Summary: We love because God loves us.

Thirteen years ago when I first started preaching, the scariest part of it was knowing that sometimes, people really do listen. It has been an incredible privilege, a humbling privilege, to be listened to by you. Thank you.

What have you heard?

I don’t know what you have heard, but I know what I pray you have heard. These aren’t in any particular order, but they are recaps of what you have already heard from Darren and Emma.

It’s right here…

“when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:34-40).

What do I pray you have heard?

1. It’s really all about the love of God. That’s the first one that comes to mind. That makes my heart beat the loudest. That’s what makes me want to jump around and celebrate, that’s what makes me what to grab people by the head and turn their gaze towards God, that’s what makes me get up in the morning and live; and trying to convince people that it is real and it is fantastic sends me to bed at night both exhausted and with a smile. God loves you. God loves me too . And if we really, really grasped that – if we really, really understood that --- even if we just grasped it a little more and understood it a little more today than we did 13 years ago, then my time has been worth it.

And I really, truly, have experienced the love of God through you. Thank you for encouraging, thank you for challenging, thank you for choosing to stay and faithfully fight for the Kingdom of God, thank you for allowing God to reveal His love to me in deeper ways through you.

2. Because God loves us so much, we love Him in return. That’s the next one that comes to mind. This says it all… everything we need to know about living life is right there: just love God. My Jesus said “with all your heart and soul and mind and strength”. The rest are all details – important details, but details none the less. Just love God. With everything, every moment, when it is easy and when it is hard. Just love God, please.

This is really the cry of my heart for you. Love God. That will powerfully define our identity. That will address our sin problems and give us victory. That will soothe our wounds. That will awaken celebration and laughter. That will give us courage and strength to stand for what is right. That will guide us in how to live our relationships with each other and with the world around us. That will lead us down a path of incredible adventure, which will always be worth it. Love God.

3. And then we love others. Like Jesus does – the poor and the sick and the outcast at the top of the list. And our friends and families. And even our enemies… How? How much? When is enough . When we love like Jesus we love selflessly. Completely. And not by just being “nice”, but by relentlessly pursuing what is best for one another no matter how hard it may be or how long it may take. This is so worth it… and so different from the culture we live in that is all about “me” and what others can do for “me”. This is it in action… this is what God saved us for… and this is where life really becomes so well worth living. Everything else is a pale copy, a false promise, a dangerous dead end. Love like Jesus.

Because when we are loved by God, and then love God and others as a response to God’s love for us, we see the answer to the deepest, most constant prayer of my heart: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Earlier we read Paul’s prayer for the Colossians. It fits too well today, so let me pray it for you.

(Epaphras) has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.

9 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

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