Love: It’s Who I Am! (Week 2)

“The Reflective Love”

I John 4:19-21; Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-6; Romans 8:35-37; John 13:34-35

 

Just a little over 14 years ago, on Easter Sunday, the first dramatic musical that we presented to this community was called “What Love Is.”, written by Christy Ragle and using the secular song from the group Foreigner “I Want to Know What Love Is”. It seems only fitting that we are covering this topic once again when our community, our church, our nation, our world is in need of this message of hope.

 

 Take a look at these images:

            1) The Durham Boys

            2) The Kalisch Clan

            3) The Clark Boys

 

Do you see the similarities in each of these families? They reflect the image of their parents because of DNA. I hope you can also see the love that they have for one another. Sure , there might be some sibling rivalry at times, but their love for each other wins over all.

 

 In Genesis 1:26, it is written:

“ Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

From the very beginning, it was God’ desire for us to reflect him. But sin separated us from Him, so He made a way for us to come back into relationship with Him.

 

We find written in 1 John 4:9-10,19-21:

.”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. 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

We love each other because he loved us first.  If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?  And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.”

 

A recent article on Reflecting God’s Love, stated: ”Love for God compels love for others; love for others reflects love for God. The two ideas can neither be separated nor compartmentalized.” We cannot say that we are in relationship with God if we cannot show love to those around us.

 

God’s Word gives a prime example of someone who thought he was doing what he was suppose to in order to get people to honor God’s law. He was enforcing law and not love. The guy’s name was Saul of Tarsus.

 

 Acts:8:1-3 

“Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen. A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria.  (Some devout men came and buried Stephen with great mourning.)  But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.”

 

Saul was a Roman citizen and a Pharisee who took it upon himself to show his zeal for God in making sure that the followers of Jesus were silenced since they were not following the Jewish laws and customs…all 613! Saul had been raised and taught that it was in following the laws that kept you in relationship with God. He could not have been more wrong. So Jesus got his attention…

 

Acts 9:1-6

“Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest.  He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.

As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!  Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

 

He had a personal encounter with Jesus! He knocked him off his donkey, he fell to the ground and the Lord talked to him. It wasn’t a long talk, but he was struck blind and had three days to think about it!  Even Ananias, the guy God spoke to about bringing the message of healing and hope to Saul, was fearful to go see him. But in those three days of fasting and prayer, God changed Saul’s heart! He was baptized and began preaching in the synagogue, which did not make the Jewish leaders happy. So they plotted to kill him (does this story sound familiar?) So some of the believers snuck him out of the city in a basket through an opening in the city wall.  Saul returned to Tarsus and spent 3 years in Arabia (See Galatians 1:15-18) During that time, he spent time with the Lord and sharing the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. His name change from Saul to Paul was not part of the protective services plan, but rather Saul was his Roman citizenship name, and Paul was his Greek name, and the Gentiles would have been more familiar with it. I find it interesting that the name PAUL mean “small or humble”, and the Apostle Paul was not one to build himself up, but rather humble himself and make himself small so that God would be shown as his strength and power.  (2 Cor. 12:10)

 

All throughout Paul’s life, he reflected the love of Christ, even to those who persecuted him, stoned him, flogged him, threw him in jail, and he went places with this message, knowing that it would cost him his life.  Like Jesus, it was in Jerusalem that he was arrested. Like Jesus, he was taken before the Roman authorities. And like Jesus, he had false witnesses tell lies about him, but he never stopped sharing the message of love that God had given him to share.

 

In his message to the Romans, we find words of hope and encouragement for us when it comes to God’s love:

Romans 8:35-37

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

 

This past Easter, almost 300 of our brothers and sisters in Christ were killed in Sri Lanka. This past Sunday, an Assembly of God pastor, his two sons and three others in the church were killed in Burkina Faso. Does it mean they were not loved by God because this happened? NO! Then what does it mean? It means the devil is going all out to silence the voices of those who are proclaiming God’s love in areas that are in desperate need of this message. Does this that the devil is victorious here? NO! The news showed interviews of some of the surviving members praying for those who were behind the attacks. Could you do that? We are called to pray for those who spitefully use us…to pray for our enemies! We challenge you each week to pray for the names in our prayer guide, but we also need to add to that the names of those who have hurt you, used you, or have treated you wrongly. For love covers a multitude of sin (1Peter 4:8)! This is where we will find the victory, even if it is not on this side of glory!

 

Therefore, we are to have an outward reflection of an inward reality. If we are to truly reflect the love of Christ in our lives, we have to live it out, demonstrated in EVERYTHING we do. Are we going to always get it right? No…but through God’s grace, we will get better and better at it. Then we will fulfill the words of Jesus that John the beloved wrote in John 13:34-35:

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” 

 

Let’s go out and show to the world that we love not only each other, but those who are lost and dying in our neighborhoods, our community, our nation, our world…. wherever the Lord calls you…so that they can find that hope, grace, mercy and love that we have received in our lives.
 
