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Love

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[Music] are you guys it's good to see you I'm glad you're here I'm glad you're here if you're watching online you're sitting out the snowy roads that's okay we're glad you're here I am both Stern I am actually not bow Stern truth be told my name is Benita my mom and dad named me bunny today yeah and I know people are always like oh it's the Spanish word for beautiful they had no way of knowing that they were they were definitely one language people they thought they made it up and they didn't it's a word but so I and then my sisters couldn't say it I have two older sisters and they couldn't say it and so my parents just kept whopping it off until it became Bo and so if ever I get a phone call for Bonita I know it's like the government I mean no that's it's something official it's probably just not good news and if I get a phone call for Bo I know it's a friend it's someone who actually knows the real me and so I'm the same person but people call me different things based on what they know of me and that's true of lots of words actually probably some of you have a nickname too like maybe you're one of those couples that calls each other snookums or something and we don't need to know about it but that might be you but there's lots of words for different things the Inuits I was thinking of it this morning they have a hundred different words for snow and they all mean different things to them and one of their words in fact means the feeling you have when you run to the window waiting for it to fall I don't feel that so I don't even know what the word is but I know they have a word for it they must like it better than we do here in Central Oregon but it's interesting because these words so much of our life spins around words and how we see things and what we call them and sometimes something comes along that doesn't have a specific name and so we give it a word we give a word because nothing's ever described it before and like I was thinking if we told one of our ancestors that they should Google something like what word is that that's not and it just makes all kind sense to us because we started doing something then we attached a name to it and that became what it is there's a word in German that that means the way you gain from sorrow or stress like the way you gain from a bad breakup and it literally translates to grief bacon isn't that cool now there's a word in Italian for the ring of condensation that's left from the water bottle and there's just all these words that are so interesting to me and we're gonna look at a word that developed during the early church in the first century AD and it's they were experiencing something in their culture that they had seen in the life of Jesus and they had no word for it so they made one they made a word for it the word is found a hundred and sixteen times in the New Testament and so it's probably something we should know about we're gonna look at it today in the in the letters of John now in two weeks we start our blues series on the Gospel of John and it's gonna be great the Gospel of John is such a beautiful high impact power filled book and if you aren't in a blue group yet please will you jump in one today this is a great time to do it there are only six weeks it's not till death it was part you can just get in and get out it's no problem and if you'd like to lead one we really would love to have some leaders step up and you can just open up your home or your table at back porch or whatever it is your office if you've got some Westsiders in your office and you want to all come together for a lunch and just talk about John we give you a discussion guide it's free and it's really helpful as you go through it you'll learn things about each other and about Jesus end of that little plug right so we're gonna start Gospel of John but but for the next two weeks we're looking at the letters of John now John was the disciple Jesus loved that was his other name he had a couple of names John the son of debt Zebedee John the disciple Jesus loved and he was the one who didn't it wasn't martyred and he writes his letters around a hundred ad so he's very old and he's been through a lot he's seen the death of his very dearest friend he's seen the death of all the other disciples he's seen the persecution of the church there would be no imagining how many loved ones John has lost and he even I mean sometimes people look at John and think he had a super easy life because he wasn't martyred but in fact John really lived a difficult life he was very persecuted and at the end of his life the church historians tell us that they brought him into the church on a stretcher to say his last words to the church and they thought he was senile because of what he chose to say because they're waiting for like I think they're probably waiting for when is Jesus coming back and they're waiting for how do we live and what do we do and what's the right doctrine and how do we follow it and the last words of John to the people of the church were little children love one another it's just so beautiful and it came out of his life in every way John's worth researching if you have extra time on your hands and so he writes in these letters to a region of churches that have undergone the infiltration of a teaching that is heretical it is not in line with the way and will of Jesus and so these letters are addressed to them to keep them firmly inside of the grace of God and we don't actually know what the heresy is you'll read some commentaries while people will speculate but nobody really knows what was being taught then and you know why we don't know because John doesn't tell us he doesn't actually say anything