The immense value the Bible places on the love of God is simply astounding, and yet how often we miss the mark in loving others.  Our goal as Christians must be to prioritize the love of God in the same manner that Jesus does.  We are called to live in love for one another.  Let me illustrate my point briefly from a few texts in the New Testament:

Text no.1:  1 Timothy 1:5 (ESV): “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a   good conscience and a sincere faith.”

Text no.2:  Galatians 5:6 (ESV): “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision  (i.e. ethno-religious distinctions) counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

Text no. 3:  1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV): “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Text no. 4:  (and one of my personal favorites): John 17:20–23 (ESV): “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Our Heavenly Father loves you and me as He loves His Son! (Simply staggering!!)

Devoted followers of Jesus (disciples) can never reach maturity in Christ (a main goal of being a Christian) without growing into the reality of God’s love.  Here’s how John writes it in his ancient letter, 1 John 2:5: but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.”   The word “perfected” can be used in a biological sense, like a plant growing into full maturity.  Dare I say that the greatest spiritual fruit that should be evident in our lives is the love of God. 

There is a sign that you are maturing in God’s love!  You love your fellow Christians.  Listen again to John who wrote, “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.”  (1 John 2:10)  At the heart of the Gospel is a claim for potentially meaningful and satisfying relationships (i.e. ‘fellowship’), which is one of the greatest needs in our lives.  I love what I heard John Townsend, Ph.D., say in a Dallas Seminary Chapel, “Relationship is the conduit or delivery system of the grace of God.”  We who celebrate the Gospel as a message of free grace, better be sure to take care of our relationships with one another.

God’s love is the greatest power in the universe.  It alone can change the hard and hateful human being into a gentle and loving person.  The aged apostle John wrote the most prolifically about love than all the New Testament writers.  In fact, he holds first place in the Bible for referencing the love of God.  The only other book that uses the word love more than he did is the Psalms with its 150 chapters.  He used the word love over 100 times in total, and over 50 times in his short epistles.  He has come a long way since the day he wanted to call down fire on Samaria because he felt the Samaritans had insulted the Lord (Luke 9:51-56).  Since then, he went to Samaria, and along with Peter, was instrumental in imparting the Holy Spirit to newly converted Samaritan believers, thereby welcoming old enemies into the Jewish church as first-class members of the mystical body of Christ (Acts 8:14-17).

What happened to Him, you wonder?  The love of God was “poured into His heart by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5)who is given to every Christian.  It’s not just a choice to love someone as Jesus does, it’s a gift that comes from the Father.  It’s not a fabricated love; it’s a replicated one.  It’s God’s love, being resident in us, through the Holy Spirit.

Ask the Holy Spirit to give it to you.  Receive it in faith.  And share it freely with others.

With love to my church family,

Pastor Deric


P.S.  See you Sunday morning @ 9AM or 11AM (remember to register).

Faith & Friends

FAITH, in its Biblical definition, is simply believing the evidence of the words, works, and witness of God’s revelation to the world.  Christians trace their faith all the way back to the foundation of the “apostles and prophets.”  These founding members of the faith were eyewitnesses to the claims of Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  Though most Christians align themselves with various denominations, we are quick to point out that our faith draws a direct line to the men and women who walked with the real Jesus when He was here in His physical presence.  They lived a shared life experience with Jesus and left ample record for us to examine their story.

But they did more than simply tell us what it was like to walk in friendship with Jesus.  They invite us to know Jesus for ourselves.  They invite us to join their sacred circle of friends.  The Apostle John told us that part of the reason he wrote his three letters was, “so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”  That word “fellowship” is a synonym for friendship.  The root meaning is a word for “that which we share in common.”  The first friends of Jesus want us to know that Jesus welcomes us to share in this “divine community.”

I can almost hear the objections of those who are quick to point out the blemishes of the Christian church.  If it’s “divine,” why is it so flawed?  “The church is not a human ideal, but a divine reality despite all its apparent fragility this side of the marriage feast of the Lamb.  Only when we recognise and accept God’s sovereign grace in this way can we be equipped to weather the inevitable disillusionment that arises when our church-growth or church planting plans fail to deliver their projected outcomes.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)  That’s relatively easy for me to reconcile.  All of the great enterprises in life are riddled with the corrupting touch of human beings, but we don’t abandon our pursuit of noble and valuable traditions in life.

The church is following a script that was written by Jesus Himself.  And His teaching includes the truth that we must love one another as He loves us.  Whatever lofty or agitated attitude you have about the church, you are called to be part of the family in developing mutual, meaningful, and spiritual relationships with other Christians.  So here’s my strategy for building spiritual friends:  people need the Lord AND people need friends, so then, people flourish when friends share a common bond in the Lord  the local church is a uniquely equipped place to nurture friendships.

I’d love it if you would start to flourish as the person God called you to be.  But in order to flourish, you need to get involved in your local church.  You cannot separate your love for Jesus and your love for all the saints.  Period.  Then, and only then, will your joy be complete.  Do you want complete (fullness) of joy?  Then pray for a few good friends in the local church.

Remember what Jesus said about those He considers friends?  “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.”  His friends are those who obey His command to love one another as He loves us.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday morning @ 9 or 11.

Your pastor friend,

Pastor Deric