I would like to speak with you this morning about Godís love. His steadfast love. The Bible says in John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
How much does God love us? How much does God love you? Well, so much that He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross to provide, free of charge, free of charge to us, eternal life instead of what we deserve, which is eternal death.
God loves you! And His great love is His gift to you. God loves you whether or not you love Him back. Do you believe that? He will always love you and He always has loved you. Whether or not you feel His love.
There was once a man who got deathly sick. He was very concerned about it, and at one point he thought, ďAm I going to be saved? I just donít know. I donít know if Iíve contributed enough toward my salvation.Ē And a friend of his came to visit him one day, at his sick bed, and the friend said, ďyou know, let me help you with this problem. I have a little girl at home. I hold her on my knees. She hasnít even hardly walked yet, sheís so young. And I watch her smile, and I love that child with a great love, but she loves me very little, if any at all! I donít even know if she loves me yet. If I were dying of cancer she wouldnít even know it. If my body were racked with pain she wouldnít know it. If I were to die, she would soon forget me, or maybe never remember at all. She has never purchased one thing for me, not even a pennyís worth. In fact she is a constant expense to me.
So do I withhold my love to her until she contributes something towards me? No, I donít do that. Am I waiting for her to do something worthy of my love before I give my love to her? No, I love her simply because she is mine.Ē
And thatís why God loves you. And if you look in Malachi, the last page of the Old Testament. Malachi 3:17 And Iím going to quote this according to the living Bible, They shall be Mine, says the Lord of Hosts in the day when I make up My jewels. God has jewels. Who are those jewels? You are Godís jewel.
There was a personal notice in the Detroit News: "The staff of LeRoy's Keepsake Diamond Center wishes to congratulate our office girl on the birth of her baby boy, who weighed in at 18,176 carats!Ē That baby boy was a jewel, a pretty big jewel! And so are we! A 150 pound man would be about 340,000 carats! So you weigh in heavy on Godís sight.
God looks at us in the same way that the jewelry store looks at a baby. In His sight, we are precious jewels. And God has chosen to love you and that makes you valuable. That makes you something that God doesnít want to lose.
In fact I read in the little book called Sons and Daughters, page 192, THERE IS NOTHING SO GREAT AND POWERFUL AS GOD'S LOVE FOR HIS CHILDREN. He loves you. Weíre all His children.
The most valuable thing about God's children is the fact that God loves them so much. Do you know that desire creates value? Letís suppose that we had ten zillionaires and they all wanted a particular painting. They wanted it badly. What do you think the value of that painting would be? It would be high. And letís suppose that you had another painting that nobody wanted. The value would be very low. Even anybody here could afford it. And why are we priceless jewels? Because God wants us. And God is a zillionaire. Thatís why we are so valuable. And God just happens to be the wealthiest person in the universe. And He wants you.
I don't fully understand why God should want me as much as He does. Why should He love me so much? I am unlovely. Why does God love the unlovely?
If you read the story, and youíve read this many times in MARK 5:1-20 Jesus had taken a stormy trip across the lake and Heís landed, He stepped out on the beach, and He met one of the most ugly human beings that Jesus had ever seen. This man was inhabited by 6 thousand demons. He was a bad, ugly man. He was scarred, he was unshaven, he was bloody, he was naked, he was filthy, he smelled bad. And yet Jesus took an interest in that man. He loved him upon first sight. Why is that? And several verses later here in Mark chapter 5 you read of this man sitting there at Jesus feet, in his right mind, sitting there calmly, listening to Jesus, maybe taking notes and looking at Jesus with bright and happy eyes. Why did Jesus take an interest in him? Because Jesus loves him. Because Jesus is love! Thatís why. And the man was sitting there fully clothed. Was there a J.C.Penney store nearby? Where did he get the clothes? There was some sharing going on wasnít there?
Some time you sit down with your Bible, and you read your Bible. Iím reading my Bible through, Iím just finishing the book of Micah. And you read it with the thought in mind of Godís love. Various stories that illustrate Godís love. Various verses that illustrate Godís love, and you will see Godís love of all types, all through the Bible, on every page. And it will make a difference in your Bible study.
