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Listen & Love

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35-45 min
LOVE Part 2
John 14:15-17
When (Gk “Ean”) you (disciples) love me,
You will be keeping these commands of mine; (this is a promise!)
and I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Encourager
—to be with you forever.
(Fredrick Dale Bruner. Commentary on John)
From The Bible Project Podcast Tues Oct 11, 2022:
There is a reciprocal relationship between LISTENING and LOVING. The main idea is this: When Israel LOVES Yahweh, they will LISTEN to him. (Listen, in this case, means more than just hearing. It’s about responding in trust and obedience.) Similarly, because Yahweh loves Israel, he listens to them. He responds with compassion and mercy and delivers them when they need help.
In the first movements of Deuteronomy, two words appear more frequently than any others: LISTEN (Heb. “Shema”) and LOVE. Over and over Moses tells Israel to love Yaweh and to listen to him.
In every close relationship one of the simplest but also most difficult ways to show LOVE is to attentive listening. And responding and doing something because of what you hear.
And this isn’t just a one-sided listening endeavor. Moses assures Israel that Yaweh is listening to them far more than they will ever listen to him.
Moses warns that they shouldn’t give their allegiance to other gods because they are gods who do not “shema”. So you are to shema, and if you shema you enter this relationship where Yaweh will listen to you.
And if this whole concept of LISTENING and LOVING has you thinking about your close friendships or your marriage or family, that’s because—it’s supposed to: You are to LISTEN to and LOVE God and LISTEN to and LOVE your neighbors and your nearest neighbors are your own spouse and family.
Israel’s covenant loyalty and love for Yaweh is also described with the word “yada” an intimate term that describes the marriage union. It’s the same word used for Adam and Eve in the Eden story.
It’s impossible to love one another and especially FAMILY members—people we usually view as friends but occasionally see as enemies—without a whole-life ongoing, intimate, conversational relationship with the God of LOVE himself.
But isn’t that the whole point?! —TO live one whole life of KNOWING JESUS?!! (“Depart from me, I never KNEW you”)
It’s really a whole package deal. All or nothing.
Why not give every part of your whole life to Jesus!? I mean If you could keep something SECRET from Jesus, what would it be?—THAT is probably your idol. Put it to death and bury it.
Why do people hesitate to let Jesus in to their whole life?
“Intimacy Anorexia” (Dr. Doug Weiss) Do we have an aversion to intimacy with God? (EXPLAIN)
P96 From C.S. Lewis, Four Loves: (optional)
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.
To Love is: To will God’s best for someone and be ready to do what you can to make it happen.
We’re gonna read some scripture so I wanna remind us that Paul said: “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and teaching…” 1 Tim 4:13
The NT is written in Koine Greek, 7th grade language of commerce. We should be able to read it publicly and pretty much everybody should be expected to understand it.)
The Shema Life: (From The Shema gets its name from the first Hebrew word of the prayer—”hear” or “listen”, a translation of the Hebrew word shema. Ancient Jewish people prayed these words every morning and every evening.
In the opening section of Deuteronomy where this famous prayer first appears, Moses is addressing the new generation of Israel as they prepare to enter the promised land. He is urging them to not repeat the mistakes of their parents’ generation, wanting them to experience the full blessing of the promised land. But to do so, the people must learn to listen to and love God fully, above all else.
Mark 12:30
The Greatest Commandment
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘HEAR, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 LOVE the Lord (“ahavah”) your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘LOVE your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
From 157.אָהֵב aheb (“ahavah”) to love. Ahavah “Love” is a very common word; it refers to the affection or care one person shows another.
Ahavah is an Action
And so, in the Shema Israel is called to respond to God’s ahavah by showing ahavah in return (“you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart”).
And just like God’s love, human love should show itself through actions. Like in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, “What does the LORD your God ask of you, except to fear the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, to love him and serve him … and to keep his commands.” All of these actions are centered around love. If I’m not doing them, I don’t actually love God. I just say I do.
1 JOHN 2
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Notice how tender. John is being here. Jesus deals tenderly with our weaknesses. (See the business cards: “Jesus always glad…”)
John does want us to get this: The connection between OBEYING HIS COMMANDS and REMAINING IN HIS LOVE. It’s huge:
Cont’d: 1 John 2:
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, LOVE FOR GOD is truly made complete in them.
LOVE for God is ALWAYS tied to paying attention to HIM and his COMMANDS as words of life—words to live by. (Like a parent: “Do NOT go out into the street.”)
