Thursday, January 15, 2009

Whatever Happened To Love?

Today, worship will be at the end of the service, but we do want to start out with a new band that has started up here at Mosaic. The name of the new band at Mosaic is Broken Pieces, Mary Jane, Garrett, and Angel will be playing guitar and doing vocals, Chris is on percussion. I will be playing bass and helping with vocals. The name Broken Pieces comes from the concept of a Mosaic is made up of broken pieces. Hopefully we will continue to practice and do more of the worship service in the future, until then, here is a song that is an illustration for todays service, titled, Whatever Happened to Love.

Slam Original © by Mike Furches/Barry De Fleron: Whatever Happened To Love

Whatever happened to love? Whatever happened to caring for each other?
What happened to building up instead of tearing down?
Whatever happened to, whatever happened to love?

You say you love me you say that you care
Come on now punk I got brains beneath my hair
I know what’s a happenin I know what’s real
You talkin at my back with all kinds of zeal.

You say this and you say that,
Expect me to believe you well that’s just phat
Who do I believe? Well you’re not one,
You’re just pretendin to have God’s son.

You say you know me sayin it’s not true
Just answer me this if you dare to.

Whatever happened to love? …. (Repeat 1st Stanza)

Jesus came and then Jesus died
It’s because of him that we won’t be fried.
He don’t ask all that much of us
Just love him and others and not make a fuss.

Sometimes we talk sometimes we pretend
But that won’t hack it in the very end
You say you love me show me that it’s true
Come on now show me by the things you do.

You don’t like a hearin what I say
Well just answer me this rhyme right now today.

Whatever happened to love? …. (Repeat 1st Stanza)

A friend of mine, a pioneer in Jesus Music named Barry DeFleron wrote the original song Whatever Happened to Love. I use the chorus from that song here, but I wrote the verse and bridge as well as did the arrangement. There is a long story there but I will simply say that many times it is easy for us to conveniently quit loving. I don’t know how many times I have heard people say in a variety of situations, I just don’t love you any more. I am grateful that the love of God, the love provided by Jesus don’t quit on us, don’t change for us. But our actions don’t always show and mirror the love of Jesus.

I would ask, what kind of excuses do we make to not show others love? Do we ever say things like: ‘I don’t have the time?’ ‘You don’t understand what they did to me.’ Or, ‘Well brother I love them but you know I can only do so much.’?

Today we are going to do more of an expository message where we are going to look at Scripture, talk about it some and then go on to the next scripture. I want to look at the passage in the Bible 1st John Chapter 3.

1st John 3 makes it clear: A child of God is to love one another in word and in deed. Let’s look at what the passage says in the first three verses.

1 John 3: 1-3
Think how much the Father loves us. He loves us so much that he lets us be called his children, as we truly are. But since the people of this world do not know who Christ is, they don’t know who we are. My dear friends, we are already God’s children, though what we will be hasn’t yet been seen. But we do know when Christ returns, we will be like him, because we will see him as he truly is. This hope makes us keep ourselves holy, just as Christ is holy.

We all need to understand once in Heaven our imperfections will be gone. We will be like Jesus. Here there is an incredible component that I don’t know if most folks understand. You see, God has adopted us as his children. This is an incredible concept that adoptive parents understand, often their children, but others outside of those who have adopted don’t fully understand. Adoption has as a part of its root, a choice, a decision that one makes to accept one as family, as blood.

In my own life, through the adoption of my son I have come to understand this, and I come to understand it more the older I get. Hopefully my son also understands it. I will never forget being told about the reality of getting my son with less than a weeks notice. We had to go do what seemed to be like a test drive to see if we wanted our son. He was less than a month old and we were to meet him and the foster parents at the Adoption Center, Bethany Christian Services in Greenville South Carolina. We went in, held him and in our amazement was told to go talk about it. My wife and I stated we didn’t need to but was encouraged to at least go eat lunch and talk about it.

My wife, Mary Jane and I were across the street at the Burger King for only a few moments and we realized there was nothing to talk about. We knew in our heart of hearts that God was giving us our son. He had been called Jake by the foster parents, and we ended up naming him Nathaniel William Seth, he was ours as much as our daughters was.

It was interesting that during this presentation at church, Nicholas reminded us that in Jewish customs, that a good Jew could denounce their relationship with one of their own children, but once adopting a child, that child was their responsibility for life, no matter what. God has adopted us into his family; we are his no matter what. God has shown us all that much love by taking us, adopting us into his family.

We need to realize that we become like Jesus through life. We will be totally like him once in Heaven. That doesn’t change the fact that we are becoming more and more like Jesus. Heaven and the things that our relationship to God, through adoption, brings us, doesn’t have to wait until we get into Heaven, it in fact can start now.

