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Is Love Something I Pick Up, or Something I Lay Down?

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What is a clear picture of Christian Love?

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Open with talking about the dinner last night. Then ask about who gave cards, received cards, etc.

I know that this past Sunday, I talked about “relationships”, in light of it being Valentine’s Day Weekend. Tonight, I want to briefly speak on the very attribute of Valentine’s Day, that is, the thing that is most commonly used to describe this day and what this day is represented by.

When you see a physical representation of Valentine’s Day, what symbol is most commonly used to depict this day on the cards and candy and other gifts?
Right, the “heart symbol”. And what is the heart symbol used to represent on this holiday and most other times?
The heart symbol is used to represent the “heart”, most definitely. But it is more so associated with the seat of our emotions and more specifically, which emotion is it commonly used to represent?
BINGO, the little heart symbol is used to represent LOVE!
More commonly and the most understood use of it, especially on this day, is that of “romantic love”!
And I know that talking about LOVE as a subject from the pulpit, especially on this particular day, can seem, to some people, a little bit of a cliche’, right?
But my intention tonight is to not so much talking about, or describing what is LOVE is and the types of LOVE that we can experience. Rather, my intention for this evening, is to remind each one of us of what a Christian’s LOVE is vs the worlds.

There was a popular rock song in the late ‘80s that was titled, “When It’s Love” and the chorus in the song said, “How do I know when it’s love, I can’t tell you but it will last forever; how does it feel when it’s love, it’s just something you feel together”.

The reason that I mention this is that many, many people look to “feel” and experience LOVE through the senses and the emotional connection, that is, the “heart”.
Just like the song lyric said, “how does it feel when it’s love, it’s just something you feel together”, that is the most recognized description of LOVE in society.
And although the “romantic” LOVE that we talk about, is dramatically linked to the experience of emotional feelings, as God designed it, the LOVE that the Bible speaks of and that we are to have through Jesus, is a different type of love altogether.
And tonight, I am not here to rehash and describe in detail, the 4 most common types of LOVE, that have been talked about before in church, that is: Phileo, Storge, Eros and Agape.
But, I will stress that they are each important in their own way and are active parts of a healthy Christian life.
Before Dee and I were married, we went through pre-marital counseling with Pastor Linus Vaughn and he stressed something to us about our future life together (notice that I said future “life” and not “lives”. Why is I phrase it that way? Right, the two become one entity. We are sharing one life now.)
Anyway, Linus stressed to us that we should always continue dating throughout our marriage and our life together.
He said that going on dates would become crucial, as romancing the other is something that was needed and healthy for the marriage!
Remember, God designed us with the chemical makeup in our brains to experience all of the types of love that are to occur in our lives, as long as they are in alignment with His plan!
These, in their own rights, are necessary within our lives, albeit, EROS was and is supposed to be only experienced in the marriage life.
Eros, sexual intimacy outside of the marriage, is forbidden according to God’s word!
Within the marital life it is a blessing of God for the man and woman, but never outside of the marital bed!
So, when I says that I want to briefly just remind each of us as to what Christian love looks like, versus that of the world, it is because many people, even those who profess CHRIST, still walk in and look at LOVE through their natural eyes and senses and not through the lens of the Bible and of what we were commanded to do!

Now, most people will say, “I don’t need someone talking to me about love! I know how to love; I love my wife, I love my children, I love my job and my friends! I love my church family and I love the Lord! So, I don’t need to have someone talk about LOVE! I love, love, love, love!”

Here’s the thing guys. If I say to you that I love each of you, this is an instant, Phileo type of love and it is a natural thing that we feel. Now, yes it is more natural and enhanced within the sphere of Christianity, because of our hearts and minds being transformed and renewed and more inline with that of the Father.
But, we all can say that we love and we all can even say that we LOVE as Christ loves each one and others.
But, to this, I would agree with more of the way that James spoke about our FAITH, in terms of our Christian walk and apply that to our LOVE for others.
If you remember, James said this of our FAITH and LOVE, “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”
According to James, if you or I say that we have faith in Jesus and yet, we cannot prove it through our actions, then this FAITH that we profess ,is dead!
Well, by virtue of the same logic, if I profess that I am a follower of Jesus Christ and that I adhere to and believe and walk in all that He instructed me to do, then my Christ like LOVE for others should easily manifest and show itself.
Saying that I am a follower of Jesus is easy; showing that I am follower of Jesus without having said a word is something completely different.
Jesus said that we will know the TRUTH and that the truth would set us free.
Well, saying that we’ve been set free and yet still operating as we once were before, is not free. That is how the enemy wants our minds to operate.
Under the delusion that we are walking in the LOVE and FAITH of Jesus, although we limit to whom and how we show His LOVE to others!
And for this to make sense, you have to go back and look at what Jesus said of His LOVE and what He expects of us.