Isn’t this what we at NLC all really want?—for his LOVE to be made complete in us? In your marriage, in your family, in your life, in our church, even in our community…
Cont’d: 1 John 2:
This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
(In what way can we live as Jesus did? By hearing and putting into practice what the indwelling Holy Spirit says, the same way Jesus always did what he heard his Father saying to him) This is “Building To Code”
Cont’d: 1 John 2:
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
Did you get that? “Anyone who LOVES, LIVES” Love and one’s whole actual real life are inseparable.
BTW: “Hate”, “CONTEMPT”: A studied, secret degrading of someone. The first and worst of sins Jesus mentions it first in the Sermon on the Mountainside.
If we at NLC want to see hesed-agape-love become part of our DNA, and pervade our fellowship individually and corporately (and we DO!) we are going to have to “live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6) and make this a whole-life venture. So that we might live through him (1 John 4:9)
Let’s read that 1 John passage:
1 John 4:7-12
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 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. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (IMITATION) 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
(Michel brings this out in the book…which I am trying not to parrot here…)
What Pastor Chriss and the Staff and leaders and we as this congregation are actually signing up for is a total REVOLUTION fueled by hesed-agape-love that actually results in “God actually coming to live in us and his love actually being made complete in us” (1 John 4:12).
This, of course is the very promise Jesus makes in John 14:23
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
Again, to live like Jesus lived is to pay ATTENTION to the Holy Spirit living in us just as he always PAID ATTENTION to his Father. This is something you CAN do.
To Love is: To will God’s best for someone and be ready to do what you can to make it happen.
JOHN 15:12-14
12 Here is my very special command: that you have a heart for one another— out of the resource of my heart for you. There is no greater love than this: giving one's life for one's friends. Well, you disciples are my friends when you are doing the things I am commanding you.
Jesus Promises His Disciples His Spirit’s Forever Friendship
John 14:15-17 (Fredrick Dale Bruner. Commentary on John)
When you (disciples) love me,
You will be keeping these commands of mine; (this is a promise!)
and I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Encourager
—to be with you forever.
I am talking about the Spirit of the Truth,
whom the world cannot accept,
because it does not see him or know him.
Ah, but you know him!
The introductory Greek word ean, means “WHEN”, not “If”
Jesus is not questioning his disciples’ love for him, he is assuming it, as his following promise confirms—“you will be,” simple future tense.
It’s definitely not a “should be” imperative.
Some of The Commands of Christ (In your handout)
(18 of the most familiar of about 70 recorded commands Jesus gave. “Faith” is best understood as complete TRUST. That’s why we’re admonished to TRUST Jesus for the veracity, relevance and efficacy of his commands and my obedience to them, in my everyday life, especially in the seemingly harmless, boring and innocuous parts of life.)
Let the truth set you free. (TRUST Me.)
Do to others as you would have them do to you. (TRUST Me.)
Love the people closest to you (neighbor). (TRUST Me.)
Do not let your heart be troubled. (TRUST Me.)
Love your enemy. (TRUST Me.)
Ask and you will receive. (TRUST Me.)
Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. (TRUST Me.)
Let your light shine. (TRUST Me.)
Love each other as I have loved you. (TRUST Me.)
Take heart! (TRUST Me.)
Be merciful. (TRUST Me.) Do good to those who hate you, (TRUST Me.)
If you are weary and burdened, come to me and you will find rest for your souls. (TRUST Me.)
Do not be afraid. (TRUST Me.)
Do not separate what God has joined together. (TRUST Me.)
Do not worry about your life. (TRUST Me.)
Forgive others their sins; otherwise your Father will not forgive your sins. (TRUST Me.)
Let the little children come to me. (TRUST Me.)
“Fan into flame the gift…” 2 Tim 1:6
God is calling us at New Life Church to fan into flame the most amazing gift of all—his hesed-agape-love which he has lavished on us.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us POWER, LOVE (hesed-agape) and SELF-DISCIPLINE.” 2 Tim 1:7
1 John 2:20
“You have an anointing from the Holy One” We have an anointing. We have been gifted a LOVE that we can fan into flame as we STOP, and PAY ATTENTION to God until we hear him say how much he cares for you…
To Love is: To will God’s best for someone and be ready to do what you can to make it happen.
one of the the most challenging aspects of this love command from Jesus—the directive to LOVE OUR ENEMIES.
Matt 5:43
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who despitefully use you, 45 that you may be children (offspring) of your Father in heaven.
