There is so much hate in our world, in our country, communities. People need to see love, experience love, the world needs to learn what love is all about.
Jesus once said that the whole law of God and the prophesies are summed up in two commandments. To love God and love people. This world would be a completely different place if we just lived out these two commandments.
Today I would like to talk about another word we Christians throw around a lot and at many times, we don’t quite understand its meaning. It is the word “grace.” We hear things like you are saved by grace and there’s nothing you could have done. Salvation is a gift, that you don’t deserve it. Just as we spent time last week looking at God’s love and what we mean when we say it’s unconditional, today I want us to spend some time looking at God’s grace. What is it? What do we mean when we say we are saved by grace?
One of the most discussed topics in the Bible is the love of God, but I believe it’s one of the most misunderstood when left to our own explanation. To understand God’s love, its nature, we must go to the Scriptures to see how God himself defines his love. Sometimes we talk about God’s love being unconditional, but we fail to expand or explain really what that term means. Today I would like us to spend some time looking at God’s love so we can understand better what we mean when we attach it to words such as unconditional or conditional.
The word Christians was given to the followers of Christ because their lives were Christ-centered. Their lives reflected the teachings of their Lord; their communities were Christ-centered; their love for each other was also evident to outsiders. Sadly, this is no longer the case in our society where the word Christian is thrown so loosely.
Sometimes people wonder why God allows them to go through hardships, storms in life. Sometimes we forget that life on this fallen world guarantees hardships, difficulties. Lots of ups and downs. Scriptures gives us a great outlook to difficulties in life. Jesus told his followers to expect them. (John 16:33) “In this world, you will have trouble, but be brave because I have overcome the world.”
Many attend church, but only a few worship. Worship is one of those things we may hear a lot in church but know so little about. Every Sunday we gather together for a “worship service” or worship experience. Have you ever thought why you come together with other believers to worship God? How would you define worship?
“The Lone Ranger and Tonto; Laurel and Hardy. Batman and Robin. It was Snoopy and Charlie. Friends through thick and thin. Friends to the very end. I think you would agree. That’s how it is for You and me.” Geoff Moore and the distance.
We could add to this list, Woody and Buzz, captain America and Bucky. Frodo and Sam. These characters reflect true friendship. When we read and study the Bible we also find great friendships.
You can be very religious and still not know what you worship. You could be attending church your whole life and still not know Jesus. Not because you go to a church where they talk about Jesus makes you into a Christian. You may attend a church and know the rituals, practices and still not know Jesus.
Jesus himself said that at the end of times, there will be people that have a form of religion, people who thought knew Jesus or had a relationship with him. They will be shocked to find out they will not be with Jesus.
You can be very religious and not know what or who you worship. There are lots of people in our world today who worship something or someone, but they don’t quite know the object of their worship. Then you have people whose gods are made up, they want their gods to conform to their desires. Their gods need to fit in their preconceived notions for them to believe in them. You may have a form of religion and even practice it, but still not know God.
Sometimes, you hear people label churches as contemporary, traditional, purpose-driven; seeker sensitive; fellowship or service driven, charismatic and so forth. People label churches based on what they see happening in those communities. All these labels don’t matter for a church if the community is not centered on Jesus. If you’d like to know what a Christ-centered church looks like, just take a look at the Antioch church in the first century.
Part of being a kingdom person in this world is to be faithful stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us. When Jesus started his earthly ministry; he began to preach “repent, the kingdom of God is near” (Matt.4:17). Jesus taught many things concerning the kingdom of heaven in the gospel according to Matthew. Through his teachings, we can understand better what the kingdom is all about and the role we play as part of it.
It’s been 97 years since women in our nation were granted the right to vote. (August 26, 1920) Soon after this, some religious groups began to predict that the American family would collapse if women began voting and becoming involved in politics. Some believed that the place for women was only the home, not work. It’s sad to realize that there are still people who hold to these beliefs. Even churches still struggle with the role of women in church. Throughout history God has been using people to accomplish his purposes, both men and women. Women have made a mark in history in spite of living in a time where their ideas and efforts would not be acknowledged. They created an impact in the world, even our lives today are impacted by what some women did.