Sunday, July 27, 2008

How To Really Love Someone

Pastor Brad Shannon, in his opening remarks, began by outlining today’s theme, introducing the new series he will be speaking about for the remainder of the summer.

He also shared some announcements, including the meeting of our building committee this coming Thursday at 7:00 p.m. In commenting on the building committee, he noted that it is often easier to talk about studs and nails, and not so easy to discuss the foundational issues of why we build and what is our mission. He cited a note someone had written that our purpose here is to be God’s light and hope in Grand Lake Township. We can do this by helping those in need and learning how to articulate God’s mission.

Other announcements included a mention that Sunday school is coming soon and that there is a still a need for teachers.

Darlene ushered us into worship with a beautiful prelude. The Scripture readings were from Genesis 29:15-28 and Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52.

As prayer needs were shared, we recognized that there are many among us in challenging circumstances. The author of this blog was particular grateful to be part of such a caring church family.

How To Really Love Someone

Pastor Brad opened by pointing out that the passage in Galatians 5:22-23 has one of the best list of words describing how to love. This summer he will be looking at five words from this list, and this morning the word is love.

For a Biblical definition of love, Pastor Brad put it this way: “I will sacrificially and unconditionally love and forgive others.”

To prepare us for a context to this sermon he had us open our Bibles to the table of contents. He shared how from Genesis to the book of Esther, the Old Testament is a collection of history books. The middle group of books, from Job to Song of Solomon, are considered the poetic books. Isaiah to Malachi are the prophetic books.

Beginning in early Genesis with the story of Abraham (Gen. 12:1ff) we find the birth of Israel, God’s people. Abraham, who lived around 2000 B.C., formed a covenant with God and was given the promise that one day his descendants would have this land. It was not until 600 years later that this promise was fulfilled in Joshua.

In I Samuel, after 400 years without a king, the people of Israel asked God for a king, and received the first in the person of Saul. Essentially, the bulk of the sermon was an overview of this period in the history of Israel, drawing attention particularly moments in the relationship of Saul, David and Saul’s son Jonathan. The Book of I Samuel is an interesting section of Scripture with many key insights and well worth the investment of time to read. Pastor Shannon only skimmed the crests of the waves in order to highlight a few key points.

In chapters 13 and 15, we see how Saul is disqualified from being king. In chapter 16, David is anointed to be the next king of Israel. Note that there is a fourteen year time span between the anointing / promise and its fulfillment. God’s schedule and ours are not always the same.

The crucial phrases in this chapter are found in verse 13, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power,” and in verse 14, “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from God tormented him.”

A few chapters later we see the fruit from this change of fortunes. All David touches turns to gold. He experiences success in everything he puts his hand to. Chapter 17 details the epic conflict between David and Goliath, the giant Philistine who stood taunting the weakness of Israel. By the end of the story, Saul notices David for the first time, vs. 55.

Immediately following, we see the depth of friendship that emerges between David and Jonathan, Saul’s son. The two made a covenant together, and became one in spirit.

This friendship proved difficult as the tormented king alternated between being reasonable and being an irrational, jealous hothead. The first incident to set him off was the singing in the streets by Israel’s women: “Saul has slain his thousands, David his tens of thousands.” The next day, overcome by rage, he attempted to pin David to the wall with a spear.

In chapter 19 Saul again attempts to have David killed, but Jonathan warns his friend and they make a plan together. Jonathan strives to persuade his father to have a change of heart, but it is futile.

In chapter 20, Jonathan consoles David and reafffirms his commitment to him. In David’s absence, Jonathan serves as his friend’ advocate, protector and defender. But Saul will not be dissuaded from his hatred and in the end David is forced into exile to save his skin. Verses 41 and 42 in Jonathan and David’s last moments together each wept, but “David wept the most.”

Ten years later, fourteen years after the initial anointing by Samuel, David becomes king of Israel as Saul and Jonathan, father and son, are slain in battle. David laments.

Pastor Shannon summed up with this closing thoughts. How do we learn to love like David? Recall to mind that love is a commitment to sacrificially and unconditionally love and forgive others.

1) I make a “no strings attached” covenant with them.
That is, we make a commitment that says, “I am going to be with you all the way through.” In a covenant relationship we make a promise.

2) I will be an advocate for this person.
That is, you will go to bat for them. You are commited to speak and act in their defense and on their behalf.

This is what Jesus does for us. Satan is the accuser. He stands before God pointing out our failings, but Jesus, our Advocate, speaks on our behalf.

3) I help them see God’s vision for their life.
If we have to grab by the ears to waken them and make them see, we’ll do what it takes. “Look, you are significant, you have gifts… a purpose for God.”

4) I’m going to sacrifice my rights to make them succeed.
By laying down your own rights and plans, humbling yourself, you reveal the totalness of your love.

To repeat the definition: “I will sacrificially and unconditionally love and forgive others.”

This is the word of the Lord.

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