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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Love’

If you have been encouraged by Jesus …

if you have been comforted by His love …

if  you have fellowshipped with the Holy Spirit … 

if you have personally felt God’s tender love …

(Philippians 2:1)

In these words Paul reminds us of the personal blessings of our experiences of God’s grace, which God has showered upon up.

We frequently forget all which God has done for us in the course of our everyday lives.  It is these small yet significant blessings of encouragement, comfort, fellowship, and tender love which sustain us.

As a classic debater Paul uses his gift of persuasion to encourage us to live the life God calls us to live.  Paul believes we owe a personal debt to God.

His reasoning and pleading is, “Since God has been merciful and gracious to you, then you should joyfully live from the bounty of His love?”

As a Pastor, I fear that we live in a world where more and more Christians live with a sense of entitlement.

They believe God owes them.  They believe God is in debt to them. They believe they deserve special treatment from God.

I see this sense of entitlement expressed in worship.  Do you go to worship for the simple pleasure of adoring God and learning from His Word or do you go to worship expecting to be fulfilled, to sing music you enjoy, and to have worship your way?

I see this sense of entitlement expressed in our demands for grace. When you sin do you demand that their should be no consequences to your behavior or do you submit yourself to biblical discipline.

I see this sense of entitlement expressed in difficult times.  When life is hard do you complain to God, questioning His grace and love or do you see Him walking with you through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4)?

Christians who live from a sense of entitlement will never be happy and will never find joy in Christ, much-less in life.

This is why Paul begs us to remember our experiences of God’s grace, they are key to your joy and peace today.

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The Crucible of Love

 

Love is easy when it blesses.  

 

But what happens to you when love lacks benefit, becomes a cross to bear, or a curse upon you?

 

Oswald Chambers asks a question which causes me to pause: 

Have you come to the place where God can withdraw His blessings and it does not affect your trust in Him? (1)

 

I would be lying if I claimed that a withdrawal of God’s blessing would not affect my trust in Him.  

 

This is why I cling to these verses:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for God is with me; His rod and His staff, they comfort me.

 

Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (2)

 

In those times when doubt has crept into my heart and mind these verses remind me that God never withdraws His blessing from me.  

 

I may perceive God has withdrawn His blessing, but He does not.  

 

God sends His blessings in comforts and in difficulties, in joy and in sorrow, in praise and in discipline, in gain and in loss. 

 

Knowing this sustains me when His love is greater than a warm fuzzy for the day.

 

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 23:4, Romans 8:39, and Hebrews 4:16.

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Two Loves – John 3:16-21

Preaching Notes October 7, 2012

John 3:16–21 (ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

I.  God is Love, but what kind?

World wants God’s love to be …

World treats God’s love as …

The world cheapens any love which …

Love can never be demanded it can only be received. Thus, all love is a gift

So, what is the nature of God’s love?

This passage contrasts two loves …

God’s love for the world

vs

Our love for the world

II.  The 7 Attributes of God’s Love for the World

1. God’s love was preexistent to creation 

Ephesians 1:3–6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

2. God’s love’s is unearned 

John 5:42

I know that you do not have the love of God within you.

1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us.

Romans 5:8 and 10

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. … For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

3. God’s love is purposeful

Ephesians 1:5

He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

1 Peter 3:18

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

The word “might” expresses design.

If God wanted to destroy/judge us for our sins, He would not have sent Jesus!!

4. The purpose of God’s Love is Salvation

1 John 4:14

We have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

The Atonement was not the cause, but the effect, of God’s love

The benefit of God’s love is everlasting life.

Why God sent Jesus Christ to us:

1.  To be our Savior, because our sin (love for the world) kills us

2.  To bring life, because God does not wish that we not perish.

The Son of Man came into an already lost and condemned world. He did not come into a neutral world in order to save some and condemn others; he came into a lost world  in order to save.

5.  God’s love is a sacrificial and suffering love

It cost God so much for 3 reasons:

1.  Jesus gave up so much to suffer so much

Philippians 2:6–8

Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

2.  It required He who hates sin to suffer so much for sinners just to prove His love

Men are not easily convinced that God loves them. In order to remove all doubt, he has expressly stated that we are so very dear to God that, on our account, he did not even spare his only-begotten Son. (John Calvin)

3.  His love could only be revealed in fulness on the cross

A suffering love can never be demanded

6.  God’s love is not a condemning love

Romans 1:16–17

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Only when we reject God’s love are we condemned

Romans 1:24, 26, and 28:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.

Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind.

When we reject God’s love have not been condemned by lack of faith, but by their sin.

The reason many hate Jesus is their rejection of it leaves them in death

We were already in need of a Savior before God’s Son comes on his saving mission

7.  God’s love must be received in faith because it cannot not be earned (see 2nd attribute)

Jesus’ 3-fold emphasis:

John 3:15

That whoever believes in Jesus may have eternal life.

