Like is a feeling, LOVE is a Doing

The following is a text version of a sermon I delivered Sunday, January 29th, 2017, at Redland Church of the Nazarene at 10:00 a.m. and Noon. The sermon included a supporting slide show and several other “visual” elements of, explained as necessary with notes in the text.

Audio of the actual sermon as presented at noon is available at: //redlandnazarene.net/content.cfm?id=372&download_id=185#attached_content

The Lead Pastor, Treavor Pound, had asked me to Preach that morning, because He had planned to run in an Annual Half-marathon event (for charity) which began early that morning, and wanted to make sure that the service was “covered” in case there were unexpected delays.  The morning dawned cold (for S. Florida, temps around 50 degrees [F]) with a steady light rain, and we had several baptisms scheduled, so the increased likelihood of a rain-delayed start/finish made him decide to cancel his participation, so I had to ad-lib changes to the sermon, on the fly.

We had had a very inspiring morning service that had included 5 Baptisms in the first service, the induction of several new members and another baptism in the second. Then Suzanne Suris, Carlos Suris and Taelor Suris (“Suzanne and the Boys”) performed  very powerful version of Hillsong’s “Forever Reign” (“I’m Running To His Arms”), and I was moved to ad-lib several remarks, as was the Lead Pastor, available in the audio recording.

This is the text as planned, much of it as presented:

 

Join me in Prayer,Please:

Great and Gracious Father God,Holy Lord and Spirit, Illuminate our Hearts and our Minds, fill us with the Love you give so abundantly.

Light that living love in us, that we may carry it out of this place into a dark and un-loving world. 

We ask, in the name of the truth, the Life, and the way, Your great love made flesh, Jesus, the Christ.

Until just last week,

I never thought I’d stand at a pulpit and ask, How’s your love life?

Mine’s pretty good, thank you.

And I’m talking about more than my relationship with my darling wife, and I’m askingabout more than your intimate relationships with the special people in your life,

 

(Slide[Not read aloud]):

…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 

-- Jesus Christ (John 10:10b [AKJV]))

 

I’m also talking and asking about, our intimate relationship with that most special of all people, who IS LOVE… made into a man… A man who lived… and died… and lives again… because of LOVE for you and me… so that we might have life, life more abundant, and eternal.

Jesus, The Christ

Today’s sermon is a kick-off for a series called “Love Life”.

Pastor Trevor’s asked me to start it off today… because…

Well, I don’t know how to break this to you… But… he’s got something wrong with him.

He got up early this morning… Real early … and went out and ran slightly more than 13 miles, a Half-Marathon…

VOLUNTARILY!

Now, don’t worry, I don’t mean that he hurt himself,

(To Trevor) You didn’t did you?

But he knew his time this morning would be kind of tight when he registered, So, here I am.

And, while I’m really glad and grateful to preach today, I’m telling you, there’s something wrong with him!

I mean, back in the day, when I was a soldier, We used to run at least two or three times a week, Between two and five miles, usually, Sometimes farther, but… We were under orders, and there was a WAR,

But Him … VOLUNTARILY!

You know I’m kidding– right? 

You can tell that a soldier, young or old, likes you … they tease and kid you.

And, if I haven’t got around to kidding any of you, yet-- individually and personally, Keep coming back, I’m old and slow, but - I’ll get to you.

Because, you see, God, In His Great and inexhaustible Lovingkindness, Is teaching me , to not just like you, But to love you.

Which is why I say my Love Life is pretty good, Praise the Lord!,

This teaching that He’s doing, thru His word, and His ministers, and the Holy Spirit, and this learning that I’m doing, thru my thick skull and stubborn spirit, and this… Loving that I’m learning, albeit slowly…This Growing, is part of what we call “Sanctification”.

Sanctification is being transformed, and living a Life more abundant…a life set aside for holy purposes, His purposes.

The apostle Paul wrote about it, many times,

Once, like this:

(Slide; text of Romans 12:2, read aloud, as follows):

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING of your mind. Then you will be able to test and APPROVE what God’s will is—HIS good, pleasing and perfect will.”

We are to be transformed, by non-conformance with the patterns of this world, the patterns that say the important thing is how you’re feeling about things and people and your life, and God.

We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, by changing how we think… in fact many translations say exactly that, by changing how we think, We are to be transformed.

And then, we will be able to “Test and approve”…to understand and discern, God’s will for us…

And our Life will become, abundant.

Because when you transform your mind, when you change the way you think, you change the way you feel.

When you change the way you think, You’ll change the way you feel.

