Binding Love And Faithfulness In Your Heart
October 14, 2012
Preached by Pas. Carlyn Barcelona
KEY TEXT: Proverbs 3:3-4
“Let LOVE & FAITHFULNESS never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them in the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and good name in the sight of God and man.”
“Love and Faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” Psalm 85:10
“Love and faithfulness” are closely connected, and could be translated “faithful love” or “true kindness” in KJV. Together they are the key words in the true covenant between God and his people. And they have to do with our relationship.
Why does God want us to bind love and faithfulness in the tablets of our hearts? Why does He want us to fulfil this covenant?
For better understanding, let us define and study these words one by one.
1. Love – An unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.
Augustine says : “What does it look like? It has hands to help others, feet to hasten to the poor and needy, eyes to see misery and want, ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is how love looks like.”
Denis Waitley gave an acronym for LOVE
L – listening when another is speaking,
O – overlooking petty faults and forgiving all failures
V – valuing people for who they are;
E – expressing love in a practical way.
When you read Matt. 22:37 – love was the 1st and the greatest commandment of God. In any language, it is the most powerful expression of the most powerful emotion and experience in the world.
There’s a saying “If You’re Not Loving, You’re Not Living”
Jesus plainly taught that God, in His love, created human beings. Life does not precede love……love precedes life!
In this passage the Lord Jesus tells us about three directions for love. They are:
….love toward God…
….love toward others….
….and love toward ourselves.
As the Bible says: “God is love.”
The love of God is what gave us life in creation…….The love of God is what sought us out and offers us salvation through faith in Christ. Jesus taught that if love is to be fully manifested, we must love God first, Others second, and Ourselves Last.
But God has it right and has a point.
If we love God, then our love for others will grow even greater…because this upward love supernaturally produces a love for others…and then for ourselves.
In fact, if we love God the most, we will love others the best.
C.S. Lewis once said, “When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.”
Jesus calls us to love our neighbour. And, our love for God obviously motivates us to love others.
Love sets off a divine chain reaction…
…Love is the spark that kindles the fire of compassion…
…compassion is the fire that lights the candle of service….
…service is the candle that ignites the torch of hope….
…hope is the torch that lights the beacon of faith…
…Faith is the beacon that reflects the power of God…
…and God is the One Who creates the miracle of love!
Allowing God’s love to flow through us to others involves risk, pain, and heartache….but it will bring a tidal wave of joy that washes the tough times away! because love brings joy.
Jesus overcame hate, evil and death through His sacrificial act of Ultimate love on the cross!!!
When it comes to love, show it! Love must not only be articulated but demonstrated.
A simple touch can convey an incredible sense of love, affirmation, and acceptance.
Chrysostom says: “Heat makes all things expand. And the warmth of love will always expand a person’s heart.” (ex. Tuloka nyo buy-on ni Pas. Carlos, gadalako kay natam-an sa pagpalangga.)
Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit. ~Peter Ustinov
2. Faithfulness – Steadfast in affection or allegiance
Jesus places a great value on faithfulness. In fact, it is one of the factors that will be evaluated at the judgement seat of Christ.
The Bible gives us principles concerning being faithful that will enable us to receive Jesus’ praise as we stand before Him on that day.
Matt. 25:21 tells us that when we stand before the judgment seat, Jesus Christ will declare to His followers: “Well done, good and FAITHFUL servant!” not “good and successful servant.”
Of all the possible words Jesus could use, He will choose “good” and “faithful”? This only describes those on whom His favour rests. This shows how important it is to God that we be faithful. Goodness and faithfulness go together for there will be some who are good but not faithful and faithful but not good.
We may ask? To what extent will we be faithful? How Long?
Jesus told the church in Smyrna, “Be thou faithful UNTO DEATH, and I will give thee a crown of life” Rev. 2:10
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF FAITHFULNESS:
• Faithfulness keeps serving God through every circumstance, even when those around you fall.
