922 Ministries - The CORE & St. Peter Lutheran

The healthiest, holiest, and most wonderful example of love is the love God showed us in sending his Son. This message soaks in the divine love that we have received in Jesus, a love we didn’t deserve but God still chose to give.

What is 922 Ministries - The CORE & St. Peter Lutheran?

The episodes are the weekly sermons from 922 Ministries (St. Peter and The CORE) of Appleton, Wisconsin.

Week 1 - The CORE
Pastor Mike Novotny

Good morning. Happy Sunday. Thank you so much for being here today. Um, yeah, Pastor Michael said so many people here to everyone. I heard we have a packed house in the lobby today, so if you're in the lobby, I'll try to look at you through the camera. I think for being here today. Thanks everyone who's watching at home, as we kick off this brand-new sermon series called LoveSick.

A few years ago, right around Valentine's Day. A late night, TV comedian, Jimmy Kimmel sent a camera crew to the streets of New York to ask a bunch of kids right about first or second grade. The simple question. What is love?

First kid was this little boy. He was kind of shy. He grabbed the microphone in both hands. He refused to stare at the camera and he said, love is when you love someone.

That was it. So he's learning. What love the next little girl was much more confident. She glared at the camera, she crossed her arms and said people in love are gross.

They kiss. That's gross. We'll give her a few years. My favorite though is this, uh, this one little boy stocky kid and a black Adidas jumpsuit with a red stripes down the side. If you've ever raised a second grade boy, you'll understand his answer. They asked him. What is love.

Twitchy responded. I can do kicks.

And he jumped around like a ninja for a while ago. Did a few kicks. He came back in front of the camera and they said so that's love. And he said yeah.

Yeah, it's really a big question. I think all of us would agree. That the world could use a lot more love.

Look at the global headlines Nations fighting Nations. We wish there was more love in the world. We look at this country and all the division disruption and the comments sections on every other social media posts, who wish there was more love. We think about our families, our relationship with our parents, our partners, our children, I think all of us would agree that we could use more love In this life, but the question. I don't ask you is what the comedian asked those kids. What exactly is that?

In fact, if you're taking notes, I'd love for you to get out of pen and your program. I've given you some space and if you're watching at home I'd love you to write this down, too. Let me give you 10 seconds to try to fill in this very simple blank.

Love is what? Ready to write? All right, go ahead.

Now, I wish I had time to peak over every shoulder in church today, because of the way you define love.

It's something that can seriously change your life. It can change your vertical relationship with God. It can change your horizontal relationship with people.

But I've also learned is I'm trying to Listen in a cultural answer to the question that many people have these concepts of love that like those little kids, they sound. Maybe, okay, but there's major flaws to their way of thinking.

For example, some people think of love as an emotion.

Right on the scale of emotion. There's hatred, there's dislike. There's a difference. There's I like you and then there's I love you. If I I feel super strongly in a positive way about you, that's That's what love is.

It's the butterflies in the stomach, the swooning, when he walks through the door. In fact, the dictionary on my laptop computer. When I double-clicked it, what does the word love mean, here was its definition.

An intense feeling of deep affection.

So you feel for someone not just a little bit but it's it's so intense that affection is not just regular affection but deep affection that's what some people think is what love is.

And still other people would say, no, I think love is more acceptance.

I think the definition is growing in popularity in our days. If you accept me for who I am,

If you're not one of those critics who try to correct me and change me, and judge me, if you don't get in my faith and try to make me change, but you have my back and you stand by my side. If you let me be me, that's how I know you're for me and that's how I know. That you love me.

It's still other people. Maybe we wouldn't put this in words, but love is the good way you treat someone.

Who treated you? Good first.

Right? It's being patient or kind or selfless or generous with someone. You don't do that for everyone but it's the person who's treating you with kindness and with patience. And with love, it's a little bit of a contract, I'll treat you well. Because you've treated me well.

I think, if you and I would look around at our families and our society, we would see examples of. All three of those things that love is a feeling, love is acceptance. Love is this relationship? Where we treat our people in the same way? They've treated us well, but I would like to ask you today. Isn't that what's making us kind of sick?

When we define love in a wrong way, doesn't that make relationships weak?

And a marriage is very tentative.

Doesn't that lead people just to stick with their own and attack those who haven't treated them. Well, just think of those common definitions with a little bit of thought.

And you'll find out that we are so far from a good definition of love. I mean, love is feeling.

When you fall in love with someone. Um, you know, there's this like puppy love Rush of emotion. Can't stop thinking about you, Swoon butterflies, but tell me if you've been married for more than two or five or ten years, when your husband walks into the room, do you swoon?

