God Pursues You
Part 5 in Experiencing God Series
February 4th, 2007
Pastor Michael Dean
Ask the children to name the most important thing in the church. Hold up a Bible. Show them a hymnal. Walk them around the sanctuary, and point out the cross on the wall, the communion table, the baptismal font. Ask them if any of these things is the most important thing in the church. Then sit them down and tell them that the apostle Paul has a surprising answer to this question: love. Let them know that Paul lists a number of things that he considers to be important in the church — tongues, prophetic powers, knowledge, faith and hope — and he finishes by saying that “the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Find out if they can tell you what is so great about love. Ask how it makes them feel, and what good it does in their house and neighborhood and church. Stress that God takes love very seriously, and Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God and love our neighbors (Matthew 22:36-40). Find out if the church could survive without Bibles, hymnals, wall crosses, communion tables and baptismal fonts. Tell them that it would be tough, but possible. Then say that a church without love is not going to last for long, because it does not know God — the Bible tells us that “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).
A young couple were on their honeymoon. The husband was sitting in the bathroom on the edge of the bathtub, saying to himself, “Now how can I tell my wife that I’ve got really smelly feet and that my socks absolutely stink? I’ve managed to keep it from her while we were dating, but she’s bound to find out sooner or later that my feet stink. Now how do I tell her?”
Meanwhile, the wife was sitting in the bed saying to herself, “Now how do I tell my husband that I’ve got really bad breath? I’ve been very lucky to keep it from him while we were courting, but as soon as he’s lived with me for a week, he’s bound to find out. Now how do I tell him gently?”
The husband finally plucks up enough courage to tell his wife and so he walks into the bedroom. He walks over to the bed, climbs over to his wife, puts his arm around her neck, moves his face very close to hers and says, “Darling, I’ve a confession to make.”
And she says, “So have I, love.” To which he replies, “Don’t tell me, you’ve eaten my socks.”
Our relationships change with time and intimacy.
ü We learn the good the bad and the "smelly" about each other.
ü As we forgive and encourage each other in daily life we build up trust.
ü As we learn to trust each we begin to share more deeply our thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams.
ü We begin to grow in ways that we find we truly do need each other – that we compliment each other to the point that without the other person there we just wouldn't be ourselves.
Think of where you are today with your spouse or a close friend. When it all began, it wasn't that way. At the same time, taken inventory of how much time you've spent with that person.
I remember when Tonya and I first met. (Talk about the situation) As I grew to know her, I decided to pursue her.
Ÿ We were created for a loving relationship with God.
10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:10
Ÿ When we obey Jesus we show our love and trust for Him.
21 Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them, and I will love them. And I will reveal myself to each one of them.”
In an article entitled "God Lite," theologian James R. Edwards traces how "The more we obey God, the more real God becomes to us and the greater our love grows. And the more we love God, the more we become like God.
"It is like a good marriage: People who love their spouses want to please them; and if they do not want to please their spouses, they can hardly talk of loving them."
Edwards then shows the way in which "obedience is not a penalty levied on faith. It is the strength of faith. The Bible absolutely will not separate faith and obedience, as though obedience were some kind of inheritance tax that God levies on the free gift of salvation. God cannot separate them and still offer salvation. There is something about love that is no longer love apart from obedience. Dietrich Bonhoeffer kept saying this in The Cost of Discipleship: 'Only those who obey can believe, and only those who believe can obey."'
--Christianity Today, April 29,1991, 30.
? Can you describe you relationship with God by saying "I love you with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind and all my strength?"
30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’
Ÿ Our whole lives depend upon our love relationship with God – if this is not right, neither will the other areas of our life.
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 25 “So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing?
-- Jim Wallis,
The Call to Conversion
Our call is to seek the conversion of the church in the midst of a crumbling empire, an empire to which the church is now closely allied. Our question is the old question of spiritual formation: How is the mind of Christ formed in us and in history? To answer that question, we will use an incarnational approach which begins by taking seriously the following questions: Will we follow Jesus? Is the church to be the presence of Jesus in the world? If so, what would Jesus' presence look like now?
Ÿ To be loved by God is the highest relationship, the highest achievement, and the highest position in life.
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.
—Gerald R. McDermott, Seeing God: Twelve Reliable Signs of True Spirituality (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 221.
Practice is the best evidence of faith. Because Abraham had faith in God, he left his own country. Because Moses had faith in God, he refused to stay in the luxury of Pharaoh's palace, choosing instead to suffer with God's people (Hebrews 11:25-26). Because others had faith in God, they were stoned, sawn in two, executed by the sword, mocked and tortured, thrown in prison, and forced to wander about in animal skins, poverty and torment (Hebrews 11:32-38).
Ÿ God uses your present time to mold and shape your future usefulness on earth and in eternity.
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
Ÿ Our goal is to allow our present to be molded and shaped by what we are to become in Christ.
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.
Ÿ God is pursuing a love relationship with you that is very real, personal and practical.
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Ÿ The more you know Him and experience His love, the more you will love Him and desire to spend time with Him.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!