Series: Other Speakers
Sun am 7th March 2010 – Hazel Swart
Rev. 2:1-7; 1 John 4:15-21;
1 Cor. 13:1-3 (Message); Eph. 4:31-32 (Message); Eph. 5:1-2 (Message)
We see in Acts 19:1 that Ephesus was definitely a church established by God. It was a church that received very little reprimanding about doctrinal teaching. But there was a warning; there was something that had to be overcome. According to Revelation 2:1-7, they had done all the right things but had lost their first love. Similarly we have done all the right things, we have worked hard, we have been steadfast; we have rooted out all the false doctrines and false people. We are walking on a pure road with a solid word foundation, but God says this to us, “You need to overcome the lovelessness.” Do we not love God enough or do we not love each other enough? If you love God, you love people, but to be able to love people, you have to love God. To him who overcomes He will grant to eat of the tree of everlasting life. He who loves God should love his brother also (1 John 4:15-21).
We come to church, we love God, we are faithful, we persevere; we do everything we are supposed to do. He says, “But you’ve lost something.” This is the Bridegroom who is looking for a Bride. A bride who has lost her first love? A bride that has no more feeling, no more emotions? It can happen in our Christian walk. There are times when it seems dry and desolate, when you wonder if anything can bloom in the desert again. Unless we love one another, the world will never get the message. The message is not about our doctrine, which is solid, but they will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. The undergirding love for one another has to be there. The Message Bible talks about being deep spirited friends.
We need to be doing the things we did at first. He’s saying, “What has happened to the things you did to Me at first, the sensitivity you had at first, when you were first saved.” Don’t become a mature and boring Christian who nobody wants to know because you look so sad.
What is this love then that we are to have for one another? If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
(1 Cor. 13:1-3 – Message Bible) Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7 – NASB).
We are often impatient with one another, not giving God the time to work in each other’s lives. We can be gripped by jealousy which overwhelms us. Jealousy is a mask for fear. God loves us and He has a complete plan for us and he is no respecter of persons. Never compare yourself with somebody else, because that breeds jealousy. Love does not brag, but is humble. Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. When someone asks forgiveness, take the burden off them and take the baggage off yourself.
What He showed me was the tenderness of God. Luke 18 talks about the lost sheep. Can you imagine leaving 99 of the best sheep to go for the little one that’s lost and bleating somewhere? The story of the prodigal son shows how the father waited with compassion, His tender mercies. God was showing me how tenderly He works with us, and how harshly we sometimes work with each other. He has a gentle way. Tenderly work with each other; tenderly work with our young people who don’t have it all together and with our older people. Show tenderness to the children. I was so struck by how God works with us and how we should work with each other. Watch what we say about each other. Watch how we as leaders deal with the sheep. His tender mercies are towards us and should be towards each other. It is something we have to work on. Life brings curveballs, it makes us hard. Working hard and the stresses of life make us hard sometimes. God is true to His Word when He says, “I love you; I am tender towards you.” When David sinned He came to the Lord and said, “Your tender mercies are new every morning.” It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday, today His tender mercies are there for you and I.
Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another,be sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that (Eph. 4:31-32 to Eph. 5:2). How do we get this love? If we have grown numb, if the circumstances of life have hardened our hearts, if we have become bitter, if we are stressed out, if we have been hurt by people and we’ve been hurt in relationships, how do we get over that? The Scripture says, “Repent”. In other words, turn around, weep. Let the tears wash and cleanse us. Let us not fail on this. Let us know Your tender mercies Oh Lord. Let us know Your love and feel Your love. How do we feel it? By somebody else telling you and touching you, or being there for you and being tender with you. Our own pain is a training ground; it helps us to understand and tenders us so that we can reach out to others.
It is a time of repentance. “Lord, check my heart, wash me; cleanse me.” Let there be nothing in my heart that can stumble a brother or not show kindness, nor let there be bragging and boasting of who I am and what I do. Let’s be a loving Church, not just on a Sunday. If we don’t do this, God says He will take away the testimony; He will remove the candle stick. We will no longer have a testimony in this area; no matter how wonderful our worship is, no matter how wonderful the Word is, how wonderful the sent man is that God has given us. It’s up to us. The stones come together to build a house and create an atmosphere, but we cannot forget the love of God and His tender mercies and His loving kindness. God is shedding His love abroad in our hearts. Let’s spread the message of His loving kindness.