Kim, I should have your Kim is a heart. No, from the start. All right.

And if you do marriage counseling, by the way, no, I mean relationship expert, Dr. Gary Chapman, the five love languages guy, says that, you know, in the beginning for the first year, maybe 18 months, maybe two years, he's really strong emotions, but after that the emotions settles down. You don't feel as intensely as you use to feel

So if your definition of love is an intense feeling of deep affection.

What then do you not love each other anymore are. Have you fallen out of love. Do you say to your partner? You know, I love you but I'm not in love with you. What happens when our commitment our families our deepest bonds are based on an emotion that comes and goes, that's intense. And then it's not

To define love that way just doesn't work in real life.

I think about that second definition. Love is acceptance.

Imagine appearance with a little kid. Your mom loves her son. Dad loves his daughter. Does that mean that we approve of everything that our children do? So make his loving parents. Hey, whatever you want? I'm here to support your kid.

I know. Every parent knows that one of the most loving things, you can tell your kid is. Stop. Don't.

Not because you hate them in any way, but you want what's best for them and You know that every desire in their heart isn't good, some might be some are not and as a parent you don't just think about what you want. You know that love transcends, acceptance it. Accepts what's good in it? Confronts what's not?

So this common idea that if you love me, you'll just support me. Well, that doesn't. It doesn't hold water.

And finally our love is conditional on the way that people have treated us first. Does that make us any different than anyone else?

I mean, Jesus said this two thousand years ago, even tax collectors and pagans, say hi, and are nice to their own people.

Mobsters and gang members are nice to their own. After imagining members of Hamas. Treat other members of Hamash with affection, and sympathy and patience.

But we know just treating our own, those who have loved us first, if we limit our love to that, well, we know what happens?

Republicans turn on Democrats and vice versa, men vents about women and women get together and vent about men. Older people go off on the younger generations. I mean call older women Karen and we I mean if we just kind of stick to our own like what happens,

I think, you know what happens because it's it's happening.

You see when we have this sickly week?

Unworkable definition of love it, really, it messes with us in some pretty profound ways. And that's why I'm so glad you're here today.

Because I want to get you back into the Biblical definition of what love is.

And it's a simple definition that can change the way that you see your connection to God. That's the power to change your relationship with your neighbor, your kid, even your enemy.

For the next few weeks, we're going to talk about our relationship with God. There's a vertical connection of love and then the people in our life. Whether it's a spouse or a neighbor a kid. Someone we don't really like someone who's treated us well, or someone not, this is going to be a restoring reconciling clarifying, kind of serious. I want to try to move you from being LoveSick with all of its consequences to being loves strong. With all of its blessings.

So where would we start a conversation like that?

How about with my wife?

Today, I was thinking about this message and so I asked my wife, as she was getting ready in the morning, honey, if our daughters asked you to define, The word. Love, what would you say?

She thought for a few seconds and she said, God.

Twitch, I thought that's cheating. You can't. It's like second grader and a Christian School God.

Before I accused her of cheating, I thought, you know what? I think she's exactly right.

Because the Bible itself. John the Apostle, one of Jesus closest friends. He once wrote this in the Bible, he said, God is love.

So I understand the purest definition of love, you just have to take a really close look at who God is and how God is, and how he treats people. This guy just loves people because he feels it or he's just accepting people. Whatever is he just nice to people who've been nice to him? No, no.

Today, I'm going to tell you the definition of love based on the character of God.

This might be review for some of you, this might be shocking to others of you that when we understand how God treats us, we will understand the very best.

So let me give it to you. Right up front. Grab a pen. I'd love for you to write this down. This actually going to be homework for the whole series. I'm going to make you memorize this, there will be a pop quiz, next Sunday, if you come back to this church, And here's what it is. This is my biblical definition of love.

Love is doing what's best?

No matter who and no matter what.

Love is doing what's best for another person. It's not just a feeling that you fall into or out of, it's a conscious choice to do what's in someone else's best interest.

No matter who.

So doing, what's best for a person who might deserve it or might not who's been nice to you or maybe not love does what's best for another no matter who and no matter what. No matter what it costs you No matter what sacrifice? You have to make something is the very purest definition of love when you do, what's best for someone, no matter who they are. And no matter what it costs.

You might say, okay, Pastor, where did you get that definition from?

And my response would be from the most loving section of the Bible.

Uh, the book of the Bible that talks about God as love the Book of 1 John. Actually by word count has the most loving section in this entire big book.

