Bold Faith Initiative

Living For Jesus BOLDLY

We Found Love

Romans 5:6-8

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

How many songs of our society cry out to “find love in a hopeless place,” and yet, so many are still left crying out for genuine love after the next person lets them down.  The search then continues for genuine love: love that does not fade, love that does not falter, and love that does not fail in the storms of life.

There is love that perseveres through times of pain, loneliness, and even abandonment by all who were thought to be friends and those who loved.  How good would it be if instead of looking to each other for love, we looked to the only person who was/is/and ever will be the epitome of what love is and how it is to be viewed!

This kind of love is only found in the person and work of Jesus Christ the altogether Loving One! Romans 5:6-8 “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

            “We Found Love,” or rather Love found us, while we were still Love’s enemies. No person has ever or will ever again show the fullness of love as did Jesus Christ. He took my place, your place; standing under the pouring out of the righteous wrath of a Holy God. Taking our sins in His body on the cross; granting to us freedom from sin, death, and hell! Praise God that LOVE found a way to redeem men’s souls and do it through the person and work of Jesus Christ the Righteous One!

If you have never ‘found love,’ real and genuine Love, then seek Him today! You will find HIM to be Love worth finding. Read Romans 10:8-10, 13 for this truth.

For those who have found this Love, don’t keep it to yourself, share the Love of Christ with everyone with whom you come into contact.

TR

There Are No “Part Time Lovers”

The smooth beat and playful lyrics of Part Time Lover, by songwriter and singer Stevie Wonder, are very telling. If audiences would take the time to listen to the words and message being proclaimed they would catch the irony.  While the playful performer tells bits and pieces of living as a Part Time Lover, it is masqueraded in self-deceiving sounds and rhythms of the storyteller.  The inevitable end, as the song writer concludes, is one of bitterness and sorrow.

As a Christian, to be a “Part Time Lover” of the world means an inevitable end of bitterness and sorrow. John warns of the end days in 1 John 2 that Christians will be deceived if possible. He admonishes believers to not love the world—fully or as part-time lovers. 15 Do not love the world, John admonishes, or anything in the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

For the Christian, the playful performer who entices believers to be Part-Time Lovers of the world is the devil, the father of lies. Like the “Part-Time Lover” in the Stevie Wonder song, Christians who love the world know they are wrong. To be enticed and live a secretive life as a lover of the world may seem adventurous and fully alive, however, it will only lead to bitterness. Proverbs 5 warns of the adulterous woman that like the songwriter, her lips drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.

What is true physically is also true spiritually. To follow the adulterous ways leads to bitterness and death. Spiritual adultery can seem enticing and adventurous but is also destructive. The title, “Part Time Lover,” appears harmless and non-committal; however, it is the very opposite. The lover is given fulltime to keeping his secret and is fully committed to his passion.  The Christian adulterer, like the protagonist in the song knows what he is doing is wrong, “but it feels so right.”  “Chasing love up against the sun,” sounds romantic and daring. However, it is sure to end in destruction and bitterness.

If you find yourself enticed by the masterful songwriter of this age, remember the writings of proverbs and of John. If you have fallen don’t despair. John tells us that …if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

Therefore, go out and sing a new song that declares, “I am a Full Time Lover of My Lord and Savior,” (written by the Lord of Wonder).

DSM

Release Me and Let Me Love Again

1 John 2:15

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

Most popular songs about relationships either focus on the flourishing of romantic love or on the death of it. “Release Me and Let Me Love Again” does both. The song is about a man who wants to escape his current relationship so that he can pursue another one. Apparently this situation is not uncommon, since over a hundred different artists have covered the song, including Englebert Humperdink, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton. Everyone knows that real love can’t be split in two.

No wonder the apostle John claims that “If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1 Jn. 2:15b). By the “world,” John means the things that the world has to offer. How many people have failed to love God with all their hearts because they loved the things of this world more? The rich young ruler walked away sad, because he had great wealth (Mt. 19:22). Achan brought trouble on Israel because he refused to obey God and kept the possessions of Jericho for himself (Josh. 7:24-25). Saul valued his reputation and royal position more than God’s will (1 Sam. 13:8-14). People today fill their thoughts and their time with careers, financial goals, and future plans, leaving God the leftovers and assuming that this is simply the way life is. But it is not possible to love God and things at the same time. As Jesus says, you will inevitably end up loving one and ignoring the other.

If you can’t love God and things at the same time, you certainly can’t love your neighbor and things at the same time either. Love for money will keep you from giving it away to those in need. Pleasure in possessions will prevent you from taking delight in people. Ambition for personal advancement will empty you of the desire for bringing unbelievers into the Kingdom of God.

If we are to truly love God and neighbor, we must be set free from the love of the world and the things it has to offer. We must pray to God, “Release me from the love the of world, and let me love again.”

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

K.L.

