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Thursday, June 12, 2014

National Pride and Does God Care Who Wins Soccer Matches?

I just saw something amazing. I'm watching the first match of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia. They are playing in Brazil and midway through the Brazilian national anthem, the music stopped. The crowd wasn't fazed, though. They started singing louder. I wonder what would happen at an American sporting event if the music stopped during the national anthem?

To the point, though: Skeptics will take occasions like this to ask something like the following.
"The Americans are praying for their team to win. The Brazilians are praying for their team to win. And so on for the other 30 teams. How can God answer all of their prayers?"

The truth is this. God hears all of their prayers, but that doesn't mean God will answer all of them in the way the prayer hopes. Many times the answer to our prayers is "no." God knows what we need. (Matthew 6:8) We pray to acknowledge his provision and our dependence on him.

That being said, I really don't think God cares who wins the World Cup or any sporting event fr that matter. He may be doing some work through individual players or fans but to say that a particular team winning would be either with or against his will would be pushing it.

But I'm still going to pray for the USA. They'll need it.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday School Notes: God is Love

I have a bad headache and sore throat this morning so I will not be able to teach my Sunday School class today, but here are the notes from today's lesson.

Last week we looked at God's holiness, today we are looking at another attribute of God, love.

Picture at beginning of lesson asks "What makes you love someone?" For example, why do you love your spouse or kids? When you make a friend, when does liking turn to loving?

New Testament Greek uses three different words for love
philos - (Where we get philanthropist - lover of people) love you feel for a friend or family member
eros - (Where we get erotic) Sexual love or love for a spouse, which I hope is different than what you feel for your friends.
agape (ah-gah'-pay) - Love between us and God. A reverential love.

Reading is from 1 John. Written by the apostle John who is called "The one Jesus loved." Most likely means he was Jesus' closest friend.

First reading is from 1 John 4:7-8
In verse 7 we see that true love comes from God. If we truly love someone, it is because God has given that love to us. Many people think they love others but if they don't know God then what they feel is not true love.  As Kirk Cameron said in "Fireproof"  "You can't give what you don't have."
In verse 8 we see that if someone has no love, then that person does not know God.  Jesus said "This is how the world will know you are my disciples, by your love for one another."  It also says that God is love. An interesting exercise is to substitute the word "God" for the word "love" in 1 Corinthians 13.

Next reading is verses 9-10
One of the greatest passages in the Bible. The only reason God sent Christ to die for us is because he loves us. How many people would you willingly give your life for? How many people that you don't love would you willingly give your life for? Paul said "Hardly would anyone die for even a good man, but Christ died for us while we were sinners." In verse 10 John says that God did not do this because we loved him, but because he loved us. "Propitiation" (Pro-pitch-ee-ay'-shun)means "acceptable substitute." Christ's death was an acceptable substitute for our deaths for our sins.

Last reading is verse 11-12
Verse 11 is pretty obvious. If God loved us enough to die for us, we should love each other. Remember, Christ died for everyone, even those that we find unloveable, so we should love them, too.
In verse 12, John reminds us that even though no one has seen God, if we love others, they will see God in us because we are showing God to them.

Links go to corresponding passages at www.BibleGateway.com. A great site for Bible study and comparison of different Bible translations. Feel free to leave comments or questions about this or any other subject below.