THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 2-15-09
LESSON TITLE: “TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES: KEEP YOURSELF IN THE LOVE OF GOD”
Welcome to the Living Word program on this wondrous Lord’s Day. What a privilege it is to have you with us today, as we together give this time to God. I know that we will all be encouraged and uplifted by our time together this morning. So, let’s give our best to God so that He may be pleased with our offering. Furthermore, let’s do all things according to His will - so that our worship will be received by Him in a good and perfect way. Now, let’s approach His throne in prayer!
This morning we want to begin with a song which tells us of something waiting for the faithful child of God. So, won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together the song, “Just Over In The Glory Land!”
(SONG # 1)
Isn’t it hard to put God first and to always seek after His Kingdom? Especially in the fact that we have so many temptations in this world that are pulling us in every direction. However, the reality is, God does expect us to focus on Him and to put our thoughts, hopes and trust in Him and His Word.
In Colossians 3, Paul talks to the brethren at Colossae and reminds them what they must focus on. In verses 1-2, the Bibles says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Did you catch all of that? As followers of God we are to focus on those things above - where God is! Those things which are higher than the world, good and righteous. Then in the next statement Paul goes on to tell us why this is and should be so. The answer, “for we died!”
How often do we forget that when we became Christians we truly died to ourselves and to the wants and desires of this life? At least so far as we allow these things to be first or to come before our God. For the true Christians, there is no other acceptable way to follow and serve God than to put Him first and to always focus on that which is good - and thus pertains to Him.
Another verse which helps with this same topic is found in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In chapter 4 and verse 8 of that book, the inspired writer said, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things.” The reality is we must completely commit ourselves to focusing on those things which are God-like, if we ever expect to be what He desires of us as Christians.
Furthermore, as we have always heard, “we are what we eat.” Now bring that over to a spiritual sense. That which we take in through word, deeds and thought - really determines what eventually will come out. Isn’t that why Jesus said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” Matthew 12:34. Whatever is on the inside will be seen on the outside, no matter how hard we try to hide it or to deceive those around us. What types of things are you seeking in relationship to Christ? Are you focused on those things from above?
After our next song together, I will be leading our lesson thoughts of the day. This morning we will be considering the next lesson in our series entitled, “Take Heed To Yourselves.” Our specific lesson of the day will deal with, “Keep Yourself In The Love Of God?” So, please stay with us for this important study from God’s Word. Now it’s time to join in our second song of the morning. Won’t you join in with the congregation as we sing the hymn, “Leaning On The Everlasting Arms.”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
In the only chapter in the book of Jude and in verse 21, the Bible says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” As you well know now for many months we’ve been talking about those things that we are to take heed of that we might be found of before God as righteous, pure, holy and proper in His sight. And so with that in mind, again today we now introduce there in the book of Jude yet another thing that we are to keep ourselves in, and today we see it is the love of God.
What a wonderful concept the love of God is, for we learn so much about who God is and really about what God has done because of the great love that the Bible speaks of that He has for each and every one of us.
You might notice there throughout the Bible several things said about the love of God and that’s where we will begin this morning in our continued study together.
First of all, we find out that God is a God of love. There in the book of 1 John and chapter 4, it actually says in verse 8 that, “God is love.” And so therefore we need to understand that if we are to know God and understand God and really comprehend God, we must know that He is a God of love.
God being the God of love also asks the question of us: What then has He done to show His great love for us? Well there in the book of Romans chapter 1 we learn that God is a God who has created all things, all the wonderful and glorious things of this world that you and I might live. He has also, as we read back in the book of Genesis chapter 1 and 2, the One who spoke all things into existence and even there in verses 26 and following “created man in His own image and in His own likeness.” And therefore as we look at God, He is a God of love because He has created us and made us this world that we might live in it.
And then there is another aspect of God there back in 1 John and chapter 4. If you’ll look with me in verse 9, he goes on to say, “And in this the love of God was manifested toward us.” What did He do? The verse says that “God has sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him.” You see God a God of love has demonstrated love by creating the world, creating us and then even after creating all of these things and giving them to us, He sent His own Son to become a man and His Son then lived on the earth, suffered and died the cruel death of Calvary that you and I might what? Live! That we might be saved! That we might have eternal life! And so when you begin to consider that, when we say, “Well consider the love of God,” we really begin to understand how great and mighty and wonderful it is because I might ask you the question: How many of us would give our own lives for God today? How many of us as parents would give one of our children’s lives for God or for the sake of someone else? How many of us would be willing to allow friends and family members or parents to die for God or for the sake of God? Because the Father in Heaven sent His own Son, Jesus, and He died for mankind even though man was unrighteous. Even though man primarily was rejecting the Will of God, He still gave the Son’s life that we might live once again and that we might have eternal life.
