LET GOD LOVE YOU!
How To Handle Life's Hurts *1
Scripture: "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God
is love." (1 John 4:16)
Introduction - One of the most misunderstood attributes of God is love. People avoid God today because of fear. So today let's look at the solution to the 3 common fears that people have and how God's love frees us from them.
I. "I'm afraid I might give up my fun."
A. FACT: "God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment! (1 Timothy 6:17)
B. FACT: "Jesus said, "I am come that they may have life, and have it to the full!" (John 10:10)
C. What real fun is:
1. a clear conscience
2. a happy, unified family
3. laughing in church
4. having a good time with friends that don't manipulate you
because they're Christians and love you for who you are
II. "I'm afraid I'll lose my freedom."
A. Once we make our choices in life, we are not free from the consequences.
1. Sexual freedom
2. Chemical freedom
3. Credit card freedom
"A person reaps whatever they sow." (Galatians 6:7)
B. FACT: "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!"
C. What REAL freedom IS:
1. Freedom from guilt
2. Freedom from worry
3. Freedom from bitterness
4. Freedom to be myself
D. FACT: "There is no fear in love, for perfect love drives out fear!" (1 John 4:18)
1. The very first words Jesus spoke when He came out of the tomb on Easter Sunday morning, "Don't be afraid!" (Matthew 28:10)
2. "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9)
3. "The Lord is loving toward ALL He has made." (Psalm 145:17)
4. YOU MATTER TO GOD!
Conclusion - "Draw near to God, and HE WILL draw near to you!" (James 4:8) Let Him love you and renew your spiritual life today.
LET GOD LOVE YOU!
How To Handle Life's Hurts
1 John 4:16-18
Call To Worship:
This evening we are laying the foundation for How We Can Handle Life's Hurts by looking at a very, very basic issue that many people face in our society. And that is we can't really get God's help in our hurts, unless we Let God Love Us! That's what we are going to talk about tonight. As you came in you all received a candle. Many of us are carrying a hurt, a hurt we need to let God take from us. At the end of the service everyone will have the opportunity to come forward and place in the baskets anything you wish to give God. It may be a hurt, a request, a commitment or even a recommitment. As you listen to the word of God this evening will you write down everything that comes to your mind this evening, it’s between you and God don’t write your name. He knows who you are. At the end we will ask everyone to come forward, light their candle, and place the colored index card in the basket next to the candles and sing in candlelight for our closing song.
1 John 4:16.
This is what the Bible says. "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God
Now wouldn't you agree, that probably the most talked-about attribute of God is love. And, its probably also the most misunderstood. Look at that one three-letter sentence. "God is love." The Bible says that one of the chief characteristics of God, is this. God is love.
Now notice this verse doesn't say, "Love is God." There's a big difference between the two. "God is love," verses "Love is God." Wouldn't you agree there's a big difference between saying, "My dog is a girl and my girl is a dog?" There's a big difference!
And, there's a big difference between saying God is love, and saying, that love is God. The truth is, the Bible teaches right here, that God is love. Now that doesn't mean that God lets me get away with murder. It doesn't mean that I can go out and do anything I want to to other people, and because God
loves me, He just kinda slaps me on the wrist.
No, God has a plan for how we should live our lives. And what this verse teaches us is that God loves YOU. He wants what is best for YOU. God is FOR you. He's not against you. God loves YOU. That is His character. That is His nature toward each of us that He has created.
Now, if that's true though, if God loves us and He is for us, why is that so many people avoid God these days? I mean, they avoid Him like the plague. They run from Him. And they turn away from the way that He desires them to live. And I've thought a lot about this. In our day, in our culture, why are many people avoiding God? And avoiding His church? And you know why?
The reason they do it, is because of fear. They are afraid. Afraid of what might happen if I really give my life to God. Afraid of what might happen if I become an active Christ Follower. And so they're hesitant. They want to keep God at a safe distance.
Why, well I believe there are two reasons.
#1, People have the fear, they say, "I'm afraid I might give up my fun." I might give up my fun. In other words, to become a Chris Follower equals, the party's over. To be spiritual, is to be miserable. That's the idea some people have. Because in our society, we're very interested in having pleasure these days, and we don't want to give up our fun.
