Summary: An inductive message that seeks to eliminate inadequate answers to the question “How can I know God is working in my life?” As a result, individuals prompted by the Holy Spirit will pray at the altar rail to receive God’s help in order to love Him with a
Purpose: to be the Holy Spirit’s second witness calling God’s people in my care to love God and their neighbors.
Visual Illustration: “Stone Tablets” marked I and II for the two greatest commandments.
Key Question: How can I know God is working in my life?
1. Some people suggest looking for PERSUASIVE speech, but that alone leads to PRIDE and ENVY.
2. Some people suggest looking for SPECIAL abilities, but that alone leads to COMPETITION and COMPARISON of achievements.
3. Some people suggest looking for BIBLE KNOWLEDGE, but that alone leads to MORE PRIDE and PRACTICAL hypocrisy.
4. Some people suggest looking for SELF-SACRIFICE, but that alone leads to CODEPENDENT relationships and CONFLICT.
5. Some people suggest looking for ACTS OF GENEROSITY, but that alone leads to POVERTY and PRIDE AGAIN.
6. The Bible tells us to look for LOVE, because that alone is the most EXCELLENT way to know God is working in your life (1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NIV).
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
7. When someone asked him what was the greatest commandment, Jesus said: “LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “LOVE your neighbor as yourself.”
Thesis: If you want a full-blown spiritual life, LOVE God and your neighbor
Someone may be thinking, “Pastor Mark, what does this love for God and my neighbor look like? Can you give me a real life example?”
And the answer is “Yes I can.”
A black South African woman stood in an emotionally charged courtroom, listening to white police officers acknowledge the atrocities they had carried out in the name of apartheid.
Officer van de Broek acknowledged his responsibility in the death of her son. Along with others, he had shot her 18-year-old son at point-blank range. He and the others partied while they burned his body, turning it over and over on the fire until it was reduced to ashes.
Eight years later, van de Broek and others arrived to seize her husband. A few [hours] later, shortly after midnight, van de Broek came to fetch the woman. He took her to a woodpile where her husband lay bound. She was forced to watch as they poured gasoline over his body and ignited the flames that consumed his body. The last words she heard her husband say were "Forgive them."
Now, van de Broek stood before her awaiting judgment. South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission asked her what she wanted.
"I want three things," she said calmly. "I want Mr. van de Broek to take me to the place where they burned my husband’s body. I would like to gather up the dust and give him a decent burial.
"Second, Mr. van de Broek took all my family away from me, and I still have a lot of love to give. Twice a month, I would like for him to come to the ghetto and spend a day with me so I can be a mother to him.
"Third, I would like Mr. van de Broek to know that he is forgiven by God, and that I forgive him, too. I would like someone to lead me to where he is seated, so I can embrace him and he can know my forgiveness is real."