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Loving God Who is Love.

Key Scripture:

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (KJV)   Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

SUMMARY

God is not love deficit. The Trinity is filled with love. God is love and He expects only love from us. This sermon on loving God helps us understand the very same idea. To love God is the very purpose of our existence.

SERMON POINTS

 Who is a Typical Lover of God?

Mark 10:27,28 (KJV) And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.  And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

 We must love God that is the most important reason why we were created. What do you think of someone who loves the Lord? We tend to think that those who love the Lord are those who pray well, are always serious and religious. But the Bible tells us that those who love God obey His commands. Their lives itself become the very picture of love. A love so distinguished that it surpasses the natural barriers of traditions, culture and other differences.

How do you evaluate a person who loves God?

Mark 10:37 (KJV)    And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

 The greatest commandment in the Bible is loving the Lord your God. Loving God is also complimented by loving others as yourself. The criteria for evaluating a person who loves God is this if you love God , you will love your neighbour. Jesus explained loving one’s neighbour through the parable of the Good Samaritan. God sees how we show love towards others, through our actions, by reaching out to those who are suffering around us in our workplace, neighbourhoods and churches. The good Samaritan broke all customs and cultural barriers when he went an extra mile on his journey to help the wounded traveller, by doing all that he needed. This is the evaluation of loving God.

 

How do we get this love for God?

 God must fill the first place in our lives. It should be our first priority in life to love the Lord. If your life seems to be mundane and monotonous then it points to the fact that you are missing love in your life. Try to start showing love, starting caring for people, visiting them in their time of need and praying for them. Then life starts to have meaning and this becomes the foundation for every decision we take. We can cultivate this love for the Lord in the following ways.

 

  1. By keeping His commandments.

 John 14:21 (KJV) He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

The Law was given through Moses and this Law showed us the love of God. In the New Testament, God revealed His love in a new way when He gave His only son to die on the cross for our sins. This love is called the Agape love.

God’s love comes into us when we hear and keep his commandments. Today we need to evaluate our response to God’s word.

John 14:23 (KJV) Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

 Jesus Christ has taught us to keep His word. Those who keep the word of God are loved by the Father in Heaven and He makes His dwelling in their hearts. Thus we become storehouses of the Father’s love. We cannot love God with our sinful body, but giving importance to God’s word, memorizing it , reading and meditating on God’s words fills us with love anew for the Lord and others.

  

  1. By faith in Christ Jesus.

 Ephesians 3:15-17 (KJV)   Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

 In the Bible we can see only those who had faith, received their miracles. Faith in Jesus Christ sets you apart. Faith in the Lord causes Christ lives in us. If you have faith it will be seen in your works.

This faith helps you to be rooted in the love of Christ. A love that surpasses all knowledge. This is how we are filled with the fullness of God and we start to experience the power, anointing and healing of God in your worship and prayer.

This is the height, depth and width of Christ’s love. These are the same dimensions of love that you start spreading with all the saints and we can have a strong fellowship with the people of God.

 

  1. By the sufferings that we go through.

 Romans 5:2-5 (KJV)  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

 Love starts with sufferings. That may sound like a strange statement, however it is the very truth which takes us to love. We can boast in our suffering and persecutions as this suffering maybe the end for a worldly person but for a christian it works patience.

Without suffering our hearts are as hard as stones. Today, if you are suffering in your body, soul and spirit that’s when the Holy Spirit is poured out on us filling us with the love of Christ

 

What kind of love will fill you?

God loved us with “agape” love. Agape is the highest form of love and He expects us to love with that standard.1 Corinthians 13 is a description of Agape. When His love fills us we would love:-

  1. Love for  Neighbours.

 Mark 12:31 (KJV)  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

When we love God with the love He loved us , we would love our neighbour too.Our neighbour is anyone who is suffering, who is living in hopeless situations.

  1. Love for your enemies.

 Matthew 5:44,45 (KJV)  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

  1. Love for one another.

 John 13:34 (KJV)  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

  

CONCLUSION.

1 John 4:20,21 says If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” The first four commandments given by God through Moses speaks about our love towards God. The rest are based on our love towards others. Without loving God we cannot love those around us. The word AGAPE– meaning unconditional love is found 320 times in the New Testament alone. Let everything we do be bound in love.

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Apostolic Prayer for a Model Church.

Key Scripture:

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (KJV)  Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

SUMMARY

Apostle Paul is the most important person after our Lord Jesus in our Christian faith. In his first letter to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul gives us a glimpse into the early church, as to what was happening. What would have St Paul prayed if he was invited to our church and we gave him the pulpit? This sermon helps us understand the prayer which Paul made for the Thessalonians, which is the outline of his letter itself.

SERMON POINTS

Background of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.

 1 Thessalonians 3:6 (KJV)   But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:

Thessalonica was a big city in Greece. Apostle Paul started a church here but because of some opposition, he was driven out of the city and was never to return. (Acts 17:1-9)

Though Paul tried real hard to go back to visit the Church at Thessalonica, he wasn’t able to do so. With lack of proper means of communication, the only way Paul could know about what’s going on with the Church he started, is by physically sending Timothy there to find out the welfare of those who were part of the church.

Paul had a special relationship with this church. In 1 Thessalonians 2:7,11, Paul says that he was as mother and father to them and this made him more anxious to go see them and hear from them.

