“The Love of God”
May 29, 2020
The Love of God
The Holy Bible is all about God’s Love. It is all about Jesus Christ, Who was God’s Love personified. When Jesus came He brought many things to us. He came to show us how to live. He came to show us how to die. And He came to show us God’s Love.
On the Cross Jesus spoke love to one of the thieves when He told him he would be in God’s Kingdom with Him. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:32-43)
What more of a demonstration of God’s Love could there be than to take an admitted thief straight to heaven with the Son of God.
With my Biblesoft software I can look up words and phrases in the Bible instantly. When I searched the phrase “Love of God” I found two things. It does not appear in the Old Testament at all. The Love of God phrase is not there. But in the New Testament it appears 6 times. One that I particularly like is in Romans 8:31-39 where Paul is talking to us about God’s Love and how we can be so sure of it. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
He showed Love to us when He raised His friend Lazarus from the grave and soothed the broken hearts of His friends Mary and Martha.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
“Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:33-44)
Through the Resurrection power of God, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha with a love so deep that He was moved to bring Lazarus back from the dead. Lazarus later died “again” as we will, if the Lord tarries. But, for that time, Lazarus walked the earth again through the power of God’s Love.
His Love was even lavished on us as He lay in a hay filled manger in a cattle stall.
“Will the wild ox consent to serve you?
Will he stay by your manger at night?” (Job 39:9)
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)
Jesus’ coming was prophesied many times in many places in the Scriputres. His coming had everything to do with showing us God’s Love for us.
I know by now you probably know my favorite movie example of God’s Love. It is Forest Gump. From the day Forest sat on that school bus seat next to Jenny he loved her. And his love never waned. No matter what she did, how she treated him, how far and how often she ran, he loved her.
Near the end of the movie Jenny comes home and she and Forest get married. She later becomes critically ill and is lying in her bed dying. Forest comes in with some food for her and at first thinks she is dead. When she wakes up she asks Forest if he was scared while he was in Viet Nam.
When she wakes up she asks Forest if he was scared while he was in Viet Nam? He said, “Yes, well… no. Sometimes at night it would stop raining long enough for the stars to come out, then it was nice. It was like just before the sun goes to bed down on the bayou, it throws a million sparkles on the water. Like that mountain lake, it was so clear, Jenny, it looked like it was two skies, one on top of the other. And then in the desert, when the sun comes up, I couldn’t tell where heaven stopped, and the earth began. It was so beautiful. Then Jenny says, “I wish I could have been there with you.” And Forest says simply, “You were.”
That reminds me of God’s Love for us, for me. It’s like King David tells us, You hem me in – behind and before. (Psalm 139:5a) These thoughts always send me to Paul’s letter to the Romans where he tells is: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
There is no way I can tell you how Thankful I am for God’s Love. His Love is the very thing that broke through the shell that surrounded me and my heart and led me to realize that He actually loved me, even me. No matter how long I ran, no matter how I treated Him, God loved me, and never gave up on me.
That may be the most amazing part of it, He never gave up on me, he stayed until I gave in. Would Jesus hanging on the cross for an hour have satisfied you that He loved you? Two hours? Three? Well, God wanted you to know the extent to which He would go – all the way… all the way to the tomb.
Beginning in a manger and ending in a tomb, everything Jesus did was to show us God’s Love. Like Jenny with Forest, no matter where she ran, how far away she got, how she treated Forest, she was always present in Forest’s heart. Just like God, is always with us.
The entire Bible is there to show us God’s Love. It begins by showing us how He created a new creation just for us. He let Adam name all the animals. But, we (he) couldn’t stand prosperity. Sin came into the world and ruined everything. To save us from ourselves God sent His only Son to save us. He sent His only Son to show us His Love.
Let’s look at one more place where the Apostle Paul tells us about the Love of God. For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
I know Bostwick UMC is rooted and established in Love. And I know you have heard sermons telling you that, but sometimes we just need to be reminded.
As we come close to the end of quarantine, I pray, let us remember how God hangs in there with us. He stays with us always, everywhere, and loves us all the way through it.
Bostwick UMC 5/31/20
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