If you get somehow speed, read the whole Bible today and you would underline every use of the word love, you would start running out of of ink or lead in your pencil when you got the first John, because all he talks about is love. And in fact, the verses I want to share with you today are the most condensed loving section. Of the whole book.

Was loving verses of the most loving paragraph of the most loving book.

From the book that God gave us.

He's going to explain these three things that God is love, because he's the god, who does what's best for us? No matter who you are. No matter what it cost him.

So let me show you those three points today from The Book of 1 John.

First, um, God because he is love. Does what's best? John said this, God is love.

And this is how God showed his love among us. He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him like that. So this is love. Here it is. It's not that God felt something or he swooned for someone or the butterflies appeared in his divine stomach. Now he showed his love by doing something. He sent Jesus into the world.

And notice why that we might live through Jesus.

Because God wanted, what was the absolute best for you? He sent Jesus into the world.

God wanted you to have what the Bible calls an abundant life. Like the best kind of life that can possibly be lived. God is so good. And he's so loving. He wanted you to have that life right now and then tomorrow and next Tuesday and 10 years from now and forever and ever, and ever and ever, God could have given you something temporary and good. And sometimes he does.

But because he's love and he wants what's best? He refused to be limited to just temporary highs of this life. Instead, he gave you the best thing of all which is life. With him.

Yeah, this is massively important. Because there will come a time in your life. And maybe some of you are at that spot right now. When this is going to happen to you, There's going to be something good that you really, really, really want.

That you're praying for you're practically begging God to give you.

And if he doesn't say yes, to your prayer, you'll wonder if he loves you.

All right, you might be going through physical pain. The doctors find a lump and they're not sure if it's cancer. You've been dealing with migraines or headaches or battling mental health, struggle, like anxiety or depression and it's so exhausting, you're kind of beg. God, please your God. It's easy for you. Just push whatever button. That you have in heaven and make this go away.

And if God doesn't, you might say God. Do you even love me?

Or maybe you've been grinding it out financially and God could open some financial door. He could help you pay off your, your debts, and your credit card struggles and the creditors and all the bills that cause so much stress, and so many fights in your family, that's easy for him. And if he doesn't do that,

If you never escape.

And climb the social ladder, if you're struggling just to put daily bread on the table, you might come to this conclusion. God, come on. If I was God, you start to wonder, God, do love me?

Maybe you're aching for that perfect family.

I mean, you're dating online. You're looking for love, or maybe you're already married but things just aren't what you wanted them to be. The kids came, things got complicated. You drifted a partner, you're praying “God just change his heart. Change her attitude. Help us to get back what we have. Give me what I have been praying for.”

I want a restored relationship. We want a baby and sometimes God doesn't say yes to that prayer.

And when you feel lonely and you're struggling,

You see everyone else with their happy families. You might come to this conclusion. Be tempted by this assumption. God, do you love me?

And in that moment, comes, I want you to remember the definition of love.

Because love is not. Giving us every good thing that we want.

Love is doing what's best. By giving us what we need.

Now, if you're struggling today, I wish I could explain why the god of love doesn't give us all of those things. If I was God, sometimes it feels like I would do things in a different way, if you'd ask me, why the cancer? Why the divorce, why the struggle? Why the anxiety? I would say. I wish I could tell you. I can't.

But I can tell you this, that God has not stopped loving you because this is how God showed his love.

He sent his one and only son that we might live through Him.

Well, that temptation tempts you in such a strong way. I want you to think about Jesus and say but God has to love me.

If God forgave me, if God saved me, if God gave me eternal life, He has to love me. I don't get why God does this, why God doesn't give this, but here's what, I know. If he sent this son into this world for me that I might live,

He has to be love.

So God even when I'm confused by you, I still trust you. Even when I don't get your ways, I will still follow you.

I wish I brought my thousand-foot rope today. And if you remember that,

I guess this big old rope, I ordered off at Amazon. I put this little piece of tape. It's just about an inch long and a little piece of tape represents your life.

And sometimes even for God's people, life is really hard.

But then the little inch of tape ends.

And all the hard things end too, and then there's just joy.

And peace and happiness and celebration. It goes on and on and on and on and on because God, so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal Life. So, if you want to know, if you're loved or not, by the God above.

Man, don't go to the doctor and see how the test came out. Don't look at your banking app and try to figure out if he loves you. Don't look at the next Christmas card, and figure out if you have a happy enough family to be worthy of love. Just remember this. That love does, what's best. Which is exactly what God did when he gave you and me. His only son Jesus.

