For the Joy Set Before Him

Posted on 11/05/2006 by Palemoon Twilight

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT:

Good morning and welcome to Abundant Living Ministries CyberChurch.

Thank you for your patience in our shuffling around the last few weeks. God has a plan, and he's shaking us loose from anything that would keep us from pursuing HIS path, not the one that looks good to us.

For those who don't yet know, we're working very hard to purchase an island before the price increase, for three reasons:

First, it's nice to be able to move on Sundays, instead of being crippled by this evil thing we call "lag".

Second, being on mainland we can not open up the church to more than 40 people at one time, and that number includes anyone elsewhere in Vine.

Third, we have a vision of turning loose those who have the drive, talent, vision, and calling of God to help develop a Christ-centered and God-glorifying place where those who know Jesus will be drawn closer to him, and those who do not yet know him will be welcomed into his loving, transforming arms by the love and truth of God which flows through us.

If God lays upon your heart to help in any way, no matter how big or small, please don't hesitate to answer that call. We have offering boxes by the entrance, or you can visit our website at livingsounds.org.

Let's stand to our feet and open today's service with prayer.

Lord God, thank you that you're not confined to one location, one building, or one place; you are wherever your people gather in your name to seek after and glorify you.

Thank you for your sweet, powerful, and life-changing presence here with us today. Thank you for the plans and purposes you have for every single one of us here today.

Help us to put aside any distractions and focus entirely on you and your beauty. Help us to throw aside even our own views of ourselves as unworthy of your love, grace, and mercy, for none of us are worthy; but you love us completely anyway, pouring your grace and mercy out upon us when we think we deserve it the least.

Prepare our hearts to hear what your Spirit would say to us today, through the vessels you have chosen to use. May we look past any person or medium, and look to you, Father.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray.

Amen.

Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard, and let's worship our King!


I COULD SING OF YOUR LOVE FOREVER

Over the mountains and the sea,
Your river runs with love for me,
and I will open up my heart
and let the Healer set me free.
I'm happy to be in the truth,
and I will daily lift my hands:
for I will always sing of when
Your love came down. [Yeah!]

I could sing of Your love forever,
I could sing of Your love forever,
I could sing of Your love forever,
I could sing of Your love forever. [Repeat]

Oh, I feel like dancing -
it's foolishness I know;
but, when the world has seen the light,
they will dance with joy,
like we're dancing now.


DEEP IS THE LOVE OF CHRIST

Deep, deep is the love of Christ
Deep, deep is the love of Christ
There is no other so high and so wide
Deep, deep is the love of Christ

Nations will bow, people will tremble
on the day he rides
Deep, deep is the love of Christ
Deep, deep is the love of Christ

Strong, strong is the love of Christ
Strong, strong is the love of Christ
There is no other so high and so wide
Strong, strong is the love of Christ

Oceans are calm, seas are silent
When he says "Be still!"
Strong, strong is the love of Christ
Strong, strong is the love of Christ


OH HOW YOU LOVE ME

Oh How You Love Me

Oh how you love me
Oh how you love me
Oh how you love me, Lord

Undeniable, Unconditional
You are to me
Undoubtedly, infinity
And oh so beautiful

Irreplaceable, unforgettable
Eternally
Unmistakable, all Merciful
And oh so beautiful
Oh how I love you (3x) lord

How wide, How deep, How great is your love for me
How high, how endless, and oh how beautiful


HOW DEEP THE FATHER'S LOVE

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will nost boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom


Thank you Lord for your love for us, your awesome, undeserved, unconditional, unending love that sees past our faults, past our problems, past our failures, right into the very deepest part of us, as you see what you created us to be -- beautiful, created in your very own image.

You may be seated.

Today's message is a very powerful one. It touches the very center of God's heart. Scripture tells us that God is love. And it tells us that if we know God, we will love those around us.

Most of you know our dear sister in Christ, Palemoon Twilight. Many of you know the recent struggles she's faced with her physical health. And we know that when we are weak, God can show himself strong.

It's in these times God teaches us the most important lessons. And since none of us have gone through the exact same struggles as anyone else, we can all learn a great deal if we will adorn a teachable spirit and listen for the voice of God as he speaks to us however he chooses to speak.

It's the greatest honor for me to introduce the vessel God has chosen to deliver his message to us today. For those who believe a woman shouldn't share a message from God, think of our speaker today as the mouthpiece, not the source. I'm afraid untold multitudes would be in hell today who instead are in heaven if women who God called to share a message disobeyed and thought more of the opinions and doctrines of men than of what God has told them to do.

