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Walk In Love

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
Good Morning Beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day
We are so glad that you have come to join us.
We want to thank those who are with us from all around the world, those in the U.A.E, China, Russia, Africa, Finland to name a few. I give God all the glory for prompting our wonderful brothers and sisters to join us. We are grateful for the work of the Holy Spirit.
The world claims to want love, and love is advocated and praised from every corner of the world. Especially romantic love. Sensual, sexual love is continually exploited as an emotional, lustful desire as if it were genuine love. Questing for and fantasizing about the "perfect love" is portrayed as the ultimate human experience. 

God establishes true love, while Satan produces counterfeit love. Counterfeit love characterizes Satan’s children, those who are of the world, just as true love characterizes God’s children. In contrast to godly, unselfish, forgiving love, the world’s love is lustful, self serving and self–indulgent. It loves because the object of love is attractive, enjoyable, pleasant, pleasing, satisfying, appreciative, loves in return, produces desired feelings, or is likely to repay in some way. It is always based on the other person’s fulfilling one’s own needs and desires and meeting one’s own expectations. Worldly love is reciprocal, giving little in the expectation of getting much.
In Scripture we find that the Holy Spirit has a mind, a will, and emotions. Each of those aspects obviously operate differently in the Holy Spirit, being God, than they do in us, but they are present, in us, nonetheless. This is an important concept that distinguishes Biblical Christianity from how all other religions view the Holy Spirit.

The most compelling evidence of His personhood is the fact that every time that Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit, He always called Him "he" and not "it." The New Testament is also filled with examples of how the Holy Spirit carries out functions that only a person can carry out. And as we learned in our last message, the Holy Spirit grieves.

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your Word for us today. Thank You for calling us to a higher standard, rather than to lower the bar, You have equipped us with everything we need to meet those standards. Thank You for teaching us that even when we have been unfaithful to You, You remain faithful to us. Thank You for demonstrating Your love for us, while we were yet Your enemies, through Your Son Jesus Christ.

Lord, we pray that as You remind us, that we are a new creation, help us to not fall back into the ways of old. You have shown us, we have no place with that. Remind us in our dealings and relationships with others, to be imitators of You. To be kind, gentle, forgiving and loving, especially to those who we feel don't deserve it. Because we ourselves, do not deserve all that You have given us. You have given us a new nature, holy and undefiled, and sanctified. We know we don't deserve that. Yet in Your grace, You freely give, of Yourself. Help us to also freely give of ourselves. Not from what we have, but out of what You have given to us. 

Father, we know that there some among us, who’ve never given their life to Jesus Christ. Who don't know what it is to have a new nature. Who do not know what it is to have new life, to walk in love. Lord, we pray that today, would be that day that Your Holy Spirit would convict them of their sin and draw them to Yourself, before their willful rebellion against You is confirmed by eternal judgment.

All this we pray in the name of the One, Who redeemed us, saved us from ourselves, Jesus Christ.
Today's Message: Walk In Love
If we’re going to claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, then we need to follow in His footsteps and live a life of love. If it’s true that we have indeed risen with Christ, if it’s true that we’re brand new and transformed, then we should never yield our instruments as instruments of unrighteousness, we should yield our members as instruments of God. And if we’re ever going to imitate God and live a life of love, then we need to take some time to explore what it is to walk in love. So how are we to imitate God, after all, He is God and we are not. And there is a lot about God we could never even come close to imitating for example– His omniscience, his omnipotence and omnipresence. How can we possibly walk worthy.
Open with me your Bibles, to the book of Ephesians chapter 5. In our ongoing study of this wonderful epistle, we have come to what is certainly one of the most marvelous, most helpful passages in all of the book of Ephesians. It touches on the very heart of the Christian life, walking in love. I believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more characteristic of how we are to live as Christians in terms of our behavior than that.. Walk in love.
I invite you to follow along with me as I read to you this portion of the beautifully written epistle from the apostle Paul. Ephesians 5:1-2.

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."

That’s a pretty tall order, isn’t it? Paul says, that as dearly loved children of God, we are to imitate our heavenly Father. The word translated “imitate” is the word from which we get our English word “mimic” and “mime.” So the picture that Paul gives us here is that we are to mimic, or imitate God in the same way that a child mimics his father.

