04-08-12 Sunday Morning

Freedom from/Freedom to: Freed to Love II.mp3

Stir it up!PDF

[mediaplayer src=’https://www.grace-life.org/Video/Easter.wmv’ width=480 height=320 ]

Key Texts:

  • II Thess. 3:5
  • Deut. 30:6
  • I Jn. 4

Other Texts:

  • Leah – not unloved (Gen. 29:31)
  • Hagar – not invisible (Gen. 16:3-13)
  • Ruth – not abandoned or forgotten (kinsmen redeemer)
  • Canaanite women – not unnoticed or unimportant

This week we began our trek into the Love of God. I feel wholly in adequate as a minister or even a son of God to communicate these truths, but here we are as a result of God’s leading and grace. So let’s lean on and depend heavily upon His influence within our hearts to reconcile our souls to the intimate knowledge  and communion of his Great love for us.

We started with I Thess. 5:3 which tells us perhaps the greatest truth concerning our involvement in the Love God has for us of any scripture I know.

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love which God is as to His nature and into the endurance and fortitude of the Christ.” ~ Kenneth Wuest

 

This passage tells us that, like so many things we’ve discovered this year – that the drawing to discover God in this area of love, is initiated by His directive, not our pleads. The word “direct” in this verse is κατευθύνω (kateuthúnō) meaning to guide straight towards or upon something. Generally, it means to guide or direct one’s way or journey to a place. In this case the place Jesus is leading us, is into the love of God and the patience He (Jesus) knew and lived by in His earthly ministry and even still lives by in His High Priestly roll as Advocate and Shepherd/Lord of the Church.

We have got to allow ourselves to be reconciled, we cannot reconcile ourselves. The secondary passage which echoes these sentiments is found in John 6:44,

 “No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him…” ~ Weymouth

In the message I actually misquoted the verse, but even my tweaked version was true if not accurate. No one can come to God except through Christ, as is said in John 14:6;

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Among the fist and most important lessons we have to learn is that of relinquishing control. Even our drawing towards His love is directed entirely by Him. This means that the harder we try to get there on our own, the more we are actively resisting His efforts to draw us.

 

The key points were:

  • God is the origin of Love – not simply because it comes from Him, but because He IS Love. Love is not an attribute of God – it is His very nature. It is WHO HE IS.
  • Love was manifest (displayed openly) in that God sent His Son that we might live (have vital union with the Father) THROUGH the Son.
  • Here in is Love – God Loved us and sent His Son to be the bridge spanning the gap between The Father and ourselves due to sin.
  • Love is evidence with in among us by our freedom and willingness to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • vs. 13-15 show that the Holy Spirit within us, validates our union with God by means of the confession He evokes out of us concerning Christ. It is the very confession John mentioned in verses 1-6 in I Jn. 4 which distinguishes between the Holy Spirit and the spirit of antichrist.
  • Because the Holy Spirit within produces such a confession – we know that we have (at least to some degree) known and relied upon the Love that God has for us.
  • Knowing and relying upon the Love God has for us is the 1st step towards becoming perfect (or mature) in love.
  • Perfect love = loves their brother
  • This is true because if you have entered into vital union with Love and “known” Him intimately – we would as a matter of course find ourselves unable to hate our brother. We in fact would find them irresistible and love them deeply.
  • Anyone who has had intimate involvement in the God Who is Love, will never be the same again and will act as one who has had His love shed abroad in their hearts.
  • Perfect love = casts out fear
  • Fear involves punishment.
  • God is not about punishment. He is about reconciliation.
  • Even when He corrects us, chastises us or judges us it is only for the sake of reconciling us.
  • The only proper context for our love of God is that it is an echoed response to His loving us first.
  • God is the man (male) of this relationship. He is the pursuer, we are the ones who allow ourselves to be caught by His pursuit.
  • It is another way in which the statement in Isaiah 55:10,11 is realized –

“For just as rain and snow fall from heaven, and do not return there without saturating the earth, and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and will prosper in what I send it to do.”  – Holman Christian Standard

We ended with a covenant meal (communion) and committed ourselves to enter into the drawing of God and directing of Christ into the Love of the Father.

Below is the video called “walls” which we watched prior to communion. Also, the song “I love you this much” by Jimmy Wayne. It is my hope that they stir you to release control and allow Christ to direct your hearts into the love of God.

~ enjoy!

[mediaplayer src=’https://www.grace-life.org/Video/Cross%20of%20Christ.mp4′ width=480 height=320 ]

I was actually a little hesitant to include this last video, not because it has a cuss word (which it does – sorry) but because it could be misinterpreted as a call to “try harder” to love Jesus. That is not what I believe this video is even saying, and it is certainly not why I have offered it here. It is an invitation to decide to open up your heart to the love of God and allow Him to love you and free you to love Him back in response (make up your mind do you love Me too?). Remember the passage in Deut. 30:6,

“GOD, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love GOD, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live.”

Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been shepherding in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!