Summary: Message about the vision we should have as a church to love, accept and forgive everyone.
Note: I was impacted for this message by Jerry Cook's book on Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness.
Title: Our Vision
Theme: Set the vision for the new year
Text: 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
Love suffers long and is kind; Love does not envy; Love does not parade itself, Is not puffed up; Does not behave rudely, Does not seek its own, Is not provoked, Thinks no evil; Does not rejoice in iniquity, But rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, Believes all things, Hopes all things,
Endures all things. Love never fails." I Corinthians 13:1-8a
This year the Lord has been speaking to me about what we need to focus on. I believe that God wants our church to become “A healing church to a hurting community.” In other words we want to go into the community and bring healing. This community is hurting. They are hurting from a world that is tearing them apart. They are hurting from a church that has pushed them away. They are hurting from sin.
The thing is
We need to do this with three characteristics. I will make a statement that must be true throughout this year. Any one who comes into this sanctuary can feel the love acceptance and forgiveness. No matter what they have done in the past including yesterday.
1 John 3:14. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.
“The mentality of this world leads us to love and give only when there is a reason to assume that our love will be reciprocated.”
“Love is commitment and operates independently of what we feel or do not feel”
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35 NKJV
The quality of love we desire to give is God's agape - to love God and one another unconditionally - just as God, the Father, loves us.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-17 NKJV
Matthew 22:39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself
“Acceptance is the Action of Love”
We accept one another just as we are - committed. Christian or backslider, unbeliever, sober or stoned, clean or dirty, reverent or obnoxious. Anyone desiring freedom from addiction and self-centered behavior is welcomed into The Most Excellent Way by the grace and love of God.
"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom
prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick,
or in prison, and come to You?' "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Matthew 25:34-41 NKJV
Romans 15:7 (NIV) Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Acceptance does not breed a license to sin. What it does is strengthen the brother or person in the faith. It won’t confuse right and wrong because they already know your standards.
Our addictions and self-centeredness have separated us from God and destroyed our relationships with loved ones. We learn the truth about God's forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ.
We learn why we must forgive others.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 NIV
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV