Week One – Part I of V
Remarkable – A Methodist Loves God – Part I of VI
Matthew 22:36-38 Common English Bible (CEB)
36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being,[a] and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
JOKE: I had an English teacher back in Jr. High that was well known for being a fair, but hard, grader. One day I received a B minus on a theme paper. In hopes of bettering my grade and in the spirit of the Valentine season, I sent her an extravagant heart-shaped box of chocolates with the pre-printed inscription: “BE MINE.” The following day, I received in return a Valentine from the teacher.
It read: “Thank you, but it’s still BE MINE-US.
Opening Question: Do you consider yourself a lover? What I mean is, do you view yourself as a person who truly expresses love toward God and neighbor? Here is another question, how would the people closest to you rate your ability to express your love toward God and neighbor?
Today we are going to discover how we can love God at a much deeper level. We will explore scripture to see how and why God loved us first, then we will learn through scripture how we can love God deeper and express it in a more meaningful way.
- Our Scripture today Matthew 22:36-38 reminds us of the first of two great commandments given to us by Jesus himself, Love God with all your heart, being and your mind. How are you doing living up to this commandment? We all need improvement when it comes to expressing our love and devotion toward God.
- We do lots of things to project our identity – profile on Facebook, work, school, what we drive, hobbies, role in family. (Slide) We want people to see us a certain way, we all want to be liked and respected, even when we don’t deserve it, it’s human nature. That is one of the main challenges of life isn’t it? It begs the question; do we seek praise from God or do we seek praise from humans? We just started our 40-day Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday and thank you for those who attended. A big part of our Lenten journey is seeking God, denying ourselves, and quit getting caught up in trying fit in to the world, and focus our efforts on growing closer to our Higher Power, which is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- One part of your being is something very special and unique to you and you have heard me reference it before, and that is your spiritual birthmark(s), and one of those being your fingerprint, but there is also your tongue print, and even your ear print. Amazing to think that you are the only person that has ever existed that bears your prints. If you don’t think there is a divine creator, a power greater than yourself, a High Power, God Almighty, the Great I AM, then ponder that truth for a while, science can’t even begin to answer that mystery, but if you have faith in God, then it’s truly no mystery at all. Your fingerprint is an unmistakable marker of our identity.
- Check out this clip.
- We bear the mark of God’s fingerprint in our lives, this graphic of a fingerprint for this series is a reminder both of our individual identity and our identity in Christ.
- Our identity inside and out originates in God Genesis 1:27
- We can accept or rebel against our God-given identity for our life. God gave us all a “FREE WILL.” This free will explains why events like this latest school shooting in Florida are possible, and why another country would try to meddle in another countries election. Evil exist because at the root of human’s hearts is evil, and the fact that we have a free will and we’re not robots gives clarity to the madness we see that has taken hold of so many souls, not only in America, but around the world. We get to choose, follow God’s will for our life, or live by our own standards, whatever those standards maybe, and we pay the price for those choices, and sometime we pay dearly, and others are victimized by our actions.
- God doesn’t force or manipulate us, but God does pursue us with God’s love, I think that is awesome. God created us to enjoy our lives and to enjoy this planet, but more importantly God created us for relationship with God and too enjoy our relationship with God.
- John Wesley recognized that a primary way to identify a Methodist is that “a Methodist loves God”.
- What does it mean to love God? First, loving God requires knowing Him, and that knowledge begins with His Word. It may sound to shallow, but to know Him is to love Him. This also means:
- We Worship and Praise God: “It is written: Luke 4:8 ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only'”
- We put God first. If we love God with allour hearts, souls, minds, and strength, then we won’t allow other things to crowd in.
- We desire God, to yearn for His righteousness, His Word, and His grace.
- Finally, to love God is to obey Him. Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love me you will obey what I command.”
- Our ability to love originates in God’s love for us. Remember God created us in the image of God, so if God is Love and we are an image of God, then we were built for love & service. Do you look at others, regardless of who they are, as images of God? What a great way to work on overcoming your own prejudice, envy, jealousy, and judgement for others, start looking at them as images of God, but they have a free will, and people can and will be ugly and downright evil at times.
- The primary way we understand the nature of God’s love is revealed in Jesus Christ.
- The Wesley Study Bible Page 830 | “We can’t outrun, out-give, outlast, or out-grow God’s love.”
- Love is more than a profession of faith, it’s a verb. Love is not an emotion, it is an action. Yes, many times love has emotion attached, but first and foremost it’s an action. You do the action even when you don’t feel like, because you do it out of love.
- The mark of love is evident by the way we love God and others. So, reflect on the questions I asked you at the beginning of this message? Basically, is there proof in the pudding of your love for God and others? If you answered no, or sometimes, what will you do starting today to change that?
- Love is demonstrated in a willingness to sacrifice. e.g. Aaron Fies, heroic Football coach who gave his life to save who knows how many children in Florida.
- John 15:13
- Left to our own devices, we love those who love us in return. A very self-centered way to approach love.
- We seek to love those who are difficult to love. (Matthew 5:44)
- Call to action: accept God’s remarkable love for you. Allow God to love you, and love God in return for all the reason we have discussed today. God loved you first; God created you to enjoy God, and to love God in return. By doing so, your soul will be transformed, and through this transformation you will be able to love those who are hard to love. You may not like a lot of them, but God ask you to love everyone.