There is not a lot of insight into what Heaven is like in the Bible. Human language is so limited it can’t even begin to describe Heaven. While that is the case we need to also understand that if we are obedient to Christ and his teachings we will experience glimpses of Heaven.

Now let’s move on and look at the next part of this passage:

Verse 4-8
Everyone who sins breaks God’s law, because sin is the same as breaking God’s law. You know that Christ came to take away sins. He isn’t sinful, and people who stay one in their hearts with him won’t keep on sinning. If they do keep on sinning, they don’t know Christ, and they have never seen him.

Children, don’t be fooled. Anyone who does right is good, just like Christ himself. Anyone who keeps on sinning belongs to the devil. He has sinned from the beginning, but the Son of God came to destroy all that he has done.

We can not continue to practice our sin; we must practice Jesus’ righteousness. This is a part of each of us taking on the nature of Jesus in our relationship and acceptance of him. We must realize that as we become as Jesus that Jesus had no sin, being absent from sin he can advocate on our behalf for our sins. If unwilling to change our practice of sin we must question if we really have relationship and or know God. The truth here is according to that this passage says, if we don’t change, we belong to the devil.

Part of being born again is receipt of the Holy Spirit into our lives. The Holy Spirit will make the desire to continue sinning unacceptable in our lives. Now understand, we continue to sin due to the fact that we are not perfect. The nature of Christ, His seed, His Holy Spirit dwells in us & makes us uncomfortable about it though. We will want to change our behaviors when it comes to doing wrong. If we don’t want to change we again, don’t have a relationship with Jesus.

This is not always easy because it is not in our nature. We have to understand though; the nature of Christ is not the same as ours. There is the story of the scorpion and the frog. A scorpion and a frog needed to cross a body of water, the frog would have no trouble but the scorpion couldn’t swim. It asked the frog to ride on his back across the water, “You’ll sting me and kill me,” the frog replied.

The scorpion emphatically replied, “No I won’t, for to sting you would assure the death of us both.”

Reluctantly the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the water. Halfway across the frog felt the sting of the scorpion. “What have you done?” asked the frog, “now we will both surely die.” The scorpion replied, “I couldn’t help myself, it is in me nature.”

When looking at ones nature we can think about things like the nature of a pig, a dog in heat. Only imagine what characteristics are within our own nature that has to change. Yet, they must change and will change as we take on the nature of Jesus in our life.

When looking at the nature of Christ, we see his nature to hate and abstain from sin. He gives us a new nature where we will take on this same nature, we will not want to sin, we will do our best to abstain from doing the things that displeases God.

Now lets look some more at the passage in 1st John by looking at Verse 9-13,
God’s children cannot keep on being sinful. His life-giving power lives in them and makes them his children, so they cannot keep on sinning. You can tell God’s children from the devil’s children, because those who belong to the devil refuse to do right or to love each other.

From the beginning you were told that you must love each other. Don’t be like Cain, who belonged to the devil and murdered his own brother. Why did he murder him? He did it because his brother was good, and he was evil. My friends don’t be surprised if the people of this world hate you.

Our actions indicate to others who belongs to God and who don’t. Our unwillingness to change indicates that we aren’t born again, no matter how many times we have raised our hands or prayed a prayer. Going forward at a crusade doesn’t make you a Christian any more than eating a Big Mac makes you a hamburger.

If you don’t struggle with sin and have a desire to change, you don’t belong to God. Christ gave two commandments. Love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, mind and strength love your neighbor as yourself. The world will see followers of Jesus or Christians as a goody two shoes, religious fanatic, Jesus Freaks, and more. When this happens be of good cheer, it is one of the marks that the Holy Spirit dwells in us. I firmly believe that righteous behavior and actions make others feel guilty and ultimately they hate us for making them feel that way.

Lets continue now with this passage by looking at verses 14-16
Our love for each other proves that we have gone from death to life. But if you don’t love each other, you are still under the power of death. If you hate each other, you are murderers, and we know that murderers do not have eternal life. We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. That’s why we must give our lives for each other.

Loving each other is proof to the world and ourselves that Jesus lives. It is here that many make their mistakes; Christians seem to find reason to justify hate, or to redefine the true meaning of love. On this point, realize, hating is equivalent to murder.

When looking at, and thinking about what love is we need to think about the real example; look at the cross Jesus said, “If you are to be my disciples you must take up your cross and follow me daily.”

This scripture then makes it hard for many. These next verses are among those I call the “Hard Sayings of the Bible.”

Verse 17, 18
If we have all we need and see one of our own people in need, we must have pity on that person, or else we cannot say we love God. Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, not by merely talking about it.

