So much of the troubles and pain of the world would be overcome if love was kept as the core! Not lust! Not conditional love! Real love! When there is real love people treat other people right! When there is real love people act in ways that are respectful and responsible! When there is real love people will serve others at their point of need! Without true love, there is deception and destruction of lives, relationships, and the world!
This morning’s reading begins here…
9I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. 13The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them. 14And you are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17This, then, is what I command you: love one another.
–from John 15
So today, let’s follow the commandments that Jesus called out: Love God and Love one another! Love is the central part of everything! When we put it as our purpose and our plan, then we do what needs to be done with an attitude that is aligned with God’s plan and purpose for our lives! As the body of Christ we should be loving our neighbors! Loving our communities! Love one another! If we are lukewarm, what good are we! It’s better to be cold than lukewarm! It’s better to be hot and on fire for the things of God! So let’s not stop or get tired of doing what is good and what is right! Let’s not wait till it’s too late, but rather let’s get started now in doing what God has prepared in advance for us to accomplish and complete! When we do, He opens the door that nobody can close! When we do, we hold onto the prize of eternity with Him so that nobody can ever take it away from us!
The Message to Sardis
1“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: “This is the message from the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know what you are doing; I know that you have the reputation of being alive, even though you are dead! 2So wake up, and strengthen what you still have before it dies completely. For I find that what you have done is not yet perfect in the sight of my God. 3Remember, then, what you were taught and what you heard; obey it and turn from your sins. If you do not wake up, I will come upon you like a thief, and you will not even know the time when I will come. 4But a few of you there in Sardis have kept your clothes clean. You will walk with me, clothed in white, because you are worthy to do so. 5Those who win the victory will be clothed like this in white, and I will not remove their names from the book of the living. In the presence of my Father and of his angels I will declare openly that they belong to me.
6“If you have ears, then, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches!
The Message to Philadelphia
7“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
“This is the message from the one who is holy and true. He has the key that belonged to David, and when he opens a door, no one can close it, and when he closes it, no one can open it. 8I know what you do; I know that you have a little power; you have followed my teaching and have been faithful to me. I have opened a door in front of you, which no one can close. 9Listen! As for that group that belongs to Satan, those liars who claim that they are Jews but are not, I will make them come and bow down at your feet. They will all know that I love you. 10Because you have kept my command to endure, I will also keep you safe from the time of trouble which is coming upon the world to test all the people on earth. 11I am coming soon. Keep safe what you have, so that no one will rob you of your victory prize. 12I will make those who are victorious pillars in the temple of my God, and they will never leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which will come down out of heaven from my God. I will also write on them my new name.
13“If you have ears, then, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches!
–from Revelation 3
Not sure what to do? Not sure where to turn? Turn to God and ask Him for wisdom, He won’t judge but will provide it liberally and without finding fault! Let’s turn from our own wicked ways and turn to God and His ways!
In Praise of Wisdom
1There are mines where silver is dug; There are places where gold is refined. 2We dig iron out of the ground And melt copper out of the stones. 3Miners explore the deepest darkness. They search the depths of the earth And dig for rocks in the darkness. 4Far from where anyone lives Or human feet ever travel, They dig the shafts of mines. There they work in loneliness, Clinging to ropes in the pits. 5Food grows out of the earth, But underneath the same earth All is torn up and crushed. 6The stones of the earth contain sapphires, And its dust contains gold. 7No hawk sees the roads to the mines, And no vulture ever flies over them. 8No lion or other fierce beast Ever travels those lonely roads. 9Miners dig the hardest rocks, Dig mountains away at their base. 10As they tunnel through the rocks, They discover precious stones. 11They dig to the sources of rivers And bring to light what is hidden. 12But where can wisdom be found? Where can we learn to understand? 13Wisdom is not to be found among mortals; No one knows its true value. 14The depths of the oceans and seas Say that wisdom is not found there. 15It cannot be bought with silver or gold. 16The finest gold and jewels Cannot equal its value. 17It is worth more than gold, Than a gold vase or finest glass. 18The value of wisdom is more Than coral or crystal or rubies. 19The finest topaz and the purest gold Cannot compare with the value of wisdom. 20Where, then, is the source of wisdom? Where can we learn to understand? 21No living creature can see it, Not even a bird in flight. 22Even death and destruction Admit they have heard only rumors. 23God alone knows the way, Knows the place where wisdom is found, 24Because he sees the ends of the earth, Sees everything under the sky. 25When God gave the wind its power And determined the size of the sea; 26When God decided where the rain would fall, And the path that the thunderclouds travel; 27It was then he saw wisdom and tested its worth—He gave it his approval. 28God said to us humans, “To be wise, you must have reverence for the Lord. To understand, you must turn from evil.”