about what's being taught he only talks about here's how you know a real follower of Jesus Christ he doesn't describe all the ways the counterfeit money looks he just keeps describing this is what a real dollar feels like this is how it really looks and feels and and it's like when you take a check into the bank and the teller will hold it up to the light to see the watermark on it that's what John does in these letters he says if you see this in your life then you are a true follower of Jesus Christ and if you don't you are not and he it seems complicated sometimes to say well what what's the grid through which I run my spirituality to say if I really am following or am not following and John makes it super simple he narrows it down to two things one thing is love what you do with love the way you love and the other thing is what you do with sin so love and sin are the themes of 1st 2nd and 3rd John and I am the lucky girl who gets to talk about love and pastor Steve is the guy who gets to talk about sin next week so this is gonna be a fun day and then you have to come back I don't I didn't want that one so we're looking at what authenticates our life and and and this is the word love is the word that the early church created they already had words phileo and eros they had words to describe friendship love and they had word to describe romantic love but agape love was their word it was the word in which they stuck their flag and said this will define our community and the word agape is not found in any other documents contemporary to the Bible it's not found in historic documents except the Bible and it's found there over a hundred times in the New Testament so we know this was a watchword for the early church it was a definer it was the fuel for what they did and the word agape differs from the other two kinds of love in that it has an element inside of it of sacrifice and service and protection agape is not a mutual gratification kind of love it's a love that serves and sacrifices if we wonder how much doesn't serve and sacrifice John says look at Jesus the same way he laid his life down on the cross for the people he loves that's agape that's that's how that's supposed to look and and the Greek definition in it boils down to this one specific phrase that sets it apart from the other two kinds of love and it's just three words to protect greatly that's two agape to protect greatly Jesus went to the cross to keep us safe to protect us from sin and shame and eternity without him he went to the cross because he said I would rather die to protect them than live without them and so true agape is the kind of love that the New Testament elevates now the other two kinds of love aren't wrong eros and and phileo they're not wrong kinds of love they're fine but they can't exist without the agape kind of love I mean you probably know people that you would say I love that person but would you lay your life down for them I mean honestly I've got like six people that I would lay my life down for literally and so it is agape flowing in your life if there's no one that you would lay your life down for and I will also say that the other two kinds of love will always greatly benefit from agape adding a spirit of protection into a romantic relationship adding of spirit of protection into parenting relationship or a friendship relationship is always gonna raise the love level for you and so the New Testament elevates agape love above every other kind of love it's true and Noble and and this is the love that Paul tells us never fails friendship love will fail romantic love will fail but agape never fails so here's the first scripture I want to kick this off without a first John 3 we know that we have passed from death to life because we love each other again we know that we have passed from death to life that's a big statement because why we love each other that's like if you hold your life up to the light and you see I really love people you can say okay I I think I passed from death to life anyone who does not love remains in death so this is the kind of this is the kind of authenticator we're looking for in the life of a believer my son and I were talking the other day about things you want to get you want to make sure our authentic before you invest in them your time or your money or your hope or whatever and we were thinking of like art and antiques and your tender date you probably want to make sure authenticate and he said letters from Nigerian Prince's you want to make sure those are really legit before you send them money for gold it's important but for the life of the believer the Authenticator is agape this is what we do we protect greatly at the expense of our own life now love protects greatly is sort of an abstract term what does that really mean that's like to love a million like I how do I know that I'm protecting and how do I know that I'm protecting greatly what does it really look like so I want us to break that down in the remaining minutes that we have I want to look at four ways that John tells us you can know that you are living in true agape the first one is love protects with its words words are such a big big deal does anybody remember when this happened this picture that's gonna go up this is the Eagle Creek fire of September 2017 it consumed 48 thousand acres and cost the state of Oregon 36 million dollars remember how it started anybody take a look at this yeah somebody threw a firework into a canyon and it ignited a whole forest it's so powerful in fact I heard they're trying to get that 15 year old to pay the 36 million oh that's gonna be interesting that's a good paper route if he can do it James got this he said likewise the tongue is a small part of the body but it makes great boasts consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark that is such a dramatic example what we shown but this happens so much in our lives where one word one little thing will set something on fire one bit of gossip or slander or malice or something spoken in anger or the wrong way at the wrong time starts a fire in someone's heart and does damage to them and I think that there are two ways that we need to be protective with our words one is the words we say to people and one is the words we say about people I think that these things are very important when we get caught in this thing of Miss misunderstanding how important our words are it's easy to quickly get careless with them Jesus said in Matthew 12 each person will give an account for every careless word the word careless in the Greek means lazy and so from this we see that our words are powerful missiles of destruction or of life they are very important and when we don't use them for life we're lazy we just get late and I get lazy too I can be in a crowd where everybody is criticizing someone and I choose not to speak life into that situation because it just seems it's just I'd rather just kind of go with the flow and I can choose to believe the best about people and speak the best and protect with my words oftentimes the the best thing we can do is protect people from our words ourselves protect them from our own bad day and so protecting with our words about people and to people is so important as we become givers of life in our community and in our world and in our family and then love protects with its actions first john 3 says this is how we know what love is Jesus Christ laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters if anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but it has no pity on them how can the love of God be in that person dear children let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth I think John is clearly saying because this is just on the heels of their last Scripture he is clearly saying don't love just with words and speech but also love with action and so Jesus didn't tell his followers he was gonna die for them he just died for them he followed through he laid his life down and there are a lot of ways we can do this in our own lives with our own words and our own actions every day like I I sometimes will watch a situation play out in the news a disaster or a war or a zees or famine going on and I'll have that thing in my heart when I see starving children and I'll be sad and I'll think oh my gosh Oh God pray for the guy just pray for them and take care of them and love them that's loving inward but when I get out my money and make it active and start to put invest that into it that's a gobby that's when I say okay I'm gonna take money and when I take money I need and invested in another person that's really agape and so loving with actions really matters jesus told his disciples the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength and the second greatest is love your neighbor as yourself and then a leader a teacher of the law says to him well who is my neighbor you know I want to pin this down give me a list I want to know exactly who I'm required to love and Jesus tells the story about the Good Samaritan who rescues the man who was thrown on the side of the road and beaten up and it's his enemy racially but the man steps in and loves and in doing that Jesus doesn't just tell us who to love everyone but how to love at the expense of our own agenda at the expense of our own schedule at the expense of our own time and money it you agape is expensive agape counts because it's giving something out of yourself it's not just word love it's action love and it really really matters he turns to his disciples and and shows them this lab like when the woman is brought to him he was caught in adultery and he lays his reputation down in order to defend her and when he meets the woman at the well and he speaks to her and in shouldn't he risks who he is as a as a man and a Jew and he still is willing to spend time with her the thief on the cross who has nothing to offer him and Jesus says I'm today I'm hanging here for you today I'm gonna take you with me it's this beautiful way of Jesus always communicating that you are loved you are loved with endless love so then he shows his disciples he demonstrates it for them and then turns to them and says love like that this is how you love and then love protects with truth they think we're used to being whacked over the head with truth by the church this is how you're doing it wrong this is what truth is and this is how you're not doing it this is what the right kind of person is and this is how you're not head and really the kind of truth that I think we're called to love with is the kind that defines agape to protect greatly the kind of truth we give to people is the kind that protects their identity who they are in Jesus how God sees them how God perceives them how they are I read a quote from Donnell Miller on his Instagram yesterday it was Bob Goff's birthday and he said there isn't there is nobody like you because you've helped us all understand that there's nobody like us when we I'm sorry I wrote this and my eyes are terrible I never eat my glasses up here when we see ourselves when we see ourselves through our eyes we all like ourselves a little bit more it reminds me of Jesus when people see themselves through your eyes do they like themselves better do they feel better about who they are and I mean I'm not saying that nobody needs to change and that you never speak truth it's difficult but that's Steve's message next week that's not my message today for today I'm just gonna tell you about the mushy love stuff I think that I want to say how much am i speaking into my