This love is also clarified for us in the book of Ephesians, if you’ll turn there, as Paul challenged the Ephesian brethren to know that the love of God is impossible to fully comprehend because God’s love goes far beyond what you and I would be willing to do or sacrifice as human beings. There in that text, if you’ll look with me beginning in verse 17 of chapter 3 the Bible says, “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and the length and the depth and the height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Who is God? It says, “To Him who is able and above us and able to do all things exceedingly for us through His power.” In other words, a God who is willing to have done all that He has done, to do today all that He is doing, and then to do all that He will do through His promises and His rewards and His blessings and as we have said several times a life eternal in Heaven. And so here he mentions that love that is so wide and so deep. Its dimensions are so far surpassing human comprehension that we really cannot conceive what the love of God is all about.
Now I hope we’re beginning to see what the love of God is because it shows us who God is and it shows us the challenge of a God who stands before us as a Creator, one who has loved us to care, protect and provide for us, who now also makes a challenge to us that as God has loved we also must what? Love! Keep yourselves in the love of God!
What is the first and foremost way that we can keep ourselves in the love of God? Well it is by loving as God has loved. If you’ll go back with me to our first text of the morning that we have discussed there in the book of Jude, we saw first of all that he challenges in verse 21 that “we keep ourselves in the love of God.” But I want you to notice what else he says in that same verse. He says, “Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” What is it that keeping ourselves in the love of God does? It makes us realize that God is a merciful, a gracious, and a giving God. It makes us realize that eternal life has been offered. It makes us realize that in John chapter 1 that our God as He came in the flesh, Jesus, came that He might live and give life and give it more abundantly and even die for our sakes. And so that’s the love that God is speaking about. A love that surpasses understanding to the point that it says it will do whatever is necessary to give me what I need, to give me the opportunities that I need, the protection that I need, the guidance that I need in order to be the child of God that He has asked me to be. Now that’s what is wonderful about the love of God. We are never alone. And when we think about God as our Father and we think about the love that a Father has for a child and the way that a father or a mother nurtures and cares for that child and gives the child what it needs… In fact, you and I well know as parents we give our children far more than they need or even sometimes want and we give and give and give. This is the idea of God! He loves us so much that He has given and given and He continues to give because we are His children and we are striving to do what? Imitate Him! To love Him! Love as He has loved! Showing ourselves worthy! Showing ourselves worthy to wear His name, Christian! Showing ourselves worthy to be called His children because we are those who can proudly say are making the sacrifice or doing what is necessary and meeting the standard of His Word that He has established.
If you’ll also notice with me there in the same concept other ideas then that are a challenge to us that we might not only know the love of God, that we might not only know how God loves as we have seen, that we might not only know that we should keep ourselves in the love of God but to see our part played out. In other words, there are things we can do to show our love for God. Look with me there again in the book of Jude. There are quite a few things that are clarified in that text. Back up if you will with me to verse 20. There in Jude again the first chapter and the only chapter in verse 20 it says, “But you beloved building yourselves up in the most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” Notice here this idea of being those who do what? Build ourselves in faith. What kind of faith? Holy faith, righteous, pure faith. That is the faith based on no doubt God. And then he also mentions here the idea of praying, the ability that we have to speak with God and know that the Holy Spirit through us speaks to the Father through the Son. Even the Spirit knows our needs. Even the Spirit cries out our needs and even makes groaning, the Bible tells us, for things that we have need of or things that we are not aware of that we have need of that He might let God know what we need. And so God loves us enough to not only go as far as we’ve asked, but to go above and beyond, to go far beyond what we have asked as we have read, “that He might provide and give us all that we need, all things and even exceedingly all things,” as we even read earlier in Ephesians chapter 3. So we see faith and we see prayer.
Drop down to verse 22. It adds there, “And some you should have compassion on making a distinction.” What about Christ? Was Christ compassionate? I would say that as He came to the earth that certainly if He was willing to die for man, sinners, and He died on the cross that we might be saved, that shows a lot of compassion. We even see in the daily life of Christ that He was willing to make sacrifice after sacrifice and really do without that the men, the people, and those around Him, disciples, might have everything that they had need of. And so what kind of compassion did God have? The complete, ultimate compassion. What should we strive for? Compassion! As God loved, we love. As God is faithful toward us, we must be faithful toward Him. As He speaks to us through His Word, we must pray and speak to Him as He is compassionate towards us, we must be compassionate towards Him. (Verse 23) Striving to do what? Save others with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garments that are defiled by the flesh.
