Afraid to Love

It is true:

That those closest to us can, and often do, hurt us the most

Reject, divorce, fail to understand, judge, criticize

And then, often we are afraid to reach out and love again

If you minister to someone in their time of need

Love them, accept, help, pray for, support them – – – That they often walk away, never say thanks, speak against you, gossip, spread rumours, abuse you

And then, often we are afraid to reach out and love again

Churches – leaders and people – can intentionally or unintentionally hurt you

Fail you in your time of desperation or need – not encourage your ministry

And then, so often we are afraid to love again

Many believers today are afraid to love … afraid to give and express love to others

They are not willing to reach out, once again, and love others

They are through embracing and connecting to people who have needs – and loving them

They have “had their turn” and now it is time for others to lead, serve, minister

Leads to a life that is:

Self-contained
Self-centered
Unexpressed
Isolated
Lonely

On the other hand there are many believers who are afraid of love … unable to accept love from others

They feel like victims:

Betrayed
Wounded
Rejected

Both those who no longer reach out in love
And, those who are unable to receive the love of others

They both live limited lives
They never discover the fullness of life that God has for them
They never discover the fullness of who they are – their full potential
They never discover and experience the real person God created / designed them to be

So, I have been thinking about this because I am continuing to read the Book of Acts …

The acts of the early Church
The acts of the Holy Spirit through the Church
The acts of Jesus through the people of God, the Church

These people had an encounter with the Living God that transformed their lives from the inside
out

An encounter with love because “God is love” (1 John 4:8)

The people who formed the early Church had a deep passion for Jesus because they recognized that it was His love for them that caused Him to say “yes” to the Cross

He became a model for them to follow, an example, the Master to whom they were apprentices (disciples)

They knew that they could only love Him because they had first encountered and received His love

“We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)

This deep passion for Jesus was what motivated them to…

Share their faith with others
Support their local church with their daily attendance and attention
Seek others who were not believers that they could minister to in love
Saturate their daily lives with prayer, fellowship, and God’s Word

Their encounter with the Living God led to a daily experience of His love

They walked in His love
They received His love
They ministered through His love
They gave away His love

There was a deep, daily, constant passion for Jesus that led to a solid and consistent compassion for each other and the lost

These was a deep assurance of God’s love for them regardless of life’s situation or circumstances

This led to a deep confidence in who they were i”n Christ” and what it meant to have “Christ in them”

Which then led to a deep and definite boldness in their witness as they ministered in love and shared His love with everyone they knew and those whom they encountered in their every day lives

Bold / boldness … supernatural boldness fuelled by love and passion

Eight years ago:

I was ministering the nation of Kazakhstan staying on the eighth floor / top floor of an apartment building made out of concrete

I was working on emails at 5:30 one morning when I heard what sounded like an oil truck exploding

But it was only a 7.5 earthquake shaking the building as my laptop moved by itself across the table I was working at

I didn’t bother to clear the building as there are no elevators if a building is 8 floors or less

And, if the building collapsed while I was running down the stairs I would have multiple floors of cement on top of me … where if I stayed put only the roof would come down on me

I survived, the building was damaged, people lived outside on the streets for three days from the fear of aftershocks

My deep regret … that I was not praying when it happened

Acts 4:29-32 “‘And now they’re at it again! Take care of their threats and give your servants fearless confidence in preaching your Message, as you stretch out your hand to us in healings and miracles and wonders done in the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence (boldness).” (The Message Version)

They were praying and the building shook
I was doing emails and the building shook … if only I had been praying

These believers had an deep, underlying ASSURANCE

A deep trust and a tremendous faith based in the fact that God loved them – ASSURANCE

They had encountered His love when saved
They were experiencing His love every day
They knew that nothing could separate them from His love (Romans 8:35)

They had a fearless CONFIDENCE in Jesus and what He was doing in them and through them as they walked in His love and gave it away

This led to a very evident BOLDNESS in the way they lived life, spoke of Jesus, and demonstrated that He was alive by the way they loved

Jesus had said: “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

This became very real to me when recently while in Russia I prophesied over a young man and the basics of the word were:

“I have rooted and grounded you in My love and given to you a deep assurance of my unconditional and never ending love for you. This assurance will lead you to a greater confidence in what I can do through you and a greater confidence in who you are in Me. As a result you will become bold in your prayers, bold in your faith, bold in your witness, and bold in all that you do for Me, says the Lord”

As we looked at the word later over coffee:

Assurance – Confidence – Boldness … the same as the early Church (Acts 4)

So, today I believe God is calling us and telling us that we too can walk in His love and give it away….