kids lives about things that aren't correction how much am i speaking into my co-workers lives about things that aren't complaints in what way am i using my words and my actions to build people up and so that they understand the truth of who they are my mom was a is a great parent just the best mom ever and she used to spend hours with me after school just having conversation she and I used to think I was a brilliant communication person and I realized she was just a great mom but she just used to listen to me and I would complain about my friends and someone treated me unjustly and they did something terrible and this is why and she would always speak truth really carefully into the situation and she would say maybe you don't have that right maybe that person doesn't really like doesn't really hate you maybe they're just insecure maybe that person is actually hurting maybe she would always bring truth into the situation that protected my relationships with other people because she wasn't just willing to get down in the muck with me and criticize someone because I felt critical of them and I love that about her and she still does it to me now when I call her and I'm like mom this thing should be like well maybe you've misinterpreted maybe you're not seeing truth I don't think that person meant it that way and it's so important she protects me from doing crazy things she protects me from blowing up relationships with truth she always pushes me to look for the true angle to look for what I may not know to understand that I am NOT the bearer of absolute truth I don't have the lock on that and so it's really helpful when we with the people that we love the most when we're willing to always speak truth into their identity as a parent I think our main two goals are to help our kids understand who they are and who God is and if we can do those two things that's a big big step in the right direction I want people to understand that they are loved and seen and valued by God more than I want them to understand that their behavior needs to change more than I want them to understand what my doctrine is I want you to know that you are loved and valued and cared for and all of these things are communicated through our words and our actions they don't happen by osmosis they don't happen just because we show up in a place they happen because we're intentional and we build ways to love well and then love protects with everything it has including its life I said it before I'll say it again agape is expensive it's stretching it's inconvenient I think for me I think if it's not stretching I might not be doing it right I recently I like to run but I over the last couple of years have given up any sort of like listening to a nap or setting a timer or any kind of competitive anything to make me push harder and I've just been like I'm just gonna enjoy the run well the results haven't been awesome in me just wanting to enjoy the run so this week I put an app back in my ear and I had this gal yelling at me as I'm running and pushing me and 90 more seconds and I don't care don't you touch that speed you just keep running that was like I hate you but I had a really good workout and I'm not gonna see results physically unless I push myself unless I get out of my comfort zone that's what I think about real love unless we push ourselves a little unless we start to stretch a little unless we start to say I really want to say I want my own way tonight more than anything I want to watch what I want to watch or I want to eat where I want to eat but I'm willing to lay down my life for you because I mean there's there are people that we say we want to lay our lives down for but let's be real we're not very often asked to I mean we just don't we don't live in that culture right now but it's kind of like a million little deaths where I say I'm gonna die to my agenda because you need me right now I'm gonna die to my 20 bucks because you need it more than I do right now I'm gonna be willing to lay down these things that were important to me before I learned how to love but now they're not now they were important to me in ways that I can build someone else's life I think it's really big when we start to see the ways we can do this and being generous with our time and our money and our meaning and being generous with approval and encouragement and hope generous with second chances you know every time you give a second chance you're protecting someone from shame every time every time you forgive someone you're protecting them from shame and shame is toxic and destructive when you forgive you are loving with a cop a love that's not just friendship love that's not romantic love when you forgive someone your loving your loving with protection your stepping up and saying I'm gonna put my forgiveness in the place of you and your shame and it's beautiful and these things represent the Jesus kind of love in every way so the question becomes where do you start where do you start with this if you just say I when I like up my love level I want to be better at this my challenge for you this week to narrow this down is gonna be really specific and it's this I don't think you have to go out of this building and love every human you see with the same degree of I will protect them greatly I just don't think you do but I do want you to start with the first five people in your life who are the five people that are most important to you that you have been called to love in a protective way who are those people if you have a spouse she better be one of them just saying if you have kids you can only choose four so somebody's off the list I have four so thank goodness I'm safe so just who are those five people and how can I this week love those five people 30% better and you're