– Sometimes when we commit to something, it is subjected to our circumstances. When you feel sick, no money, don’t feel good or not in the mood. You won’t attend nor do the tasks that you are suppose to do. But faithful people will do, no matter what. “Bagyo’t baha man ay susulongin.”
• Faithfulness is not bored compliance with requirements.
Not doing things because they are monitored, they are not more on pleasing or fearing men, but they do it because they are dedicated to it.
Alex Harris stated,
“Being faithful in the smallest things is the way to gain, maintain, and demonstrate the strength needed to accomplish something great.”
• Faithfulness springs from a godly HEART attitude.
Confucius, The Analects said,
“Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.”
• Faithfulness reflects a heart where GOD IS NUMBER 1.
• Faithfulness doesn’t care how many or how big the assigned tasks are, but how diligently and honourably we do them.
Faithful people are not calculative, negative, expecting to be rewarded, but they simply do it because they do it to the one they love.
1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
I would like to give you examples of men of God went through the test of LOVE and FAITHFULNESS.
Along with eleven other men, he was chosen by Jesus to be the man who would lead to what is now the Church of Jesus. When Jesus picked him it was not a mistake, it was the choice of God.
Judas was at the same level of position just as the other eleven was. This is true, because Jesus saw potential in this man.
But what Judas would do is heart breaking.
At first Judas was just as committed and faithful as the rest of the men. He met where Jesus said meet. He did the things that Jesus told him to do.
But then something began to happen, his zeal began to FIZZLE. The reason why this was happening to him was because of his commitment.
He was at a level we must all cross, but a level we must all pass. The road of testing, difficulties, and even to death.He didn’t have much love and loyalty for Jesus to fight for the cause of salvation. But instead, he saw the offer of the world and chose it.
There was one time Pastor Carlos told us in our RB close cell that, although it is written that someone would betray Jesus, but Jesus said woe be unto him.
Woe be unto him means God will hold Him accountable for his deed. He has to pay for the consequences of his betrayal. There will be times of shakings, troubles, and confusions, but woe to the man responsible for all of these.
Peter was also among the chosen and commissioned just as Judas was. The major difference was Peter, not only used his zeal in his mind he used it in his heart. He pleasantly loved Jesus and always wanted to please Him.
The Scriptures record his life as following:
a. He was the reed changed to a rock
b. He is naturally impulsive – Matt. 14:28
c. Tender hearted and affectionate – Matt. 26:75
d. Full of strange contradictions and at times presumptuous – Jn. 13:8
e. Other times timid and cowardly – Matt. 26:69-72
f. Self-sacrificing – Mk.1:18
g. Yet inclined to be self-seeking – Matt. 19:27
h. Gifted with spiritual insight – Jn. 6:68
i. Yet slow to apprehend the deeper truths – Matt. 15:15-16
j. Made two great confessions of Jesus Christ – Mt. 16:16 & Jn. 6:69
k. And also the most cowardly denial – Mk. 14:67-71
The commitment level of Peter was good, it’s just that it was not as deep as God wanted it to be.
When he was a persecutor of Christians he already showed the characteristic of determination. He was faithful to the cause of annihilating the Christians.
But when he encountered God, he became faithful for the cause of Christ. Even up to the point of death, he went through a lot of trials, shipwreck, and imprisonment.
At the end of his ministry we see the picture of a man who was committed with his whole mind, his whole heart and his whole soul.
Every circumstance that he faces, he counts it as joy, for him, he partakes the suffering of Christ.
The reason I shared on this topic is because I also went through on this valley of testing. Many times I was on the crossroad, weighing to stay or to leave. And please allow me to be honest to you this morning. Not boasting and I hope you don’t get me wrong. I’ve been serving this church for more than 24 years. Many fulltime staff had come and gone, I was only 17 when I entered as a staff, and now I’m turning 41 this Wednesday. That’s how old I am. I have seen the good and the bad times of this church. Seeing my TKK and Rzone students grow and get married.
