"BELIEVE
21 of 30 - BE LIKE JESUS: LOVE

 by Pastor Martha-Jean Fitch
May 14, 2017
SCRIPTURE: I John 4:7-16

Begin with a children's sermon that is somewhat like the

One listed below called "Show Your Love", found at

http://www.sermons4kids.com/show_love.htm

What are we celebrating today? Mother's Day, of course! Did you give your mother a card or a present for Mother's Day? This Mother's Day card says, "Mom, I love you!" Do you think your mother likes to hear you tell her that you love her? Of course, she does! But do you know what your mother would like even more? She would like for you to show her that you love her.

What are some ways you can show your mother that you love her? Well, you might help out around the house. You could clean your room or empty the trash. You could show her that you love her by obeying her when she tells you to do something. You can show her you love her by getting along with your brothers and sisters. It is easy to tell your mom that you love her, but if you really love her, your actions will show it!

Do you think that God likes to hear us tell Him that we love Him? I know He does. But He likes it even better when our actions show Him that we love Him. How do we do that? The Bible tells us that, "God showed his love for us by sending His one and only Son so that we might live through him." It goes on to say that, "since God loved us so much, we ought to love one another." One of the best ways to show our love for God is to love one another. Yes, God likes to hear us say, "I love you," but He would rather see us say, "I love you."

As we celebrate Mother's Day, let's tell Mom that we love her, but more important, let's remember to show her that we love her. And as we worship today, let's tell God we love him, but more important, let's remember to show him we love him by loving one another.

Dear Lord, we have come to your house today to say, "I love you." Help us to go out of here today and show you that we love you by our actions. Amen.

As you go back to your seats, I want to make sure each of you have gotten a Children's bulletin. On the cover, you can make a special card for your Mom. Fill that out, saying what you love about your mother - and then do the other puzzles that talk about our text for today's sermon.

And now - as the children return to their seats, I invite you all to get your Bibles out and we'll look at our first text together. Galatians 5:22-23. Galatians is found somewhat near the middle of the New Testament, right before Ephesians.

I'll give you some time to look that up and let you know that we are continuing our series called Believe…learning to think and act and be like Jesus. For 10 weeks in the fall, we learned how to THINK like Jesus as looked at 10 core beliefs of our faith. Then throughout the winter and early into the Spring, we learned how we should ACT like Jesus - by looking at ten spiritual disciplines we need to have in our life to grow in our faith. Today, we turn to who we are becoming - how we can BE more like Jesus through Christ-like virtues. Throughout the next 10 weeks - we will be looking at those virtues known as the fruits of the Spirit. When we become a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes in to live within us. And as we live by the Holy Spirit's power and leading, our lives will reflect His work in our lives - resulting in what is called the fruits of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 describes the fruit of the Spirit as: 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!"

Love is the first fruit listed in Galatians 5:22. And truly love is what binds everything together - and is the very foundation of our faith. In fact, it has been said that love is the ultimate fruit - the essential virtue - the most important expression of being like Jesus. In order to BE like Jesus - we need to make the commitment to love God and others!

The dictionary tells us that love is "an intense feeling of deep affection." And that is really what our culture tells us - love is an emotion… and that love is conditional. If someone makes me feel good and happy and you feel good being around them - then, you love them. But if someone has wronged you or made you feel bad or angry - of if you just can't stand being around that person and would rather just ignore them, then you really don't love them. The world's view of love is all about feelings. It's conditional - it all depends on how you feel at the time.

But the Bible's definition of love is so much different than the world's definition. In our second text for today from I John, we read John's three word definition for love: "God is love". In Greek, the word for love here is agape. You could say, "God is agape." But what is agape? Agape is sacrificial, unconditional and undeserved love. God chooses to love us because He can do nothing other than what He is. This kind of love was seen so clearly by Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. We hear that because God so LOVED the world that He gave us His one and only Son, Jesus. While we were still sinners - Jesus came and died for us! We are so undeserving - and yet God lavishes His love on us. We did nothing to deserve this love - and there is nothing that can take away God's love for us. God is crazy about us! He loves us with an unconditional - sacrificial - and never-ending love! And what is amazing is that you and I cannot do anything that will cause God to love us more - we don't have to try to earn His love. And we can't do anything that will cause Him to love us less. He chooses to love us because He can do nothing other than what He is. God is love.

