These are notes on the sermon, How to Be Led By the Lord, preached by Pastor Joseph Prince on Sunday, February 18, 2024, at The Star Performing Arts Centre, Singapore. We hope these sermon notes will be an encouragement to you!

This sermon will be available for free as a Gospel Partner episode on March 7, 2024. You can get access to this sermon now through a Gospel Partner subscription or simply purchase the sermon.

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  1. It all begins with the Lord’s love for us
  2. Get to know the heart of Jesus, our Servant King
  3. Be an extension of His love to those around you
  4. The difference between knowing and believing that you are His beloved!
  5. You can lean on Jesus’ love and receive answers to your challenges
  6. Learn to make good decisions when you depend on the Lord’s love for you

It all begins with the Lord’s love for us

This sermon is a continuation of Pastor Prince’s sermon series on the blessings of the Upper Room.

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
—John 13:1 NKJV

John 13 records the events that happened in the upper room right before Jesus’ crucifixion. It starts off by telling us that Jesus, knowing that His time on earth was coming to an end, loved us, even to the uttermost—by going to the cross as our sacrifice to purchase our complete forgiveness before God.

It is also this unfailing, unconditional love that led God to devise this redemption plan so that He can righteously justify the ungodly (that’s us) and to give us His own righteousness and extend to us His amazing grace. When we receive by faith all that the Lord has done for us in His finished work on the cross, we are counted as righteous, just as Abraham was (Rom. 4:1–5).

Today, our standing as the righteous in Christ becomes our solid foundation to partake of all the blessings our Father has prepared for us.

Unfortunately, many are still unsure about this and are under the belief that they have to keep the law to be seen as righteous by God, not knowing that this itself is an impossibility. The law was given to bring man to the end of himself and to see his need for a Savior. And this Savior, our Lord Jesus, with His heart overflowing with love for us, came to deliver us from the law and to cut the new covenant of grace on our behalf.

Understanding that we are no longer under the old covenant of law but under the new covenant of grace does not give us a license to live in sin. In fact, it is the power that will allow us to live above the sin and filth we see around us and to reign in every area of our lives. And even when we stumble or make mistakes, knowing we are the righteousness of God in Christ will help us to pick ourselves up and overcome that weakness.

This is a truth that every believer, especially the young people among us, need to be firmly established in. It will lead to godly, inside-out transformations for those who are held hostage by bad habits, bondages, addiction, and mental health problems, empowering them to break free of their chains and live a life that glorifies God and that is full of the blessings He has for them.

When we see Jesus’ heart for us and receive His gift of righteousness, He leads us to live the abundant life that He came to give us. Not only do we get to experience good success, but we also get to reign over every area of sin and addiction (Rom. 5:17)!

Get to know the heart of Jesus, our Servant King

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
—John 13:3–5 NKJV

knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands”—Despite knowing that His time on earth was coming to an end, Jesus was still very conscious of His Father’s heart for Him and what the Father was doing through Him. In this, He continued to love on and serve the people around Him by washing their feet.

This act is symbolic because it wasn’t just a physical act of love (v. 7). It is a picture of how, to this day, Jesus is still at the Father’s right hand, serving us and washing our feet spiritually.

He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet”—This act of washing the disciples’ feet is not about salvation at all (v. 10). The water here refers to the water of God’s Word, and our Lord explained that washing with this water is to cleanse us of the “dust and dirt” that we pick up in our daily walk—things such as lustful or covetous thoughts, and negative emotions or mindsets that make us feel “dirty” or “unrighteous.” When we allow our Lord Jesus to wash our feet, we are being renewed in His love and grace for us.

and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded”—In His great love for us, our Lord doesn’t just stop at washing the dirt off our feet, He also wipes our feet dry with His towel, which is a symbol of His righteousness (Isa. 11:5 RSV). This act represents our Lord Jesus re-establishing us daily in His righteousness.

Be an extension of His love to those around you

After the Lord had washed His disciples’ feet, He encouraged them to follow His example and to serve one another (John 13:14–15). This is a prelude to a new commandment that the Lord gives further on in the same chapter.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
—John 13:34 NKJV

This is significant, especially when you juxtapose it with what Jesus called “the first and greatest commandment” in a discussion with the Pharisees about Moses’ law.

“Jesus replied, ‘“You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment.’”
—Matthew 22:36–38 NLT

When Jesus said this, He was speaking to people who were still under the old covenant. But with His death on the cross, He has delivered us from this old covenant of the law, and under the new covenant, His new commandment for us is to love one another as He has loved us.

How does He love us? Through His once-for-all sacrifice for us at the cross and through His daily washing of our feet with the water of the Word!

Just like our Lord, when we know our heavenly Father’s heart for us, we can be secure and humble in serving the people around us. And when we know and believe how precious we are to God, we will begin to see God’s people as precious too.

For us today, serving one another does not mean to literally wash the feet of those around us but to refresh them with words of grace and remind them of their righteousness in Christ. Even if they have made a mistake, we can speak the truth in love and let them walk away, not feeling guilty or dirty, but righteous and clean.

