Christian love is childlike. It doesn’t operate out of insecurity but rather moves securely in God’s love. The more secure we are in His love, the more we are able to love in healthy ways. Let's strive together to live with an informed surge of the love of God.
Blessings to all of you. Happy new year. Hey, if you’re joining us for the first time, I’m Pastor Terry and the lead pastor here at Cornerstone church in San Francisco. And it’s such a blessing to have everybody here, uh, starting a fresh new year. First, Sunday, just two days in. Here we go, you know, and oh, something I want to remind everybody about that for the past few years,
something, our church has done has been to start each year with a, with a new key word or phrase, uh, in a verse. And we use that as a, as a marking point, as a way of shaping our purpose as a community. It’s kind of like we’re setting the sails as a community to catch the wind of the spirit. So I’m pretty excited about it.
This year, our word is Abound, and we’re going to talk about that a little in a little bit here. Let me go ahead and pray. Just ask for the Lord’s blessing over our time. And even now, Lord, as I do it for the first time in this new year, I just pray for your blessing to flow life, to flow among us. Fill us with hearts a- fresh, renew, stir.
Quicken bring back to life. Lord, I pray this in Jesus name. Amen. All right. Our key verse for the year here it is Philippians one, verse nine. Here’s what it says. Here’s what the apostle Paul wrote. He says, and it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment. I want to read that one more time and it is my prayer.
The great apostle writes. That your love may abound more and more with all knowledge and all discernment. You know, the word abound. It means to have more than enough. It means to overflow. Think about it. It’s a great word to have a vast supply, a wave, a surge. I was looking up the different meanings of the word and the different definitions.
I dunno that one surge, it just kind of stood out to me. In fact, the root word of the word we call a ban a -bound is the word in the Latin . It comes from the Latin word for wave: und -are. So we’re talking about a wave, a surge of love. Think about that. That’s a really great way of thinking about the idea of abound.
A surge of love it’s as if the apostle is saying. I pray. I pray that your love for God, uh, your love for people, your love for life would abound and overflow, and that it would be anchored in knowledge and in discernment, in, in wisdom and in truth. And that’s a great prayer for all of us that we would abound in his love.
Our love for him, our love for others. Our love for life. You know, I would even add a love for ourselves that is healthy, not self-consumed, but also at the same time, um, you know, able to have, uh, a kind of ability to receive blessing and properly receive the love of God. Because a lot of times when we have a broken sense of who we are, we’re like a broken jar.
That we can’t, you know, like a jar of clay, the scripture calls it, that just can’t hold and contain, uh, the blessing or even the, the love that others want to give and share with us. So, yeah, Lord, we just want, we want your love to flow through us and we want it to be contained with humility and gratitude.
And we want to, as the scripture is here telling us for that love to be anchored in, in knowledge and in discernment. So what the apostle is really getting at here and I just want to put it out there. You guys is an informed surge of the love of God, an informed, surge of the love of God. So I’m very excited to open the year that way, you know, um, I wanna, I want it well this way, you know, I want this year 20 22 to be a year in which we abound in every way.
Uh, even though these have been very challenging times, I still believe that God can do amazing and wonderful things. And, well, let’s just say, this is the first Sunday, the second of the new, new month of the new year. Right? So I’m thinking one, two 22, here we go. And you know, I just, I just see it as an opportunity.
So let’s go back and put this verse into context. Let’s do that. And then we’ll go from there. So I’m pretty excited about the word that we’re about to share. Uh, the, the verse itself is actually connected to a passage that we sat with earlier in our thankful series. And you may want to go back and review it if you.
As I really enjoyed the way we closed the year out with that thankful series, but we read this in verse number one. So again, what we’re trying to do is put this ninth verse, which is going to be our, our year, the verse for our church for the year. We’re trying to put it into a context and that means we’ll get a sense of, of how it is sequentially in terms of the larger thing that the apostle Paul is trying to say that in turn will help
to gain an even greater appreciation for what the Lord is wanting us to receive. I believe. So first verse Paul and Timothy servants of Christ Jesus. Hello? That designation: servants of Christ Jesus. He could have used so many other ways of describing it when he starts with the idea of servant. Isn’t that a lot, like what Jesus did for us, he came to serve not to be
served. He says to all the saints in Christ, Jesus who are at Philippi with the overseers and the deacons, that is the leaders of the church. You know, Timothy was Paul’s son in the faith. I’ve talked about this before. He was a younger man whose father was Greek and his mother was both Jewish and she was a believer in Jesus.
