Monday, August 30, 2010

Understanding God's Love for You

Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, August 29, 2010

1 John 4:7-12: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is 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, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.”

One of the main messages of Scripture that I believe we can never exhaust, and certainly never get enough of, is the love of God. Along side His infinite holiness, and His everlasting faithfulness, and His perfect righteousness, and His unadulterated goodness, God’s love – His eternal love – designed, not only to express His tenderness toward those He has made, but also to be the solution to our greatest need: the salvation of our souls. God’s great love is what we need to hear about and know about day-by-day.

The love of God – poets and play-writes, songwriters, psychologists and philosophers, the world over has observed that man – mankind – folks like you and me are searching for something! And, in our search, we will look high and low, we will go to incredible lengths and spare almost no expense to find it – to grasp what we’re looking for. And yet, often times, and for many, many people, the search is misguided, improperly aimed, and therefore, unsuccessful.

What are we talking about here? You know what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about man’s desire for, his hunger for, his passionate thirst and longing for love…

The Word of God, the message of God, delivered to us this morning through the apostle of ‘Love’, as he has often been called, the apostle John, the Word, the message of God for us today is a message about Love…

And what is that message? Well, first of all, it is a message that takes all of us, seeking, searching, striving to find this precious commodity, somehow, somewhere, God’s message to us today is an arrow, a bright, flashing, neon arrow, a huge billboard sign stating, “Here it is! This is where you will find where you’re looking for!”

1 John 4:7 – “Love…” It’s what I’ve been searching for. “Love…” It’s what I’ve spent all this money, used up all this time reaching for… I can’t believe it! It’s been here all along! “Love… is… of… God!” “Love… is… of… God!”

Now, my friends, you understand what those four simple words mean, don’t you? Clearly, plainly, they mean that, “love… is… of… God!” They mean that He is its source. Oh, sure there are a lot of shoots and stems, and leaves and blossoms, and petals and fruit on this ‘plant’. But listen, there would be NONE of that! None! If it wasn’t for the Root! God - not your husband, not your children, not your momma, not your boy friend, not your puppy - but God is the Root, the Source of true, pure, righteous, holy, love! Your search needs to go no further! Like Isaiah exhorted the people of his day, “Hey – listen – are you thirsty? Come to the waters, to the well-spring! To the fountain head! And, why keep on spending your money on what doesn’t satisfy? Listen, listen to me, please! Eat what is good, and let your soul be truly and fully satisfied!” (See Isaiah 55:1-3).

Love… is… of… God.” For very simple, yet oh so powerful words! Four words that describe the unique origin of love.

But, then, in verse eight of our text, three more short, but incredibly strong words are supplied for our consideration. What are they? 1 John 4:8, “God… is… love!” “God is love.”

Before we explore the depth of those three simple words, allow me to remind you that those three words are very much like these three words: “God… is… Light.” “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all,” (1 John 1:5). And, they are very much like these three words, “God… is… Spirit.” “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship Him in Spirit and in truth,” (John 4:24). And they are very much like these three words, “God… is... Faithful.” And like these three words, “God… is… just.” (1 John 1:9) And, like these three words, “God… is… holy.” (Isaiah 6:3) And, yes, they are even like these three words, “God… is… fire.” (Hebrews 12:29)

Okay, okay. So what are we trying to say here? What is it that the Word of God wants us to see and know about God, and about love?

What a timely message for all of us this is, my dear ones! A timely message, why? Because not only are many, many folks looking in the wrong places to find love – looking in or to the shoots, the stems, the blossoms, but not the Root – “Love is of God…” Not only are countless folks looking in the wrong places to find love, just as many are also looking for love in the wrong forms! “This is love… That is love…” Soccer is love…” “A DQ Blizzard is love…” “Friday night at the movies is love…” “Singing karioke is love…” No! Look. 1 John 4:8 – “God is love…” God… is… love…”

Those three words, we can say them and spell them – but do we understand them? Allow me to suggest to you that what John means here by these three words, what the Spirit of God wants us to understand about love, and about God through these three words is this: first of all, “God is love.” In other words, whatever He is, it is! Whatever God is, love – true, pure, agape love – is. He defines it! It does not define Him!

Secondly, please keep in mind, we must keep in mind, as we search for this precious commodity – love – that knowing Him is the way to know love! “God IS love!” To know Him, is to know, to find, to experience it! God... is... love! Then what?

1 John 4:9 – We've look at the uniqueness of love as to its origin, its root, and as to its definition - “Love is of God” and “God is love.” Now, let's consider love's extent, the reach of God's love, and the results of God's love – it's aim.