All of us who are parents can relate to that concept. We many of us have watched, often in horror, as our children when their younger, try to imitate us. Some parents even find the unacceptable mimicking to be amusing. That is until it is done in front of someone, that causes them embarrassment. 
Scripture teaches us that the key element to walking in love is to be a follower of God, a mimic of God, an imitator of God.   
"I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another."
Not only did Jesus command His followers to love each other in the same way He had loved them, but He also made it clear that their love for each other would be the measure as to whether they were truly His disciples.
John reinforces this in I John 2:6, " the one who says that he remains in Him ought, himself also, walk just as He walked. 
Followers, is the Greek word is mimts, from which we get mimic. Mimic Christ. That sums up the whole of Christianity in one statement. Mimic Christ. Reproduce everything that is true of God.
So how we can imitate that kind of love in our relationships with others. We must love others even when it costs us greatly. I’m not sure that we really consider all that it cost Jesus to love us. We recognize that it cost Him the ultimate, His life. But have you ever sat down and considered what else it cost Jesus to love us? Here is just few ways that it cost Jesus to love us:

For starters, this cost Jesus His glory.

Philippians 2:5-8

Though we can’t even begin to imagine what this must have been like because none of us are God. But Jesus set aside the glory of heaven for 33 years and came here to this earth and endured scorn and shame from those He had created because he loves us so much.

It also cost Jesus physical pain to love us.

Isaiah 53:5

It cost Jesus His fellowship with the Father. As bad as all those other things must have hurt Jesus, I think the greatest pain He suffered was that moment on the cross when all the sins of mankind were placed upon Him and as a result, His fellowship with the Father was broken and Jesus cried out"

Mathew 27:46

It cost Jesus His life to love us and, if necessary, we ought to be willing to pay that same price to love others. So I’m embarrassed to think about how many things that fall short of giving my life have kept me from loving others.

Far more times than I’d like to admit, I’ve failed to truly love others because I wasn’t willing to give up my time. Maybe because it just wasn’t convenient at the time, or more likely, I was just being selfish with my time and there was something else that I wanted to do more than whatever I could have done to love someone else. There were also times I didn’t love someone else because I was worried about what others would think. I was worried more about the fact that loving the unlovable might cost me my reputation than I was about loving the other person. I'm so thankful I'm not who I used to be.

I finally learned that if I want to imitate the love of God, then I need to love others even when it costs me greatly. I must love others even when they don’t deserve it. Just as I was also loved.

I want to listen as I read to you Romans 5:7-8, "For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Christ did not love us because were deserving of His love. There was nothing in our lives worth dying for, but He did it anyway. Not because of who we are, but because of who He is. Because He loves us. Not only that, but as we study the Scriptures, as we observe the life of Jesus while He was on this earth, we find that Jesus always loved those who others considered unlovable – the poor, the diseased, the tax collectors, and social outcasts.

If we are to be like God, we must know what God is like. By the way, if you think about it, the entire Bible is the revelation of God; It’s God’s self-disclosure. As you study the Bible, you begin to see God's character unfold.

I think most of you would agree, it's easy to love those who love us and treat us well, but the real test of our love is how we treat those who mistreat us or those who are different that us. It’s certainly much easier to forgive those who are truly sorry and ask for forgiveness, however, we’re required to forgive everyone, whether they deserve our forgiveness or not. Even if they don't ask for it and don't want it.

So if we’re going to imitate the love of God, then we have to learn to love those who are hard to love and those who don’t deserve our love. As Jesus made quite clear, in Matthew chapter 5, in the Sermon On The Mount. Anyone can love those that love us. And it’s not too hard to love those that are like us, either. Even the pagans can do that.

In full disclosure, I struggle with this principle more when dealing with people in the church than with people outside the body. When I think about loving people outside the body, I don’t seem to think as much about whether the person needs my love or not. Since they are not yet followers of Jesus Christ, I know that I need to love them, and it's easier to cut them some slack. 

But when it comes to the body, I suppose I have this expectation that those within the church, they should "know better." It's pretty easy to love those who are always encouraging, to me and others, who are first to volunteer, always willing to help out when something needs to be done. But it's a lot harder to love those who are always unwilling to part of the solution, yet are always complaining, standing in criticism of what others have done. Those who seems to always be working behind the scenes, to undermine church leadership, gossiping behind others backs. It's a lot harder for me to love those people, because they should know better than to act that way. But God says I have to love those people also, just as He loves me. 