And that made her kind of unique. And in some ways, uh ’cause she had embraced Jesus as her Messiah. And so Timothy grows up in this environment. Doesn’t appear that his father was actually a believer. But he seems to be okay with it. Uh, Timothy would have been someone that we would describe today as being of mixed ethnicity.
That is, he was half Jewish and half Gentile, and he over time became a tremendous asset to the apostle Paul’s ministry. And over time, an important leader in the early church. Again, because Paul, though himself Jewish, felt a unique call to the gentiles. And so Timothy in many ways becomes an embodiment of everything that the apostle feels called towards, but we know that Timothy was with Paul about 10 years earlier, when the church at Philippi, that’s who this letter is being written to, this epistle was being written to, he was there when the church was founded and the whole thing had been re- mir-.
The whole thing had been miraculous. And you can read about it in Acts 16, but the apostle had a particular affection for this amazing church. He really did. They had been so loyal. So true, uh, unshakable in their commitment to him and to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And he, he wanted them to know how he felt, how much he loved them, how much he cared for them, held them in his heart and how much he longed to see them.
That also comes out here because we know that at the time of the writing of these words, the apostle was in Rome. He was under house arrest. Tethered to what seemed to have been a, uh, a sympathetic Roman soldier, but nonetheless still confined. He was given a lot of latitude to engage visitors and communicate with the churches.
And so we are the beneficiaries of those communications and God really used those words to be a gift to us as the new test- as a, as a portion of the new Testament, uh, Paul had a particular affection for the church. Because, as I mentioned earlier, Phillip -i had been his most loyal church. They were mostly Gentiles and they had been exceptionally generous financially supporting him in his campaign to, uh, when, when the Roman empire for Christ.
That was what Paul’s goal was. And he, he actually laid the seeds for in many ways. But they have been pacesetters for other churches. They had been an example. He was able to point to them and say, you know, look what Philippi has done. And he could encourage actually other churches because of, of what they had chosen to do.
And so he was just very proud of him and, you know, and that got me thinking about something. And I just want some of you to hear this from my heart, but loved ones. Some of you I’m convinced have been called to be pace setters and examples for others, to follow. I’m talking about in Christ by virtue of your love, your integrity, your passion, your commitment, the sincerity of your faith that motivates others to, to follow Jesus better.
And I, some of you, I have been so impressed with. Because you have modeled even through these last couple of years, that we can all acknowledge them in really tough, a commitment, a faithfulness to the Lord and his cause and do our church in particular that I, I, for one greatly admire and am deeply grateful for.
But you know, again, back to Paul, he just loved this church. In fact, he opens the fourth chapter. If you read the epistles of Philippians, He opens the fourth chapter by saying you are my brother and whom I love and long for my joy and my crown. I mean, that’s like, think about what he says about them. He really is, has got them up on a, on a pedestal.
And you know, that this was a community that I think is worth mentioning because it’s just something that’s a little bit notable at a time when this may be wouldn’t have been as much en vogue or not as common. This church was really, uh, connected to some godly women. And one of them we know who was just absolutely critical to its founding was a wealthy business woman named Lydia, who was a seller of purple.
That is a dye that made, uh, for very unique and, and exquisite garments. The color was something that you just couldn’t get anywhere. She had become wealthy. And she used that wealth for the advancement of the kingdom. And for the planting of the early church, we also know there were other women like Euodia and Syntyche whom he said labored side-by-side with me in the gospel.
So it’s worth noting that, you know, at a time when there were different gender roles, That there would be women who played such a significant role in the church at Philippi. That is Paul’s favorite church. So just something to be aware of, it says in verse two, grace to you and peace from God, our father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s his next statement. And I’d love that salutation because it’s, if we just pause for a moment, just come on, stop for a moment and appreciate these two amazing words. Grace and peace that are used. So commonly by Paul and connected to Christ, grace. I mean, any student of the Bible, any student of the New Testament will immediately recognize that grace is a key word and we really have no word in English that a- just adequately captures in full its meaning.
