MISSION WOODS CHURCH
Worship Sunday February 14 2021
  • How Deep The Father's Love For Us
  • I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever
  • More Love, More Power
  • Let’s Pray:
    Lord, today we are thankful. We are thankful to be invited to be in fellowship with you. We are thankful to have technology to be able to share in worship together. We have come to hear from your Holy Word. So God, may we be so bold as to ask you to speak that we might hear; speak that we might understand; speak that we might be changed; speak Lord, for your servants are listening. May the Words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable to you Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. AMEN.
    Last Sunday during the Super Bowl, Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson was awarded the “Walter Payton Man of the Year Award”. In his acceptance speech he quoted his dad as saying, “Love changes things.”
    He then combined that phrase with the words of 1 Corinthians 13 that we know as the love chapter.
    He said, “Love is patient, love is kind, love changes things.”
    He went on to say, “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love changes things.”
    He’s really quoting scripture there. As a Christian man, I’m sure he understood that. Yet I also know that if he’d come out and said plainly that it was from the Bible it probably would not have been received as openly.
    We, as seekers and followers of our Lord are more open to what God might have to say, so let’s look briefly at I Cor 13.
    1 Corinthians 13:4–7 ESV
    Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
    And verse 8 begins with the words, “Love never fails.”
    The chapter ends with the words,
    1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV
    So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

    Love

    Love is a word that is thrown around a lot, and it is almost flippant in the way that we use it. We talk about how we love a certain flavor of ice cream, a favorite coffee stand or food. We “love” certain movies or books. We “love” our spouse, our children, grandchildren and more. We love our pets. We “love” our neighbor.
    But do we “love” all of these in the same way? Is this truly what we mean by love, or is it various levels of sentimentality or just being nice?
    Language scholars will tell you if you use the same word to mean many things it loses it’s definition and its power. Greek scholars will tell you that there are four words for Love in Greek. C.S. Lewis described them simply in this way:
    Phileo - brotherly love (friendship)
    Storge - empathy
    Eros - romantic love
    Agape - unconditional “God” love.
    So, where other languages have multiple words to convey different types of love, we have one.
    Yet, I don’t imagine that anyone would confuse a love for certain music and love of a spouse, or even our love for God.
    In John’s first Pastoral letter we read that:
    1 John 4:8 ESV
    Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
    Now lets be clear. To say, “God is love,” is not to say, “Love is God.” Anymore than to say, “Snow is white,” and conclude that “White is snow.”
    However, I do believe it is noteworthy that the word, ἀγάπη is used both in Paul’s “Love chapter” and in John’s pastoral letter. Agape, being defined by Lewis as “unconditional “God” Love.”
    We know that sentimentality doesn’t change things, but love does change things. Love is more than sentimentality, it includes commitment. That’s why Paul can write that “love is patient, ...kind, etc.” And, its embodied by God and the entire Godhead.
    We read in Lamentations 3:22-23
    Lamentations 3:22–23 ESV
    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
    All of this gives us a more complete context and is mere prelude to our Scripture for this morning.
    Our Gospel reading today is from Mark 9:2-9
    Mark 9:2–9 ESV
    And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

    Love Changes Things

    One thing we don’t do enough of when we read Scripture is we don’t put ourselves in the situation. We forget too often that these are records of people directly encountering the person of Jesus where they can see, hear, touch, smell our Lord and Savior.
    Imagine what it would have been like to be there. Imagine...
    You’re up on a mountain with your mentor, teacher, and friend, and he changes right there before your eyes. Suddenly he is more than you ever would have imagined, his clothes have become radiant, so intensely white as no one could bleach them. Perhaps you even have to shade your eyes from their brightness.
    “What’s happening?” you wonder aloud. And then you see two more figures with Him, Elijah and Moses. You’re terrified. The scriptures tell us that Peter speaks up. I love Peter so much because he so often jumps right in and so many times (from our perspective knowing what comes next) puts his proverbial foot in his mouth.
    Peter wants to make three tents, he wants to create earthly dwelling for these heavenly beings, perhaps to prolong the experience? We don’t know. In that moment though, Peter seems to equate Moses, Elijah and Jesus. We know, they’re not the same.
    Then this cloud overshadows them, and they hear a voice,
    Mark 9:7 ESV
    And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
    In that moment, the three disciples see the great leader, Moses; and the great prophet, Elijah; and then they hear the divine authentication of Jesus as the eternal Son of God!
    And then...there was no one else there, but Jesus. I can only imagine they were dumbfounded. I doubt they were talking much as they descended the mountain, perhaps pondering, wondering what in the world had just happened?
    And Jesus charges them to tell no one what they’d seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
    It’s interesting to note the title Jesus uses. He refers to himself as the “Son of Man” this is a Messianic reference. In other words he is saying that He is the Messiah, but as we read the Gospels we can tell that the disciples are not quite sure what to do with that yet.

