Last week we started our teaching series through the letter from the Apostle John to all believers. Following our teaching series on discipleship, we're turning to John's first letter to discover how we live in a missional, Kingdom-mindset.
John's letter hangs on his statement to all believers and disciples: "This is how love is made complete among us: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love." In this series, we are seeking to live more like Jesus in this world, so that we can - without fear - be loved and be loving in order to lead more people to Christ.
"This is how love is made complete among us:
In this world we are like Jesus.
There is no fear in love."
Last Sunday, Jonah's story came to a close - but it was not the happy ending we would have written.
[listen to the message] You would think that Jonah, who ran from God, who repented of his sin, who obeyed God and saw the city of Nineveh repent and turn from evil – you would think he would get the happy ending to his story here... but he doesn’t.Because even repentance & obedience fall short if our heart is not transformed by God.
[Jonah 4:1] -- But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.
While Jonah is camped out waiting for Nineveh to be destroyed, God creates a plant to keep Jonah cool in the heat of the day - and for the first time in the story, Jonah is happy and grateful. But that night, God sends a worm to destroy the plant, and Jonah returns to his anger.
- Jonah was angry & depressed about the Ninevites repenting & turning to God because despite his repentance & even outward obedience, Jonah’s heart had not changed.
- Jonah’s actions were in line with God, but his heart was far from God
- We can be in the will of God, doing the work of God, but our hearts might be far from God.
- Throughout this journey, Jonah’s character has been exactly opposite to God’s character
- But God has been gracious and forgiving, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and loving-kindness... because that is the heart of God.
[Jeremiah 17:9] "The heart is deceitful, desperately sick; who can know it?”
- God sends a worm to remove Jonah’s comfort – what comforts does God seem to be removing from you right now?
- Are these punishments – or are they awakenings?
- Is God angry with you – or is he trying to change your heart?
- Jonah was a living contradiction: he knew God intimately, yet was far from the heart of God
5 Ways Our Hearts Are Sick:
1. I would rather be comfortable than transformed
2. I would rather run from God than admit I’m not God
3. I would rather serve my self than love & serve others
4. I am jealous when God gets the glory
5. I quickly forget the grace & forgiveness I have just received
God does not want to leave us with broken hearts,
broken lives, and broken spirits
:: Heart Transformation
1. Protect your heart
[Prov.4:23] - “Guard your heart... for it determines the course of your life.”
The heart is core to who we are, the centerpiece of our life
2. Realize that transformation means change
Our faith and hope are in Christ for salvation and transformation
3.Let God’s Word speak new life to us
[Psalm 119] – “I have stored your Word in my heart... that I might not sin against You”
4. Allow the Holy Spirit to convict, lead to repentance and renew
[Psalm 51] – “Create in me a clean heart...”
[Prov. 16:3] – “Commit your actions to the Lord...”
Last Sunday we celebrated the second week of Advent; during this forty-day period, we turn our focus and our spiritual rhythm to the incarnation of Christ and we prepare for an encounter with Jesus.
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way" - "a voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'" And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
John comes, speaking of a Messiah, a Savior, who is to come... and while many respond in hope, there are still those in the crowds who must have thought, "I've heard this one before."
Our nature is prone to disillusionment; we hate to be let down and disappointed.
Our lives seem to tell story after story of times and people that have done just that. So we are left, jaded and numb, questioning and skeptical.
But then Jesus steps in.
“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.(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, "This is the one I spoke about when I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'")
1. As the Word, Christ was God become vocal. Through Christ, God speaks His great and glorious message - that salvation is here - in a new and living language of life in Christ.
2. As the Word, Christ was God become visible. Jesus portrays the mind and heart of God, reminding us that God loved the world so much, He gave Jesus so that all could believe, all could be forgiven, all could enter into life.
We should ask ourselves, "What difference does the incarnation make in my life?" As people who have been brought from darkness into light, who have heard the Word of God and responded to it, we are to make known the glorious name of Christ, the one who came to live among us and die for us.
- This is the Word of God – have we become jaded with it?
- This is the Unexpected Word who came to an unexpecting world to save us in a most unexpected way – have we taken it for-granted?
- This is the message of Christmas – are we bored with it?
- This is the message of the Logos, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh – are we connected to Him?