I mean, it’s a, it’s kind of a mix of gratitude and, and charm and favor and kindness and goodwill, wrap, enjoy. And then we might add, and God’s love abounding and overflowing, undeserved and unrelenting. That’s what Paul’s basically saying: grace to you. God’s grace to you. May God’s grace abound in all you do, right?
And peace boy, do we need peace? Is there ever a season where we needed more peace than this? I can’t recall in my life. Peace, we’re talking about not just the, when you think of peace, but we’re not, we’re not just talking about the absence of strife. Not when the Bible talks about it. Not in this way. That is certainly one way of thinking of peace,
you know, things are calm, things are quiet. I, I have nothing that’s going on that’s negative. You know, but I think it’s even more than that, it carries with it the idea of tranquility. And that is even more in my mind, connected to the idea of settled -ness of soul. Some of you will hear me talk a lot about that from time to time.
Just the idea of being at peace, the equanimity that the Lord wants to give us, the harmony of health and of a life that’s immersed in Christ. Just that the totality. Oh, God’s presence at work in our life. That creates a kind of calmness of spirit and settled in this of soul. So these two great words, you know, grace and peace, he says, may they abound over you.
And then he goes on to say this and look at this, let’s just read it through. He says, I thank my God in all my remembrance of you always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy because of your partnership. There it is in the gospel from the first day until now and I am sure of this, that he, who began a good work in, you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart. For you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel for God is my witness. He knows it’s true. How I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound. There. It is more and more with knowledge and discernment that your love may abound more and more over and above what is needed. Paul. He says, I don’t want it. I don’t want his love at work in you to just be something that you know, that you have a little bit of it.
I want you to have a lot of it, not just squeaking by not simply, uh, an adequate supply, but overflowing more than you even need. And I realized that sometimes we are careful with our love, loved ones. Cause we don’t want to be either misunderstood, taken advantage of or hurt. I get that. And in fact, I think that’s sometimes why people are reluctant to commit to relationships even in a church or just to commit to engaging in Christian community.
Maybe we grew up in a less than healthy Christian environment. Um, but we believe, but we want to, you know, maybe we, we didn’t, we didn’t grow up in a, in a home that we felt like was really, uh, a great example. And so, you know, of, of Christian faith, maybe we saw hypocrisy or things were too rigid and, uh, I don’t know.
Yeah, it could be, it could be opposite to, to. Too dis-, disconnected, not, not standing for things enough, you know, I, but so w what ever the case a lot of us come into Christian community with trust injuries. I have to acknowledge that, uh, I’ve talked to so many people, even, even those who have family that have been following Jesus for generations.
Sometimes I’ll meet people who’ve been injured and maybe that’s you and if you’ve been injured or hurt or harmed, uh, first off, I, I just want to say, I’m sorry for that. Um, I don’t want that to happen at all, that there’s other, on the other hand, I, I, I want to say that the Lord still has a plan for you to live in his love and to abound in it.
So, you know, But again, I realized that if we’ve come from different expressions of Christian community, that’s what I’m talking about right now, we have we’ve been hurt or disappointed, uh, or we just have a perception of it that, that we’ve been given, that we may come into it with a little bit more caution or reluctance.
Like we, we are kind of being extra careful and some of us, I just need to say it. Some of us have had leaders who’ve let us down. Some of us have experienced divisions within, within the church. And so we, you know, we don’t want to be hurt again. Others of us, in these past few years. And I, and I know I’m focusing right now on Christian community and I realized that that hurt happens even more so out in the world, in, in our culture at large, there’s been such division, such hatred, such anger.
So many friendships have been broken up. In fact, I think over these past few years, Um, this is just based on my observation as, as a pastor watching things, even, even in the, in the context of Christian community, I’ve, I’ve watched a lot of relationships break down. Uh, there’s been so many pressure points that have contributed to it.
And in a way, exploited the fissures that were maybe, would have already been there. Maybe sometimes the relationship has a crack in it, but then something happens to get, become a wedge and it just breaks the whole thing apart and so if we’ve been hurt in a relationship or we felt like someone didn’t care for it, the way we did, then it’s easy to feel gun shy and to become a little bit tenuous and reluctant to invest ourselves again and start over.
