One of the distinguishing marks of a follower of Jesus is supposed to be our love for one another. Jesus said this love for one another would be how people would know that we are his people (John 13:35).
On the night before he was crucified, he exhorted his disciples: “A new commandment I give to you: Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34). The commandment to love was not new as Leviticus 19:18 taught God’s people to love their neighbors as they love themselves. What is new is that Jesus adds that God’s people are to love one another as “he” loved. This begs the question: How did Jesus love?
Jesus loved by sharing his life and entering into our world. He left the glory, power, and majesty of heaven and entered our world (John 1:14). He was born as a baby and shared life with us. To love as Jesus loved means to leave the comfort and security of our own world and enter into another’s world by sharing one’s life. This could mean going to another culture and loving people, or this could simply mean entering into the world of those people you live with every day.
Jesus loved by serving humanity. He taught, healed people of their diseases, performed miracles, walked many miles, and washed feet. He said: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Mark 10:45). To love as Jesus loved means that it is not about me. It is about how I can help the other person. It is about how I can make their life better by serving them.
Jesus loved by sacrificing his life. His death on the cross made atonement for sin which humanity couldn’t make. Its power brings about forgiveness of sins and allows humans to have a personal relationship with God: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). To love as Jesus loved means sacrificing selfish desires and ambitions for the sake of another. It means taking up one’s cross daily and dying to my selfish ways so that others may be blessed.
Many of us have bought into the “love is a feeling” concept, which is popular in our culture. If I feel love, I love you. If I don’t feel love, I don’t love you. Jesus has modeled for us that real love is about what I do and say, not just about what I feel. It is about sharing oneself. It is about service to the other. It is about sacrifice for the sake of the other person.
What would happen if followers of Jesus began to take seriously his new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you”??
Am I Ready to Pray? (Bude, Cornwall, UK)
INTRODUCTIOIN -- Prayer is: 1) spending time with God – acknowledging God’s presence in all our lives’ activities; and 2) conversation with God – listening to and talking with God. Prayer reflects on our relationship with God. Why don’t we pray. The Apostle James, in James 4:2-3, provides a perspective regarding Prayer Life: “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."
SUNDAY MESSAGE – In James 4:3, we are told: “You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”. As followers of Jesus, we are given the awesome privilege of being able to come before God, the Creator of the Universe, in our prayers. We are given a multitude of alternatives for our prayers that include prayers of "petition" (praying for one's own needs) and prayers of "intercession" (praying for the needs of others). God wants prayers of "petition" from us -- all our needs and concerns should be brought to Him in prayer because He loves and cares for us. However, God want us to, also, focus on others and their needs (intercession) -- physical and spiritual. "Intercessory prayer” is fundamental to deepening our prayer life and our personal relationship with God.
However, we often enter into our prayers unprepared – there is sin in our lives, or our prayers are all about “us”; and we seek “our will” and not “God’s will”. Therefore, we need to learn to “pray rightly”.
To “pray rightly”, we need to consider: “1) Am I “clean” before the Lord – have I confessed the known sins in my life that I have not repented? 2) Am I in “communion with others” – are there people with whom I am not at peace? 3) Am I “confident in God’s Word” – do I believe God’s promises are true? 4) Am I “committed to God’s will” – am I committed to act on and obey God’s answer to my prayers even though His answer is not my desire? 5) Am I “centered in the Holy Spirit” – am I focused and tuned in on the Lord, filtering out the “noise of the world”? and 6) Am I “concerned for God’s Glory” – the ultimate purpose of our prayers is uplifting and glorifying God’s name?”.
Additionally, in both our worship and our prayers: “Are we expecting to encounter God?”.
Remember, Jesus taught us that: 1) God is more ready to answer prayer than we are ready to pray; and 2) we must be persistent in our prayers until we have an answer.
Pray specific prayers, in the Holy Spirit and in Scripture, for ourselves and for others -- be persistent.
TODAY’S AFFIRMATION: I affirm that because of what God has done for me in His Son, Jesus, I AM RIGHTEOUS IN GOD’S EYES. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21).
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SCRIPTURE REFERENCE (ESV): James 4:3; Isaiah 59:1-2; 1 John 1:8; Matthew 5:23-24 Matthew 6:14; 1 Peter 3:7; Luke 11:9-13; Jeremiah 33:3; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7; Hebrews 11:6; 1 Peter 5:7; 1 John 5:14; Psalms 37:4; John 14:23; James 1:5; Romans 8:26-27; John 14:26. (Click the blue below to read the full Bible text for these scripture references in BOLD.).All Sermons by Archbishop Foley Beach