There was a minister who was sitting in the vestry of his church waiting for people to come in. He had a city church and one man came in. And the minister said, "What can I do for you? What is your problem today?" And the man said ďI have a hard time understanding Romans 9 where it says Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated. I can't understand why God would hate Esau. God is love. So thatís my problem.Ē The minister said I have a bad problem with that same verse. I donít understand it either. My difficulty has always been with the first part of the verse. I could never understand why God could love that wily, deceitful, supplanting, lying... Jacob! But He loved him. And He loves you.
EPHESIANS 2:4 says God has a great quality love for us! God is the greatest lover of all times. God is love! God loves us with an everlasting love. With an unfailing love. Even when we are unlovely. Our atrocious actions disappoint Him, make no mistake about that, but He still loves us.
What should our response be? Well we ought to love God and we ought to love our neighbors. JOHN 15:12óThis is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. The same way I loved you, you love one another. We are to love one another. In church families there ought to be a lot of love.
Have you heard about the parable of the brawling bride? Itís interesting. At the most climactic moment in a wedding ceremony the families were all seated. The minister was on the platform. The groomsmen were on the platform, the groom was there. The bridesmaids were all lined up on the platform. The organist hit the key and it was time for the bride to enter. The mother stood, everybody turned around. They all looked, the back doors came open, and a gasp burst from the congregation. The bride was limping. Her gown was ripped, it was covered with splotches of wet, dripping mud. One eye was purple and swollen. Her hair was messed up. And in the parable, the groom is Christ. Doesnít He deserve a better bride than this? His bride, the church, has been quarreling again. He deserves better, doesnít He?
You say, well thatís a ridiculous parable. Well, not when we hear about some things that happen to some people in the church, itís not ridiculous. Things like that happen. We need to get along with each other. We donít need cliques in the church, or factions.
Don't fight. Instead, realize the depth of the love that God has for you and you share that same love with sombody else in the church and in the neighborhood. Share His love. Weíre all fellow travelers on the narrow road to heaven, and itís hard enough without conflict so letís be at peace. In our homes, in our church, in our community. I see all these letters going out here in Collegedale, and Iíll be so glad when this election is over. Do you get those letters? Letís be at peace. Letís just pray to vote for the right one. Iím not going to tell you who to vote for, and donít you tell me. Letís just let the Lord give us the wisdom.
Stephen Brown explains that when a group of thoroughbred horses face an attack, they stand in a circle facing each other. With their back legs, they kick out against the enemy. And donkeys do just the opposite. Donkeys face the enemy and kick each other!
And how often some in the church, we do the same thing. We ignore the real enemy and we attack each other. We send mimeograph sheets, and all kinds of stuff. And we ought to be the bride of Christ. Instead we walk around with black eyes where weíve been punching each other.
So can we change? Not on our own. But Jesus can change us. He can change us. The great love of God can replace our donkey-like heart with the heart of a thoroughbred. With the heart of Jesus. God can change us. And you know, I think weíll stop kicking each other. Itís hard to kick somebody when youíre on your knees. Have you ever tried it? Kicking is impossible when you are on your knees. Itís time to love one another just as God loved us.
Years ago there was a column in the Review and Herald. We used to call it the Review and Herald, you know. Miriam Wood was the "Ann Landers" of the Seventh-day Adventist church. People used to write her letters. And there was a letter that came in: My dear husband died about a year ago after more than 50 years together. No words can describe how much I miss my husband. Iím in fairly good health, I try to stay active. I donít get out at night. Driving at night bothers me. Recently a group of couples in our church with whom we used to socialize were all invited to a wedding some distance away, and it would involve driving home in the dark. I was also invited. I timidly asked the wife to whom I felt the closest if I could go with her and her husband. She said, well of course.
A few days later one of the wives invited me to lunch and dropped a bomb shell. "I think it would be much better now that your husband is gone if you confined your friendships to other widows and did not try to associate with the married couples. An extra person can be a problem.Ē
She said, "I was stunned! I was crushed! These couples had been our dearest friends. What had I done wrong? I didnít have any design on their husbands. I can hardly wait till the resurrection morning. Please Advise Me.Ē
That kind of makes you angry to have a letter like that. Do we do the same thing here in our church. Letís make sure we love everybody. Love one another. Love one another. See what you can do. I guess about all that widow lady can do is make new friends, be active, and attend every activity she can, and assume that other widows are being treated the same way and just get a widows group and get together and do what you can. I donít know what to do. I donít know what to do in a situation like that. And those people that feel the way that one lady felt need to realize, well whatís going to happen if this happens to me. And it can happen to anybody. We need to love one another.