You know, we turn on the T.V. and what does it say? It’s Miller Time! Grab a Snickers! Eat Fresh! It Keeps going and Going!
And so we buy it. And people get happy for a moment or two, but you know what? The thrill wears off. And so we've got to buy something else. And then that wears off. We constantly hear the message, "If you'll just experience a certain event, or if you'll go to a certain concert or if you'll just visit this exotic place, then you'll be happy."
You know the television commercial that bothers me the most the most? It's that one where these
guys are sitting by the lake, drinking beer and the guy goes, "Boy, it don't get any better than this."
And I want to stand up and say, "Wrong! You are so wrong! It does get better! There are a lot better things. It can be so much better! If you know God and you're a part of His family, it can be so much better than that.
Those are just artificial sweeteners, so to speak. They don't last. And people today all over America are frantically looking for fun fixes, but you know what?
What we get is the law of diminishing returns. You find that you have to spend more time, or more money, or more energy to get the same thrill. And in their honest moments, down deep inside, people are still asking, are we having fun yet? Are we there yet?
So many people are looking for love, and looking for real fun in all the wrong places. Because of that first fear. I'm afraid I might give up my fun.
1stTimothy 6:17. The Bible says, "God richly provides us with everything for what? For our enjoyment.
And here's the facts. God wants you to enjoy life. He doesn't want to take your fun away. Listen, Jesus spoke more about being happy than He did about heaven. One of my favorite verses in the Bible, is John 10:10. Jesus says right here, to us, "I am come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the full."
Jesus said, "My purpose is to give LIFE in all its fullness." Let me tell you what fun is. Fun is a clear conscience. Fun is a happy, unified family. Fun is laughing in church.
Fun is having a good time with friends that don't manipulate you, because they are Christ Followers with real integrity and they love you for who you are, not what you possess or do.
Fun is enjoying the world that God has made, without a Monday morning hangover. That's fun! And nobody has more fun than I do. And Jesus says, Once you really taste the quality of life that God has to offer, you'll never be satisfied with cheap substitutes again. It's the best way in the world
People have the fear, I'm afraid I might give up my fun. The second fear that people seem to have, is this. "I'm afraid I'll lose my freedom." I'm afraid I'll lose my freedom.
Now, a number of people out in the world today define freedom as a life without any restraint. Where I can do anything I want to do. I can SAY anything that I want to say. Without anybody telling me yes or no about what I'm doing or saying.
Frank Sinatra's, old song My Way, is a good example.
My Way - I did it my way. Everybody else got burned by me, but I did it my way. I left 5 marriages behind. but I did it my way. You know the attitude? Total selfishness. Forgetting the impact that our actions may have on hurting other people. Forgetting about whether or not what I do is ruining somebody else's life.
You guys know the attitude. I gotta have MY freedom. But let me just pose to you some important questions. What has sexual freedom in America given us? Aids, social sexually transmitted diseases, abortion. What has chemical freedom given us? Grade school addicts, the most chemically dependant society now on the face of the earth.
What has credit card freedom given us? 146 easy payments. There is no such thing as an easy payment. They're ALL hard. Trillions in national debt. What am I saying?
I'm saying that the Bible simply teaches that with every choice you and I make, there are consequences. There are consequences to our choices. Yes, we are free to live any way we choose to live. But once we make our choices, we are no longer free. Because God says in Galatians 6:7, what we sow, we will one day reap. There are consequences to life's choices. And you can't escape them!
You say, but Chris, what does the Bible say about my freedom? Well, listen to what Jesus Christ said. In John 8:36. He says, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!"
What's Jesus talking about here? He's talking about REAL freedom. Not phony freedom. Not freedom that wrecks people's lives. But a freedom that brings life to its ultimate fulfillment as God intended it to be!
Let me tell you what real freedom is. Real freedom, is freedom from guilt. Real freedom is freedom from worry. Real freedom is freedom from bitterness. It's freedom to be myself.
