Jesus has ushered in a new covenant that brings love beyond belief. He has changed the order of how we have a relationship with God.
In his message on Sunday, January 13, Pastor Troy Murphy provided a reminder of the rescue God performed in our lives by sending Jesus, and the fact we cannot rescue ourselves.
Here are key points from Troy’s message:
*The new command Jesus brings (John 13.34-35) is to love others the way God has loved us. And how does God love us? A good example is Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Jesus humbly serves all, even Judas, the one who betrayed him. (John 13: 2-5).
*In the words of F.F. Bruce: 'God bestows his blessing without discrimination. Jesus humbly serves all people and does not discriminate, no matter who they are or what their morality.'
*God loves us beyond our morality (Romans 5: 6-8). He loves us beyond our mistakes. No matter how many mistakes you make, He will still send an army to rescue you. It’s hard to comprehend or imagine a father that would love that way.
*Legalism says God will love us if we change. The gospel says God will change us because He loves us. God pours his love into us and brings life-change.
*Many people think they have to clean up for God, but the nature of God is not that way. He loves us right where we’re at.
*In the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15) we see the shepherd leaving 99 sheep to find the one that is lost. The nature of God is to look for the one. He leaves the found and fiercely searches for the lost. The God of the universe longs to carefully search for the lost. He cares for our loved ones more than we do.
*Who are the worst people you could never eat dinner with? Who would you never invite to dinner? Those are the people Jesus is eating with (Luke 15).
*In the story of the prodigal son, the younger brother wants his part of the estate before his father dies, which would have been a complete insult. He in effect was saying, ‘Dad, I’d rather you be dead. I’m more interested in what you will give me.’ Some lessons we learn about God’s love from this parable:
-God loves us by giving us freedom. He loves us enough to allow us to make choices. If God forced us to love him, that wouldn’t be love. God gives us freedom and the ability to make choices that aren’t good. Sometimes the greatest thing we can do with our family and friends is let them have freedom to choose.
-We pay a price for decisions we make. Even in the midst of making wrong decisions, God loves us enough not to say: ‘See, I told you. You shouldn’t have done that.’
-Every morning the father of the prodigal son would get up early and be the last one off the porch, waiting for his son to return. The God of heaven longs and waits for us to come home. He loves us with unconditional compassion.
-The nature of God’s love is unchangeable and isn’t dependent on our behavior. God loves you no matter what you do. It doesn’t mean he wants you to make bad decisions, but his love can change your heart and life. He will rejoice when you come home to him.
-The father in this parable didn’t assume the responsibility to try and save his son from bad decisions. In the same way, we can’t take on that responsibility for loved ones. We simply are called to throw the seed and testify to what God is doing in our life. We must leave the saving to Jesus.
-It wasn’t until the son was in a place of need that he saw the light. Being in need brings a longing for something deeper and can turn people to God. When we don’t feel need, we usually have a false sense of security in things like money, wealth, affluence and power.
*What are some ways you have tried to impress God, or earn his favor?
*What’s the hardest part about accepting God’s unconditional love?
*Have you withheld love from someone because of his or her morality?
*Are there people you would be reluctant to invite to dinner? Why?
*What’s your biggest takeaway from the parable of the prodigal son?