THINK BETTER, FEEL BETTER.

So, when I ask you, How’s your Love Life?

It’s several questions, Do You have enough Love in your Life?  Is it that even possible?

Do you have enough LifeVitality, Strength, Endurance

Do You have enough Life, In your Love?

Do you Love Your Life? 

I’m not asking you if you LIKE everything about your circumstances and situations right now,

I mean, Who does that?  - Who like’s everything?

That would be crazy, crazier than running 13 miles early on a Sunday morning, voluntarily!

See, there’s a huge difference, between Liking something and Loving it

See,

(Slide: read aloud:)

“Like” is a feeling, “Love”is a doing.

 

That could be this sermon in eight words, right there… “Like” is a feeling, “Love”is a doing.

Our feelings can change as our thoughts change, as our understanding changes, But Love is eternal, Love never changes, Love can’t be undone, What Love has done for you and me, we must try to do for others…

It’s a Command, we’re under orders

So we must, renew our minds, We must transform the way that we think about people,

So that we can DO what’sright and good for them, So that we can LOVE as we are under orders to LOVE,

(Slide; text of Matthew 22:36-38, read below)

When the Sadducees and Pharisees –

who dictated the “patterns of the world” in the place where Jesus was

– decided to test Him, they sent an expert in the law to ask:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

(Slide; text of Matthew 22:39-40, read below)

39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” 

Love God –

Love your Neighbor

Like you love yourself

It’s not just a good idea…

It’s the LAW!

We are under Orders!

And, there’s a WAR on…

People are dying, and if they don’t know LOVE,

They’ll be dead,

forever.

That word translated “soul” in the phrase, “with all your heart and with all your soul” is the Greek word “psoo-khay”,

it literally means “breath”, as in “the breath of life”, the breath that God put into a living being with a soul,

But they used it, figuratively, to mean the Mind and the Will, the distinct personality of a person, your likes and dislike, ideas and opinions .

Psoo-khay” is where we get theEnglish word “psyche”, meaning a persons distinct and unique personality, and the root of the word “psychology” and psychiatry.

So we have to change our minds and our wills and our likes and our dislikes, our psyche,

we MUST transform the way we think about people–

So that we can transform the way that we treat them,

So we can transform our “Love Life”.

And here’s a really cool thing that God built into us to help us do that,

(Slide, not read aloud:

Love:

A positive ACTION towards something or somebody .

Like:

A positive FEELING about

something or somebody.)

 

By changing what we DO and how we DO it– By ACTING like we LOVE people, taking positive actions towards them, Even when we don’t especially like them, or perhaps Especially when we don’t even like them…

Then it changes how we think about those people, and… have faith… It changes how we feel about them.

Now that’s not “the pattern of this world”,

 (Slide, not read aloud: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?  -- Jeremiah 17:9”)

This world says “trust your heart” and “follow your feelings”, But Scripture says the unsanctified heart is deceitful and not to be trusted…

this “trust your feelings” business?

There’s a war, and that’s enemy propaganda.

 

(Slide, not read aloud: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  --Ezekiel 36:26”)

 

Scripture also says that God will give us a new heart, and a new spirit, If we trust and obey Him.

And that means DOING His will for us, Following our ORDERS  --

Remember –

“Like” is a feeling, “Love”is a doing.

Now, you may have gotten the idea I don’t like running, I hope so, ‘cause, I really don’t– and I’m trying to be an honest person.

But I also hope you’ll remember I said I used to run several times a week…Remember why?

I was under orders, and there was a war, And there’s another reason…

It gave me greater strength,  and energy, and vitality, see once you get used to it, running a few miles,

(to Pastor Trevor:) A few miles…

It doesn’t wear you out, it charges you up.

I’d still do it, even though I still don’t like it, Because the rewards outweigh the pain and my dislike.

But - I physically can’t run anymore, so, now I have to find other, less efficient, ways, that I don’t like,

to exercise, because I need more strength and energy and vitality, to keep doing what I’m under orders to do… there’s a war, you see, and people are dying.

So, I have to, whether I want to, or not.

Because that Man…Jesus…He did some things that He really didn’t like doing, either… to SAVE my Life, and yours, too, And to give us, Life more abundant.

In the early morning hours, after the Last Supper, My Lord went with three of His disciples to a place called, Gethsemane…

You can read about it in Matthew 26, and Mark 14, and Luke 22… all three told the story, because they thought it was important.

Me too –it helps us understand that DOING is more powerful than FEELING.

Here’s what happened:

Jesus went to pray… Knowing He was going to be arrested there… He told the ones with Him to watch out, because He knew the Temple Guards were coming.