And, we can do that as a result of encountering His love and experiencing it every day

And thus grow in: Assurance – Confidence – Boldness

Let’s look at these three aspects of the Christian life…

ASSURANCE

We can know for certain – have a deep assurance – that we are loved by God and are one of His children

When I met Jesus a little over 40 years ago… 3 John 2
When I began to read the Bible in a serious way …. 3 John —> 2 John —> 1 John

1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God (Jesus) that you may know for certain that you have eternal life”

Eternal life = a personal relationship with God now and a place in Heaven when you die (Romans 6:23b and John 17:3)

I thought “what things?”

So, I reread it again and again … and underlined every verse that dealt with “knowing for sure”

If you love God…
If you know God…
If you are born again…
If you are born from above…

I discovered over 25 of these verses and boiled them down to six signs of being born again:

Obedient to His commands

1 John 2:3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.

Jesus said: “If you love Me you will obey Me.” (John 14:23)

By words and life-style we show people Jesus

1 John 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

1 John 4:15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
Practices Righteousness

1 John 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

1 John 3:6,9 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.

1 John 5:18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.
Has a tremendous love for other Christians

1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Believes that Jesus is the Christ

1 John 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves his child as well.

Overcomes (overcoming) the world by faith

1 John 5:4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

That you may have a deep assurance that God loves you and experience that love today

That this love is steadfast forever

Psalm 136:26 “Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Nothing can separate you from His love for you

Romans 8:38 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us” Augustine

HAVING A DEEP ASSURANCE means (dictionary):

No worries about life after death – you know where you are going

No anxieties about every day life
God purchased you by His death on the Cross (redeemed) and so He owns you
You don’t have a problem – you have a God

Full confidence in who He is and what He has accomplished for you

A deep certainty that He loves us regardless of what we have done or not done
Unconditional – no strings attached

Freedom from doubt – because we have encountered and experienced love

A serious self-confidence arising out of a confidence in Him (second point – Confidence)

Freedom from timidity (third point – boldness)

Knowing that you know that you know that you know that you are loved – assurance

This assurance leads us to CONFIDENCE

Confidence in what Jesus is doing in us as we change, grow, mature, and become more like Him

Confidence in what Jesus is doing through us as we “live and move and have our being in Him” (Acts 17:28)

Self-confidence…

This means (by dictionary definition):

That we have a full trust in Him and what He is doing
That we know He is totally trustworthy
That He is reliable
That nothing is impossible for Him / Thus, nothing is impossible with Him
That He is for us and never against us – He is on our side

God said:
Jeremiah 29:11-14a “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord …”

God wants this confidence / self-confidence to lead us to the point where we know “I can do this, God being my helper”

The little engine that said: “I think I can, I think I can…” and could!

ASSURANCE leads to CONFIDENCE leads to BOLDNESS

Again, by dictionary definition:

Not hesitating
Not fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff
Courageous
Daring
Forward
Challenging
Beyond the norm or conventional thought and action

“You always speak boldly about what you believe in deeply”

CONCLUSION:

Acts 4:29-32 “‘And now they’re at it again! Take care of their threats and give your servants fearless confidence in preaching your Message, as you stretch out your hand to us in healings and miracles and wonders done in the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence (boldness).” (The Message Version)

This was seen constantly in the life and ministry of the early Church in the book of Acts and into the letters addressed to local churches (epistles)….

Paul ministering in the city of Athens…

Acts 17:17b “…And every day he went out on the streets and talked with anyone who happened along”

Paul ministering in the city of Corinth…

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 “… and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

Assurance —> Confidence —> Boldness

VIDEO: Todd White and the witches

Assurance —> Confidence —> Boldness

Those closest to us may hurt us – Love, Accept and Forgive
Those we minister to may reject us – Love, Accept and Forgive
Those who use us and abuse us – Love, Accept and Forgive
Those Christians who hurt you – Love, Accept and Forgive

Do not shut down and refuse to receive love
Do not shut down and stop walking in His love

No longer limit your life
Missing the fullness of God and His love
Not reaching your full potential in Him
Not discovering who you really are in Christ
And who He is in you

This is why Jesus said:
Matthew 22:37-39 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

We are called, as disciples of Jesus, to walk in His love and give it away…

But first we need to encounter His love and experience it on a daily basis….

Let’s no longer be AFRAID TO LOVE

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