Love Week 2:  Listen to it here.
 
 

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Supernatural (Week 3) A Musical

“Supernatural: A Preparation for Advent Story”

Angel stories adapted from Luke 1-2, & Matthew 1
 
NARRATOR: (Kevin Stonerock)
From the beginning of time as you know it, God’s plan was to be in communion with His creation. But He did not want it to be a forced relationship, but rather one of choice. He loved the man and woman that He created and wanted them to choose to love Him in return.
 
But they made the choice to want to be like God, which was the same thing that caused Lucifer (Satan) and a third of the angels to be cast out of heaven. Rather than being in love with Him and being thankful for what He had given them, they listened to Satan speaking through the snake and threw it all away for a lie.
 
God’s desire to be in communion was still there, even though they chose separation. So He began a plan of restoration, keeping the lines of communication open. He wove what many call ‘a scarlet thread’ throughout the tapestry of the history of the world. God kept reaching out, speaking through the prophets and sending angels to let them know He still loved them and would be sending a Messiah, IMMANUEL, which means “God with us”. While Satan tried to derail this plan, God kept showing mankind that He was working all things together for their good. They cried out for a Deliverer, someone to help end their suffering. But God showed them that what they really needed was a Savior, One whom could restore the relationship between God and man. And God’s plan would not be delivered in the way that many expected.
 
 
ANGEL 1 (Kenton Durham) There was a priest name Zacharias serving in Judea under Herod, the Great, king of Judea. He was married to Elizabeth, who was a direct descendant of Aaron, the first high priest of Israel. Both were found righteous in the eyes of God, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and requirements. But sadly, they were childless because Elizabeth was barren and they were both past the age of having children.
 
One day while he was serving in the temple, he was chosen to enter the sanctuary of the Temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar…
 
 
SONG:  “The Father’s Plan” Duet with Zach & Angel  (by Matt Hurst)
 
ANGEL 1 (Kenton) When he went out and was unable to speak, by the signs he was making, the crowd realized he must have seen a vision. He returned home after his duties were fulfilled, and Elizabeth became pregnant. She secluded herself for 5 months, saying…
 
 
ELIZABETH (Tina Durham) How kind and gracious the Lord is! He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin S) Meanwhile, in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel visited a young woman by the name of Mary who was engaged to Joseph the carpenter in the village of Nazareth in Galilee
 
 
GABRIEL (Jared Evans) Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you! (pause for Mary’s reaction) Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!
 
 
MARY (Emily Hurst) How can this be, since I am a virgin?
 
 
GABRIEL (Jared) The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth is pregnant with a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.
 
MARY (Emily) I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin S) A few days later, Mary went off to the hill country of Judea to visit Elizabeth. When she entered the house, at the sound of her greeting, the baby leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit…
 
ELIZABETH (Tina) Mary…..God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, my baby boy jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin) Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months, then returned home. But while she was away, the angel visited Joseph in a dream (Joseph played by Matt H.)
 
GABRIEL (Jared) Joseph, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, for he will save the people from their sins.
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin) When he awoke, he did as the angel told him and took Mary to be his wife.
 
 
SONG: “MARY DID YOU KNOW” (sung by Jared)
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin S) Just before the child was born, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census should be taken, which required everyone to return to their ancestral towns to register. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea. He and Mary traveled there from Nazareth. There was not a room to be found in the town, but they found shelter in a stable, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snuggly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger. In the fields nearby, there were shepherds keeping watch over their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them with the radiance of God’s glory surrounding them, and they were terrified…
 
(Shepherds played by Brandon Atwood, Kevin King and Elijah Abrams)
 
ANGEL 2 (Kolby Durham) Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And you will recognize him by this sign; You will find the baby wrapped snuggly in strips of cloth and lying in a manger
 
 
SONG: “Agnus Dei” (Sung by Kolby)
 
 
NARRATOR (Kevin S) The shepherds knew that they must go and see what the Lord had told them about. They rushed to the village and found Mary and Joseph with the baby lying in the manger, just as they were told.
 
 
SONG: “Noel” (sung by Kenton)   NARRATOR (Kevin S) Thankfully, the story does not stop here, but rather marks the change in history where God came down in a supernatural way in the form of human baby that was fully God and fully man. His Son grew up, in favor with God and man, and began His ministry by calling 12 men to follow Him, promising that He would make them ‘fishers of people’. He performed miracles, signs and wonders, and ultimately gave His life up as a ransom for many. But He rose again, showing himself to his followers and charging them with the task of taking the message of grace, hope and love to a world that needs to restore their communion with God on a personal level. God poured out His love on us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The Lamb of God, taking all of our sins to the cross, became the ultimate sacrifice, something that no ordinary man could ever do. Just like on that first Christmas night, we are all invited to come to the Messiah, and recognize our need for the Savior.
 