And I, I totally get that because it can seem a little bit unsafe sometimes to risk loving again and yet when the Lord has his way in our lives, he’s filling us with enough love that we can overflow even to the extent that we’re willing to risk. Again, I was reminded of CS Lewis has sagely words and he wrote a book called the “Four Loves,” which if you just wanna explore love, man, that’s, it’s a great read, but he said this: to love at all is to be vulnerable.
You know, love anything and your heart will be rung and possibly broken. Whoa, if you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements, lock it up, safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.
But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless. It will change. It will not be broken, it will become unbreakable. Impenetrable irredeemable, listen to love is to be vulnerable and that- that. And I just mean you sit with that. And that reminded me of something Dallas Willard wrote in the wonderful one deep book, “The Divine Conspiracy” that you hear me refer to from time to time.
One of my favorite books of all time, he says, interestingly, growing up. It’s largely a matter of learning to hide our spirit behind our face, our eyes and language so that we can evade and manage others to achieve what we want and avoid what we fear. That’s why we hide by contrast. He says the child’s face is a constant epiphany.
It keeps revealing itself because it doesn’t yet know how to do this. It doesn’t know how to hide, to pretend to be something when it’s feeling something else, it cannot manage its face. Think about that phrase. I know I’ve managed my face, out -wardly, one thing inwardly another. And whether it goes on to say this is also true of adults in moments of great feeling, which is one reason why feeling is both greatly treasured and greatly feared because sometimes when we’re overwhelmed with emotion, the real us comes out and to use the language of, of Willard.
We can’t manage our face because we’re caught off guard. And so whatever is in us actually reveals itself a little more clearly, you know, children don’t do that as much. Uh I’ve I’ve seen it now with all of my children who are now well into adulthood. And, and even now as I look at my, my grand children and, uh, uh, at my grand nephew, I see this principle.
It’s just, it’s so true. What’s, the, what’s on their face, this is what’s going on inside. They, they don’t, they don’t know how to manage their face yet. We learned that over time as adults, because we get hurt, we get burned. And I see what you hear me saying is that we shouldn’t allow our fears and this maybe is just the right word for us for some of us for the new year, but we shouldn’t allow our fears of either being hurt
again, or being known, keep us from vulnerability and child likeness. Some of us don’t want to be known, but then we’re going to have a clash here with the kingdom of God, because the way of Jesus means being known and knowable, it means being more open than we would have been without him. It means being
un- dominated less dominated by our fear and more dominated by his love out of a choice that we make. So, you know, Christian Love is though not childish in the sense that it’s not selfish. And you hear me say this a lot. Christian Love is not selfish, not childish in the sense of selfish, but it is child-like.
In the sense that it’s open and less restrained and, and instead of operating out of a script of insecurity, it moves confidently or less guardedly secure in God’s love. That’s right. Secure in God’s love. That’s what we’re talking about. That’s the essence of this push. As we walk into this new year, may we be secure
in God’s love. Remember the more secure we are in his love, the more we will be able to love in healthy ways. It doesn’t necessarily mean we will, although I know that’s God’s desire for us, but it means we’ll have more capacity to do so. Should we choose to implement, uh, the principles of the Lord and also with the help of his spirit, even give him our well-worn personality.
And demeanors. Yes, but let’s go back to our, our verse one more time. Our new year verse, here we go, verse for the year, verse nine. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment. So look, it’s an abounding love, but do you notice something else? If he just, if he just left out that second part, it would all be about a -bounding love, but he throws in another thought.
He says with knowledge and all discernment. So it’s not only in a -bounding love. It’s also meant to be a balanced, a balanced love, right. And a bounding love and a balanced love. And it’s not a love that’s based on feelings or listen to me on what culture tells us is loving. In fact, I, I, I do not. Uh, how can I say I don’t trust our culture’s morallity.
I don’t believe in it. I am a disbeliever of our culture’s gospel. I have to say it. I, I hear what, I hear what we’re being told here in the scriptures is that we are not to go by the basis of our culture’s, definition of love. But what God’s definition of love is, and his love is always going to be characterized by knowledge and discernment.
So a flourishing. love as we are being told here is not a love without healthy boundaries. It’s, it’s a, it’s a love that is anchored in truth as God defines it. That is characterized by the wisdom that flows from his words, the words that Jesus said he wanted to give us, he did give us and he called them spirit and he called them life.
