Choosing Love

Posted on 11/26/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Good morning to all of you, and thank you for coming. Let's get started today with prayer.

Lord God, thank you for giving us another day to praise you, to love you, and to be loved by you. Open our hearts to you as we come into your presence with singing, and prepare us to hear what you want to say to us today.

Free us from the excuses that have us bound, and may we walk in a liberty from this day forward we've never known.

Hover over every person here today, and work in each one the work you've already begun in them.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray.

Amen.

Let's all stand to our feet and worship God in song. Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard, and prepare your hearts to seek after the presence of God.


YOU'RE WORTHY OF MY PRAISE

I will give, you all my worship
I will give, you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
You alone, are worthy of my praise

I will worship, with all of my heart
I will praise you, with all of my strength
I will seek you, all of my days
I will follow, all of your ways

You are worthy of my praise

I will bow down, and I'll hail you as king
I will serve you, I will give you everything
I will lift up my eyes to your throne
I will trust you, I will trust you alone

You are worthy, You are worthy
You are worthy of my praise


THE POWER OF YOUR LOVE

Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I've found in You
Lord I've come to know
The weakenesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the power of Your love

~ chorus ~
Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I'll rise up like the eagle

And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love

Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me
Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living every day
By the power of Your love

(repeat chorus twice)

And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love
(repeat)


POUR OUT YOUR SPIRIT

Pour out Your Spirit, Lord, on Your people
Pour out Your Spirit, Lord, on Your people
Pour out Your Spirit, Lord, on Your people
Let it reign
Let it reign

Turn the hearts of fathers to their childen
and every nation to the God of love and holiness. 
Let the fire of Your Spirit burn.

Pour out Your mercy, Lord, on Your peole
Pour out Your mercy, Lord, on Your peole
Pour out Your mercy, Lord, on Your peole
Let it reign
Let it reign

Pour out Your fire, Lord, on Your people
Pour out Your fire, Lord, on Your people
Pour out Your fire, Lord, on Your people
Let it reign
Let it reign


You may be seated.

My message today is titled, "Choosing Love." Please open up to Ephesians chapter five, and let's start reading from verse 25:

25. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself  for her;
26. That he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
27. That he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle,  or any such thing; but that she should be holy and without blemish.
28. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.


Lord God, thank you for your Word, and for your Holy Spirit to bring your Word to life in us today. I ask that you prepare our hearts to hear what you would say to us today.

And we ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.


So we see in this passage that husbands are instructed to love their wives.

In itself, this doesn't seem that out of the ordinary. It makes sense that a husband should love his wife. And yet this clashes with today's popular view of love.

According to what we see in the music, magazines, and movies, love appears to be a feeling we can't control.

It would seem as though if you're married and you "fall out of love" with your spouse, then you "fall in love" with someone else, it would be wrong to remain married and "live a lie" with your spouse.

And yet this is quite different from the picture painted by the Author of Love, and His Word makes it clear we are to love our spouse for life.

Is God telling us to force a feeling? Or is his perception of his own creation, love, different from ours?

In First Corinthians chapter thirteen, God tells us what love is. While there are different types of love, all true and lasting love is anchored in this:

4. Love perseveres long, and is kind; love does not envy; love does not boast, is not puffed up,
5. Does not behave itself unseemly, does not seek its own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;
6. Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
7. Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8. Love never fails...

So my first point today is this: "Love is a choice."

Every love relationship goes through seasons.

In the springtime, everything is new and budding. A sense of adventure and life permeate every word, action, and breath.

In the summer, the passionate heat of the sun and the warm summer rains bring flourishing growth and exitement.

In the fall, things begin to cool. The leaves begin to change colors. Things may appear to some to be dying. The excitement of summer fades away.

In the winter, everything is cold. The grass is brown. The leaves are all gone. On a beautiful winter's day, a sparkling white blanket of snow, pure and undefiled, covers everything in a sea of diamonds.

And from the movies to the magazines to the music, we are told that the fall is the time to get out while you can. If the summer does not last forever, then the relationship was not meant to be.

Yet God tells us that "Love never fails." Even above all the spiritual gifts, love is the greatest, and only love will last forever.

So true love is not something that just happens to you. Rather, true love is something you choose.

In First John chapter four verses seven and eight, we read,

7. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.
8. He who does not love, does not know God; for God is love.

According to society's definition of love, this passage tells us everyone knows God, because everyone experiences some form of love some time during their life.

And yet when we realize that love is a choice, and it is only true when it matches the definition found in Scripture, we then see that most people on earth do not know God, because they do not truly love.

And since we are commanded to love, this means it is not something we automatically do.

Love is a choice.

So when we read in Deuteronomy 6:5, "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might," we can remember we're not being asked to create a feeling withing ourselves that results in an action; rather, we're being told to choose to love by action and attitude. And the feelings will follow.

It doesn't matter if I feel like loving my wife today. If we allow our actions to be led by our feelings, we will be unstable, undependable, untrustworthy, and quite unGodly.

If, however, we allow our feelings to be led by our actions by doing what's right regardless of how we feel, we will be stable, dependable, trustworthy, and Godly.

