to an unconditional trust in God in chapter 3. He is willing to trust in God no matter what the circumstances.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Hab. 3:17-18).
*Joy and strength for living are found in God alone. Worship gives us the opportunity to express our thanks and praise to God for his goodness and blessings. I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights (Hab. 3:18-19).
We can express our thanks to God for his blessings and commit ourselves to his service as we celebrate in worship.