Well, that is a very different thing. So it’s not a reckless love. It’s not a, uh, uh, an unqualified, qualified anything goes kind of love. That’s not what we’re talking about. And again, that’s the culture’s definition of love, but that’s not what God defines his love. It’s not what Jesus defined as love.
It’s not what the scriptures teach us love is it’s not the love that we’re being invited to a -bound into. We need to remember that it’s a different kind of love than what we are being told love is today by voices in all directions. It’s certainly in every entertainment venue that we can think of.
We’re constantly being told, this is what love is. And I’m going to say this, the world doesn’t do love. Well, it doesn’t. We look around even the best intentions. Just seem to fall apart and melt like wax under the sun. It just it’s unsustainable. No, I’m, I’m talking about what the apostle Paul was getting at here with the Lord is reminding us of, we’re talking about a discerning love, a love that is humble and is sincere and aligned with the truth of Christ.
Lastly, if I could just add one more piece to this and hear me out on it, you guys, but I’m talking about here a love that flows. And this is really important. I want us to see it, a love that flows out of a settled, settled identity in Jesus. A love that flows out of a settled identity in Jesus. This is a key for a -bounding in his love to always remember that who we are in Jesus is what matters most in, in this life.
It really does.
As we step into the new year who we are in Jesus is what matters most in life. It matters. It matters more than the color of our skin, more than our ethnicity, uh, our cultural heritage, our nationality. It matters more than our political affiliation, more than our gender. Your sexuality more than our achievements, our wealth, uh, temporal power or temporal beauty, whatever the outward appearance tent is
unsustainable, no matter how many surgeries it’s. Yeah. And no matter how much we we do to attend to the tent, this outer person of ours is not designed to last forever. It cannot contain as I often say, the life that is within. We yearn for more and someday by faith in Jesus, we will have a new body. Wow.
One fit for eternity. I can’t even think. Wow. That’s so cool. That’s that’s, that’s amazing. Isn’t it? You want to talk about true colors. I mean, that’s the, that’s the promise. That’s the rainbow of the Lord. As the promise of life ever more, not judgment, but life in Jesus. Um, but I mentioned it, it matters, you know, the fact that we find our identity in Jesus matters even more than the opinions of those whom we, you may admire most or highly esteem, right?
No, it’s that we are to love God. We are to remember that he first loved us. So we are to receive his love. And then we are to love him back and they asked Jesus, what’s the greatest thing that human being can ever do. And he said to love the Lord, your God, with all your heart. soul mind and strength and then love your neighbor.
Love other people as yourself, right? That’s that’s the hierarchy of a successful life. According to Jesus.
And if we have welcomed Jesus, God’s gift of love to be our savior and Lord, if you haven’t done that, boy, maybe this is the time to do it. Just let us know we’ll connect with you. We’ll pray with you. If you’re online, you know, we’ll have someone right there, you just let us know. We’ll help you make the journey.
Some of you maybe haven’t ever been baptized. You want to get bap- baptized? Let us know we’ll baptize you, you can make a public declaration, a communal declaration of your commitment to Jesus and your love for him and your willingness to be identified in his love. Because if we have received the love of Christ, then we are to see ourselves, listen, firstly, and forever, firstly, and forever as beloved sons and daughters of the risen king,
secure in his love. Yes. Right. That’s what I just said. That is what we are. So, uh, you know, I, I, I do have something more to say, we’re going to have a closing song that sets it up. I do wanna remind everybody about our time of giving. And remember, you can do that our church, this is what happens. So many of you have been amazing, faithful.
I want to talk about a church that has led by example, some of you have just genuinely honor the Lord and your tithes and your offerings in a way that has allowed us to have this remarkable church experience where we’re doing. So much of it still online, uh, as a blessing at the same time, trying to create in presence gatherings as well.
And it’s no easy thing to do to continue to find ways to serve you. But many of you have, have just been like that church. Utterly committed to the things of the Lord into your church community as a priority. So remember, you can give in a a lot of different ways. You can send it in, you can give it directly online, or you can give through the app.
That’s what I do, but ah keep giving him your best. We never lose ah, when we do that. Lord, I just ask that you would, you would speak to us, remind us always of how much we are loved. And as we prepare to close with this, uh, final song, I do ask that you would just remind us again, that there is nothing better then knowing you, nothing better.