Therefore, Paul writes this letter to the Church from Corinth, after Timothy comes to him with news from the believers at Thessalonica. (1 Thessalonians 3:2,6).

St. Paul’s Apostolic Prayer for the Church.

 1 Thessalonians 1:7 (KJV)   So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

St. Paul calls this church a ‘Model Church’ for all the other churches to follow. (1 Thessalonians 1:7). Being the exemplary church they were, Apostle Paul makes a prayer which echos God’s desire for each one of us. This three-point staple prayer becomes the place of spiritual growth for every believer.

Apostle Paul prays that we may-

  • Grow in Purity-living a blameless and holy life.
  • Be prepared for the Coming of the Lord- living in the light.
  • Grow in love-pursuing love and generosity towards all.
  1. Grow in Purity-living a blameless and holy life.

 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 (KJV)  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. 

Apostle Paul gives an explanation for his prayer for the Thessalonians in chapters 4 and 5 of the letter. We are all broken people, chronically sick with sin and only the Holy Spirit whom God gives can help us live a holy life.

God wants us to have an intention, a passion for purity, especially in our sexual lives. Jesus Christ in His sermon on the mount, said,

Matthew 5:8 (KJV)   Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

We see and hear these days of people being exploited sexually by those above them . The superiors take advantage of the position they have and violate the sexual integrity one should have. It was not different in the times of the Thessalonians too. Sexual misconduct was prevalent and St Paul tried to address this in this letter. We know David, the Man after God’s own heart also fell in this trap as he killed Uriah and took Bathsheba to be his wife. That incident invariably started the downfall of David. God desires that we be pure and holy –especially in our sexual conduct.

God’s ultimate purpose for giving us the Holy Spirit is to enable us to live a pure life and control our passions. Let us seek the help of the Holy Spirit to be passionate for purity.

 

  1. Be prepared for the Coming of the Lord- living in the light.

 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV)   But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

 The second thing that Paul prays for the believers is that they will be prepared for the Coming of the Lord. The Early Church believed in the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. However they had some questions regarding when He would come. Apostle Paul states the following in his explanation

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (KJV)   But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Our curiosity with regard to the exact time of Jesus’ Second Coming takes the better of us. This proves to not only be a distraction and waste of time, but it has also been false thus far. Nobody should try and speculate the time of the Lord’s coming because the Lord Jesus Himself said that no one knows the time. However we ought to be prepared anytime for His coming.

The real question is no matter when the Lord would return, are we prepared to be taken up with Him, when He does come? Apostle Paul calls us to live in the light and not in darkness.

HOW DOES ONE LIVE IN THE LIGHT?

1 John 1:7 (KJV)   But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

We can be prepared for the coming of the Lord Jesus by keeping our focus on living in the light. We live in the light, when we have fellowship with one another; wherein we share our struggles and confess our sins to one another. Living alone and keeping to ourselves, as a Christian means that we are living in the dark. Since there is a greater chance of dying before the Coming of the Lord, let us stop being distracted in speculating the time Jesus Christ is coming back and focus on living in the light, by being connected with others.

 

  1. Grow in love-pursuing love and generosity towards all.

 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 (KJV)   But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

Most of Paul’s prayer for the Churches always include that they grow in love. (Phil 1:9) He makes a special connection to growing in love and how one works.

The believers are urged to lead a quiet life, without unnecessary conflict with one other. He also encourages them to put their minds to their career and work diligently with their hands, so that they may earn the respect of outsiders.

 

3 THINGS HAPPEN WHEN WE WORK HARD AT WHAT WE DO:

  • By working hard,we earn the respect of non- believers.

 Sometimes, even today, at our areas of work, we tend to get lazy and procrastinate our duties. In doing so, we give an impression of being irresponsible. This destroys our testimony in the workplace and an oppurtunity to witness the gospel there is lost. Let’s become diligent and disciplined and excel in the places where God has placed us.

  • We stop becoming dependant or burdensome to others.

There were some people who were found to be idle in the church of Thessalonica. Apostle Paul asks them to get to work and not become burdensome to those around, especially when they are physically and mentally able to work. In this way, we can make sure that we don’t profane the name of the Lord by being lazy and dependant on others.

  • We will have enough to share with those in need.

Ephesians 4:28 (KJV)    Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Apostle Paul while writing to believers, asks them to not steal! Instead, he says labour hard so that you can give to those who are in need. Apart from Tithing, we need to grow in generosity towards those in need. Generosity is the way we grow in love. Tithing should be just a start of our life of giving.

 

THE MACEDONIAN SECRET:

 2 Corinthians 8:2 (KJV)  How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

This unbelievable passage indicates how the Macedonian believers even in their affliction and deep poverty, abounded in liberality and abundance of joy. They had learnt this secret of generosity, which is the reason why they were liberal in their giving even in their suffering.

 

CONCLUSION.

 

This prayer of Apostle Paul for the Thessalonians is also the desire God has for His children today.

He wants us to be holy and blameless, pursue purity. The Lord wants us to walk in the light like He does by being in fellowship with other believers, thereby getting ready for His coming. Last but definitly not the least, the Lord wants us to love without calculating, love even those who don’t deserve it.

Let us make it a point to live out what St Paul prayed for the Church at Thessalonica.