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Love AND Respect

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Part Three: LOVE & RESPECT

“We embrace diversity of all kinds except for ideological. …We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us - so long as they think like us.” ~Nicholas Kristof, a staunch liberal in an article in the New York Times.

This is the point. And this is a big problem and is a danger all of us need to avoid. Especially as Christians because “the labels people put on you could cause you to miss God’s plan for you.” ~Andy Stanley.

Jesus modelled something completely different. Jesus was inclusive of ALL types of people. He didn’t subscribe to labels. He attracted Jews & Gentiles; Pharisees & Sadducees; Tax Collectors & Sinners despite the fact that they thought nothing alike.

We need to model our lives after Jesus. Remove the labels and embrace the power of AND.

Paul is teaching the church in Ephesus about marriage and he makes some very pointed and powerful points. Then after talking about the relationship between a husband and wife, he makes this point…

Ephesians 5:32-33 (NCV)

That secret is very important—I am talking about Christ and the church.

His teaching point about relationships is based upon how Jesus loved people and loves the church. Look at the powerful AND in his summary in the next verse. It’s subtle, but a vital lesson of how we are to love each other…

33 But each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and a wife must respect her husband.

Love AND respect.

What is love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This is how Jesus loved and is how we are to love.

What is respect?

Ephesians 5:33 (AMP)

and the wife [must see to it] that she respects and delights in her husband [that she notices him and prefers him and treats him with loving concern, treasuring him, honoring him, and holding him dear].

The word respect is a translation of the Greek word timēsate, meaning “honor or value.” It literally means “to place a great value or high price on something.”

Love is cherishing and bringing security. Respect is honour and bringing significance. It’s being a raving fan.

Look at how Jesus modelled this with his followers.

John 13:3-5 (NIV)

3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

John 13:12-17 (NIV)

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

This is Love and Respect

17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Can you respect/value/honour even those that don't deserve it? Even those you may consider your 'enemy'?

Today’s Takeaway:

Jesus just didn’t give love when it wasn’t earned, He gave undeserved respect as well. #loveANDrespect #thepowerofAND #myvictory

Grace AND Truth

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Part Two: GRACE AND TRUTH

 

There is a disturbing growing trend in society today, people seem to be polarizing themselves from anyone who does not think like they do. We only associate with, listen to, and learn from people who think like us. We have stopped listening to opposite points of view. We don't debate any more. We reject and push away and isolate ourselves from anyone who differs from our point of view.

This is dangerous, because what if we’re wrong? How would we ever find out? How could we ever learn anything differently?

This is especially dangerous for us as Christians. If we isolate ourselves from people who don’t think like us how are we to reach them?

Jesus said to “go into all of the world”. How can we go into ALL of the world, if we only associate with those who are like us?

Mark 16:15 (NIV)

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Jesus modelled something much different.

Jesus was unlike any religious leader, before or after. We can see the evidence of this difference by who were members of his crowd whenever he preached.

Luke 15:1-2 (NIV)

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

In fact, when John was first introducing Jesus to the world in his book, the Gospel of John. He made a remark that Jesus was different from anyone they had ever seen. Look how he described Jesus in John 1.

John 1:14 (NIV)

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Full of grace AND truth. They had never seen anything like this before. They either knew people full of grace but no truth, or those full of truth with no grace.

How did Jesus strike the balance of grace AND truth?

John 2:9-17 (NIV)

9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

The book of John seems to be written in such a way to show the contrast of grace and truth.

Who did Jesus give grace to? Sinners and those honestly seeking him - like Nicodemus

Who did Jesus give truth to? The religious, the know-it-alls, the self-righteous

Truth without grace breeds self-righteousness and legalism. Grace without truth breeds deception and moral compromise. The key to true Christian spirituality is to integrate these two qualities into life, imitating the character of Christ.

Today’s Takeaway:

Truth without grace breeds self-righteousness & legalism. Grace without truth breeds deception & moral compromise. #thepowerofAND #myvictory

Favour with God AND Man

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Part One: FAVOUR WITH GOD & MAN

 

I have noticed a disturbing trend in Christianity over the years. Christians seem fascinated with labels and as the church, we love fitting anything and everything into categories.