It’s The Power of Love

Romans 1:16

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

According to Huey Lewis and his band The News, the “power of love is a curious thing.”

I guess that’s one way of putting it, but when it comes to the love of God conveyed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul says “it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe”  (Romans 1:16).

Several years ago our church annually assembled a group of junior and senior high school students who were transformed into a ministry team called “The Power of Love.” Volunteer leaders developed a theme and combined popular music and testimonies from group members into a 40 minute long program. They had weekly rehearsals and a weekend to learn the material and bond with fellow cast members. Finally it was ready for presentation. I’m reminded of the theme song from the Muppet Show, “No more rehearsing and nursing our parts. We know every part by heart.”

The group would travel to performance at area churches for a Sunday morning or evening worship event.

Two things happened.

  1.  People were ministered to as the group sang and shared from their hearts the lessons God was teaching them and sometimes the pain they were experiencing. The Holy Spirit used these young lives to bless and encourage others.
  2.  The cast and crew came together, in the spirit of faith and fellowship and learned how to relate to each other and how to relate to God.

When the POL season was finished, a final performance was presented at our church and it was fun and amazing to see how God used the experience to work in their lives and bring them closer to Himself. Some kids got saved. Some took a step in the area of discipleship. Some learned more deeply about prayer and compassion.

The power of the Gospel. The power of God’s love. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, living in us and working its way through us.

A curious thing? Not really—It’s just the Power of Love.

DP

Bold Faith Prayer 2017

Over the weekend, review the past 5 devotions and write down any actions you feel the Lord wants you to take.

Pray this prayer or use it as a springboard for your own daily prayer for our Bold Faith: Love Your Neighbor Initiative.

Pray for your neighbors by name and just watch to see what God does in the days to come.

Use a chart like this one to help you pray for your neighbors.

http://www.artofneighboring.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/blockmap-1.pdf

Pray for our churches … that the Lord’s mighty hand would work among us and through us.

Bold Faith Prayer 2017

O LORD,

In honor of your Holy name, help me to truly love my neighbor as myself;

Touch through my hands, speak through my words, love through my actions;

Soften and turn hearts toward You;

Let Your Spirit work immeasurably more than imagined;

I boldly ask these things in your name, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Sermons from 4-30-17

Northview Christian Church – Jeff Bream

http://www.northviewchristian.net/sermons/love-your-neighbor/

 

Lockwood Community Church – Shayne Looper

http://lockwoodchurch.org/media?id=395292

Close To You

Psalm 63:1-3

“1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.”

Song of Solomon 3:1-5

“All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves;
    I looked for him but did not find him.
I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.  So I looked for him but did not find him.
The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city.
    “Have you seen the one my heart loves?”
Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother’s house,
    to the room of the one who conceived me.
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”

At what point was our relationship with the Lord reduced to a mere duty of religious activity to be performed? What happened to the sheer joy, delight and wonder of our just being with Jesus, in His presence in prayer alone or together with others in a worship service? When was the last time we had a desire to experience Him with no other agenda?

The Carpenters, the popular 70’s brother/sister singing duo, performed a myriad of romantic songs. “Close to You,” is one of my favorites. It celebrates the pleasure and satisfaction of simply being in the company of one’s love.  (If you’re too young to know the Carpenters, look them up online. You’ll like them a lot, I promise.)

Some might be offended that a pastor or Christian leader might know and even enjoy a secular love song like this one. But I’m convinced that God created romantic love as something to be enjoyed and treasured; and while a lot of popular music glorifies love outside of covenant relationships, there is much about romantic love with one’s spouse that deserves to be the celebrated in song. The reason being, our romantic love life is good and beautiful; and is designed by our Creator to remind us of the way He feels about us.

The first time you read through the Old Testament book the Song of Solomon, I can imagine that you asked, “What is literature like that doing in the Bible?” I’ve heard some argue that there is nothing erotic or sensual intended by Solomon in his writing and that the book is to be understood exclusively as a spiritual expression. To those who say such things I want to ask, “Have you even read the book?” The Song of Solomon celebrates the joy of physical love, and also the ache of the heart of one wanting, desperately to be with her love. The reason Solomon’s book is in the Bible is because crazy romantic love is a part of the human experience, by God’s design; and ultimately because that is the type of crazy, heart aching love relationship He desires to have with us.

Let’s not let the busyness of life, and even the things we do for Him, get in the way of being with Him. Let’s sing to Him about of desire to be close to Him and then make time in our schedule to do just that.

JMB

Is Love A Feeling?

In 1964, the singing group, The Righteous Brothers, recorded the hit single “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”.  One reason the song was a smash is because it so accurately reflected one of the mantras of the 1960’s  — Free Love.  Love was touted as something that could be openly expressed and physically demonstrated without any need for a deeper, long lasting commitment.  If you felt like it, you were free to do it.  And when the feelings left, you moved on.