 
SONG: ‘Is He Worthy’ with O Come Let Us Adore Him (Lead by Brandon Atwood, sang by entire cast)
 
Watch the Video here.
 

List of Characters:

  • Narrator: Kevin Stonerock
  • Angel 1: Kenton Durham
  • Zachariah: Ken Durham
  • Elizabeth: Tina Durham
  • Gabriel: Jared Evans
  • Mary: Emily Hurst
  • Joseph: Matt Hurst (non speaking)
  • Baby Jesus:  Eliza Hurst
  • Angel 2: Kolby Durham
Shepherds (non speaking; could also be part of crowd):
  • Shepherd Kevin King
  • Shepherd Elijah Abrams
  • Shepherd Brandon Atwood
Angel Costumes made by Betty McQueen and Marcia Ireland
Tech Crew:  David Maddy, Cheryl Gideon, Michael Dabrowski, Max Harter, Caleb & Staisha West
 

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Follow (Week 4): The Love Language of Jesus

 
SAVE THE DATE:  Saturday, October 19, 2019: 5 Love Languages Conference with Gary Chapman here at FBC.
 
 
 
 

In case you are not familiar with the 5 love languages that are described in Chapman’s book, they are

  1. Gifts
  2. Quality Time;
  3. Words of Affirmation
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch.
 
The first book focuses on the marriage relationship, but he has done follow up books to help us understand how to talk with our teens and children.
 
So from where did he draw his examples? The Bible. And who was his greatest example? JESUS! Think about it. Here is just a few examples” He gave the gift of healing to the blind man (John 9:1-12); He gave quality time to the disciples (John 3:22); He gave words of affirmation to the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-26); He served the disciples by washing their feet (Matthew 26:14-39); and He wanted people to know He was approachable by telling the disciples to let the children come to Him to hold them and bless them (Luke 18:15-17).
 
Over the last three weeks, we have heard that we are not to follow a “brand” or denomination, but we are to follow Christ!
 
We are to know that we can’t do this on our own, but need to listen to and live our lives in the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us.
 

We are to be people of prayer and in communication with our Heavenly Father so that He can reveal to us what His will is for our lives. We even heard Jesus’ own words in John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.”

 

Reading Mark 1:17-18Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”  And they left their nets at once and followed him.

 

They didn’t hem and haw…at once they left! He didn’t hand them a manual to tell them what His plans were, they followed in faith.   Reading 1 John 2:5-6:  “But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”

John had walked with Jesus, followed Him and His teachings, and knew what it meant to remain in his faith in Christ, even during the tough times.
 

So what love language of Jesus stands out the most to me? READ: John 13:4-15

 

Jesus put into action exactly what He had been teaching, showing, living out in front of the disciples as the final exclamation point before He would give His life on the cross! He had even given them a heads up about this after they had heard His parable about the workers in the vineyard. James & John’s mother came to talk with Jesus. They thought He was going to establish His kingdom here on earth by removing the Roman regime, and she wanted to make sure that her boys held good positions when Jesus took over. But He set them straight very quickly.

 

Matthew 20:25-28 “But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.  But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”   His kingdom is a kingdom of love and He showed us how we are to live.   You have heard it said that actions speak louder than words…that the world will know that you care when you show that you care.  The Bible even says  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”   (John 13:35)

 

But it can’t be one without the other.  It is BOTH AND…in word and in deed.

 

READ Colossians 3:12-17 We are all different, not just in skin color, or gender, but in upbringing and personalities.  I am thankful for that diversity! The body of Christ would be boring if we were all the same! But the one thing that brings us together so we can live in unity is the love of Jesus. God loved us so much that He sent His greatest gift, His Son, to the world, for each and every one of us. He desires for us to spend quality time with Him in our prayer and bible study time. He uses the written words of the Bible and the Holy Spirit to speak words of affirmation into our lives. He asks us to be His hands and feet to carry out the acts of service and be the physical presence to give a hand up or a hug when someone needs it.

 
We are not to be selfish in living our lives for what we want, but we are to surrender our lives to God and be selfless as we strive to be more like Jesus in our daily lives.
 
Paul writes it best in Galatians 5:13-14

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.  For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Please understand that these are God’s words to us today! If we say that we are a follower of Jesus Christ, then we have to show it in everything that we do. There are many rich people who do good things, but many times, it is not truly costing them anything. We are called to “put some skin into the game”, and to live life with one another while reaching out to a world that is lost and dying without hope.

 
Follow Week 4:  Listen to it here
 
 

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