1 John 4:9-10 – Read them again with me, if you would.

1 John 4:9-10, “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, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Think it through with me, will you? 1 John 4:9-10 – When God loves... When God, who is light, and spirit, and holy, and faithful... When God, who IS love, when He loves, what does He do? Does He merely say it?

“Hello, down there, all you people, made in My image! Hello, down there... I love you! I... love.. you!”

When God loves, does He just say it? No! 1 John 4:9 – HE SHOWS IT! “In this the love of God was manifested – shown, made know to us – that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him!” God doesn't merely say He loves you! No! No! He purposes to life His dear Son up, to lift Him high upon a cruel cross – why? So that we might see it!

In other words, God when He loves, He does so because He has a Revelatory purpose, to use a theological term. He does so, in that lift-Christ-up-on-a-cross sort of way, so that we might see it! (See John 3:14-17; Numbers 21:4-9) And, then what? What happens when we see it? When, like those Israelites of old, who were bitten by snakes in the wilderness, what happens, when we, with eyes of faith look to the Son, lifted up like that bronze snake Moses lifted up in the desert? What happens when with genuine faith we SEE God's love, right there at calvary? You know it! We are saved, we are saved by it! God's revelation of His love becomes, proves also to be His wonderful act of redemption. I see His love, yes! But, much more, I am changed by His love! The dead, this dead man, dead in his transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1-10), God manifests His love toward me, why? So that I might LIVE through Him! And, this man, dead because of his sins, but also 'dead meat', because of his sins, under God's wrath because of his sins, what does God do for me, in this revelation of His love? In this amazing act of redemption?

1 John 4:10 – He propitiates my sin, He moves me to the safest places of all: under His precious Son's blood!

The love of God... He is its Source! Whatever He is, it is! He has shown it! And, through it by faith you and I can be changed. But, so what? “I mean, God, we're really glad you're that way, that's really great! But, listen, we've got to move onto other things...” Do we? Do we?

No! Stop! If you and I claim to be God's children, loved by God, begotten and born anew by His love and privileged to relate to God as a result of His love for us, then what?

Love – agape love – listen, it not only is unique as to its origin, its extent and its aim, but it is also unique and powerful as to its claim, its claim on our lives, and, as to its impact THROUGH our lives!

1 John 4:11 – If you and I claim to be God's children, loved by God, begotten by His love and relating to God as a result of His love – then what? We are obligated , indebted, not just to love Him, that's the easy part, perhaps! But, also to love every other child of His.

1 John 4:11 - “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

God's love for us also has placed certain requirements upon us, we are obligated, indebted to that love. And the only way we have to respond to that duty, is to love each other!

But, then? What happens when we respond to that debt, that obligation the way He desires us to respond? 1 John 4:12 – Think of the impact! God and His love is revealed yet again! The unseen One is seen – how? Pull out your mirrors and look! The unseen One is seen – through us!

And, where does all of that lead? 1 John 4:12 - “No one has seen God at any time. But, if we love one another, then God abides in us. [He is seen through us.] And, His love is perfected in us!”

His love is perfected in us.” What does the apostle John mean by that? Here's what he means. God, the One Who IS love, the One who DEFINES love and Who is the SOURCE of love... When He shows His love, at Calvary, when with eyes of faith, we SEE His love, and are redeemed, transformed, changed, by His love to the point that we pursue the fulfillment of our obligation – because of that love, then what? God's love reaches its goal! God's love reaches it goal! The goal, not only of it affecting our lives, but the goal, the lofty, heavenly goal of God's love reaching and touching the lives of every one of those folks who are still looking for it in the wrong ways and in the wrong places!

When, because of God's love for us, we, by His strength and His gracious Spirit, love each other – God's love reaches it's goal! “It is perfected in us!”

Love is of God.”

God's Valentine
Of all the valentines ever sent, none is more significant than the love message from God in John 3:16.
 “For God so loVed the world,
         that He gAve
             His onLy
                      That whosoever
        believeth In Him
          should Not parish,
       but have Everlasting life.”

My dictionary says a valentine is “a note containing a message of sentimental love.” But God's valentine is more than emotional sentiment. It expresses tenderness, of course, but it also offers God's solution to man's greatest need, the salvation of his eternal soul. God's message of love was in His heart before creation and, according to Romans 5:8, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God's valentine is not for those who think they are good, but for those who admit they are needy sinners.

If you receive God's valentine with repentant heart of faith, His love will fill your heart and life with great joy and lasting peace. His valentine expresses love that will never end!

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