That attitude, while symbolic of the 60’s, has been around as long as mankind has.  It represents a misunderstanding of just what love really is.  Is love a feeling or is it something else?  If I don’t feel “warm and fuzzy” when I’m around someone, do I really love them?  Or, as the song suggests, when I no longer have that loving feeling in a relationship, should I assume no love remains and the relationship is over?

As good as romantic love may feel, it pales in comparison to God’s kind of love.  God’s love is not dependent on feelings which naturally come and go according to our circumstances.  It’s not conditioned by the object of its affection, but rather it’s rooted in the subject, the one who loves.  It’s far more volitional than it is emotional, though there are emotions that accompany God’s kind of love.

Our theme verse for this year’s Bold Faith Initiative, Matthew 22:39, says we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  Recall that this is a commandment, not a suggestion.   And, it’s not just any command.  Jesus said its second only to loving God first.  Commandments require a response of obedience, whether you feel like it or not.  God doesn’t temper his expectations of us by how we’re feeling at the moment.  He mandates action and expects us to respond!

The people around you each day (your neighbors), need to know God loves them; that God is genuinely concerned about their wellbeing, and that he is willing to help them.  And, you and I know what our neighbors may not yet understand – that God intends to use us as conduits of his love.  He wants to love our neighbors through us so that they know that God cares for them because his people care for them.

Remember, your ability to love your neighbor is not determined by what they do, or who they are, or by how you feel about them.  By faith, we choose to concern ourselves with their wellbeing and do what love does – reach out to them.  And often, when we do reach out in faith, “loving feelings” will follow.  Not the superficial, “warm and fuzzy” emotions the world is looking for, but more substantial things like genuine compassion, patience and concern.

J.E.

I Can’t Help Falling In Love

1 John 4:19

“We love because he first loved us.”

Revelation 2:4

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”

Those who are familiar with this song might remember the 1961 film “Blue Hawaii,” starring Elvis Presley, from which it came, where “The King” sang this sweet sentimental tune, with this refrain,” I can’t help falling in love with you.” (If you’ve not seen it, look it up and watch the scene on YouTube. You’ll enjoy it.)

Though Albert Einstein is said to have stated, “You can’t blame gravity for falling in love,” falling in love is a response to a force similar to that of gravity that draws us into a deep emotional connection with another person where we desire to be with that person intimately for the rest of our lives. Sometimes it is scary and sometimes it is wonderful, but it is always a response to something we see in another that causes us to fall in love. In them we see beauty; in them we see worth and an attractiveness that stirs our hearts and causes to want us to be with them.

I fully embrace the romantic notion of falling in love. However, I reject the common idea that is so often the reason given for couples splitting up, that of falling out of love. Love is a choice and we need to often revisit the reasons we fell in love in the first place and find new ones in order to re-stoke and perpetuate the flames of passion.

First John 4:19 reminds us simply and succinctly why we fell in love with Jesus; because He loved us first. He demonstrated His love by giving Himself freely for us. Our love, our devotion, our desire to be in relationship with Him comes as a result of His love, His devotion, His desire to be in relationship with us. He initiated love and how can we not respond?

At times the passion of our love for Him might wain and if it does we need to remember His beauty, His kindness and all He has done for us. Please understand this truth: we need to fall in love with Jesus regularly!

Elvis sang, “Take my hand and my whole life too. For I can’t help falling in love with you.” Will you pray this little prayer with me to THE KING today? “Dear Jesus, I know how deeply you love me, so how can I not respond? So today, I give you my, hand, my heart and my whole life too. Because I can’t help falling in love with You!

JMB

Can’t Buy Me Love

1 John 4:9-10

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Deuteronomy 7:6-8

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

Paul McCartney “don’t care too much for” theology. Unlike John, who before his death described himself as a “most religious fellow,” or George, who was a devotee of Hare Krishna for over thirty years, or Ringo who, just a few years ago, announced a return to faith and asserted that “God is my life,” Paul has kept his distance from God.

But his early song, “Can’t Buy Me Love” (some of you are probably hearing it in your heads right now!) has some good theology. Love isn’t for sale. You can’t buy it and nothing you can do will earn it. Love isn’t a commodity.

No one ever loved you because you deserved it. Not your mom or dad, not your wife or husband, and certainly not God. Love doesn’t work that way. Love does not depend on the loveliness or lovability of its object, but on the heart of its subject. That is, love doesn’t start with the person being loved, but with the person doing the loving.

God doesn’t love us because we are so great, but because he is so good; not because we are so lovable, but because he is love. How wonderful is that? If God’s love depended on my lovability, there are times (to be honest, most times), I would be unloved.

We can point people to God and his Son Jesus Christ by loving them the way God has loved us: not because they are lovable, but because we are possessed by God’s love. We can proactively love them, as God loved us. And when they are unlovable, we can love them anyway, because our love doesn’t depend on them but on the God who has loved us.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

S.L.

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