And Jesus knew what was going to happen then… He knew He was going to face lies and false testimony in an unfair and illegal trial, and then, he knew, be condemned… and beaten…and tortured…and Crucified.

He told His disciples it was going to happen, but they didn’t understand.

He understood, because he was God.

And He didn’t want to do it, because He was a man.

 

 (Slide; not read aloud:

“‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’

– Luke 22:42

‘Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ – Mark 14:36

‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’ – Matthew 26:42b”

 

So He Prayed,

“Father, I don’t .. I don’t want do this, but Your will be done. 

Please, Abba, Daddy, please, if there’s any other way, but Your will be done.

And then He got up and He went out did the greatest act of Love the world has ever seen…

He, this sinless man, took the penalty for all of our sins…

all of the times where we just didn’t feel like doing the right thing, like acting in a loving way, and all of the times we did the wrong thing, the selfish and self-centered thing…

He took the penalty for all of that, for all of us, and died on a Roman cross.

Then, three days later, He rose in triumph over death, showing the power of LOVE, and when He did that,

Hetransformed for all eternity, that Roman cross… An instrument of cruelty, torture, and death, Into a symbol of THE GREATEST LOVE, Into a Symbol of Life… a symbol of Himself.

For all eternity, that Cross means Christ.

So, that Cross means… LOVE.

And Love IS Life.

So, when I ask How’s your Love Life?

It’s the same as asking:

“How’s your Christ Life

 

(Slide, not read aloud:

… “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and

follow me.” -- Luke 9:23b)

 

How are you doing with trying to set aside your likes and dislikes, at denying your “psyche” --and saying to Him: “Yet not what I will, but what you will”.

“Your will be done”

Did you know that every time we manage to do that, even in little ways, it’s like a runner training and getting to the point why he or she is gaining strength and endurance and vitality, LIFE force.

Still trying to be an Honest man,

I have to tell you, even though I’m way ahead of where I used to be,

and even though I’m doing pretty good with my Love life, by the grace of God,

I’ve still got an awful lot of room for improvement.

Runners can gage their improvement with a stopwatch, and by the way they feel after running.

But how do we gage improvement in our love life?

?Is it with a stopwatch or a time card?,

?How much time we spend doing for others?

Is it How good we feel?

I don’t think so.

I heard about a pretty good way of measuring our progress in improving our “Love Life”, years ago.

(Slide; text of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, read aloud, below)

This Brother or Sister in Christ, I don’t remember which, suggested we start with some of the most famous Love verses in scripture –

First Corinthians 13, verses four thru seven,

Love is patient, love is kind.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,

it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

And then replace the all the references to love with a Name,

Like this:

(Slide 26)

Stephen is patient, Stephen is kind.

Stephen doesn’t envy, Stephen doesn’t boast, Stephen isn’t proud. 

Stephen doesn’t dishonor others, Stephen isn’t self-seeking,

Stephen isn’t easily angered, Stephen keeps no record of wrongs. 

Stephen doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 

Stephen always protects, Always trusts, always hopes,

Always perseveres. 

Ouch   ain’t much of that true about this Stephen,

But this Stephen is hoping that He can learn to persevere,

because I sure do have a long way to go.

I’d like to tell you that I’m doing a lot better on a couple of those,

but then I lose on the one about boasting.

Truth is, I can’t do any of it except for the LOVE,

the Grace –

And the sacrifice of Jesus Christ

The Son of God, Love Made Flesh for us.

And He’s available to all of us,

Just accept that act of Love,

that greatest act of Love –

That act that transformed a sign of cruelty and torture

Into a eternal sign of God’s everlasting Love –

And then, you can Live.

And live Forever.

And on the way to that Lovely forever,

You can improve your Love Life and improve the lives of those around you,

you can Love them better, and help them by showing them what it is to live more abundantly

If you don’t know my Lord Jesus Christ, you don’t have enough Love in your Life.

But you can,

These alters are open and will remain so thru the offering and the close of services and as long as you need them, or you can come to know the Lord right where you’re at, Just call out to Him, He’s right Here, Right Now,

Tell Him your Tired of being tossed around by your feelings,

and you repent of doing things your own way, tell Him you want Him to teach you how to Love, and how to Live, because that’s His will for you.

He’ll answer, He always protects and always perseveres.

God Bless You

(Pastor Trevor’s remarks and altar call; collection; closing song)

(Stephen):

Father, God Thank you for your Love, and help us carry it out from this place.

Your are Dismissed