Message: “Embracing Love in the New Year” from Joe Summers

Joe Summers - December 31, 2023

Embracing Love in the New Year

Sermon: Embracing Love in the New Year ## Introduction As we stand at the threshold of a new year, it's a time of reflection and anticipation. We look back on the year that has passed, with its joys and challenges, and we look forward to the year that lies ahead, with its promise and potential. Today, I want to talk about a timeless and powerful theme that can guide us into this new year: Love. The last several weeks we have discussed the need for love and how that love is demonstrated in our daily lives. 1) How to make decisions by first taking others into consideration 2) How to find a mate by understanding what is true agape love and not just romantic love 3) Embracing emotional support by giving and loving 4) Understanding the importance of being a servant leader by having the right heart and the right mindset 5) The importance of encouragement ## I. Understanding Love Through Scripture ### A. The Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) Jesus was once asked, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" His response was profound yet simple: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." This is the ten commandments with the first 4 being loving God and the next 6 how we love our fellowman. ### B. The Nature of Love (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Paul gives us a beautiful description of love in his first letter to the Corinthians: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." ### C. Love as a Unifying Force (Colossians 3:10-14) and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. ## II. Love in Action: Examples from the Bible ### A. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) This parable exemplifies love in action. A man beaten and left for dead is ignored by his own people but helped by a Samaritan, someone from a group despised by Jews at the time. This story teaches us that love crosses cultural and social boundaries. ### B. Jesus Washing the Disciples' Feet (John 13:1-17) Jesus, the Master and Lord, washes the feet of His disciples, setting an example of humble service. This act was a powerful demonstration of love in humility and service. ## III. Encouraging Love in the Coming Year ### A. Practicing Forgiveness and Understanding Encourage your congregation to enter the new year with a heart ready to forgive. Ephesians 4:32 says, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." ### B. Acts of Service Challenge each member to commit to acts of service, whether within the church, their families, or the broader community. Galatians 5:13 reminds us, "Serve one another humbly in love." ### C. Building Community Foster a sense of community in your church and beyond. Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us to "consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together... but encouraging one another." ### D. Loving Unconditionally Encourage your congregation to love unconditionally, as Christ loves us. This means loving others without expecting anything in return. ## IV. Personal Reflection and Commitment As we prepare to enter the new year, let each of us examine our hearts and ask how we can better embody the love that Christ has shown us. Let us commit to making love a priority in our lives, in our relationships, and in our interactions with others. ## Conclusion As we say goodbye to this year and welcome the new one, let us do so with hearts full of love. Love for God, love for our neighbors, and love for ourselves. Remember, "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Let this love be the guiding light in the year to come, illuminating our paths and warming our hearts. May the Lord bless you and keep you in His love, today, tomorrow, and always. Amen. ---

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