Summary: We are often frustrated at feelings of distance between us and God, but often do not have lives characterized by loving others.

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The Love Connection

Brad Bailey – October 19, 2008

Series: Becoming Friends with God

I returned a week ago from Nepal… to be a part of… South Asia Vineyard Family Gathering.

Included a few key Indian leaders… but mostly Nepali… about a quarter from the urban area of Kathmandu… many from NE India border… and a majority from the villages that spread many miles up into the Himalayas.

One of the qualities that stood out… was the basic love by which they related to one another. I had the opportunity to fly over the Himalayas… moved by their majesty…. Sensed the magnificence… the greatness of God. But later that day.. in gathering in worship and fellowship… I felt the presence of God. A different dynamic… but a very real sense of God. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me.. for God is love… and where the reign of His kingdom prevails… he inhabits such love.. is there in it’s midst.

Intro – As we continue in our series focusing on becoming friends with God… let me ask you to consider a question with me…When have you tended to feel closest to God?

Now for many… there may be a natural tendency to have felt more passionate… more heart fluttering… at some initial point in your relationship. It’s often the case with romantic relationships. Yet if we are wise… we realize initial feelings are initial feelings. A different closeness naturally emerges. So perhaps the question should be considered in terms of when… in the longer relationship… have you tended to feel most connected… most at peace… with God?

Now I can’t answer that question for you. But I can share what I have found most true for many. We tend to be most at peace with God…

• When selflessly serving… especially the poor… but even one’s friends and family

• When sharing the love of Jesus with someone whose heart is open

• When truly forgiving and extending grace to one who is indebted to us in some way

• When giving generously

What do these times have in common?

> Loving and active compassion

We tend to feel most at peace with God when we are operating out of selfless love… out of compassion.

An essential dynamic in experiencing friendship with God is our love for others.

There are many dynamics involved with being close with God… but there is no substitute for compassion in our hearts.

Perhaps thinking you are not the sentimental type… you don’t do mushy as easily as others. Well this isn’t about what we feel… but it is about our hearts. Divinely rooted love… compassion is not simply what we feel…. But what we willfully give our hearts to… our inner disposition towards others.

Loving compassion is not simply a position we hold (i.e. our mere position in a political campaign or cause) … nor simply an outward persona (‘niceness’)… but rather it is an inner posture and active presence in relationship to others.

If we really want to live in peace and connection to God… we do well to hear what He spoke to His people through the prophet Isaiah…

Isaiah 58:1-10 (NIV)

1 "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 3 ’Why have we fasted,’ they say, ’and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ "Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.

(5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?)

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

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