I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Wait, what? But God knows, I'm really easy to love!" Well, as much as I'd like to think the same, the truth is, I'm not always easy to love. And you aren't either. None of are, in fact, we're pretty difficult to love most of the time. But God loves us, all the time, even when we've messed up something awful, even though we don't deserve it. And that's how we need to love others.

We need to love them when we were counting on them and they've let us down. We need to love them when they've done what appears to be everything in their power to ensure we don't them, yep, we need to love those people too. How many times, have you or I done nearly everything God has told us not to do? And no matter how many times we've messed up, He receives us still, with open arms and says, "Welcome home, I have missed you. I love you." Is that what we do? I'm afraid we all know that we haven't but we are suppose too. And, if you stop and think about it, isn't that in itself disappointing God? And has He stopped loving us because of it? 

I'll let you just think about that for a moment.

Next, if I'm to be like God, I must love others with actions, not just with words or emotions. God could have just told us how much He loves us, but throughout the Scriptures, God has not only declared His love for us, He has demonstrated it through His actions. God rescued His people from slavery in Egypt. He provided for them in the wilderness and the, in spite of their constant complaining and rebellion, He brought them into the Promised Land. He sent prophets to bring them His word and to warn them of the consequences of their behavior.

Yet God’s ultimate act of love was one that He had planned from before the beginning of time.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life." — John 3:16

God so loved the world... He did what? He gave, and not only did He just give, He gave the most precious thing He had, His own Son. For the record, I'm not suggesting that anyone sacrifice their children. You have to be very careful now days, there's always someone out there looking to discredit you. I can hear it now, "Did you hear what pastor Brian said?? He said we must sacrifice our children.." Well, that's not what I'm saying at all, I'm simply saying we must give from a place of sacrifice, our giving to others needs to cost of something. Maybe it's our finances, maybe it's our time, just being present.

Unfortunately, in our culture today, we have completely perverted the whole concept of God's love. At best, it's seen as physical attraction between two, or more people. So, if we are going to imitate God’s love, then our love must transcend the world’s concept of love as I John 3:18 makes quite clear:

"Little children, let’s not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." And then what? Let's look at verse 19, "We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will set our heart at ease before Him" We will know that we are of the truth. In contrast, if we do not do this, we know what? That's right, the truth is not in us. That kind of stings a bit doesn't it. Even if you've checked off all the other boxes, but do not love in deed and truth, we have not the truth in you.

Rather than to waster your time telling others that you love your neighbor, act as if you did. Because a true Christians love is more than just an emotion. It is a choice that we make to put the well-being of the other person ahead of our own. And that takes more than just words; it requires action on our part!

James 2:15-16 puts it this way, "If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?"

My love must be freely given. This is the essence of God’s love for us in Christ. That's why Paul says at the end of verse 2, ..."gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."

This is very clearly a reference to the Old Testament sacrificial system in Leviticus, God prescribed five different types of sacrifices that His people were to make to Him. Three of these sacrifices – the burnt offering, the grain offering and the fellowship, or peace offering - were made as a voluntary act of worship to God. The other two sacrifices – the sin offering and the guilt offering – were offerings that were required whenever the people sinned. 

There is one single exception in Leviticus 4:31, the voluntary offerings are always described as "an aroma pleasing to the Lord" and the required offerings are never described in that same way. The fact that the voluntary sacrifices were described in that way makes sense since they were voluntary sacrifices which denoted thanksgiving and devotion to God and God would have been pleased with that. 

On the other hand, the required sacrifices came about as the result of sin and therefore God would have not have been pleased with the reason for the sacrifices. So when Paul describes the death of Jesus as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God, he is reinforcing the idea that Jesus voluntarily gave up His life for us. Paul further emphasizes this when he writes that Jesus "gave himself up for us."

Jesus Himself made this point clear in John 10:17, "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it back."

The greatest act of love in the history of mankind was not forced, it was given freely. Jesus willingly laid down His life.

In Closing.. 

I pray that through our study today, you’ve seen that the love that imitates God is much more than just words or an emotion, that doesn’t mean that our attitude is not important when it comes to loving others in the same way that God has loved us. We can do all the right things out of a sense of obligation or because that is what we are expected to do. That isn't the kind of love that God has for us, is it? In spite of the tremendous cost He knew He would pay, Jesus freely gave His life for us. So if we’re going to imitate His love, we need to love others in the same way.

Because God is God, we are certainly not capable of imitating who He is. However, we can, and we must imitate the way that He loves me in the way that we love others.

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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