The 2012-2013 MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) theme this year is Plunge! As part of the steering team this year I helped to create and assemble some theme verse pens at the beginning of the MOPS year in September 2012. I knew the first lesson on this learning journey God wanted me to tackle the moment I looked down at the pen in my hand in Sunday School on one January morning and read the theme verse. "Love as if your life depended on it." 1 Peter 4:8
Love? Really? I love my husband. I love my girls. I love my family. I love my friends. Unfortunately, I knew that this was definitely an area that I could expand and grow. It is easy for me to love those who love me, talk to me, spend time with me, share common interests with me. It is very difficult for me to love those who are unkind to me, talk about me or my family, do not share my interests or have an overall bad attitude. Rick Warren refers to these people as the Extra Grace Required people in your life.
I LOVE my Monday night bible study girlfriends! They are all so precious to me. In the two and a half years we have been in Augusta, we have shared so many joys and heartbreaks together, laughter and tears. One thing I have come to learn from this group of friends is that they are faithful to pray for your requests and God is faithful to answer. Our current session of study began on February 4th. My request was that God would help me to understand this piece of the holiness journey better and how to put it to work in my life.
Later that same week, my husband did something he has never done before. We were in the kitchen as Preacherman was helping me with the dishes and he turns to me and asked me something similar to this, "If you were going to preach about loving difficult people, what does that look like practically?" I just looked at him for a moment. My mind has been trying to wrap itself around this lesson of love for a month now. Preacherman was aware of the "holy" journey God had called me to this year, yet he was unaware that the first part of that journey was about love, specifically loving those people who don't really seem to love me. I then began to spew out the mess of verses and thoughts that had been invading my mind for the last month.
God answered my prayer for understanding as my husband took in everything I spewed out and put it together with the message God had already led him to and summed it up in a 30 minute message on Sunday morning. Maybe someone else in the congregation needed this message as much as I did, but as far as I'm concerned, my God was speaking directly to me. Below are my sermon notes from this message. A constant reminder for me to keep practicing love even when it is difficult.
February 10, 2013
Crib Notes: Loving the Extra Grace Required
"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself, " you are doing right. But if you show favortism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers."
- We love EGR people by praying for them.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?" Matthew 5:43-46
"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice." Proverbs 24:17
- We love EGR people by serving them.
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Galatians 5:6
"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel around his waist. 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 13:3-5
In these verses Jesus served the ones who would betray him and deny him and fall asleep in his greatest need.
- We love EGR people by learning to take a punch.
"But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." Matthew 5:39-41
"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:17-21
"His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said. But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them." Genesis 50:18-21
- We love EGR people by practicing until we get it.
Even when what we know to be truth and our heart are disconnected we must act on what we know to be truth, to bring the disconnect closer together.
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8