I have a t-shirt I had designed some years ago. It has Furches, Magic with a Message on the front of the t-shirt and on the back it has this passage. I can’t tell you the times I have worn one of those t-shirts and someone would tell me they didn’t know that passage was in the Bible. That says something about the teachings in churches, and the life practices of many who call themselves Christian.

We have to understand, feeling sorry for someone is not love. We can talk the talk, but we have to walk the talk, actions always speak louder than words, and unfortunately on this point, most don’t have the actions to show that they are living out at least this one passage.

How important is it to love, 1st John goes on to give us further instruction in the next set of verses, 19-21
When we love others, we know that we belong to the truth, and we feel at ease in the presence of God. But even if we don’t feel at ease, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we feel at ease in the presence of God, we will have the courage to come near him.

What we do will prove what we believe. Our actions indicate the reality of the relationship we have with Jesus. We have to make sure that those actions are not centered on ourselves but directed towards others through service and love.

If we want an example, remember, Jesus ministry was largely to the poor, and needy. He is the ultimate model of who to follow. If we have trouble knowing what to do, remember, sometimes we can’t trust our own hearts; we deceive ourselves, and others. Our actions are the proof God has changed our heart and that he is greater than our sin.

In wrapping up, lets now look at verses 22-24
He will give us whatever we ask, because we obey him and do what pleases him. God wants us to have faith in his Son Jesus Christ and to love each other. This is also what Jesus taught us to do. If we obey God’s commandments, we will stay one in our hearts with him, and he will stay one with us. The Spirit that he has given us is proof that we are one with him.

Now in this passage, understand, verse 22 is often taken way out of context. The key to this principal is that we have to obey God and do what pleases him. This passage is about serving & loving others, not loving & serving ourselves & our own desires. It should be noted, that the more we become like Jesus, the more of the things Jesus wants will become the things we want. This isn’t a passage for claiming cars, homes, money and so forth, it is a passage that is encouraging us to become more like Jesus, and wanting the things Jesus wants.

Jesus is talking to his disciples and followers here remember, he also stated, “If you are to be my disciples you must take up your cross and follow me daily. There is also the need to his restatement as well as the apostles and writers of the New Testament of the great commandment, Jesus is our Lord our God, love him, believe in him, love each other just as he has told us to. When we obey God’s word we live in fellowship with Christ and each other. He is with us and we are with him.

We need to look at ways we can show others love in our own life, but we need to do the same as a church. In the wrestling community there are often people looking for locations to host certain events. I recently let the state coaching certification director know they could use Mosaic. One of the things that surprised many is we were willing to let them use the premises without charge.

I have been thinking about other ways can use the facility to facilitate ministry; one idea is ministry to the poor and needy, homeless, and so forth. Free coffee, food on occasion, and a service of some type to this community is one way of letting others know we really love them, how we love them, how we continue that love has a bearing on how they see Jesus.

Let’s pray; Father help us love, help me love. Lord may those we come into contact with see you through our actions.

Right now I am going to have us take a small break. I want to encourage people, a part of worship is giving, if you are a part of Mosaic, you have a responsibility to help the ministry of the church, if you are reading this and participating on line, you have the responsibility to find a ministry that you can support. It could be a ministry like Mosaic, The Virtual Pew, even Compassion International or some other ministry doing important work. If you are a part of a local congregation or group, support those groups.

Now let’s take some time to relax, spend some time with each other, and if at home or at work, then call a friend or family member and let them know you love them. After that then come on back and we will participate in worship together.

Welcome back, now as we enter into worship, you know a lot of the message requires most of us to change our heart. With that said, here is a great worship song to remind us of this need.

Change My Heart O God:

Sometimes we have a hard time letting God change our hearts. More often than not this is because of the pride we have.

Lay Down My Pride:

Once we are willing to give up our pride, surrender to the call of God, we realize that we start being with God on a daily basis. Once with God we realize there is no better place to be.

Better is One Day:

How does this change come about, it comes about through the Holy Spirit giving us the ability to allow it to happen, we just have to surrender.

Holy Fire:

I know some of this sounds crazy today, but we serve a God who can make all things possible, including the possibility of loving others. You know the word Halleluiah means “Praise God.” While in a fun way, this next song is a reminder of the goodness and the joy of praising God. Let’s all have some fun with this one as we reflect on the joy God can bring in our life.


I hope you have all been challenged today to love more, to love The Least, The Lost, and The Last, in fact we are all there, we are all among these population groups in some way or the other.

Father God, thank you for each of the folks who participated in this service in one way or another. I ask with all sincerity your blessings on each of them. Bless their day, bless their life’s, no matter who they are, enemy or friend, may your grace, may your love touch each person. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen!

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