I Peter 3:8 says ...Have compassion one of another, love as brethren, be courteous.
We must have a change of heart and we cannot change our heart ourselves. Only God can do that. But God CAN do that.
A five year old boy became angry with his mother and disgusted with her and he packed his little bag and he ran away. Heíd been walking with his suitcase around the block. Finally it was beginning to get dark and a policeman stopped him and the policeman said, ďwhere are you going sonny?Ē
The little boy said, "I'm running away!" The officer smiled and said, ďlook, I've been watching you and all you've been doing is walking around the block.Ē The little boy started crying. He said, "Well, what do you want me to do, Iím not allowed to cross the street!"
He could not run away, because deep in his heart he still loved his mama. It was still there. If you once develop a real love for God in your heart, you will have a tough time running away from God. His wonderful love will draw you back.
Jeremiah chapter 31 and verse 3, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. Thatís the type of love that God has toward us. A wonderful love. And we need to show more of God's great love in our homes.
A woman developed a throat condition. The doctor prescribed a medication but he said youíre going to have to not talk for six months. She said, ďWell I have a husband and six children. How can I do this?Ē He said, ďWell, if you want your voice back, thatís what you have to do.Ē Well, thatís what she did. When she needed the youngsters, she blew a whistle. She would write notes to her family. Instructions became written memos, and questions were answered on pads of paper. The six months finally passed by, and people said, well, what difference has this made in your life? Now that you can talk again. Thatís a big difference.
And she said, ďwell, Iíve noticed that the children have become much quieter. Thereís no arguing in our house. Itís so peaceful, I don't think I will ever holler and yell like I used to." She said, "When I would write out the notes and would be scribbling them out to deal with some situation, and then I would get to reading them, I would just wad them up and throw them away.Ē Words come out so fast, you know. You canít hardly stop them, but when youíre writing a note, you realize what youíre doing.
The woman did just 1 simple thing. She just stopped hurling angry, loud words, and changed the whole home. Withhold the negatives. What would happen if we really loved our family and our children the way that God loves us? It would be wonderful.
There was a bus driver that was taking 40 children home from school. On a steep grade the brakes failed. It was a winding road and as that bus sped down, zig-zagging along that road he knew that at the bottom, there was a T. There was a cross street, and he remembered that at the bottom there was gate that led out into a level farmerís field. He thought, Iíll just have to crash that gate, if I can make it to the bottom, and Iíll just have to pray that there are no cars coming at the stop sign. And so as they went down that road, he managed to hold the bus in an upright position. They came to the bottom, he saw the gate. It was there. There was a little child sitting right on top of the gate, waving. He thought, what am I going to do? If I swerve at this speed, thereíll be 40 people dead. So he hit the gate. The little child was instantly killed.
Pretty soon emergency workers assembled. Everybody was fine on the bus. Their lives had been saved. And they got to looking for the driver and somebody said, ďwell heís had been taken to the hospital. Heís in severe shock.Ē And they said, ďWell, thatís understandable.Ē And somebody else said, ďNo, you donít understand.Ē The officer said, ďthat little boy sitting on the gate was his own son.Ē Used to wave at his dad as he would drive by.
And Godís decision to save the world was very similar. He saved the world at a great expense to Himself. He lost His only Son. He sacrificed Him on the cross that we might live. And if we could just comprehend the great love of Jesus Christ it would change our lives. And if we could emulate that love in our homes it would change our homes. And I invite you to invite God to enter your heart and allow His love to come into your life and to change your life. And to make you into the loving person that God wants in His soon coming Kingdom. Letís sing our closing hymn, number 191, Love Divine.
Hymn of Praise: #82, Before Jehovah's Awful Throne Scripture: John 15:9-13 Hymn of Response: #191, Love Divine
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 3/14/07