Thank God for a group of believers like the group we have here today who don't ignore God's voice, but instead obey what the Holy Spirit leads you to do, under the authority of the leadership God has placed in your life.

For the next twenty minutes, please open your hearts to this life-changing message to us from our Heavenly Father, brought to us today through his precious daughter Palemoon.

Please come share with us what's on your heart sister.

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To all in Second Life who are loved by God and called to be saints; Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome, everyone, to the ALM Cyberchurch of Second Life.

I am Palemoon Twilight, and it is my honor and privilege to carry to you a message today that has changed my life...and it has the power to change your life, too, if it has not already.

Please turn with me in your Bibles to the Book of Matthew, Chapter 22. I will begin reading at verse 36. Now...the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the Jewish leaders of the day, seemed to take great pleasure in testing Jesus. And this day was no exception. The Pharisees came up with what they felt to be a very clever question, one that would test the knowledge of Our Lord.

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Please, brothers and sisters, notice here that Jesus said that the greatest commandment...that thing by which we should base all others...is that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind. Here Jesus is calling us higher, telling us that it is imperative, and of utmost importance that we love God.

This brings me to my first point. Think for a minute now...what do these words mean to you? How do you express your love of the Lord?

Now, the New Testament was written primarily in Greek, which was the universal language of the day, much as English has become accepted as one on the universal languages today. Ancient Greek used these words:

-philia,
-eros,
-agape, and
-storge...

to identify the different aspects of love.

As human beings, we all know that there are indeed different types of love. Oh, there is the love you feel when you fall in love with that special someone...that someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. This is passion, this is desire...this is what the ancient Greek language referred to as eros. It is a love which is erotic in nature, full of fire. We see examples of eros all the time here in Second Life. In fact, eros seems to be the primary focus of many Second Life residents.

This is eros...three other types of love yet to look at...

Philia...this is the kind of love one has for a dear friend, a cousin...Also, this is the kind of love that occurs when a fella watches Monday Night Football. Philia is friendship and loyalty...it requires virtue and familiarity.

And there is Storge...storge occurs naturally between close family members such as parents and children. But the word, storge, is not found much in the ancient Greek. It is a more modern word.

Last, we have agape. This word, agape, does not describe anything related to a physical attraction. Agape speaks of the love of things that provide a sense of satisfaction, like a meal, or a good rainstorm...and also the love that one would have for one's own children or spouse. This word, agape, is the love of which Jesus spoke. It is the Love that God has for us, and for which God desires to receive from us. It is unconditional and self-sacrificing...This love, demonstrated so well by Jesus as he gave up his very life so that we could live...This love is not an emotion but a word of action. It is not a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling...This love is what leads people to acts of compassion, acts of heroism, and random acts of kindness. This is the love we are called to have for the Almighty...and for all of humanity. It is a total commitment, the laying aside self-interest. It is loving that which is unlovable.

It is not enough, therefore, to simply say, I love God, or I love the Lord... It is not enough even to feel love for God. For agape requires action!

But how? How can we act upon our love of God? Well, there are the pat answers: Spending time in prayer...Spending time in the Word...Attending worship. These things are a given. If you love the Lord, you will spend time in prayer. You will spend time in the Word. You will attend worship. Jesus calls us higher still!

Please turn with me in your Bibles now to the 25th chapter of Matthew. I will begin reading at the 31st verse.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Brothers and sisters...this is so important! Look at what Jesus is saying here! This is how we act upon our love of God! Through our treatment of others!

This brings me to my second point. What does it mean to do as Jesus said and love your neighbor as yourself? Are you living this commandment?

Remember, now, the definition of agape: a word of action, one that requires you to lay aside your self and to go voluntarily to the back of the line, placing all others before you. Look at the picture painted by our Lord in Matthew 25: This love cares for those in need, gives compassion to those in prison, shares of the soul with those who may be less-than-deserving. Yes, this agape...this is a word which describes compassion.

Turn with me now to a passage with which I am sure many of you are familiar. Turn in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. Now, I will begin not with verse 1, but with verse 31 of chapter 12, which sort of introduces the topic to be addressed. Now, I know that there are some of you who are here with your sweety, oh and you look at them and you see the world in their eyes! You melt at their touch and you hang on every word from their lips...and you know what?! I think that is marvelous! What a blessing. But that is not what we are talking about here today. And that is not what Paul was talking about when he wrote these words to the church in Corinth. Please keep in mind whilst I read this that we are talking about agape...that unconditional love, a compassion for your fellow man. Even, if you will, change the world love in your minds to the word compassion, for that is really what is called for. And so I read:

But eagerly desire the greater gifts.