–from Job 28
What do you love? What do you worship? Is it real? Is it for real? We need to put and keep God at the center! We need to love with the true, unconditional love that Jesus showed and taught us about ! We need to accept Jesus and His forgiveness so that we can live and love! We love because God first loved us!
Final Judgment on Israel
1In the past, when the tribe of Ephraim spoke, the other tribes of Israel were afraid; they looked up to Ephraim. But the people sinned by worshiping Baal, and for this they will die. 2They still keep on sinning by making metal images to worship—idols of silver, designed by human minds, made by human hands. And then they say, “Offer sacrifices to them!” How can anyone kiss those idols—idols in the shape of bulls! 3And so these people will disappear like morning mist, like the dew that vanishes early in the day. They will be like chaff which the wind blows from the threshing place, like smoke from a chimney.
4The Lord says, “I am the Lord your God, who led you out of Egypt. You have no God but me. I alone am your savior. 5I took care of you in a dry, desert land. 6But when you entered the good land, you became full and satisfied, and then you grew proud and forgot me. 7So I will attack you like a lion. Like a leopard I will lie in wait along your path. 8I will attack you like a bear that has lost her cubs, and I will tear you open. Like a lion I will devour you on the spot, and will tear you to pieces like a wild animal.
9“I will destroy you, people of Israel! Then who can help you? 10You asked for a king and for leaders, but how can they save the nation? 11In my anger I have given you kings, and in my fury I have taken them away.
12“Israel’s sin and guilt are on record, and the records are safely stored away. 13Israel has a chance to live, but is too foolish to take it—like a child about to be born, who refuses to come out of the womb. 14I will not save this people from the world of the dead or rescue them from the power of death. Bring on your plagues, death! Bring on your destruction, world of the dead! I will no longer have pity for this people. 15Even though Israel flourishes like weeds, I will send a hot east wind from the desert, and it will dry up their springs and wells. It will take away everything of value. 16Samaria must be punished for rebelling against me. Her people will die in war; babies will be dashed to the ground, and pregnant women will be ripped open.”
–from Hosea 13
We all get a choice! We have all been given freewill! God isn’t going to force us into it! He wants us to choose to love Him and follow Him! God wants us to want to have and build and develop a relationship with Him! So before it is too late, will you choose to turn to Him, to follow Him? Choose wisely! Choose before it is too late!
Hosea’s Plea to Israel
1Return to the Lord your God, people of Israel. Your sin has made you stumble and fall. 2Return to the Lord, and let this prayer be your offering to him: “Forgive all our sins and accept our prayer, and we will praise you as we have promised. 3Assyria can never save us, and war horses cannot protect us. We will never again say to our idols that they are our God. O Lord, you show mercy to those who have no one else to turn to.”
The Lord Promises New Life for Israel
4The Lord says, “I will bring my people back to me. I will love them with all my heart; no longer am I angry with them. 5I will be to the people of Israel like rain in a dry land. They will blossom like flowers; they will be firmly rooted like the trees of Lebanon. 6They will be alive with new growth, and beautiful like olive trees. They will be fragrant like the cedars of Lebanon. 7Once again they will live under my protection. They will grow crops of grain and be fruitful like a vineyard. They will be as famous as the wine of Lebanon. 8The people of Israel will have nothing more to do with idols; I will answer their prayers and take care of them. Like an evergreen tree I will shelter them; I am the source of all their blessings.”
9May those who are wise understand what is written here, and may they take it to heart. The Lord’s ways are right, and righteous people live by following them, but sinners stumble and fall because they ignore them.
–from Hosea 14