    Love Changes Things

    So many of us live in that same quandary. What does it mean to have a Messiah? A savior? One who changes everything?
    We have attended church for a while or perhaps never, and we know there is something more, there is something beyond what we see and hear in our world today. We sense it, we feel it.
    We try and do good things, we try and “love” as we understand love, and yet we know there is more.
    2 Corinthians 4:3–6 ESV
    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
    I do not know what your conversion was like. Perhaps you’ve never had a “conversion” experience. Not everyone has a moment in time they can make where they made their “first” decision to follow Christ. However, I do think it is important for there to be mileposts in our journey along the way.
    In our journey you may have had such mileposts as your baptism, or your confirmation, your first communion. Perhaps you went to camp and had a real encounter with God, or on a short-term mission. Perhaps it was your wedding day. Perhaps you were selected to serve as a Deacon or Elder in the church. Perhaps it was when you made the decision that you no longer worried if people knew you were a Christian. Perhaps it was when you made a decision to dig deeper into God’s Word.
    Perhaps you’re sitting there now and thinking, “I can’t think of any ‘mileposts’ in my life with Christ.” If that’s the case, or perhaps you’ve got lots of them, let’s make a new one today.
    I like the ABC method, because it’s so simple. Here it is:
    A - Admit
    B - Believe
    C - Commit
    Folks, we’ve been exploring Vital Congregations for the past year, and we’re in our second year of that process. I believe God wants to do significant work through us as Mission Woods Church, in our community and beyond. And it’s not going to happen if we’re not willing to allow God to work through us for change. It’s not going to happen if we’re caught up in sentimentality instead of having an authentic relationship with Jesus.
    This past couple of weeks I keep hearing God’s call, “Come.”
    So often we get going in our lives, and we get busy doing things and it can even be in our “working” for God, but we don’t sense that connection to what God is doing. And we sense that disconnect, we sense that lack of power and strength. We know somethings off, but we’re working for God so we think it should be right.
    We all need that relationship with Jesus, and I for one am convinced that it can be so much more for each one of us. God spoke from the cloud, “This is my Son, listen to Him.” We can’t listen if we’re not in His presence.
    Jesus invites us:
    to “Come” follow me.
    Come, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest, rest for your souls.
    Come...
    And we protest. We think we can’t come to Jesus because of something in our lives that we struggle with or something in our past. And still Jesus says, Come!
    We don’t want to come because we’re afraid that change is going to make us look weird or stupid and what we forget is that Jesus wants to work through our change to bless others.
    Don’t be afraid. How often do we read “Fear Not” in the Bible?
    We’re afraid to come because we are afraid that we won’t be able to do what God might ask of us. We forget that the God who asks us also empowers us to accomplish these things. The fact that we can’t and He can is what brings Him glory!
    I believe that Lent is a significant time in the life of the church. This week we will be entering the Season of Lent. Hopefully you’ve received your Lenten devotional, and as you use it as part of your time with God I want to invite you to pray and ask God what the Lord might be inviting you to join in on. What is God doing that He wants you to join in on?
    The first step is not finding something to do. NO,
    The first step is to simply, follow Jesus Command to Come.
    Draw into Jesus. The Scripture tells us,
    James 4:8 ESV
    Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
    Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.
    God is still on His throne, despite all that this past year has brought, all the divisiveness, all the conflict, all the anger, all the nit picking, all of it. God is on His Throne.
    I’m going to invite you to pray with me, and to pray using the ABC’s I shared with you. I’m going to invite you to pray with me and even repeat my words:
    A - Admit
    B - Believe
    C - Commit
    Lord, God, I come.
    I come eager and yet I admit I’m afraid. I come with questions, and I come with doubts. I come knowing I’ve failed in too many ways to be worthy of coming to you, and still you invite me here.
    So Lord, I admit my failings here, I lay them at your feet knowing that your Son has paid the price for each one, and for them all.
    [Quietly name areas of your life where you’ve not followed God.]
    Lord, I believe. And like the father who brought his demon possessed son to you, I also have doubts. I want to pray, “If you can...” and yet you remind me you can. I want to pray, “If you’re willing...” and you remind me in your word, you are willing!
    I believe that by my confession my sins are taken away.
    I believe you are bigger than my greatest doubts.
    I believe that you’re calling me.
    [Spend some time praying and telling God what you believe about Him in your life.]
    God, I commit. I commit to showing up.
    I commit to showing up for time in your word.
    I commit to showing up for time with you.
    I commit to giving my best where you put me.
    [Spend some time praying to God your commitment.]
    And God, as individuals and as a church we recognize that following you is not about hiding or about remaining the same. It is about allowing you to change us individually, and corporately. We invite you Lord as we’ve shared our willingness, we invite you to use us. Use us to shine your light to this community and beyond. Use us to be your hands and your voice. Use us to be instruments of change and growth that others might come to know you in a very personal and real way.
    2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV
    For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
    Amen.
      • 1 Corinthians 13:4–7ESV

      • 1 Corinthians 13:13ESV

      • 1 John 4:8ESV

      • Lamentations 3:22–23ESV

      • Mark 9:2–9ESV

      • Mark 9:7ESV

      • 2 Corinthians 4:3–6ESV

      • James 4:8ESV

      • 2 Corinthians 4:6ESV

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