We read in Joshua 24:15: And if it seems evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

And the same call goes out to all of us today: "Choose this day whom you will serve."

And that brings us to my second point: Love is a daily choice.

It's been taught that once you say a sinner's prayer and are baptized, you can live the rest of your life however you choose, and you're guaranteed to go to heaven when you die.

And yet we must choose who we will serve; not once in our lifetime, but every single day.

When we wake up in the morning, we may do well to ask ourselves, "Who will I serve today? Will I serve myself today by doing what I like to do in the morning, or sleeping in until the last second before I rush out the door? Or will I serve God today by starting off this day in prayer, reading some Scripture, and committing my day to God?"

In Luke 9:23 we read, "And (Jesus) said to them all, If any one will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

You see, love is a choice. And love is a daily choice.

And my third point is found in John 3:16 which says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

And my third and final point is this: Love is the choice God desires from us

In Jeremiah 29:11 we read, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

God's thoughts toward you aren't that you burn in hell, or that you have a miserable life, or that you "get what's coming to you."

Rather, his thoughts toward you are that you have peace, and a future, and a hope. God's thoughts toward you are thoughts of love, and his Holy Spirit has been drawing you, tugging at your heart, to make the choice to stop running, stop fighting, and fall head over heels in love with God.

Jesus laments in Matthew 23:37, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kills the prophets, and stones those who are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!"

How many times have we chosen to turn a deaf ear when God calls out to us? All the times he's wanted to draw you into his loving arms and ease your pain, heal your hearache, fill your emptiness, and give you new life and new hope, have you turned to other people and other things?

Love is a choice.
Love is a daily choice.
    and
Love is the choice God desires from you.

We have a free will. If we didn't, then love wouldn't be a choice.

Perhaps the truly desperate would appreciate the idea of having someone love them who had no choice but to love them. But for most of us, the idea that someone loves us just because we want them to and they have no choice in the matter, would be an empty, unfilfilling love indeed.

There can be no love without choice, for love IS a choice.

And this is why we read in Genesis chapter two and verse sixteen,

16. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat:
17. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eats thereof you shall surely die.

We see the words of Joshua written here, "I set before you life and death. Choose this day whom you will serve."

The death to which God was referring was not physical death, for man did not physically die the day he disobeyed God. Rather, it was spiritual death.

Physical death is separation from the body. And spiritual death is separation from God. In the day mankind disobeyed God, we were separated from him. Physical death is the eventual result of this spiritual death.

You see, God walked daily with us in the garden, fellowshiping with us, sharing in a deep love relationship with us. He gave us the choice to either choose to love him by obeying him, or choose to separate ourselves from him and his love by disobeying him.

It was in this way that love became a choice.

And throughout the rest of Scripture we read the one thing that is central to God's heart. And that one thing that causes the God of the universe to alter the course of time is this: He wants you to choose to accept his love, and choose to love him.

God tells us in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

You have a choice today. You can choose to go your own way, to ignore God's call to surrender your life to him today, to reject the love, peace, joy, and hope God is offering you, and to reject his love and withhold your own.

Or you can choose to accept his gift of love, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ. You can stop running, stop fighting, stop looking under every rock and stone and every whispering wind for another answer, and instead accept what you know deep down to be true:

Jesus loves you. He shed his blood on the cross to pay for your sins. The crown of thorns he allowed us to shove into his head, the nails that were pounded through his hands and feet, the hair that was ripped from his face, the whip of glass and nails that was ripped through his back, the sticks used to beat his head; he did all of this for YOU.

And he did it because he wanted you to have the opportunity to choose love.

Will you accept God's love today? Will you choose to say "no" to going your own way away from him and say "yes" to coming home to where you belong?

You may have made a profession of faith in the past, but have not been walking with God, making that daily choice to follow him instead of your own way. His invitation is to you today as well.

God's not waiting for you to clean yourself up and figure out how you're going to change. The fact is, you can't make that choice until God gives you the power to do so.

Take this first step. And Jesus will lead you through the path of your life, shining a light on your choices where before there was only darkness and confusion.

The ministry team can come stand at the front now.

This altar is open. Whether for the first time or as a recommitment to Christ, if you feel God tugging at your heart to make a choice for him today, come speak with someone up here, or instant message one of us from your seat.

In a few minutes we'll meet next door for fellowship. But first let's take care of business. Let's make sure everything is right between you and God.

If your heart suddenly stopped beating in the next few minutes, would you be ready to meet God face to face? If not, or if you're not sure, please come talk with someone now.

Waiting another moment isn't worth the risk. God has been calling to you. Now is the time to answer.

If you know you're right with God, please be in prayer. And I will ask everyone here to instant message the one beside you. Ask them, "Are you right with God?"

And if they say "no" or "I'm not sure" or if they don't answer, ask if they will come to the front with you to give their life to Jesus.

------------------------

I would like everyone here to pray this between you and God. Right where you are, pray this with me:

"Jesus, come into my heart. Forgive me for my sins. Make me brand new. Wash me clean. Be the Lord of my life. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, so I can walk in your ways. And I choose to love you, and receive your love, all the days of my life."

Amen.

This altar is still open for ministry. Come, and let's seek God together.