God with Us Brings Love

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17–19

 

Name a Love Song:

 

Name a Love Story:

 

LOVE: Advent and Beyond is possible because…

 

 

  1. God is Love

 

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16

 

  1. God gives Love

 

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

 

  1. God’s Love Flows through us

 

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

 John 13:34-35 (The Message)

The Truth about Angels

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2

 

Common Myths about Angels….

 

Myth #1: The cute baby myth

Myth #2: The loved one myth

Myth #3: The blond, blue eyed myth

 

Three Truths about Angels…

 

Truth #1: Angels are worshipers

 

But when God brought His first-born Son, Jesus, into the world, He said, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” Hebrews 1:6 (NLV)

 

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Revelation 5:11-12

 

Truth #2: Angels are warriors

 

That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. 2 Kings 19:35

 

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. Revelation 12:7

 

Truth #3: Angels are messengers

 

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:12

 

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. Luke 1:30-31

Mature Community

(Jesus said) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

 

A community of those who are a path to maturity has a few characteristics…

 

  1. It is inclusive

 

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10

 

  1. It is real

 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

 

  1. It is accepting

 

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

 

  1. It is encouraging

 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

 

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14

Mature Biblically

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:1-5, 14

 

Reasons Why Biblical Knowledge is Essential…

 

  1. The bible is essential for spiritual growth.

 

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1 Peter 2:2-3

 

  1. The bible is essential for spiritual maturity.

 

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14

 

  1. The bible is essential for spiritual effectiveness.

 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.  But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. James 1: 22-25 (The Message)

Mature Contemplation

“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are.

Matthew 6:7-9 (The Message)

 

 

Think of prayer this way…

 

Prayer Truth #1: Prayer is a catalyst

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

 

 

Prayer Truth #2: Prayer is a lens

 

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” Mark 1: 38

 

 

Prayer Truth #3: Prayer takes us somewhere

So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. Mark 1:39

Mature Activity

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

 

Three Markers of Spiritual Maturity

 

Spiritual intimacy

Biblical knowledge

Holy obedience

 

Snow Ball Effect…

Closer to Christ Care More Closer to Christ Care More Closer to Christ

 

Three Truths about Mature Activity:

 

Truth #1: Spiritual actions will interrupt  our schedule

 

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  John 4:7

 

Truth #2: Spiritual actions will cost you

 

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ Luke 10:33-35

 

Truth #3: Spiritual actions change lives

 

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” John 4:42

Mature Relationship

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

 

Three Markers of Spiritual Maturity

 

  1. Spiritual  intimacy
  2. Biblical knowledge
  3. Holy obedience

 

 

The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are— I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness… John 17: 21-23 (MSG)

 

 

Three Truths of Spiritual Intimacy

 

 

Truth #1: God is a person

 

 

 

Truth #2: God wants to be known

 

“If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 29:13-14

 

 

Truth #3: Knowing God requires deliberate effort and time

Lone Survivor

You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (MSG)

 

We should train hard to strengthen our spiritual life so here are four priorities that are essential for the development and maintenance of a sound spiritual life…

 

Priority #1: Decisiveness

 

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 1 Timothy 4:7

 

Priority #2: Dedication

 

Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. 1 Timothy 4:8 (MSG)

 

Priority #3: Discipline

That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10

 

Priority #4: Destination

 

Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation. 1 Timothy 4:15-16 (MSG)

 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

Simply the Best Spiritually

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (NLT)

 

Four ways we can enhance our spiritual life…

 

  1. Take a Sabbath rest

 

And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. Genesis 2:3 (NLT)

 

Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:30 (NIV)

 

  1. Reduce worry in your life

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34

 

  1. Seek to be restored

 

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NLT)

 

  1. Reflect on spiritual things

 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

 

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