This is love.

It's doing what's best no matter who.

You ready for part two?

This is so important because we live in a world where it absolutely matters who.

If I ask you, who got you a Christmas present last Christmas?

It would matter who.

People tend to give us things when we give them things. They tend to speak nicely to us, when we speak nicely to them, the shockingly abnormal and beautiful thing about God, is that he does. What's best no matter who

I was thinking about unc, uh, conditional versus conditional, love the other day when I heard the amazing story of the graffiti that they found at Pompeii.

I remember that part of history. 79 A.D this Italian city, Pompei, I'll show you a picture Mount Vesuvius in the distance explodes. All of a sudden and it covers the whole city in 20 feet of volcanic ash, everyone dies. And at first century Roman city is frozen in time.

Well, 300 years ago, archaeologists start to uncover the layers of Pompeii and as they're digging down what they find is graffiti.

On every wall, on bathroom walls and theater walls, and stadium walls and the walls of home. They find all these messages, hundreds, thousands of messages. And the truth is I can't most of it to you today because this is a church and there are kids around

But I can't tell you this in Pompeii.

It mattered, too.

If you love some politician, the graffiti would sing his praises. If you had fallen in love with a girl, you would write her name and gush about her love and her beauty, but if someone crossed you and you didn't like them.

They wrote that down, too.

I won't read you the worst of what they said, because we couldn't put it on TV, but I did find these coins, he said literal quotes from the graffiti of Pompeii. There was someone named Nave, who must have made someone really mad. Because we found this graffiti. Nave should drop dead. He really should.

There's some dude named Ephra. He must have made some neighbor mad because we found this graffiti Ephra. You are bald.

To sing that bad. It wasn't over. You're bald and bad at ball games.

You’re a terrible athlete. That you don't have any hair. Where's my favorite? Sorry parents. There's some guy named Chi and they found a graffiti that said this Chile. I hope you're hemorrhoids rub together so much. That they hurt worse than ever before.

Man, what did that guy do?

As I'm reading all these ancient insults, I thought it it mattered who

You're nice to someone. They're nice to you. You make a mad. They come back at you fast.

I got to tell you. This is why I love God.

God has a million reasons to trash talk me on the walls of Heaven.

He could send a thousand angels to defame us on the walls of every bathroom stall in Hell.

But he does not.

He is so filled with love that he loves us and does, what's best?

No matter who.

Let's go back to 1 John chapter 4, I love this little line. John says, this is love. Not that we love God. He deserves it. He's worthy of it. No, this is love that God loved Us.

It's the purest definition of he loved us. My favorite Bible passage Romans 5, verse 8 says that while we were still Sinners, God sent Jesus. That's how he demonstrates. His love. He looked at people who were Petty and impatient who gave in to just weak temptations in the heat of the moment, but instead of reserving His love.

He chose to love no matter who.

He sent Jesus to the cross for our forgiveness, no matter who you are, no matter what you are struggling with or have done in the past. This is the great definition of love that God does. What's best for you? Not because you're good, but just because he's God.

Half a lifetime ago, I went off to college and one of my favorite professors. He said this to me when I was 18. He said someday when you'll stay up at night thinking about sins, you committed when you were younger.

I don't think that would be true.

But it is.

You ever look back in life and say, I said that.

How can I? I did that.

And when you have those kind of thoughts. You start to battle this temptation, maybe it matters.

Now I don't love what I see in me. I can't believe. I mean yeah, it was hard. Yeah, we were going through a separation. Yeah, it was a long day, but the fact that I could do something like that.

We start to wonder if it matters who in the eyes of God.

I just want to tell you when that, When that moment comes and you start to question like, wow, God

Remember today's definition.

That God is love because he does. What's best? No matter?

He loved Peter, the denier. He loved the woman caught in the act of adultery. He loved people who were sexually immoral, He loved tax collectors who were filled with greed. Jesus didn't limit his love to the people who are nice to God. No God so loved the world. All the who's but He gave His one and only son that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life. Does God want us to be good people? Absolutely, he does. But it's God waiting for us to be good people until He loves us.

Thank God. The answer is He loves us in that very moment at the worst of it because God Is.

So, in the memories come back and shame starts to overwhelm your joy, just repeat the thing that we have learned today? No, no, my God is love and he does what's best? No matter?

And no matter what.

That's a third and final thing I want to share with you today. No matter what it cost him, no matter what sacrifice, he had to make to do what was best for you. God was willing to do it. Let's go back to John one more time. John says this is love. Not that we love God, but that he loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Just love that God would sacrifice something so profound for us.

