Building An Atmosphere Of Love
· 1 Peter 4:8-9 “And above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves, for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging.”
· “Above all things” Ž this is of higher importance, superior to everything else.
· “Fervent love” Ž (1614 Strongs) = to extend, stretch out away from yourself.
· “Fervent love Ž (26 Strongs) = love, affection, love that originates in God and is sacrificial.
· Greatest priority is to have (hold) love that stretches out to benefit others.
· Love expresses itself through: (i) Hospitality – vs9 (ii) Exercising God given gifts.
· Last week we looked at “Hospitality” – the command, Jesus’ example, practical keys.
(a) The New Testament church centred around homes
· The church grew rapidly (Acts 5:14) – the home became the centre for ministry.
· Acts 20:20 “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house.”
· Acts 5:42 “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”
· 1 Corinthians 16:19 “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.”
· The New Testament functioned using homes as centres of hospitality and ministry.
· Sometimes new churches were pioneered by people opening their home.
· Acts 16:14-15 Lydia’s house became the base for ministry and outreach.
· As the church increases so do the number of homes.
· The Christian home is to be centre of outreach, hospitality, ministry.
(b) The family unit is built on covenant love
· Ephesians 5:31-33 “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”
· Marriage rests and is built upon covenant – promise of lifelong commitment.
· Covenant is the basis upon which God relates to us.
· God intends the relationship of husband and wife to model covenant love.
· Covenant love provides the basis for the family unit.
· Family Ž more than living together, connected by blood ties.
· Family Ž loved unconditionally and discipled to be productive for God to discover and fulfil destiny.
· Primary task = pass on the love and life of God so children receive Christ and follow Him.
· Family is an extended small group who share life, love and are committed to one another’s welfare.
· Bible family included: Father (head) and wife and children and employees.
· Key required for church leadership – managed household well (1 Timothy 3:4-5).
· Psalm 133:1-3 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion, for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”
· God’s blessing rests in a home that is brought into unity (order).
(a) Natural atmosphere and spiritual atmosphere
· Natural atmosphere – exerts influence on people.
· Natural atmosphere – is made up of things which are not seen.
· Spiritual atmosphere – exerts constant influence upon people.
· Spiritual atmosphere – is made up of things which are not seen.
· Atmosphere in the home must be built – doesn’t just happen!
(b) Confront and control the negative influences
· cf Genesis 2:15 Guard and keep the garden.
· Constant demands for time, energy and finances.
· Lose closeness.
· Parents do things for children but not with children.
· Pressure for things, and money.
· Pressure to have home perfect.
· Poor management of family priorities.
· Psalm 101:3 “I will set no evil thing before my eyes.”
· Invasion of TV, music, magazines, computers.
· Values formed by world.
· Each of these strongly affects values (Romans 12:2).
· TV/music/computers feed addictive behaviour.
· Result is isolation and erosion of family values.
(iii) Strife in relationships
· Lose connection.
· Relationships must be nurtured and cultivated.
· Relationships are fragile – like a living plant.
· Proverbs 10:11 Mouth of a righteous man is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.”
· Heart of person dominated by selfishness Ž expresses in relationship in a way that does violence to others.
· cf James 3:14-16 bitter envy Ž strife, confusion, evil.
(c) Cultivate and build positive influences
(i) Quantity time together
· Quality time doesn’t just happen.
· Quality time happens most during periods of relaxed time together.
· Family meals.
· Family holidays.
· Working together.
· Special ‘dates’.
(ii) Verbal encouragement and affirming
· Ephesians 4:29
· Don’t focus on weaknesses, failure.
· Affirm strengths, good points.
· Speak words that build, encourage.
(iii) Fun times together
· Proverbs 17:22 Merry heart.
· Joy and laughter build closeness.
· Fun builds love, lasting memories.
(iv) Meaningful touch
· Luke 15:20
· Learn to hug, hold.
· Express affection, sadness.
· Connect physically.
(v) Ask forgiveness
· Proverbs 18:19
· Offences close up the heart.
· Humble self; apologise.
· Children are sensitive to injustices.
(vi) Consistent boundaries
· Genesis 2:15-17
· Boundaries define responsibilities.
· What is expected? Consequences.
· Boundaries bring security.
(vii) Prayer – hunger for God
· Acts 10
· Prayer cultivates intimacy.
· Family devotions.
· Value the things of God.