You have the capacity for “enemy mode”. You can see others (even people you normally love) as enemies.
You can also see yourself as an enemy. This is a pervasive problem. “SHAFDS” is pervasive.
God loves his enemies and You can Do The Same
(love your enemies—even if it’s the person in the mirror, your spouse or your family or church member!)
Romans 5:
6 …Christ died for the ungodly…  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us… while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son…
This is serious:
Matt 24:
10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
The love God has “lavished on us” is a strong, resilient, unbreakable bond of relational love—the way that a Special Ops Green Beret team is bonded for life…
Jesus himself is love and love bonds us fast to himself and to one another.
So what do you do when Jesus wrecks your life by telling you to love your enemies???,
You wanna recoil and retreat into unbelief. DON’T DO THAT!
Rather, run right into the arms of Jesus. (This is a 180, “REPENT”) Let this challenge make you wanna get closer to him instead of instinctively turning away.
When Jesus is bringing revolutionary, shocking realities into the human sphere, like: LOVE YOUR ENEMY this can actually serve to drive us right back into his arms.
Like a little child in her highchair who is perplexed by something her Mom says, the kid locks her eyes onto her parent’s face, inquisitively searches for meaning in her Mom’s statement.
(Show Haddie pic)
Matt 18
3 And Jesus said: “…unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom.
Jesus said it: “You have not because you ASK not. So ASK! Jesus wants to be asked!
And really, today, right now, here at church, Jesus is presenting to all of us an invitation to come in to his kingdom. To bring yourself and your little kingdom or queendom into his forever infinite kingdom.
Bring all your baggage. Jesus will sort it out at his TSA…
It’s why Matt 4:17 says, “…repent for the kingdom of God has now arrived.”
So Jesus wants us to bring a childlike CURIOSITY and IMAGINATION and lock eyes with Him—pay ATTENTION to him— whenever we hear him say things that challenge us.
To Love is: To will God’s best for someone and be ready to do what you can to make it happen.
SONG (Cookie comes up) “HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN?”
There are so many broken relationships in our broken world. We come together in church and find a good relational space. So we don’t wanna do anything that would upset our church relationships, the way our marriage, family or work relationships have been.
So we walk I on eggs around our church relationships and never venture on going deeper, getting real and bonding more thoroughly. All of this creates a relational house built on sand. Jesus knows it won’t bear the weight of what he wants to do in these last days in his people.
To receive God’s love you just need to get alone with him and get honest about everything. Then you can emerge with the Spirit of Christ still in you into those tough relationships with people who are acting a lot like enemies—and LOVE them.
1 Minute of silent prayer (this is the in-seat “altar call”) Ask Jesus to give you a heart for one another— out of the resource of His heart for you.
God is beckoning our church and his people to become a “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed and receives the blessing of God”. Hebrews 6:7
God’s Spirit is now being poured out on all flesh but in our addictive, idolatrous culture, just like the OT and the first century culture Jesus and Paul lived in, people can be so full of anything but God’s love that we’re impervious to the INVITATION from heaven. Like rock-hard ground.
Our modern distractions and idolatries to which so many of us are addicted today are nothing more than the same dumb idols Moses warned the Israelites against. And exactly the same dangers that the Israelites faced with their idols, we face with ours: the idol, the screen, the device, the substance—all these are nothing.
But, behind that material object is a spiritual Elohim, a spiritual power that is bent on destroying the relationship God’s people have with God and each other. Moses actually uses the term Elohim to refer to these idols. Because of the actual spiritual beings that were behind the idols.
When we resist intimacy with God and his people we are creating a “soul-vacuum” where God’s hesed love should be. And “human nature abhors a vacuum!” So repent and start LISTENING to God and letting God LOVE YOU!
We are to be “fearfully and wonderfully” connected to God! There’s no “OFF” switch to God’s love. Jesus never dials it back. He just pours it on. He’s the Prodigal Father! Very inclusive! Are we gonna make room for Jesus?
Let’s stand together, JIM encourage people to “Linger Longer” and visit with friends or make some new ones.
______ closing prayer. 20 min to here
Here’s one way to let God love you, 7 steps: (in your handout)
1. Gratitude.
Hear God say to you:
2. “I can see you”.
3. “I can hear you”.
4. “I understand how big this is for you”.
5. “I am glad to be with you and treat your weakness tenderly”.
6. “I can do something about what you are going through”.
7. Read what you have written aloud (preferably to someone.)
25 mins to here
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