like well what's 30% better what how do we measure it I don't know but I bet you could figure it out like I was thinking if I have my son lives with me and if I have you know 10 things to tell him that he needs to do to accomplish this week then I'm gonna find at least five things to tell him that he's great at for every time you say something negative to your kid can you say five positive things can you just up the level if you think about an encouraging text you can send if you do that once a month to do it twice this week just raise the love level a little start to do some things that aren't required of you just because you agape just because you feel protective and you want to protect that person's self-worth and identity and their sense of who God is and their sense of being truly and fully and completely loved imma send some Texas in between services I decided I'm gonna get all my 30% out of the way right now today I think that'll be better and every morning I know I just don't think love is possible without power of the Holy Spirit I really don't I think it's really really difficult I will say it's probably possible but it's just really difficult and so begin every morning this week by asking the Holy Spirit how can I love fill in the blank better today how can I love my husband better today how can I love my child better today how I protect my kids from my own fireworks it's hard on a hard day I have these nieces that I adore and when they were little there's names of joy and Noel they're like Christmas girls and when they were little Noel was like two and she hit her head on the brick of the wood stove really hard and it she was in that moment you know that moment with your kids where they get her or they fall down and the look on their face that stunned silence right before the shriek comes out like you're just wondering maybe it didn't hurt that bad maybe they're okay oh no no if that hurt and so that was Noel and she was they were she was in that moment and her parents were watching her to see what she would do and how she would respond to hitting her head so hard and she just turned around his soccer sister she was like punched her I got a bad day you just want to punch every driver on Greenwood just every single one I mean they didn't do anything to me but they're annoying me by existing and it's just like when you have a hard day being willing to protect someone from your fire work it's 30% better when your kid is late for school for the 14th time and you're frustrated with them is it okay to speak truth into their life at some point sure but also remind them who they are remind them how God sees them remind them of the truth of the value of their existence it's so important listen to this scripture it's brilliant Joan's brilliant you guys God is love when we take up permanent residence in a life of love we live in God and God lives in us this way love has the run of the house becomes at home and mature in us so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day our standing in the world is identical with Christ's love has the run of the house that is a beautiful thing we sang it this morning I will build my life upon your love it's the firm foundation do we love people and programs and doctrine and all of that stuff sure but your love is the foundation of it all that means love has run of our house when love runs the house tie Baus to love schedule submit to love speech is run by love actions are fueled by love money is directed by love sex is sourced in love disagreements are resolved through love vision is set on love work is done in love neighbors are served through love when that kind of love is in the house it even covers our mistakes that's how powerful this little made-up word is a and a powerful word like that when set into action in your life and with your five people will change the world I am just sure of it pray with me Jesus we love you and we thank you for your deep deep love for us we understand that ours is so little by comparison as everyone just kind of thinks of your five people could you just think of them by name who are your 5 or 7 or 10 people that you really just want to love really intentionally this week and for each of those five people would you ask God this week for a specific thing they might need from you how can I be protective of them this week maybe it's a note on your daughter's mirror just telling her she's loved and beautiful and chosen and valuable and smart maybe it's a date with your son to explain to him how much you're proud of him and seeing him maybe it's a conversation with a co-worker that you've been hard on and you feel like God just wants to speak life into them just be open to whatever the Holy Spirit says to set you on mission in your world and Holy Spirit we recognize that we can't do anything without you so we ask that you would empower us to be a people of love that this house in this house love would have this a love would win the day love would have the final word we love you and we worship you today in your name we pray amen so hey if you are having ever given your life to Jesus and don't feel like you have the Holy Spirit's help and loving and really need it the prayer team is here to pray with you and they will pray with you and just tell them I need to receive Jesus or I need the Holy Spirit to fill me with more ability to love I'm really struggling in a relationship whatever they are willing to pray with you for every anything and they are amazing and then if you want to open your home and your heart and your life up to a small group please step by the stop by the information center in the atrium and talk to them and they will hook you up I love you have a great snowy Sunday [Applause]

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