I should have. That's a really good definition of love. If you want, another one, love is sacrifice.

I think you can know that the moments in life when people really loved you when they gave up something. In order to do what was best for you.

Right. If you have to move from one apartment to another, how do you know if your friends love you?

If they sacrifice a Sunday morning for what, a beer and a slice of pizza. I mean, their backs gonna hurt for two days,, but they do that. Why? Because love makes you sacrifice to do what's best for another person or we start dating someone, or you get married, you know, very distinct, love languages. You thrive on physical touch. She just loves quality time and words, when your spouse speaks the love language, it's not natural to them, you know, it's love.

It's not easy, it's uncomfortable, but they get out of their comfort zone, they sacrifice. For your sake. I think of new moms here. Do new moms, sacrifice anything for their babies.

Gentlemen, the answer is yes, nod your head as best you can so you're not in trouble on the way home from church, they sacrifice sleep. They sacrifice their sanity. They sacrifice everything but they get. So little in return, a couple of smiles and some cute pictures. Why? Why? Because love sacrifices for the good, no matter how much sleep this cost me, no matter how much money, no matter what I'm gonna do, what's best for you.

What a perfect picture of Jesus. This is love not that we love God but that he loved us. And sent His son as an atoning….there it is sacrifice for our sins.

If you're curious and a toning sacrifice, It's the fancy Bible way of saying a sacrifice. That cleans you up so that God isn't angry.

It's a fancy Greek word that John uses here hilasman.

Um some Bible Scholars think that has the idea of expiation which is a fancy way of saying you were dirty. But Jesus made, you clean other people think it's something called propitiation which is God was angry. So, Jesus did something. So he's not

Put those two ideas together, that's where we get the translation and atoning sacrifice. If you'd have stood before God dirty with sin, it would have made him very mad.

You'd have been like the kid playing in a mud puddle coming into Mom's brand new kitchen that she just cleaned all white. If you're dirty, she's angry.

And Heaven is the cleanest place in the universe. And if you would have walked in dripping with impatience or Pride or need to control, God would have been mad.

And so, Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice no matter what. So that we won't be dirty but clean so that God wouldn't be angry but please with us.

Did you know that's in Christianity? We believe that God actually likes us.

We do.

We don't believe we're sneaking in the back door of Heaven. Hopefully, he doesn't notice that. I'm here. No. When God sees us.

He gets jacked about us. The Bible says he delights in us, that's why the end of our church service. As we say, God's face is shining upon us and looking on us with favor because Jesus believed in love, no matter what he, he made us so forgiven and so pure, he's the atoning sacrifice for our sins so that we're not even a little bit dirty, in the eyes of God,

That's why God is not even a little bit angry.

Everyone who trusts in Jesus. As the cleansing of their sins and they have a god who delights in them.

Man, I love God. Because God is love.

I don't always get him but he does. What's best for me every single time. No matter who I am, no matter what it cost.

You're not so long ago, I read a story about the Green Bay Packers quarterback.

He's doing this interview and uh, the interviewer noticed he was wearing this bracelet that said “I Am Second.”

It was curious. I said, what does that mean?

He started talking about his philosophy of life that he would, you know, sacrifice, maybe his preference, his comfort to put another person first he said life is best lived not by doing what's simple. But by sacrificing, that others and especially, God, can be first.

And I thought to myself while that is exactly. What God is like?

He puts himself, second. Through the sacrifice of the cross. So that you and I can be first in the Kingdom of God. Oh, by the way, do you know the name of that Green Bay Packers quarterback?

If you're not from Wisconsin, his name is Jordan Love. Literally. There's a man in our community, whose name is Mr. Love walking around with a bracelet that said, I Am Second.

And I thought, 2000 years ago, there was another Mr. Love, the god of love would come to Earth.

You have a bracelet, but did we have a sign that he was putting people first.

Sacrificing even more. That a mom with a newborn you and I would know no matter what it costs them, no matter who we are, that we have a God who would always do what's best.

And I cannot wait to tell you what that means for life.

I cannot wait to preach to the sermon that says if God loved us like that. If he did, what was best when we didn't deserve it at great cost to himself, what does that mean? To love another human being.

Our spouse. Our kid, our neighbor. Our enemy what would happen? If we would love each other in this church in that way, the way that God is first. Love does, let's come next week, I hope you come back. I'm not going to preach it today.

Because I just want to tell you this. That God is Love.

And love does, what's best, no matter who, no matter what.