Let me give you an example. You can be a Christian OR an atheist; if you are in church this morning most of you would consider yourselves Christian, but now as a Christian are you now Catholic OR Protestant? If you fall into the Protestant category are you Evangelical OR Orthodox? At My Victory, most of us would say Evangelical, but as an Evangelical are you baptist (which can mean vastly different things depending on whether you live in the US or Canada or the UK) or pentecostal? As a pentecostal are you Holiness Pentecostal OR Apostolic Pentecostal OR part of the River Movement OR OR OR... There are thousands of denominations, and each one carries it’s own label complete with guidelines for how they are supposed to operate. For instance; if you are from the United Church - most would consider you liberal. And if you are a certain type of Lutheran - you are legalistic.

It gets worse. Beyond our denominations we have created even more labels. We have the 'greasy gracers' or 'holiness movement', 'calvinists' or 'arminiests', 'seeker sensitive' or 'spirit filled', 'traditional' or 'emergent' church movement, hipster churches, etc. etc. etc.

It’s crazy!

But we all do it. We enter into conversations with other Christians that we don’t know and as quickly as we can we try to identify the camp they are in and if they say one thing we disagree with we place them into one of the enemy camps and dismiss everything else they have to say! They become one of 'those' people.

This is not at all what Jesus modelled for us! In fact, this tendency may be why He prayed this in one of His last prayers.

John 17:20-23 (NIV)

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

He could have prayed that we stay on the straight and narrow and that we remain theologically sound, but He didn’t. He prayed that we be one — in unity — so that the world would know Him.

22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—

He prays it again. He seems to be adamant about this point.

so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

This is a key to the world knowing and believing in Christ.

Now before we go on we need to realize that not all labels are bad. The Bible does say to label one group of people.  

Romans 16:17 (KJV)

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

Mark those who cause divisions among you. Avoid them. Let’s not be one of “them”. But outside of this divisive group,

when we label one another we are not practicing unity. We are not focusing on what we agree on but instead on what we differ on.

When we label one another it hurts. One of the labels that hurts me is when I get labeled “seeker sensitive” because we see souls saved in our church. Now, there is nothing wrong with being seeker sensitive and I always replay it’s better than being seeker insensitive, but it is the connotations that go with the label. The term seeker sensitive is generally used to describe churches that compromise the message and are against the working of the Holy Spirit. I love the Word! And I love the Holy Spirit! But instead labelling me as “seeker sensitive” OR “spirit filled”, why can’t I be both?

That’s what this series is about. It’s a Bible study in the word “AND”. Over the next few weeks we will tear down the labels that separate relationships and create disunity.  Let’s replace our “OR’s” with “ANDs” and live in the power of unity.

The first AND I want to look at is found in Luke 2:52. It refers to Jesus when he was first born. Look what it says about Him.

Luke 2:52

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

While there are 4 “ands” in this verse, there is one that jumps out at me. Favour with God AND man.

Think about it. It doesn’t say just in Favour with God. Many theologians claim Jesus was rejected by everyone so they justify doing church and living life just to please God and to be rejected like Jesus was rejected.

Yes, Jesus was rejected. But, not by the common folk. He was rejected by the religious elite. It was the religious that were offended with him, and when he did not fit within their own labels, they refused to listen to His wisdom. And yet thousands still followed Him and found Him and His gospel attractive. He grew in favour with man.  

But He didn’t grow in just favour with man. He grew in favour with God. There are others who would compromise all that is right in order to please everyone. But this is not right. We must first live to please God and live according to His ways. Yes, some will not understand and some may sneer, but if you live to please God and stand according to His Word, you will be blessed and many will respect you because of this stance. Standing with God does not mean standing against men. It's not either or. It's AND.

Today’s Takeaway:

Standing with God does not mean standing against men. Jesus grew in favour with God AND man. #thepowerofAND #myvictory