Our pastor's first sermon of the year was about love. Genuine love. Not pretending to care about someone, but genuinely, sacrificially, loving others. This was a conclusion to Pastor Matt's series on being connected. He drew the parallel about God being an initiator (no one can come to Him unless he is drawn by God, God is the initiator), and we are to be imitators of Him. Matt gave us a mantra, "Don't wait, initiate." In the US, we are physically detached from people (we live in neighborhoods often and don't even know our neighbors), and view ourselves as individuals much more often than as being a part of a collective body or group. This can lead us to believe that our sin affects only ourselves and is otherwise harmless. The reality is that my sin always affects others, either directly or indirectly, and needs to be repented of, followed by seeking reconciliation.
The focus verses were Romans 12:9-15 "Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. The phrase "genuine affection" is more clearly described as an affection a father or mother has for their child. Do I love others the way I love my children? Good question! I am not sure I do, no, I am sure that I don't! Especially the person who pulls out in front of me, or honks at me (wow I hate that), or won't let me change lanes. Or my husband who didn't say something JUST the right way.
Hebrews 10:25 "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Let us continue to meet, in person, or here on this blog. Let us be an encouragement to each other. Let us practice hospitality together. Let us spur each other on in these last days...His return is so near. Did you know that there are no more prophecies that need to be fulfilled before the return of Christ for His people?? They have all been fulfilled, and we are a trumpet's sound from meeting Him in the air! Some scholars of end time prophecy believe the rapture will occur within the next 10 (that's TEN) years. What are you doing to prepare yourself and others? I hope you'll join me in making 2009 your year to love.
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."
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