John 3:16

That whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:18

Whoever believes in him is not condemned

God has done His work, we need to receive it in faith, which is belief and trust

III.  Our Love for the World is a love is of darkness

Our love for darkness

Our love for the world is pictured metaphorically in terms of light and darkness

Our love for darkness proves our depravity!

We love darkness because our deeds are evil and we do not want them exposed

We hate God’s sacrificial saving love because it exposes our sin

We hate the light and refuse to come to (near) it because exposes their darkness

To expose someone’s sin summons them to repentance.”

The verb exposed suggests not only exposure but shame and conviction

Jesus (light) exposes our sins 

Revelation 3:19

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

Ephesians 5:11

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

1 Timothy 5:20

As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

This is why men refuse to read the Scriptures. God’s Word would condemn them.

Instead we desire a pandering and permissive love 

Sweet and permissive love leads to false happiness as it leads to death

We are ashamed of our love for the world

Our denial of our love for the world begins at an early age

Why do babies smile when they poop in their diapers?

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s That Smell

IV.  Those who love God’s love instead of the world’s

Those who love God do the truth

Semitic expression which means to act faithfully or ‘to act honorably

Suggests adherence to the truth as in adhering to Jesus

Those who acknowledge Jesus, recognize the good they do is by the grace of God

While the lover of darkness shuns the light out of fear of exposure, shame and conviction, the lover of light does not prance forward to parade his wares with cocky self-righteousness, rather he comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. (DA Carson)

We welcome and receive God’s love not because we are better, but because we desire what God’s love brings salvation and life, rather than what the world’s loves brings which is  condemnation and death

 

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How to Be Born From Above

Preaching Notes  September 30, 2012

John 3:1–18 (ESV)

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”

Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 

Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.  If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

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I.    From Problems to Solutions 

God’s Two Desires – Titus 2:14 – Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

God desires salvation and sanctification

Dealing with Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Even the saved keep sinning

Nicodemus and Jesus

An educated old-school enquirer reveals a lack of knowledge and faith

Jesus’ drives the conversation

Seeing and Entering the Kingdom of God

Requires rebirth

II.  What Does It Mean to be Born Anothen

Born again …

Born from above …

Not a new concept – see Ezekiel 36:25-28 and Jeremiah 31:28-31

The old way has not and will not work

Christian hell, fire, and damnation

The importance of worship

God does not want us to fail, thus He helps us to succeed

We have to accept the help

We accept God’s help, through faith, not through personal effort

// kids, I want to do it by myself

III.  How to Be Born from Above

The work of the Spirit – John 3:5-8

A God-initiated transformation of our lives

// to the work of the wind (another word for spirit)

Comes at its will, works at its will

Effects are felt and seen

Powerful effects in small ways

Spirit work predicated on work of Jesus

Jesus promises the Spirit to come after Him

The work of the Son – John 3:10-14

The work of Jesus

To die for the forgiveness of our sins

Nicodemus – knew about need for forgiveness, atonement

This may be part he genuinely did not get

Jesus work predicated on work of God

The work of God – John 3:16-18

The work of God was His love for the world

Generous, gracious, steadfast merciful love

Nicodemus knew – Hesed

These 1st three works built on each other

Revealed by God over time

The work of the Believer – John 3:15, 16, 18

Final work or action ==> salvation

Individual coming to faith in Jesus

Belief or faith – also the work of God

But is one which must be received

Irresistible Grace – core of reformed theology

Faith is a gift received through an open heart

Hard hearts are closed to God’s work

IV.  What about You?

DA Carson

God’s ultimate purpose is the salvation of those in the world who believe in him. Whoever believes in him experiences new birth, has eternal life, and is saved.  The alternative is to perish, to lose one’s life, and to be doomed to destruction. There is no third option

God has done His work, we need to receive it in faith, which is believe and trust

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Behold the Lamb of God – John 1:19-34

Preaching Notes – August 26, 2012

John 1:19-34

This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.)  They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know,  even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”

These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’  I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”

John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.  I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’  I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

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I.    A World of Questions and Seekers – John 1:19-22

A.  John the Baptist created a stir among the people

B.  Religious leaders needed to know: Who are you?

Messiah … Elijah … Prophet

C.  Who Are You

D.  The Search Continues

Your neighbors, friends, co-worker, strangers, and family

Despite fanfare all truth is relative” – people are seeking Truth

==>  Leaders asking John, “What do you say about yourself?”

II.   John’s Testimony – John 1:24-28

Note the remarkableness of John’s testimony about himself

A.  I am not

John the Baptist, chose not to be a Poser

B.  I am the voice

He downplays his calling and importance by quoting Isaiah

I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord!”

At best, I am an announcer

C.  I am not The One

John could have said, “I have been chosen and called by God to ….

