2018-09-02 – 1 Corinthians 13.1-13 – God So Loves

The Gift of Love  1 Corinthians 13
1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Good morning everyone. I am so pleased that you chose to spend the morning with us here today. God bless you all.  Happy Hog Days everyone, lol

This is also Labor Day weekend, and in that we should rejoice knowing that work is good. Work and labor is not a sin, it is a good thing. Let me remind you that God gave Adam all kinds of work to do before Satan brought sin into the world.

Two years, eight months ago, I was blessed and honored to give my first sermon here at First Congregational Church. I found the church bulletin for that first day, it has Pastor Gerry Higdon listed as bringing the message that day, lol. I had no idea of what to expect when I got here, and I was to delighted see the beauty this building and the church family here in Kewanee. Pastor John had asked me to fill in for him for a couple weeks while he was traveling I believe to see family in Wyoming or Colorado. It wasn’t long after that week that I was asked to consider becoming the interim pastor. To my surprise, I clearly remember Ms. Earlene asking me directly after the message if I was looking for a new church home.
I had no idea that that conversation would eventually lead me to becoming the Senior Pastor here at First Congregational. And for that I am eternally thankful.

We have shared a lot of great experiences here together that is for sure. The beautiful Christmas-Eve programs, the many events like VBS, Camp, Easter, Truck-o-Treat, Garage Sales and Church in the Park. We put on a new side door, and worked together on some “Love thy Neighbor” community projects. We knocked on all the neighbors’ doors with the youth and prayed for many of them, and we sang Christmas Carols around the neighborhood as well. But my greatest joy was loving on all the children and watching them grow in stature and love for the Lord and each other; and I know I was loved on by them as well. What a true joy it has been for me to serve this church and the community alongside you all.

My very first sermon here at this church was called God So Loved. Subsequently we went through the whole book of John, then the Parables of Jesus. And now we are halfway through the book of Acts. I have learned so much during this season of my life and I thank you all, especially the leadership here for your great support and encouragement.

So for today’s message, I was inspired by the Holy Spirit to finish up the same way for which we started; the message today is called God So Loves.
I chose this message because everything we did and will be doing going forward should be flavored with this blessed understanding. God So Loves you church, please everyone tell your neighbor “God So Loves you”.

Now please turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 13.1 (pg 175 of the Pew Bibles), which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God.
However let us start today with prayer.  

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter in our Bibles to the Corinthian church. Paul, who was once only filled with hate for Christian believers, now is filled with the Holy Spirit, is giving us this Godly inspired instruction here entitled, The Gift of Love

1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

In these verses, Paul here is spending so much time, with much eloquence, trying to make clear the importance of love in our person and in our actions. You cannot claim to be a true Christian if you don’t have love in your heart and actions.

In the previous chapter 12, Paul had explanation all the different Spiritual Gifts and church duties, and now in this chapter 13, he jumps right into this topic of love. I hope you can see in all this, that although Gifts of the Spirit and Church work is vitally important, love should show itself as the fruit of true Christian character and work. That is the way Jesus operated and we should do likewise.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

There is an old saying accredited to an unknown author, “Love is an amazing thing.. It can make the weakest person strong, and the strongest person weak.” Do you know what I am saying church?

L.O.V.E. If you know anything about Jesus, then you should have witnessed in scripture how it was played out through Christ’s life, Christ’s words and Christ’s deeds. Jesus is God in the flesh, and He demonstrated His love for us in so many amazing ways.
Today we will focus on some key verses that should solidify in our hearts and minds the concept of God So Loves, and hopefully lead us to exercising the same love dynamic to our family and neighbors, through our actions and Deeds.

One of the most memorized love passages in the Bible is written in John 3:16, where Jesus said “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who[so]ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God is the author of Love and He loves us so that He created a solution to our sin through the sacrifice of His one and only Son Jesus. There is no greater Love brothers and sisters.  God So Loves you that He gave His one and only Son. Hallelujah, praise the Lord. We should never take this fact for granted.

 Then again later in John 15:9 (JESUS SAID) “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love.  If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.
I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.”  And then shortly after Jesus said this, He took upon himself all the sin of man, then put himself on the cross to be crucified. He died for you and me.
Oh how much we have been given, brothers and sisters. We should be thankful, and show our thankfulness through our actions for him and for eachother.

