12 September 2012
Hymn: Love divine all loves excelling
Theme: Be filled with the Holy Spirit
Topic: Empowered to Love
Reading: James 2:1-17
My brothers and sisters,* do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?* 2For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there’, or, ‘Sit at my feet’,* 4have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.* Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? 8 You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ 9But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11For the one who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13For judgement will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgement. 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters,* if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
Christ summarized the Ten Commandments in one word- love; that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves. When we say we love God whom we have not seen but are insensitive to the needs of those around us we truly do not love God. God is love and when we are filled with His Spirit, we become filled with His nature and then are empowered to love. One of the great things the Spirit of God achieves in our lives is the fruit of love; love that is unconditional and does not expect anything in return. The commandment to love God and our neighbors is a call to action. There is nothing passive about love hence the phrase…empowered to love. In other words, empowered to take action or do something. To love may sometimes bring pain, disappointment, discomfort, inconvenience and so on but God still expects us to show love at all times because as we obey Him, He pours His abundant blessings into our lives. In today’s study we will explore some of the ways we can exercise our Spirit-given power to love, because the more we love, the more God releases His anointing upon us.
1. What does it mean to love God and our neighbors?
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.
If you will only heed his every commandment* that I am commanding you today—loving the Lord your God, and serving him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14then he* will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil; 15and he* will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you will eat your fill. 16Take care, or you will be seduced into turning away, serving other gods and worshipping them, 17for then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain and the land will yield no fruit; then you will perish quickly from the good land that the Lord is giving you. 18 You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem* on your forehead. 19Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants* any longer, because the servant* does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.* 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly;* do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God;* for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ 20No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’ 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,* but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
1 Peter 4:7-11
The end of all things is near;* therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. 8Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. 11Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
2. Why is love described as the totality of the Law?
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ 37He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 10Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. 11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; 13let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. 15God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19We love* because he first loved us. 20Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters,* are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister* whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters* also.
3. Discuss some of the factors that make it difficult for us to love.
The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, those who eat them increase; and what gain has their owner but to see them with his eyes?
Matthew 5:43-48, 24:4-14
‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? 47And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,* what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. 4Jesus answered them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. 5For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Messiah!”* and they will lead many astray. 6And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines* and earthquakes in various places: 8all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs. 9 ‘Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. 10Then many will fall away,* and they will betray one another and hate one another. 11And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13But anyone who endures to the end will be saved. 14And this good news* of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we* have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access* to this grace in which we stand; and we* boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we* also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
James 2:1-4, 8-9
My brothers and sisters,* do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?* 2For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, ‘Have a seat here, please’, while to the one who is poor you say, ‘Stand there’, or, ‘Sit at my feet’,* 4have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 8 You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ 9But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
God first loved us, sending His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins. God continues to love us every day and has filled us with His Holy Spirit that we may love just as He first loved us.
Thank You Lord for filling us with Your Holy Spirit. Give us the grace to love You and our neighbors in word and deed at all times through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.