RELIGION: Relationships are the currency of God’s kingdom

It was cold outside but warm inside as we gathered to worship Sunday morning at Mill Creek Baptist Church.

Jerry and Linda Abercrombie were celebrating their 53rd wedding anniversary, and we wish Tom Sharp a happy birthday. Doug Cory greeted the congregation, and special prayers were requested for the Eads family, the Della Johnson family, Dot, Cleo, James and Steve. Linda shared a praise. A business meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. and Bible Study is Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

The adult Sunday school class studied John 7:14-29 in the lesson, "He sent me," taught by Rick Lett. We are reminded that "Jesus was sent by the Father so that we could all know the Father. Believers can trust the teaching of Jesus and should examine their lives for hypocrisy."

Linda read Proverbs 4:24 and shared a devotional, "Be careful what you listen to." It is easy to misunderstand what others say and then it sometimes gets mixed with gossip and talk of others. We need to control our ears and limit what we listen to, like gossip. We are to guard our ears to guard our hearts against passing judgment on others.

Jerry led the congregational hymns, including "Victory in Jesus," with Susan Cory at the piano. We were blessed with special praise music from Jerry, who sang "God on the Mountain."

It was a blessing to have J.R. Morgan bring us God's word as he talked about the love of God. The scripture reading was Paul's prayer for the church from Ephesians 3:8-19, to be filled with the fullness of God and feel His presence.

J.R. began by asking, "How do you do that?" and read verses 17-19 to answer: "That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

J.R. told us that we must understand the depth and love of Christ to walk in the fullness of God. "We make things complex; not God. He is sophisticated but not complex. Who would give their son and make it complicated? That is the love of God. Relationships are the currency of God's kingdom. God's kingdom isn't about money but about relationships. It is all rooted in God's love."

J.R. shared some of the things about God's love. "Without love, there would be no creation. There would be no Jesus Christ, gospel, or God as we know Him. Love is the center, answer and cure for everything. In God's kingdom, love is a noun, verb and adjective."

J.R. referred to 1 John 4:8 which says, "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love," and Romans 5:5, "Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

J.R. told us that "God is the Father, Christ is the Son and God gives us His Holy Spirit to walk with us so we are never alone. He is with us all the time wherever we go. For the believer, every relationship we have must be rooted in love. The Ten Commandments are alive today. They are the external moral law and are centered around love. The first and second commandments are related to and cover all the rest."

J.R. referred to Matthew 22:37-40 where Jesus tells us, "You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love our neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

J.R. reminded us that "we are to love our neighbors, even if they don't love us back. After all, God sent His son out of love for us. Christ came for us to be reconciled with the Father by accepting Jesus Christ. We are to seek others to do the same."

As J.R. talked about being born again, he told us that, "at the point of creation, we were born of love. God loved us first and sent His son to make us righteous. There are nonbelievers in the world, even people who call themselves Christians, who have convenience relationships not based on love. If you are married to someone who is not a believer, pray for them. We can take bad relationships and make them good. You can gain new life through Christ, but you must give up the old way of life."

J.R. talked about the fruit of the Spirit which is love. Galatians 5:22 tells us, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."

J.R. said, "As believers, we have God's loving Spirit. There is no limit to love. You can't over-love someone. If we were created in the image of God, we were created in love. Jesus is the image of God."

He read Colossians 1:15-17 which says, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him." J.R. told us that in everything that God created, love was the ingredient.

"Jesus came from heaven to be human like us because of God's love for us. Believers are to be held accountable. We will all be accountable one day when the new heaven and the new earth comes together. Nothing separates us from the love of God, but we will be separated from the benefits of God's love if we are a non-believer. Those benefits include God's mercy and grace. Believers will also have an inheritance reserved in heaven."

In closing, J.R. told us that "to grow your faith, you have to know Jesus better. Open your Bible and read about Jesus. The more you know, the more your faith grows. Don't be a stumbling block to yourself. Don't just run in place and focus on yourself. Focus on Him and others to grow in faith. When we gain that relationship with God, He throws our sins away. And when we are born again, we can have that love and joy that only God can give us. He will give you more than you can ever imagine. Your challenge this week is to try and make everyone else feel that joy and peace. Love your neighbor and draw them to Jesus Christ."

We invite you to worship with us at Mill Creek Baptist Church. Sunday school begins at 10 a.m. and worship service at 11 a.m. Everyone is welcome.

The opinions expressed are those of the author.