And now I will show you the most excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Now, my brothers and sisters, think on this...Think on it long and hard. For truly, compassion is patient, compassion is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Compassion does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Compassion always...always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres! Oh my goodness! But...but...God...what about that sister that's always running her mouth when she should be quiet?! Lord...what about that brother who never says hello and is always making negative comments during the service or after, while we're in fellowship? Father! What about that fella that keeps IMing me and asking me for Lindens? I mean...can't he just get a life and get a job or buy his own Lindens, for Pete's sake??!? <pause> oops. Yeah. Yeah...I forgot, compassion always protects. That's right...compassion always trusts. Yep, you got it! Compassion ALWAYS hopes! And oh my goodness, it perseveres!! I must persevere when I feel my patience is being tried...I must protect, hope, and trust! This! This is unconditional love. This is the love that Jesus called us to give freely to our neighbors, not just to each other, but to all people with whom we come into contact! This love, this unconditional love is the same love that Jesus showed to us when He gave up his perfect life on that day so long ago...so that we could live. Oh, believe me, we were unlovable. We were undesirable. We weren't pretty, no...but He loved us, nonetheless, and died that day so that we could live!

Brothers and sisters, you gotta take a look at yourselves...a long, hard look...just as Paul asked the Corinthians, I am pleading with you! Turn with me now in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 12, beginning with the 5th verse.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.

This brings me to my third point, and I will be brief. The point? What next?

Oh, brothers and sisters, love the Lord your God! Love each other! Love the lost! Remember, now...I'm not saying that you should simply feel love for these, but that you must, yes, that's right, you must take action! Well...how do we do that? Some of you already are. Some of you have maybe considered it but oh, life is busy and time got away from you...It's not too late. Start today. It could be something as easy stopping in to see that elderly lady who lives down the street from you. She lives alone, her husband has been dead these 8 years now...and she doesn't get many visitors any more. Oh, she would love a visit from you, and maybe a lil hug before you leave.

How about taking a plate of cookies to those new people who just moved into your building? Or maybe saying yes when a newb asks you for some Lindens. Here's a novel idea: tell someone you will pray for them...and then do it. Follow up with them. And tell them you are continuing to pray. Hey, what about just listening when someone wants to talk. Just...simply...listening. Being a friend is sometimes as easy as that.

The love of others is so desperately needed in any age, but especially in the age in which we live: An age in which we actually do have a global community but it is as easy to forget about those who need our love as it is to change the station on the television. The truth of the matter is everyone needs our love...this applies to us, yes, we the inhabitants of the Earth, as well as we the inhabitants of Second Life...perhaps even more in Second Life because, well look around. The need is tremendous. It is so easy to separate the you of the real world with the you of Second Life. The truth is, though, for every avatar you see, there is a person behind a keyboard that is a feeling, thinking human being. There is no denying it. We have such an opportunity here, brothers and sisters, one that has never been possible before...but has been made possible through the venue of this thing we call Second Life.

One last scripture, and then I'm done, oh but I'll never be finished, not when it comes to talking about love. Turn with me now in your Bibles to Hebrews chapter 12. I will begin reading at the first verse.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

It's time to wake and remember who we are supposed to be!

And all God's people said...AMEN!

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Amen! Thank you, Palemoon, for your obedience to God in sharing with us today.

As Palemoon pointed out, the greatest commandment, the one which sums up and fulfills all the law and the prophets, the very heart of God, is this true, unconditional, totally free and unending love.

I know I'm far from being perfected in God's love. We all are. But God is calling us today to take a step forward, to grow in him, to realize and take to heart what it means to know him -- namely, to love him and to love what he loves, everyone around us; and to love them like he loves them, unconditionally and with action.

I'd like to open this altar for prayer. The ministry team can come forward. Everyone is invited to come pray, taking a few minutes to seek God. Come to this altar, and let's seek him together.

Lord God, as my brothers and sisters gather at the front or at their seats to seek your face, I ask that you let these seeds of your Word sink deep into our hearts. May we seek to love you more by showing your love to those around us, whoever they might be and how worthy or unworthy we might imagine they are.

You shed your blood for the most vile, wicked sinner in our eyes, with just as much passion and desire for their fellowship as for any of ours. Help us to seek your heart and thereby become vessels of your unfathomable love for others.

It's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

If you need prayer or ministry, please instant message one of the ministry team. Everyone is invited to meet with us in the room on your left after our time of ministry. Come, and let's seek God together.