Archive for October, 2011

Matthew 23:1-12 “Don’t Show Off in This Kingdom”

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

10/30/2011

Paul’s Prayer to Keep the Greatest Commandment

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Jesus told us that the greatest commandment of the law is to love God and love our neighbor. But it was Paul who taught us how to pray so we could keep it. In Ephesians 3:14-19 this is what he prayed for the Ephesians:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

The goal of this prayer is to have Christ dwell in our hearts (that is, to have an intimate relationship with Jesus) and then, once we’re rooted and grounded in Jesus’s love, that we’d be able to comprehend how deep and wide and high and long God’s love is, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge so that we would actually be filled with all the fullness of God. This is a prayer with the loftiest of goals, and if God answers this prayer, we’d be able to keep the greatest commandment.  That’s Paul’s goal, but that’s not Paul’s prayer request.

Paul is praying for strength: strength in our souls so we can have this intimate relationship with Jesus—strength in our souls so we’ll have the capacity know God’s love. He’s asking God to stretch the capacity of our minds so we can understand the love of God that’s beyond human understanding. Yes, the goals of this prayer are amazing, but it’s really a prayer for the inner strength and power it will take to have these goals become a reality in our lives.

Why does Paul pray like this? Why doesn’t he just pray that Christ will dwell in our hearts? And that we would understand the length and breath and height and depth? And that we’d be filled with all the fulness of God?

He prays that way because if these things were to come flowing into our lives, we wouldn’t be able to handle them. Jesus in our hearts would overwhelm our hearts. Seeing the extent of God’s love would overtax our brains. And understanding what’s beyond understanding would overload our souls.

We can keep the greatest commandment only if God first loves us. But God’s love is overwhelming and we need strength in our souls to be loved by God. So, Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians—and our prayer for ourselves and others—must be for the strength that can only come to us by the power of the Holy Spirit who is at work in us. Then, and only then, will we be able to keep the greatest commandment.

 

Six Implications of the Greatest Commandment

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Here are the six implications of the greatest commandment being to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves (from Sunday’s sermon).

1. Our love for others is linked to our love for God, which means that God graciously provides us with the resources to keep this commandment. Since we love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19), then our love for God and our love for others flow out of the love God has given to us.

2. God’s purpose in our salvation is our relationship with him. Sin is separation from God and Jesus’s death reconciled us to God. And heaven is being with God in a face to face relationship forever. So, the reason we’re saved isn’t so we can go to heaven. The reason Christians go to heaven is to be in the presence of God. And our salvation comes with a gift of eternal life, because it takes an eternal life to know an infinite being.

3. Theology and ethics are not ends in themselves, but the goal of both is love. All theological study is a complete waste of time and energy if it doesn’t lead us to love God more fully and deeply and intimately. The saddest thing in the world is a theologian who never sings. And it’s the same for ethics. A PhD in ethics is useless if it doesn’t lead us to reach out to others with an active, engaging love.

4. All sin is a failure to love God. Every time we sin, we’re showing that we loved something else more than we loved God in that moment. So, although a Christian’s sin doesn’t condemn him, we should grieve over every sin because we have actually loved something evil more than we’ve loved God.

5. Sanctification is growing in our love for God. Sanctification can sometimes be aided by rules and accountability and obstacles put in place to keep us from falling into temptation, but freedom from sin comes as we grow in our love for God (Colossians 2:20-3:5).

6. Ministry is sharing our love for God with others. When we minister, whether it’s cross-cultural missions or personal evangelism or mentoring other Christians, or counseling people who are struggling, we are, essentially, sharing our relationship with God with another person. And our goal for every person we minister to should be the same: that they would love God, and then love him more fully and more deeply.

 

Matthew 22:34-46 “The Greatest Command of the Kingdom”

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

10/23/2011

Ephesians 4:1-16 “Living Out Our Calling”

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Speaker: Robert Konemann

10/16/2011

Matthew 22:23-33 “Resurrection in the Kingdom”

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

10/9/2011

Matthew 22:15-22 “The Kingdom Among the Nations”

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Speaker: Steve Matteucci

10/2/2011