That's the way John describes this agape love of God in our second text for today from I John 4:7-16. John says this:

7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love-not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God.16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

Because God loves us SO MUCH - with an agape kind of love - we are called to love one another, with an agape kind of love. We love because HE FIRST LOVED US.

But this kind of agape love does not come naturally to us. In fact, sometimes it seems nearly impossible. Because of sin, we really are incapable of producing such a love. If we are to love as God loves - that love can only come from the Source of love - the work of the Holy Spirit within us. As it says in Romans 5:5 - "For God has poured out His love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to us." The more we open ourselves up to His work in our lives - the more we will be able to show love - to even the most difficult person, including our enemies - all because we are depending on Him to love that person through us. And the watching world will be so amazed - because the love we show will be so different than what the world shows. Truly, they will know we are Christians by our love.

I am particularly amazed by verse 12 of our text: "No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us." It is very true - no one has seen God. In fact, that is often what atheists will use as an excuse to NOT believe in God - because He is invisible to us, right here on earth right now. But they can see you and me! And if God dwells in you, then could it be possible that others can see God? Think about that - we as Christians have the ability and the responsibility to help others see the invisible God!! By the way we live our lives - by the way we listen and show compassion and forgiveness - by the way we treat the least among us AND even our enemies - we are helping a hurting and doubting world to see the invisible God! But the converse is also true. The way we talk and react and treat those around us - the unlovable and undeserving; the way we hold onto grudges, living with bitterness or anger or a critical and judgmental spirit; when WE don't love - we are hiding God from a watching world.

You know it is one thing to say you love Jesus but it seems like the real proof in the pudding is if people can SEE that you love Jesus through the way you show love to others.

So, ask yourself - what are people learning about God when they see you? How are you reflecting God? Does your life show that the love of God is alive and well in you? Could you be mistaken for Jesus?

A few years ago, as the story goes, a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases on of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table that held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding.

All but one. He paused, took a deep breath, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned. He told his buddies to go on without him, waved goodbye, and asked one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain he was taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor. He was glad he did.

The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket. When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?" She nodded through her tears.

He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly." As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister..." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, "Are you Jesus?" He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?"

Do people mistake you for Jesus? Isn't that what a Christian's goal should be? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace. If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.

You and I are the apples of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall...a fall into sin. And He stopped what He was doing and picked you and me up on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit. We need to live like we are worth the price He paid.

http://www.sermonillustrationlibrary.org/illustration

Once there was a magic ring that had magic powers. Whoever wore the ring would be given the gifts of love and grace, kindness and generosity. The person who owned the ring was an old man with three sons. As the old man lay dying, each of his three sons came separately and asked him for the ring. The old man promised the ring to each of them.

He then sent for the finest jeweler in the land, and paid him to make two rings identical to the original. The jeweler did so, and before the old man died, he gave each son a ring without telling him about the other two.

Eventually, the three sons discovered that each one had a ring. But who had the magic ring? They decided to appear before a local judge to ask his help in deciding who had the magic ring. The judge looked at the rings and found that they were all exactly alike. The judge then said: "Why must anyone decide now? We shall know who has the magic ring when we see how you act. We will know who has the magic ring when we see what direction your life takes.

And so, for the rest of their lives, the three brothers all acted as if they each had the magic ring. Each brother was kind and honest and generous and loving.

Their father had died and had given them the gift of new loving lives through those magic rings. Our Savior, Jesus the Christ also died for each one of us. And in His death, He gave us the gift of new life as well. The question still remains - whose lives have been changed by that gift? Can people tell you are a Christian by your love?

PRAYER

INVITATION

Jesus stands here today and asks: First Christian Church, do you love me? What's your answer? Do you truly love Him with all your heart and soul and strength and mind? Are you showing others that love?

Each and every Sunday, you are invited to come forward and declare your love for our Lord….to confess your faith and become a part of this church family. You're also invited to rededicate your life - to renew your commitment to live as a disciple of Jesus.

Jesus is calling - He's calling you today and asking, "Do you love me?" What will be your answer?

.