John 15:7-13 New King James Version (NKJV)
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Love and Joy Perfected
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
What life-changing, life-guiding words, from Jesus!
--Of God's love in us. Of life on a high plane.
--Not just at Valentine's. Life needs love all times.
--Not a worldly, fickle type. But God's agape love.
--In my Philadelphia church a little girl sobbed to me, "I wish my Daddy and Mommy would love each other."
--They needed to get God's love, in Christ, in them.
In John 15, Jesus talks about continual abiding, effectual praying, perpetual joy, and spiritual love.
--"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done."
--"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit .. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love .. This is My commandment that you love one another as I have loved you .. Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends" (v 7-13). That's what Jesus did, for us.
Maybe we haven't lived up to this divine ideal.
--Do not let failure in the past, or fear of the future hinder God's love in and through us, in the present.
Take for instance the life of John Newton, the composer of the popular hymn, "Amazing Grace."
--His tombstone in England tells his life story as Newton requested it, of the wonderful grace of Jesus.
--It reads, "John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had so long labored to destroy."
--Wow! What a testimony! Something like St. Paul's.
--No wonder he wrote of God's "Amazing Grace." It is!
--Newton was, indeed, "born again" in the love of God!
Many others by the thousands can testify to the power,. and grace, of God's love in the pure Gospel of Jesus.
--In I Corinthians 13, extolling love as the best gift of all, it closes with "faith, hope, and love ..but the greatest of these is love!' These can change us.
--Where love resides, God abides. The world needs it.
Some people, and religions, don't have this love.
--Get angry, and resent any who disagree with them.
--These harbor fear and bitterness. Spread hate.
--Trouble makers or terrorists without a God of love.
--Feel they must strap a bomb to their back, destroy other lives as a martyr to be saved.
--Our God and Savior shed His blood for us "while we were enemies, Christ died for us," so we may live!
--Look the world over, no faith compares with Christ!
One of our great universities is the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, whose football teams often at the Rose Bowl, or some other.
--We lived near there, next door to a former team member, who with his wife attended all home games; and, his car horn played the Michigan fight song!
--Michigan had a great coach, Bennie Oosterbaan, whose wisdom and labor and love led them to many victories.
He began each season with the team, with the the word, L-O-V-E on a large blackboard - a word not often seen in such places and teams; but a word to remember.
--And a way to win. Beneath L-O-V-E, five other words.
I. HE WROTE, LOVE THE SCHOOL. CHURCH, OR WHATEVER.
--Said, no ball player does his best without it.
--Be proud of your school. Family. Church. Job.
--Really love it. Michigan teams and graduates do!
--What loyalty! They talk it. They support it.
--Winning teams have a love for their schools!
Apply this to other things, friend. Home, church.
--What kind of love, loyalty, devotion, do we have?
--How much do we care about our families?
--For all those who serve and care for us? Employ us?
--The point is, without God's love, we lose something.
Without good schools, families, jobs, church, we fail.
--These should make a great difference for good.
--Show your love for Sunday School, Worship, Prayer.
--As much as possible, show it for Jesus, for He "loved the church and gave Himself for it."
Did you see on TV a woman and daughter, in court?
--It was touching. Daughter being sent to prison.
--That is heart-breaking for anyone, more for parents.
--The Mother said, "Judge, I thought if you sent a child to Sunday School and church, this wouldn't be!"
--The judge replied, "Did you say, "Send?" You ought to know children don't take seriously what parents don't attend, or take seriously, themselves."
--My friends, let's love the church and its services.
II. HE WROTE, LOVE THE GAME. FOR US, A CHRISTIAN LIFE.
--For them, then, at the U of M, the game of football.
--For us, to love the Christian life - as our game.
--The game of life, as Jesus gave it. Played it!
--The quality of love as He had, we are to live.. love.
May I say we don't lose, but gain, in following Jesus.
--To begin the day in prayer. In His Word. His will.
--Live as a team. Love the game. To work at it.
Love overlooks trifles. Let's nothing offend, hinder.
--Doesn't let little things upset us or get us down.
--Nor keep us from showing kindness, and cooperation.
--Nor keep us from forgiving. Nor hold grudges.
--Love "turns a cheek .. goes the second mile."
--You see, Christ's love knows how to play, and win.
III. LOVE THE TEAM. THAT'S OUR FELLOW PLAYERS.
--This great coach emphasized the team's importance.
--Not the glamorizing of any star, or individual.
--But one for all .. and all for our fellow players.
--As a team, at home, work, or church, work together!
--That's the way to go to the Rose Bowl! Or any bowl!
Others may be in the limelight for a time. Be glad.
--Rejoice with them. You are a team! A family!
--Some members may fumble, or team lose; love anyway!
--Don't argue. Don't blame. Don't loaf. Show love.
--Encourage, and pray for, one another, in oneness.
You can't express love with clenched fists, a harsh or angry voice, or violent, selfish act!
--Listen, if you give love, you'll get love, usually.
--Friend, give love anyway - even if you don't get it!
--Love your team - family, church, workers, classmates.
--What else did this coach write? Here's a good one.
IV. LOVE THE RULES. FOR US, I CALL IT, GOD'S WORD.
--All sports have specific rules. So does God.
--A good teammate learns the rules. Lives by them.
--The coach said, "Love the rules. Play by them."
--Added, "You don't play on my team, if you don't!"
In the Bible, God has His Rule-Book of Law.
--The Psalmist said (119:97), "How I love Your Law, it is my meditation all the day." Its the way to joy.
--God says, "My son, give attention to My words."
--"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word',' Jn.14:23.
The rules are to know and keep, for they bring rewards.
--Daily as we are able, and on God's Day, let's learn.
--It's God's world and God's heaven, and in the end we only win - or get to heaven - going by the Rules.
One more word this coach wrote on the blackboard.
V. LOVE THE COACH. FOR CHRISTIANS, OURS IS JESUS.
--He said, "I want you to love your coach, as he loves you. To obey him, even if you may disagree."
--"You may not always agree, but he has experience and wisdom that you do not have."
--Added, "You can't play your best, without this love"
--"We must love each other, if we would win. Not criticize. Nor grumble. Nor show disrespect. Love."
--All this, not from a preacher, but a coach!
Now let's you and me apply this to the Christian life.
--Our Head Coach is Jesus! The Living, Risen Redeemer.
--As God, He showed us what God is like. How to live.
--How to play the game of life .. and win .. heaven!
--Remember His words, "Keep My commandments .. that you love one another as I have loved you."
--There's no better Coach than Christ, my friend.
John Calvin said, "Love God. Enjoy Him forever."
In high school I went out for football, like all boys.
--Never made the first string. Yet loved my coach.
--We all did. All worked hard. Discipline. Exercise.
--Laps around the field. Hard. We gave it our all.
--With Jesus, everyone can be on His winning team!
--How about you, friend? Are you on His winning team?
--Heaven's Coach welcomes you. As His assistant, I do.
--He said, "Come to Me, all you."
Dr. Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 905