Prayer for the Week
Dear God, I want to love you with my whole life. Amen.
Daily Readings for Week 1
MON • 1 John 4:19
TUE • John 21:15-19
WED • Romans 5:8
THU • Romans 8:35-39
FRI • Deuteronomy 6:4-5
SAT • 1 John 4:7-12
Week Two – Part II of V
Remarkable – Identified Extraordinary Part II of V
Nehemiah 8:9-12 Common English Bible (CEB)
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all of the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Don’t mourn or weep.” They said this[a] because all the people wept when they heard the words of the Instruction.
10 “Go, eat rich food, and drink something sweet,” he said to them, “and send portions of this to any who have nothing ready! This day is holy to our Lord. Don’t be sad, because the joy from the Lord is your strength!”
11 The Levites also calmed all of the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy. Don’t be sad!” 12 Then all of the people went to eat and to drink, to send portions, and to have a great celebration, because they understood what had been said to them.
- Open with Billy Graham Video
The Lord Be with You!
As you all well know and as the video showed, we lost a GIANT in the religious community, and true brother in Christ in the life of Billy Graham. All of us here have been touched an influenced by Rev. Graham whether you realize it or not. I would encourage to pick up a book on his life, and not just read it but study it, there is a lot to be learned and replicated from his Christian walk for sure.
Last week we kicked off our new Sermon Series “Remarkable – Identified Extraordinary.” Focusing on the Five Marks of a Methodist. Part one of our message last week was titled “A Methodist Loves God.” If you missed that message, I encourage you to go on to our website or App and listen to it, so you get the most out of this entire series.
Today’s message is titled “A Methodist Rejoices in God.”
- What’s the most fun you’ve experienced through a church-related event or activity? (ask a few folks to respond).
- Yiddish Proverb | “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.”
- Someone has defined humor this way: ” Humor is a gentle way to acknowledge human frailty.” That’s the way we ought to use it. That’s when humor is done properly. It can also be a way to try and destroy people, but then it ceases to be humor. We see this every week on the late-night shows, with different host tearing down people, including our President, and it really gets old and redundant. Let me rephrase that definition: ” Humor is a way of saying I’m not okay, and you are not okay, but that’s okay. ” Believers can add, ” because He loves us anyway. “
- Let’s check out Billy Graham attempting some humor.
- Augustine said God teaches us to praise through the Psalms not for what God gets out of it, but because we come to know and love God better.
- How much do we associate church with fun, celebration and joy?
- John Wesley said, “A Methodist rejoices in God.”
- Wesley’s translation of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 uses the word “happy” instead of “blessed,” which is an awesome interpretation.
- For this sermon, the terms deep happiness and joy are used interchangeably Deep happiness or joy is not: dependent on circumstances or what happens in your life, just putting on a happy face, dependent on getting our way, an emoji if you like.
- What Hannah Whitall Smith describes in “The Christians Secret of a Happy Life” isn’t superficial.
- Joy is the comprehensive response we make with our whole beings to God’s love.
- Joy is a mark of discipleship that gives us confidence and courage, regardless of our present circumstances.
- The basis for our joy is the assurance that when we repent of our sins we are forgiven. Remembering God didn’t save us to leave us where He found us. God is truly in the transformation business, and we can have great joy with that truth.
- Steve Harper “Just as fingerprints make us unique and unrepeatable sons and daughters of God, we are given a distinctive soul print. Not just the life of God in the human soul. The life of God in your soul.”
- Anxiety, fear, and focusing on past mistakes can block joy. We must learn not regret the past nor shut the door on it. If you are still struggling with your past, I encourage you to participate in the spiritual exercise of confession, you must get your secrets out of their hiding places, because nothing spiritual grows in the dark. You can’t will your guilt, shame and past away, you must take spiritual actions.
- Joy does not deny grief. Life happens, and we need to be able to grieve losses in our life, regardless of the situation. It’s healthy to grieve, and cry, so don’t hold back, ask the Holy Spirit to help you process any grief you have lingering in your heart.
- Richard Foster “Reaching for everlasting joy through singing, dancing and praising is essential even and perhaps especially in times of sadness because it returns our focus to God.”
- Another Humorous Video
- A Methodist Rejoices in God.
- Nehemiah 8:9-12 – We are reminded in our scripture today to quit whining and count it all joy for everything God has blessed us with. We are to eat and drink with Joy and SHARE our food and drink with those who are less fortunate then we are.
- Joy is going to come from living an other-centered life, not living for ourselves.
- We can express joy through worship, prayer, and our interactions with others.
- Joy is our response to God’s grace and is evidence we are living as followers of Christ.
- We must remember Rule #63; which is “don’t take ourselves so darn seriously,” and Rule #62; which is “Have Fun.”
- Billy Graham was a champion for the Lord, and we are encouraged to be champions for the Lord too, by finding a way to share joy with someone this week.
- Billy Graham reminds you that “God Loves You,” and there is nothing that you can do about it.
- Let’s Pray
Prayer for the Week
Dear God, thank you for the assurance of your grace. Amen.
Daily Readings for Week 2
MON • Matthew 26:30
TUE • Matthew 5:1-12
WED • 1 John 4:16-18
THU • Romans 5:8
FRI • Isaiah 40:26-31
SAT • Psalm 98