Text: John 3:16-21
Thematic Sentence: We take for granted the love of God, and return nothing for His love, neither do we turn to Him.
Today, when we think of valentines day, a day filled with love and romance, we often get the love of the world mixed up with true love. What passes for love today in many relationships is not love at all, but actually just the opposite. In this nation we have confused love of with lust and placed self over those we claim to love, which is not love at all, but conceit and self centeredness.
But God's love is a true love. His is a giving love, a tender gathering love that does not seek to smother and enslave its object, but grants freedom and offers life.
I. God's Love Gives To Us
A. Giving His Special Son (v. 16)
Ø knowing what we'd do to Him
Ø John 4:10
10Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
B. Giving us life In Him
Ø An operation of faith (Gk. Believes into Him)
*Faith is not belief without proof but trust without reservation.
D. Elton Trueblood, late Christian author. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 2.
Ø Patti Greenman, St. Louis, MO. Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart."
When my niece, Toni, turned six, I excitedly gave her some gifts I had spent extra time shopping for. Two weeks later, when I asked if she was enjoying them, I was disappointed to learn she had decided to return some of them. Even after my careful selection of those gifts--intended especially for her--she hadn't really appreciated them. As I asked God to help me get over my disappointment, I remembered some of the gifts God had given me--gifts that I hadn't appreciated either and wished I could have exchanged for others.
II. God's Love Gathers Us
(Matt. 23:37) “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling
A. Anyone is included (v. 17 b)
Ø Anyone does not mean everyone
Ø "Whole World" means everyone, but the "might be saved" reduces it to anyone who chooses.
Ø Not universal salvation, but universal invitation.
Ø Not an impersonal corporate love, but an individual, I love you.
*Dr Frank Harrington gives us insight into this thought of a personal love. He says that "At the 7:00 service, a little girl came out an pulled on my robe, and I said, "What can I do?" She said, "It's for you, Dr. Harrington." I said, "What?" and she had a little note. I opened it up, and it said, "I love you." Well, it made my Christmas Eve. "It's for you"--very personal. While the love of Christ is for the world, it's also for you and for me. "
-- W. Frank Harrington, "The Love That Brought Him," Preaching Today, Tape No. 51.
B. Reaching with a kind hand (v. 17a)
Ø To save, not Judge. Men were already judged (The living dead)
Ø The difference between a hand raised to strike, and a hand reaching for an embrace.
III. God's Love Grant's Freedom To Us
A. Allowed to choose evil. (v. 19)
Ø We are not made to choose good. We are given our freedom to choose.
Ø Like a lover who knows that love must be given freely, or it is not love at all, He allows us to choose another love.
* An Article in Christianity Today told a story of a Hassidic rabbi, renowned for his piety. He was unexpectedly confronted one day by one of his devoted youthful disciples. In a burst of feeling, the young disciple exclaimed, "My master, I love you!" The ancient teacher looked up from his books as asked his fervent disciple, "Do you know what hurts me, my son?"
The young man was puzzled. Composing himself, he stuttered, "I don't understand your question, Rabbi. I am trying to tell you how much you mean to me, and you confuse me with irrelevant questions." "My question is neither confusing nor irrelevant," rejoined the rabbi. "For if you do not know what hurts me, how can you truly love me?"
Ø Unless we live our lives with the understanding of how deeply God is hurt by our sin, we can never love Him.
Ø In the cross we see at the same time, the desparate love of God for mankind, as well as the intense hatred and judgement upon sin. In the cross we see truly, who God loves, and what he hates.
B. Allowed to reject Him. (v. 20)
Ø By loving ourselves more
*-- William Law in Christian Perfection
To love God wholeheartedly, we must be convinced that our only happiness is in him alone. We cannot believe this until we renounce all other efforts at happiness. If we look to God to supply half our happiness, we can only love him with half our hearts.
Ø Let it go. If it does not come back to you it was not your's to begin with.
Ø Robots can't love.
Ø He will not change the unwilling.
True love does not bind us, but it frees us. God offers us freedom from sin, and freedom from its heavy penalty of death. But He loves us too much, and respects the value of love freely returned too much to make us His by force. But He calls to us. He calls us to come apart from sin to be part of the light. He calls os to life, and out of Judgement. He calls us . . . . He calls us , to Himself. How about you. Have you given up your other loves? Between you and God, . . . is it true love?
* -- Jeannette Clift George, "Belonging and Becoming," Preaching Today, Tape No. 93.
On a short flight from Tucson to Phoenix, as I got on, I noticed a young woman with her baby. They were both dressed in white pinafores. The mother was smiling, and the little baby was saying "Dada, Dada." And the little baby was darling. She wore a little pink bow where there would probably be hair pretty soon, and it was just darling. And they sat down opposite me. Every time anybody went by, the baby would say, "Dada, Dada."
The young mother said they were going home, and Daddy was waiting for them. I think they had been gone overnight--it was a long, long time like that!
Everybody was so happy, and we all enjoyed the little baby. The mother had a little Thermos with orange juice in it. She kept feeding the baby, a little fruit and then a little juice. It was a rough flight. Every time the baby cried the mother fed her a little bit more orange juice and a little more fruit.
I don't know how to get out of this story without telling you the truth. The flight was very turbulent. (The flight was so rough that the attendants had to stay seated.) All of the fruit that had gone down came up. I think more came up than had gone down; I think there was more up than there was baby, and it was startling; the carpet was not in good condition. It was a mess.
Those of us on the opposite side of the aisle were not in good condition at all. We kept trying to tell the young mother it was just fine. We were handing her tissues and things. (Most of us have been babies.) It was a very loving time, but a mess. The baby was crying, and she looked awful. We couldn't cry, but we looked awful. The mother was so sorry about it.
We landed. The minute we landed, baby was fine: "Dada, Dada." The rest of us were just awful. We began to get off the plane, and we all moved very carefully. I had on a suit, and I was trying to decide whether to burn it or just cut off the sleeve. Have you ever tried to get away from something really unpleasant and it was you? Well that's the way we were. It was really bad.
I looked out of the plane, and there waiting was the young man who had to be Daddy: white slacks, white shirt, white flowers, and a little green paper. I thought, I know what's going to happen. He's going to run to that baby who now looks awful--I mean the hair and the pinafore were dreadful. He's going to run to that baby, get one look, and keep on running, saying, "Not my kid!"
As he ran to the young mother, I wouldn't say she threw the baby at him, but she did kind of leave quickly to go get cleaned up. He picked up that baby, and I watched him as he hugged that baby and kissed that baby and stroked that baby's hair. He said, "Daddy's baby's come home. Daddy's baby's come home."
I watched them all the way to the luggage claim area. He never stopped kissing that baby. He never stopped welcoming that baby back home. I thought, Where did I ever get the idea that my Father God is less loving than a young daddy in white slacks and white shirt with white flowers and a green paper.
Have you been gone fromGod for a while? Is your life a mess with the filth of a turbulent life? God's love invites you back home to him. He wants to gather you in his arms.