In today’s world his publicity director would have said so, but he stuck with his story

I am not The One

D.  I am not worthy

He went so far as to state with humility

I am not worthy to untie the strap on his sandal

Churches known for everything, but pointing people to Jesus

John the Baptist says later, John 3:30: He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease

III.  John’s 3 testimonies about Jesus  – John 1:29, 32-34

After taking the focus off himself John the Baptist, turns the focus to that which is important

The testimony is from God delivered through John (1:33)

A. John’s 1st testimony about Jesus – pointing to Jesus he says:

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (1:29)

Powerful descriptive language about Jesus

He covers all the critical mass information about Jesus in one sentence

We do not know if everyone fully understood, but he described Jesus in a sentence that when unpacked

=> telling us everything we need to know

When someone asks you, Who is Jesus? What do you say?

The Lamb of God

In Jewish world => many images

Lambs were offered as sacrifices for sins

Of 96 OT references to lambs, 85 are about lambs used is sacrifices

1.  The Passover Lamb (Exodus 12)

2. The Scapegoat  from The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16)

Upon him all the iniquities of the people.”

3.  The Sacrificial Lamb and Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:7, 10, and12)

A. W. Pink about the teaching of Scripture concerning “the lamb.”

Progressively in the Bible the Lamb is:

Typified, prophesied, slain,personified, identified, magnified, glorified

From another perspective notice the orderly development of for whom the lamb is sacrificed:

For the individual, for the whole household, for the entire nation, and finally for the world

Thus by calling Jesus, “The Lamb of God”

John the Baptist was making an empathic statement about Jesus

B.  John’s other two testimonies

In this passage John declares:

1. In verses 32 and 33 – The Spirit of God dwells on Jesus

2. In verse 34 – Jesus is the Son of God

IV.   Conclusion

In this passage we are taught two critical lessons:

1.  We are to bear witness, not to ourselves, but to Jesus

2.  The best witness begins with

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

This is what people need, desire, seek

Will you, show them the way

John Calvin wrote:

The principal office of Jesus is that He takes away the sins of the world by the sacrifice of his death, and reconciles men to God. There are other favors which Jesus bestows upon us, but this is the chief favor, and the rest depend on it.  In John 14:6 when John records Jesus saying,“I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”  John leads us back to Christ alone.  By calling Jesus,The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” John is teaching why there is no other way to God because Jesus alone takes away our sin and reconciles us to God.” 

Have you received Jesus as The Lamb of God who takes away YOUR sin?

If, not, you need to do so, today, right now.

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We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  

and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (1)

 

Christiaan Beker, the Dutch theologian and one of the most respected Pauline scholars of the 20th century, advised his students to never quote this passage when ministering to the suffering unless you want the sufferer to spit in your face.

 

Dr. Beker suffered through the Nazi destruction of Europe during the reign of Hitler.  He had zero tolerance for anyone who thought we should welcome suffering into our lives as a gift from God.

 

As a passionate believer who clung to God through his own difficulties in life, Dr. Beker was never able to justify human suffering with a loving God.

 

If nothing else, Dr. Beker taught me to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with others with tender compassion and with my lips sealed.  He was an advocate of silent compassion as opposed to know-it-all comfort.  Your presence is more helpful than pitter-patter.

 

Why does a loving God permit suffering?  

 

My stock answer is, “I do not know, but I do know that God loves you! I know that God is hurting with you!”

 

Today I read a quote of Frederick William Robertson, which looks at suffering, not from it’s cause or purpose, but from what it does for us.  He speaks about how suffering makes us a better and more compassionate person.  He writes:

 

If you aspire to be a person of consolation, if you want to share the priestly gift of sympathy, if you desire to go beyond giving commonplace comfort to a heart that is tempted, and if you long to go through the daily exchanges of life with the kind of tact that never inflicts pain, then you must be prepared to pay the price for a costly education, for like Christ, you must suffer. (2)

 

While Robertson avoids answering our why questions about suffering, like Paul, he points us to one of the hidden blessings of suffering.  

 

The most compassionate people I know are those who have personally experienced the horror of unexplained and undeserved suffering.

 

Perhaps we will never find comfort in suffering, until it allows us to compassionately comfort those who suffer.

 

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  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Romans 5:3–4.
  2. Reimann, Jim; Cowman, L. B. E. (2008-09-02). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (p. 313). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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Everyday Realities

Acquaintance

Acceptance

Trust

Friendship

Joy

Sin

Hurt

Anger

Pain

Lead to Everyday Choices

Forgiveness

Blame

Confession

Rejection

Repentance

Revenge

Forgiveness

Enmity

Grace

Hatred

Restoration

Loss

Healing

Death

A New Beginning

The Dead End

Acceptance

Trust

Friendship 

Joy 

Sin

Hurt

Anger

Pain

Time to choose, again

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