 

Then the Apostle John later wrote about what he called Love in Action in 1 John 3:16, where he said, “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need—how can God’s love reside in him? Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.”  You see, our actions are the proof that we are truly Christians.   A great related quote from an unknown author I like is “Preach to the world the Gospel of Christ.. and when necessary use words.” Isn’t that awesome! [I’ll Say again..] That is love in action brothers and sisters.

 

Another piece of scripture you might recall, how Jesus addresses this topic, is when He questioned the Apostle Peter about his love. In John 21:15, it reads:

“When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Feed My lambs,” He told him.
A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.
He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.” “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.

Notice each time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, Jesus tells him then to do something about it. Likewise, if we truly love Jesus, then He wants us to do something about it too. Please don’t be confused, we don’t do things to earn our way into heaven, however, what we do, our good works, proves that we truly do love Jesus and we have His Holy Spirit in our heart. I hope you understand that.

Now there are many different kinds of love. For instance, we LOVE pizza and we LOVE our children and we LOVE our spouse (at least most the time anyways). And there are three specific relationship types of love that are used in our Bible.  Eros, Philos and Agape.

Eros – This is the kind of love portrayed most often in chick-flicks and romantic movies of any kind – based on physical attraction. Eros love is where we start in a long, beautiful relationship. God created man and woman to be physically attracted to each other. But eros love cannot and should not stand on its own.

Philos type love is based on shared interests. You feel the philos kind of love towards a close friend. I think of Mike and Sully on the movie Monsters, Inc. they are pals, or buddies. It could also be described as “brotherly love.” Philos is the kind of love children show to their siblings on a regular basis. Sibling love can be a tricky thing, especially at younger ages. When we were young, my brother Mario and I played with each other all the time. I loved my brother but the minute one of us wanted to go his own way, the love is gone. This is what happens with philos love – shared interests brings people together as friends, but for those closest to us, we will want to grow and mature to love one another with our last kind of love… agape.

Agape – this is the kind of love Jesus was referring to when He said “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” ~John 15:13

Agape love is not based on any circumstances or feelings. It is unconditional love, acted upon on a regular basis, with no expectation of love in return. Love in action. Agape love is how God loves each and everyone of us and it is how He wants us to love one another. This kind of love requires sacrifice, whether it is the laying aside of ones feelings or even a life to show that kind of love. God the Father and His Son, Jesus, are the ultimate example of this Agape love.
God sent His only Son Jesus to die on the cross for you and me. And Jesus Christ willingly endured suffering and death because of His Greatest Agape love for us. That is true Agape love brothers and sisters. And for that I am thankful. For that I now Agape love Jesus, how about you?

The Apostle John, who by the way is described as being the one who Jesus loved, mentions the word love 135 times in the book of 1 John. I won’t read them all, however I will close today with a small section that pretty much encompasses all that might be said in that regard, starting at 1 John 4:7. If you would like to read with me, it is at page 241 of the pew Bible. It is simply entitled, God Is Love

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”

Today we covered a lot of scripture verses here. This Bible is God’s Holy Word, and His love letter to us. Jesus explains himself what Love has to do with being a Christian, and this message today is really just pointing out a few highlights of what God wants you to know about the topic. God is Love; You are greatly loved; And we are never outside of God’s love. He knows what you are going through. He is walking beside you in your circumstances. And just like any good parent, God wants you to thrive and become the best person you can be. He wants you to truly know that you are always loved. He wants you to trust Him in all things. There is nothing that is beyond His reach or control, and He wants only the best for you. He also wants to talk with you. We should take time and make it a priority to pray with our Heavenly Father each and every day. God is wise and full of compassion and love. Trust Him and receive His love today.

When you are hurting, then pray, knowing God So Loves.

When you are scared, then pray, knowing God So Loves.

When you are angry, then pray, knowing God So Loves.

When you are depressed, then pray, knowing God So Loves.

And when you feel happy, joyous, blessed, gracious and content, then give praise, knowing God So Loves.

Again, I am so thankful for the honor that God and you have entrusted upon me for leading this church for the past two and half years. It has truly been a joy for me in many ways. I am happy also that we will remain connected in many ways going forward through this transition phase, but also through the association network of churches that we all belong to locally.

Would you please stand with me now, as we close with an invitation and prayer.