What do we want to do? Save ourselves. What should we strive also to accomplish? Saving others, to snatch them out of the fire of wickedness and evil and eventually as we would well know the condemnation of Hell to one who has not responded to God but to do whatever it takes not to defile our garments or to allow others to defile their garments with things that keep us from the love of God, for in the love of God is found all the blessings and wonderful promises and the wonders that He has given to us through His Word. But we must be in His love as again God is love.
Another thing that we find here in the same text in verse 24, he says, “And to keep you from stumbling.” There again the idea if we want to be joyous, as it says in that verse and if we want to present ourselves before Him as exceedingly joyous through our faithfulness, then we must do what? Keep ourselves from stumbling. And so how do we keep ourselves in the love of God? We serve God. We do what we have been asked to do in response to His love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” God has shown His love and is showing His love. And what do we do in turn? Show our love.
No doubt that’s why we find again in the book of 1 John the idea of loving God by keeping the commandments that He has given us. That’s really the same idea in the gospel of John in John 14 and 15, “If you love Me,” Jesus said, “keep My commandments.” But if you’ll notice there the same idea is given in 1 John and chapter 5 as He tells us there, “Whoever believes,” verse 1, “that Jesus is the Christ is born of God and everyone who loves Him, who begot also loves Him who is begotten of Him.”
Now look down to verse 3. “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome.” It tells us here as Christians we want to do it. It doesn’t mean that it is going to necessarily be easy, but we want to do it because God has loved us, and we are born of God and therefore as we have been loved by God, we love Him back by doing what? Keeping His commandments.
Look at verse 2 that we skipped intentionally. It goes on there to add, “By this we know that we love the children of God when we love God and keep His commandments.” How is it that God… How is it that the world… How is it that people know that the love of God is in me and that I love God first and foremost? That I keep His commandments and that I am doing His Will as He has asked me to.
Do you know what is wonderful about all of that? It tells us that if I can do that, that I am going to be one who is born of God for God is love. As we saw earlier in the same text there but in chapter 4 of 1 John. God is love. He has manifested that love and He has loved us enough to give His own Son to die so that we might love as God has loved.
Then he adds something else there in verse 11 of chapter 4. He says, “We should love God and love one another.” He says there in verse 20, “How can we say we love God but then we hate a brother whom we see?” Have we seen God literally with our eyes? Well certainly we haven’t. So how can we say we hate one that God loves if we really love God? Well the fact is as you see, if we love God, we must love His Word, obey His Word, and a part of that is to love our brethren. If we want the love of God, if we want to overcome the wicked things of life, if we want to be victorious in the end and receive all the things today and forevermore that God has promised to those who love Him, we must love as God has loved.
Look there again if you will back in chapter 5, 1 John chapter 5 and now read with me verses 4 and 5. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world and this is the victory that has overcome the world,” notice, “our faith; Who is he who has overcome the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” The one who believes. The one who has faith. We’ve seen the idea of faith. We’ve seen the idea of faith many times in our discussion today. The faith that we have demonstrates the love that we have for God, our obedience to His commands. He says here, “The one who has loved God and believed in the Son and by faith obeyed Him, that one is victorious.” That one has overcome the world. That one is born of God and that one will receive all that God has promised.
And so the question for you today to consider is: Do you love God? Are you in the love of God? And are you doing what God has commanded to make sure you love as you are loved by Him? Isn’t it what Paul said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 13 and verse 13 that perhaps is the most familiar of all things concerning love to each and every one of us? “The greatest of all of these things…” What things Paul? It says there, “Faith, hope and love.” What is the greatest of all, even greater than your faith, even greater than the hopes God has promised? It is love. Why? Love is the foundation of all things. Why? For God is love. Will you love as God has loved? Will you respond to the love of God knowing that if you do His Will, you will be blessed today. You will be blessed tomorrow and forever more.
(SONG # 3 - “Let The Lower Lights Be Burning!”)
Thanks for putting God first and choosing to be with us this morning. I hope you have benefited from our time together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God.
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Thanks be to God for His complete and perfect love. May we strive to do those things that every show us faithful in His sight, and thus recipients of His great love. Are you keeping yourself in the love of God?