In the book of , Jesus said this,

John 13:34–35 NLT
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.”
In this passage, we see Jesus using the word agape, for LOVE. Remember, agape is God’s love, that is, it is perfect, pure and selfless. As I read this past Sunday from , agape love is patient, kind, non-envious, non-boastful, it is not arrogant or rude, it is not self seeking, it bears, believes and endures all things.
So, Jesus commands us to LOVE OTHERS (not just family, church friends and known other CHRISTIANS, but EVERYONE), as He loves us!
This is one of the litmus tests for a true follower of Jesus, in that a true follower will have the ability to walk this out, because of something they will have within them, that false Christian will not.
tells us,
Romans 5:5 ESV
and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
To equip the ecclesia, the church, the Body of Christ, with agape love (His LOVE), God poured His own Spirit into our hearts, thus enabling us to LOVE through the agape.
In our natural, sinful, fallen state, this is not possible.
At least not continually and towards everyone.
The very first of the list given in Galatians for the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, is LOVE (AGAPE LOVE), itself!
So, Jesus made it clear, that LOVE. His love, was mandatory towards everyone.
When you go back to , and read of the lawyer who approached Jesus and asked Him, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life”, and Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?
This account, leads into Jesus telling the parable of the Good Samaritan.
And at the end of the parable, Jesus asks the lawyer, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
So, the point being, anyone and everyone who you and I come in contact with, whom we can be a neighbor to, we are to do it.
However, this only clears the air for who is our neighbor; that is, who are we expected to LOVE, as the second great commandment states!
Jesus, didn’t leave it closed and open for interpretation. He made sure, right before He was crucified, that He instituted the full extent of this command, by saying that we are to LOVE others, as He loves us!
We are to LOVE our neighbors, (anyone that we come in contact with that we can show His agape to), we are to do it!
The reason that He commanded this right before His crucifixion, is also imperative.
He could have easily given this command before He ascended, after His resurrection, but it was crucial that He explain it and then walk it out before their very eyes, before He was crucified.
It is easy to claim or say something after the fact. It is solid and impacting, however, if people hear you say it before it happens and witness you walking it out after you have said it.
This shows that you truly mean it and desire it to be and have faith and belief in it!
This is why we understand that as leaders, we are to lead by example. People will follow someone who seems to know and believe by their actions, what they profess to others!
So, Jesus told the disciples the clarified commandment of LOVE and then, He basically signed it and ratified it, with His own blood!
So, we know who our neighbor is (EVERYONE WE COME IN CONTACT WITH) and we now know who Jesus means when He said love others, (EVERYONE!)
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Then, Jesus, stresses to His disciples, what LOVING Him entailed; it means to follow/keep His commands. , “If you love me, obey my commandments”, verse 21, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
When you think of “greeting” someone, what do you think of? Right, the English word “greet” means - give a polite word or sign of welcome or recognition to (someone) on meeting.
And what had He just commanded them to do? (Right love one another)
The Greek word for “greet” also, means to greet, to welcome,
Verse 23-26, also, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
The word that Jesus uses in this statement, however, is the word,
Jesus said that Holy Spirit would remind us of everything Jesus was telling us. So, if Jesus stressed that we must LOVE others as He loves us, then what do you think that Holy Spirit reminds us to do and equips us to do and enables our hearts to do; even when the other person hates us and means only bad for us?
YES, it is only through the indwelling of Holy Spirit, that we will have the ability to agape a world that hates us.
And as to the love of the world, in , a passage we are getting ready to read, Jesus says this, “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”
The word for “love” that Jesus uses here is “phileo”, not agape. The world, even if you are in it and of it, cannot love you with AGAPE LOVE!
In , we see the climatic announcement of what true AGAPE LOVE is, (READ PASSAGE)
John 15:9–17 NLT
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.
Do you see what AGAPE LOVE looks like, more so now?
It loves everyone, the ones who love you and the ones and who hate and persecute you!
It is sacrificial and looks for the betterment of the other, even if the sacrificing of yourself is what it takes to preserve and better them!
Jesus also made it clear that being a friend of His (someone who is close and knows the will of the Father), is someone who follows His commands!
We are told that we, as His friend/followers, were called and that we are to produce “lasting”fruit.
What is lasting that we have and that we give unto others?
, “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
Love is the Fruit of Holy Spirit, as found in . It is the essence of God, Himself (, “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love”) and so, LOVE is the lasting FRUIT that is produced through being obedient to Jesus and the will of His Father.

So, the love of God, the REAL AGAPE LOVE, is not a feeling, it is an action. (DC Talk used to sing a song called, “Love is a Verb”) Phileo love (relational/humanity love) can change someone’s emotional status towards you, but AGAPE LOVE can change a person’s life!

AGAPE LOVE is action based, because it requires us to do something in order for it to be released to another. ,
Luke 9:23 NLT
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
Listen to this same passage as read from the AMP version of the Bible, “And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].”
Did you hear the two actions that we are directed to follow?
Deny ourselves (give up our own wants and desires and interests that are not what God wants in and for our lives).
Take up our cross and follow Jesus and His commands.
Part of the problem is that we sometimes embrace, or refuse to lay down parts of our lives that we are comfortable with and this impedes Holy Spirit from working in us, or we put the cross on a pull behind trailer and try to make the daily walk as comfortable as possible!

There are numerous verses in the Bible that tell us that we must deny ourselves. That is, we must lay down one thing, (free up our spiritual hands by laying down our own wants and desires), so that we can spiritually pick up the only thing that Jesus commanded us to carry (our cross)!

READ PASSAGES FROM SHEET OF PAPER ABOUT LAYING DOWN OUR LIVES!
ASK FOR SKIT GUYS VIDEO, “Dennis An Original Masterpiece”, TO BE PLAYED.
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