We exist to develop disciples who . . . Love Others

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“We exist to develop disciples who . . . Love Others”

(Selected Passages)

Vision Series: Part 3 [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

January 28, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Church, this is our last week in our three week series on vision!  Can you believe it?

How many of you know the vision statement from memory?  Well, we can put that to the test in just a moment.

We’ve talked about the necessity of having a defined point which we are moving towards.

Remember the quote from Zig Ziglar?  “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

There’s also a famous passage from the Bible that talks about vision.

Many of you will know this verse:

Read Proverbs 29:18

18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJV)

That’s the King James Version translation.

Listen to the Christian Standard Bible translation.

18 Without revelation people run wild, but one who follows divine instruction will be happy. (CSB)

I like that version. Without revelation the people run wild. Without knowing what to do, we human beings can run wild!  That’s why we need to hear from the Lord.

As a church, we definitely don’t want to run wild!!!  I believe the Lord has spoken to us through His Word and His Holy Spirit concerning our vision.

I believe He’s given us this vision statement. Let’s review it again.  Now’s the time if you have it memorized to say it. Let’s say it together.

Our Vision Statement: “We exist to develop disciples who love God, love the church, and love others.” [on screen]

There it is!

(pause)

I want everyone to pause for just a moment to think about how you think others in our community view us at this current time in our history. Just think for a second.

(extended pause)

Now, I want you to imagine with me what it would be like for our community to view us as a church that loves God, loves the church, and loves others.

(pause)

Wouldn’t that be awesome!

That’s our goal. That’s our vision.

Let’s pray as we continue to discuss God’s vision for us.

(prayer)

Now, this final week, I want us to focus on the final part of our vision statement:

WE EXIST TO DEVELOP DISCIPLES WHO . . . LOVE OTHERS. [on screen]

Loving others is something you have heard me talk about a lot!

Why?

Because loving others is one of the basic traits of being a Christian. [on screen]

We’re going to see in a moment that the Bible talks about this so much. It matters so much to God that we love others.

Author and pastor Francis Chan says this in his book Crazy Love: “God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love. In our culture, even if a pastor doesn’t actually love people, he can still be considered successful as long as he is a gifted speaker, makes his congregation laugh, or prays for ‘all those poor, suffering people in the world’ every Sunday.”

(pause)

If we don’t expect the leaders of our congregations to truly love people, how can we expect the congregations themselves to love people?

You see, we have shifted so far from the basics of what the Bible calls us to do that we have lost our way. Now, we must get it back.

I can’t speak for the rest of the churches in the world.  But, I can speak for us. We want to be a people of the Bible.

We want to not only love the Word of God by what we say, but also by what we do!  Amen?

Well, let’s look at some of what the Bible has to say about loving others. Let’s look at the . . .

Biblical Foundation [on screen]

First, let’s read Matthew 22:36-40 [on screen]

36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

We’ve read this passage before when it comes to our vision statement.

According to Jesus, these are the two greatest commandments for us to obey.

First, is to love God. That’s the first part of our vision statement.

The second greatest thing we can do is to love other people.

That’s pretty powerful!  Of all the pages in the Bible, the second most important thing that we can do is to love other people.

Let’s keep going.

Now, see the words of Jesus in . . .

Luke 10:36-37 [on screen]

36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” 37 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said. Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.”

We must remember the context of this. A teacher of the law has just been told by Jesus to love his neighbor, and then he asks Jesus, “who is my neighbor?”

Jesus told him the parable of the Good Samaritan.

The story is about a Jewish man that is beaten and robbed. Two men who should have helped the man (a priest and a Levite) passed over him.  However, a Samaritan man (who was not well liked by the Jewish people) stopped to help the man and take care of him.

Jesus said that man, the Samaritan, proved to show neighborly love to the Jewish man who was beaten and robbed.

There’s so much to this passage, but I want you to get this: there should be no limitations to the love that we show to others!

There should be no limitations to the love that we show to others!

(pause)

The Samaritan had no cultural obligation or expectation to love the Jewish man, yet he did!  Why?  Because he simply practiced good old fashion love!

(pause)

The love that we show to others should shatter any barrier. Our love should supersede any perceived obstacles of race, culture, language, nationality, financial means, religion, education, age, style, musical preferences, dress, geographic location, Bible knowledge, family make up, and even college football loyalty.

Nothing should keep us from loving!

(pause)

That’s enough of that for now.  Let’s look at . . .

Matthew 5:43-46a [on screen]

43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. For he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have?

In case it’s not clear enough from Luke, Jesus makes it explicitly clear in the gospel of Matthew that there are no limitations to our love.

He says to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us!

That’s crazy sounding!  Yes!  It is crazy!  Jesus calls us to a radically different way of life than the rest of the world!

We are to have such radically different lives that we are to love everyone, even our enemies.

Boy, we all have some work to do here!

By God’s help we can do it!  We can love the way he wants us to!

We can become disciples who love others.

(pause)

Let’s see what the apostle Paul says about this in . . .

2 Corinthians 5:20 [on screen]

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.”

As we love others we must remember that we are ambassadors for Jesus.

That means that we represent Jesus to others.

That has some huge implications for the way we love others.

How do others view Jesus based on the way we treat them?

(pause)

Wow!  I don’t want to know the answer to that question sometime when it comes to my own life!

I am an ambassador and so are you!

We represent Jesus, so we should love others as Jesus would love them!

(pause)

Our love for others is not limited to those closest to us, be it emotionally, or geographically.

Jesus also calls for our love to stretch beyond our geographic limitations.

Let’s recall the words of Jesus in . . .

Acts 1:8 [on screen]

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus’ last words to His followers were that they would be witnesses of His love all over the world, not just in their homeland.