The difference between knowing and believing that you are God’s beloved!

But Pastor Prince, isn’t it important that we love God?

Yes, loving God is great, and we should all do it! But we won't know what love truly is until we have experienced being loved by God.

And, before we proceed further to discuss God’s love for us and our love for Him, let’s be established on how God Himself defines love.

“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God (law), but that He loved us (grace) and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
—1 John 4:9–11 NKJV

The first commandment under the law—to love God with our all—was given to show us that we can never fulfill it by our own effort. Then, our Lord came to show us that it is God’s love for us that truly matters. Because of His love, He sent Jesus to be our propitiation.

So only when you receive His love for you, will you be truly able to love others and be led by His love!

“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
—1 John 4:16–19 NKJV

When we don’t understand God’s love for us, or have not fully accepted it, it is hard to face the challenges in our lives with confidence and a surety that we will overcome (v. 17). Therefore, it is essential for us to know and believe in our hearts that God loves us and is for us!

This is especially so when things go wrong or when we stumble and make mistakes. That is when we must persist in faith that we are righteous because of the Lord’s finished work on the cross and hold fast to the belief that nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38–39)!

You can lean on Jesus’ love and receive answers to your challenges

In John 13, we see a comparison between one who knows and one who knows and believes that they are loved by the Lord. Observe the interactions of Peter and John with Jesus in the following passage.

“When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.’ Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.’ And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.’ But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him.”
—John 13:21–28 NKJV

Here, Jesus was sharing with His disciples gathered around the supper table that one of them would betray Him. Peter himself could have asked Jesus who this person was, but he motioned to John to ask Jesus instead. Why?

The key is in what they were each conscious of!

John called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He was conscious of (he knew and believed) the Lord’s love for him. And as a result, he felt close to Jesus and could lean on the Lord’s bosom as he asked the Lord for an answer. In fact, John was the only disciple who knew that Judas would betray Jesus that night (v. 28)!

On the other hand, Peter knew that Jesus loved him but he still felt a distance. From the verses before this incident, we know that Peter was a man who boasted of his love for the Lord. And because he was more conscious of his own performance and ability to love the Lord, he was not focused on the Lord’s love for him. If he knew and believed that Jesus loved him, he too could have asked Jesus and received the answer personally.

The more you believe the Lord loves you, the more you can receive from Him.

Very often in our daily walk, we are more like Peter than John in our relationship with the Lord. When we focus on our feelings for the Lord, which fluctuate with the good or bad that we’re facing, we may end up feeling very distant from the Lord and all the blessings He has for us.

However, when we keep our focus on the Lord’s love for us, we will be like John, leaning on the Lord’s bosom and enjoying an intimacy with Him.

John’s closeness to Jesus is a picture of God’s heart for us—to be close to Him in the upper room, leaning on His bosom. When you face a challenge that you don’t have an answer for, you can ask the Lord for help directly. Don’t be like Peter! Be like John, relying on the Lord’s love for him and leaning on the Lord’s bosom.

Learn to make good decisions when you depend on the Lord’s love for you

God’s heart for us to see Him in His love for us never wavers. And His love is very practical. He wants to help us and to bless us, even in the challenges that we face!

“Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, ‘Please bring the ephod here to me.’ And Abiathar brought the ephod to David. So David inquired of the LORD, saying, ‘Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?’ And He answered him, ‘Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.’”
—1 Samuel 30:6–8 NKJV

When David, the man after God’s heart, faced a great challenge, the first thing He did was to ask God for an answer. He told the priest to bring the ephod, also known as the breastplate of the high priest garments that was meant for decision-making (Exod. 28:15, 28:30 NIV), and he used it to hear from God.

When we look at the breastplate, we see 12 precious stones engraved with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel (Exod. 28:29). The breastplate is worn over the chest, symbolizing that the names of God’s people are engraved on the heart of Jesus, our High Priest. Our Lord sees us each as unique and precious, and each one of us is valuable to Him.

Back in the day, God would answer His people through the ephod. Today, under the new covenant, we are carried on the heart of our High Priest, and whenever we are faced with a challenge or need to make a decision, we can lean on Him and His love for us, and wait on Him for an answer.

In 1 Samuel 30, God told David to “pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.” And indeed, David not only recovered all they had lost in the raid but also collected the enemy’s spoils that they had abandoned as they fled (v. 14–20)!

Beloved, do you now see how being led by the Lord starts with being conscious of His heart for you? When you see that the Lord loves you, not only will you be led to solutions for the problems you are facing, but also to step into all the goodness He has prepared for you.

So the next time you speak to the Lord, request something from Him, or just enjoy spending time with Him, be conscious of His love for you. In your prayers, remind Him and yourself of His love by including these 5 words, “just because You love me.” Don’t do it mechanically, as a ritual, or because you were told to do so, but do it because you know and believe that you are His beloved.

We hope these sermon notes blessed you! If they did, we encourage you to get the sermon and allow the Lord to speak to you personally as you watch or listen to it.

© Copyright 2024
These sermon notes were taken by volunteers during the service. They are not a verbatim representation of the sermon.

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