John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Loving people is a characteristic of Christians who are serious followers of Christ. The word love used by Jesus in our text is agape, the strongest expression of love that I know. It means to love someone practically and sacrificially, regardless of how who they respond to you. It means to give to someone without expecting any return. Coincidentally, love is part of the Fruit of the Spirit referenced in Galatians 5, which means loving others gives evidence we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Consider this: The people who are the most difficult to love are the ones who need it the most. You don’t need a pulpit to impact your community, you just need to love others.
As an emissary of God, Moses led the Hebrew people out of bondage in Egypt, and delivered to them the Law of God. As an emissary of the people, he called out to God in intercessory prayer. Consider these examples:
In Genesis 18, he interceded for people guilty of the sin of sexual perversion.
In Genesis 20, he interceded for a man to be healed of infirmity.
In Exodus 32, he interceded for people guilty of the sin of idolatry.
In Numbers 11 and 14, he interceded for the people guilty of the sin of grumbling. Grumbling seems rather innocuous compared to the sins of sexual perversion and idolatry, but to God, it was a sin and the people had to be judged.
In Numbers 12 and 16, he interceded for people guilty of the sin of causing division.
In Numbers 27, as he was preparing for the end of his journey here on earth, Moses interceded for his successor who would lead the next generation, Joshua.
We need a Moses for this generation today; someone to intercede for entire communities engrossed in sexual perversion and idolatry, for people involved whose attitudes and words that cause division, for people dealing with infirmity, and for people of the next generation.
In his book entitled PRAYER, E.M. Bounds wrote “Not only is prayer the medium of supply and support, it is a compassionate agency through which the pitying, longsuffering God has an outflow. Prayer is a medium to restrain God’s wrath, allowing mercy to rejoice against judgment.”
You don’t need a pulpit to make an impact on your community, you just need a prayer closet.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
“Men ought always pray and not lose heart.” These words of Jesus (Luke 18:1) are followed with his parable of the persistent widow, which illustrates the importance of our commitment to prayer.
Prayer is a partnership. The Holy Spirit prompts us to pray about specific things or to pray for needs in a specific way that we’d previously not considered. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom (Acts 6), faith to believe for miracles (Acts 10), fills us with joy (Acts 13) and gives us insight (Acts 21).
Prayer is personal. It is a private appointment with the King of kings, Lord of lords and Creator of the universe. It is an opportunity to share with Him your most private thoughts and for Him to share His thoughts with you.
Prayer is also a privilege. Throughout history, those who have carried out God’s divine will on earth have been people of prayer. In his book entitled Prayer, E.M. Bounds said “The man of prayer is God’s right-hand man. In the realm of spiritual affairs, he creates conditions, begins movements and brings things to pass.”
We have a prayer meeting in our sanctuary every Wednesday morning from 6:00 – 8:00 and Wednesday evening from 7:00 – 8:00. I look forward to praying with you!
Nehemiah 8:1-3 “Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.”
The referenced ceremony occurred shortly after walls around the city of Jerusalem had been built and the gates hung in place. The city’s material needs had been met, and now it was time to focus on the spiritual needs of the people. It was the seventh month on our modern calendar, but was celebrated as the Jewish New Year. In essence, the people were starting the year by gathering for the public reading of the Word of God. I like that idea!
As you will note in chapter 8, the people stood as Ezra started reading the Law and remained standing for the 6 hours of the reading and repeated this for a week. Now, if you join me in church this Sunday I promise to not preach for 6 hours and also promise you will be able to sit in a comfortable chair in a climate controlled room.
Let’s start 2019 in the house of God, reading the Word of God, worshipping and praying to Almighty God and fellowshipping with His family. Our service times are 9 am and 10:30, and we have an evening service at 5:00. I hope to see you Sunday.
Imagine if you were one of the shepherds tending your flock of sheep on the hills outside the town of Bethlehem. It had been a typical day of long hours and hard work and you were ready to settle down for a night of well-deserved rest, when suddenly an angel appeared out of nowhere to tell you, “There is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” Then, an army of angels appeared proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2).
The antithesis of peace and goodwill is war and malice, which pretty much describes the world we live in today. Consider the constant threat of war in the Middle East, the political unrest in Europe, Central America, South America, and in our own country. The need for peace and goodwill is as great today as it has ever been, and was precisely the reason Jesus was born.
Peace comes when we ask God to forgive our sins. The sin is removed, a personal and intimate relationship with Him is established immediately, enabling us to enjoy peace with our own conscience and with our neighbor. This is the message of Christmas.
Let’s sing: “Joy to the world the Lord has come…”