As we think about what it means to love others, we must remember it means more than merely loving those in Bartow!

God’s love is intended for the whole world, and we are channels of that love.

We must take it to the world!

(pause)

Finally, remember the words of Jesus in . . .

Matthew 28:18-20 [on screen]

18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus wants us to love all nations, and to make disciples of all nations.

We love others by making disciples in Bartow, in Florida, in the USA, and in all the nations.

The Bible has called us clearly to love others and to do so all over the world.

(pause)

Let’s shift now to think of four ways that we can love others here at First Baptist Church Bartow.

First, . . .

I. We love others through practical love. [on screen]

It’s not enough for us to say that we love someone. We must demonstrate that we love them through actual deeds.

Of course, most of us know by now that James speaks a lot about this, right?

(pause)

We will show love to our neighbors and our community by meeting practical needs in the name of Jesus Christ.

We can do this by feeding the hungry, providing for the poor, comforting the broken, caring for the hurting and helpless, and meeting actual needs.

You may know of other ways to love others by meeting practical needs.

Go for it!

(pause)

Second, . . .

II. We love others through everyday evangelism[on screen]

We must live our lives each day with the realization that we are ambassadors for Jesus!

We must seek to share the love of God with our neighbors and others with whom we come in contact, because God’s love compels us and His Word commands us.

We are evangelists every day!  We are spreading God’s great love and declaring the message of redemption found in the work of Jesus Christ.

Some of you may have never been trained in the how to share the Gospel. I’ve got good news for you!  We’re going to learn a very simple method together, in the coming days, called the Three Circles.  It’s a very simple way to share the Gospel.  We’ll start that on Sunday nights coming up soon. I’d love to see everyone there.

(pause)

Third, . . .

III. We love others through worldwide missions[on screen]

We will love others by taking the greatest message of love to every reach of the world and its people.

Make no mistake, as long as God has called me to lead this church, we will be involved in taking the gospel to the nations.

We will give to missions, we will learn about God’s work around the world, we will pray for missionaries, we will send missionaries, and we will go as missionaries. Give, Learn, Pray, Send, Go.

We will love others through worldwide missions.

Finally, . . .

IV. We love others through selfless sacrifice[on screen]

As individuals, and as a church, we will show others love by demonstrating that church is not about us, but it is about us loving God and loving others.

We will sacrifice by meeting the needs of others and not putting our own needs first.

Church is not about us. If we want to reach our community and the world, we will have to be led by selfless sacrifice.

After all, this is God’s call to us: to be people who love.

Concluding Thoughts:

Let’s bring this thing home.

Folks, we have to get back to the basics of what it means to follow Jesus. Both the church at large, and us as First Baptist Church of Bartow.

I read from Francis Chan’s book earlier. Here’s another selection from Crazy Love: He says, “We need to stop giving people excuses not to believe in God. You’ve probably heard the expression ‘I believe in God, just not organized religion.’  I don’t think people would say that if the church truly lived like we are called to live. The expression would change to ‘I can’t deny what the church does, but I don’t believe in God.’  At least then they’d address their rejection of God rather than use the church as a scapegoat.”

(pause)

Church, we must love powerfully and wholeheartedly.

We must not give the world reason to reject Christ because of the way His church lives.

Oh, that we would get this!

Some of you might say, “What does this kind of love look like?”

Well, I’m glad you asked.

In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul shares these words with us:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Can you insert your name into that passage?  Matt is patient, Matt is kind.  Matt does not envy . . .

First Corinthians 13 is a good place to start learning to love others.

Start by loving like Jesus and start by loving as the Word of God commands us to love.

Here’s what this sermon boils down to: our bottom line is . . .

Bottom Line: Become a disciple who loves others[on screen]

(repeat)

That’s it!  It’s simple to understand, but oh so hard to do!

We must ask God to help us develop into disciples who love others, and develop other disciples who love others.

(pause)

Ask God to help you this week as you focus on these three tasks from the weekly challenge . . .

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Evaluate how well you love others[on screen]

(repeat)

Remember, the standard is how Jesus loved us.

So, how are you doing?

How are you doing with showing practical love?

How are you doing with everyday evangelism?

How are you doing with worldwide missions?

How are you doing with selfless sacrifice?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got some room for improvement.

Next, . . .

  1. Identify ways that you can love others. [on screen]

(repeat)

What can you do to demonstrate the love of Christ to others?

I know for me one of the things I can do is think of myself less. I can show a little more humility.

I can not be in such a hurry when folks are in need.

I can think less about what I want and think more about what others need.

I can creatively come up with a plan about meeting the needs of others, rather than meeting only my own needs.

What can you do?

Finally, . . .

  1. Identify ways that our church can love others[on screen]

(repeat)

What can we do as a church to love others more?

We need to have a strategy of how we can love others more.

Pray to God to show us how we can love more.  Ask Him to give us wisdom as we strategize.

Share with me if God reveals something to you.

Let’s do this together.

Closing:

The love of God changes us and the love of God compels us to love others.

God has given us this vision and now we have it before us.

What will it take to achieve our vision, church?

(pause)

It will take an all-in commitment.

It will take constant prayer.

It will take diligent service.

It will take generous giving.

Let’s make it happen!

(pause)

If you’ve never experienced the love of God, you can do so this morning.

(Gospel Presentation)

If God is leading you in any way you can come talk to me. I’ll be down front as we sing. Let’s pray and then sing our song of response.

(Closing Prayer)

Closing Song: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Benediction:

Join us tonight as we continue our study of I Will by Thom Rainer. Tonight we will be in chapter 6, “I Will Live Generously.”  I hope to see you at 5:30.

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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