I have followed Pastor Toh Nee & Pas. Lily faithfully, even literally unto death (scenario of Freeman Ganzon). I have seen how their children grow from babies and now one of them, Joy is getting married. Before, I only do their make-up for their programs in the church and in school. Now, I’m going to assist in her wedding. I can solely say I know our Pastors very well, their weakness and their strength. We had mis- understandings, dissatisfactions and many times to be honest, I did get confused and hurt too.
Countless of times, I want to give up, and pack up my things and follow my relatives to the States, hoping to live life abundantly.
But in the back of my mind, I knew that was not the will of God for me. In fact God was angry with me that He destroyed that trump card, by sowing discord and distrust between my mother and me in the States.
But also, I can’t deny how Pas. Toh Nee & Pas. Lily loved and built me up. They’re the people who showed how valuable I am. They stood a in as parents for me when I don’t have one to make me feel loved. They’ve shown that love to me, because of their love for God. In spite of their strictness, their discipline, no matter how painful it is, that love is the thing I fall back on. I knew that they only want the best for us. People know them as strong willed people, but one thing I respect about Pas. Toh Nee & Pas. Lily is, when they know they are wrong, they don’t hesitate to apologise, whoever you are, you may be insignificant or known. But they are humble enough to acknowledge when they are wrong, which seldom you can see now a days. When this crisis broke out, many of us became confused, had divided hearts. But God often brought me to the Scripture of “Let LOVE & FAITHFULNESS never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them in the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and good name in the sight of God and man.”
“Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.”
God told me not to look at the weakness but remember how they have loved me, trusted me, made and build me. The life of David had been continuously the source of my encouragement and guidance. David continuously respected Saul even though he chased him to death. In fact David is not inferior to him; the office of kingship is already bestowed to him, by right he’s on the authority side. But he maintained submission and respect. Let us instead allow LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS direct us. My stand is, as long my pastors never teach me to deny God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, and still feed us with the Word of God. As long I can still feel the presence of God when we praise and meet God in the altar.
As long we are not deviating from the full Gospel of the Bible. I will stick through as long as I can. Anyway who among us is righteous? Who among us never sinned? Can we safely say that we have not done foolish things before? Then who are we to judge?
Pastor Toh Nee and Pas. Lily have repeatedly apologised if they have wronged us. Why not believe in their vision for our church. I believe it was God who put them to shepherd us. They have sacrificed their finances, their life for our church, and I guess it is their due honour to be respected and given chance to fulfil their vision.
If we were in their shoes, would you come back and serve in this church? Maybe it would have been better had they packed up their bags and returned to Singapore, and to a better life. But everything has its purpose, God allowed this circumstances to happen to show us who are the faithful ones and those who truly love this church.
Don’t fall into the trap of commitment which is only in the mind, because you will burn out fast.
Don’t let your commitment be based on your emotions because you will only go so far, and will ride a spiritual rollercoaster and your faithfulness will be subjective to circumstances around you.
But commit yourself totally by the power of the Holy Spirit in your body, soul and mind.
Evaluate yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to show you where you are and allow Him to change you, and grant you the faith to love be faithful.
“But faithfulness can feed on suffering,
And knows no disappointment.”
“Nothing is more noble, nothing more venerable than fidelity. Faithfulness and truth are the most sacred excellences and endowments of the human mind.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero
The winners circle is drawn with the ink of God’s love. So, let’s get in it and be the winners that God created us to be……because we really are not living unless we are loving. Only those who are faithful can receive the crown of Glory.
My brothers and sisters, let us one day hear from God that we are “thou good and faithful servants.” For God will require faithfulness from us on the judgment seat one day.
Faithfulness can only be possible if you have love. For love will make you faithful.
Love will cover all the multitude of sins that could cause us to stumble.
God also promises that when we remain faithful he will bless us and reward our labor. He will remember us and give us the crown of life.