It's freedom to quit pretending. It's freedom to be accepted and to be loved and cared for by people who know you, warts and all, and still choose to love you for who you are! That's freedom! It's not phony freedom. It's real! It's life as it was meant to be!
People are hesitant because they are thinking, "I'm afraid I might give up my fun. I'm afraid I'll lose my freedom."
You say, Chris, how do you get rid of those kinds of fears? Well, look with me again at what God says in the Bible. Here in 1 John 4:18 again. Here's the remedy. First John 4:18. Read it with me, will you?
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear."
What's the antidote to fear? The antidote to fear, is for you to recognize how much God loves YOU. Because love and fear cannot continue to exist in the same heart.
You see, when you realize how much God really loves YOU, you're not going to have a fear that God's going to take away your fun. Or a fear that God's going to take away your freedom.
Instead, you'll begin to see God for who He really is. You'll begin to see HIS plan for your life. That He's not an angry God. He's a loving God. He's not against you. He is for you!
You know? Easter is just around the corner. And you know what the very first words of Jesus were, when He came out of the tomb on Easter morning? Three words. He said, "Don't be afraid!" That's the key. "Don't be afraid."
He says, I didn't come to scare you, I came to save you. I came that you might have LIFE. I came so that your life would be filled with joy and your path with peace. We just need to realize how much God really loves US.
You see, God is not at all the way that so many people think He is. If you want
to know what God is really like, take a look at Jesus. Because Jesus said in John 14:9,
"Fellows, anyone who has seen ME has seen the Father."
So let me ask you this evening? What is your view of God today? Do you think God gets
His kicks out of making people miserable? If He does, we might as well all go home.
What kind of God do YOU think that we serve? And once you begin to really think it through, you will begin realize just how much HE loves YOU.
In Psalms 145:17, the Bible says clearly, "The Lord is loving toward ALL He has made." Did you hear that? ALL! That includes everybody. God so loved the world. Everybody. It's universal!
God loves everyone! He loves the unlovely. He loves everybody! Everybody you see this week, everybody you meet, we serve a God that loves them, unconditionally. God never made a person that He didn't love, and my message to you this evening is very simple. Understand and know that God loves YOU.
He loves you so very, very much. The fact is, you matter to God! And if you want to know the secret of self-esteem, if you want to know the secret of feeling good about yourself, if you want to know the secret of self-confidence.
The secret is, just realize how much you matter to God. He loves YOU. He made you! And HE has a plan for you.
And because God loves me, that means I don't have to prove my self-worth to anybody. I am valuable just because of who God made me to be! And it's so relaxing. And so fulfilling!
I don't need the props anymore, to make me feel good about myself. I just don't need them. I don't have to wear a certain kind of clothes to make me feel like I'm o.k.
I don't have to drive a certain kind of car to prop up a faltering ego. I don't have to have certain status symbols around my house. I'm not dependant on them anymore. Because God has looked at Chris Easton and said, "He's o.k. I made him, and I love him. He made YOU and He says today, I love YOU!
You know, every one of us came here tonight for different reasons Some of you came just cause you were kinda checking us out. Thinking, well I'm going to check this Christianity thing out. You know, I want to check out this Real Life Community Church that I've heard about.
Some of you came simply to please a friend who invited you. Some of you came because you had a need, and deep inside you thought, well, maybe, just maybe, I'll find the answer here.
Some are here to just show support of our newness on Newark’s east side.
But regardless of why you think you came, this evening you are HERE because the GOD of heaven brought you here. And He knew that you would be here in this service a thousand years before you were even born. This is your day! GOD brought you here.
And some of you have felt the love of God in the past, and you were close to God, but you've kind of drifted away. And this evening if you're thinking, can I ever get back in that relationship?
Or maybe you were active in another church and then you moved and you never really got involved again. And you've drifted. And God brought you here today.
Regardless of your situation, regardless of your background, God brought you here this evening to let me say one thing to YOU. And that one thing is this. YOU MATTER TO GOD! You really do! And today, He wants to love YOU and He wants to build a personal relationship with you.
As we close our service this evening, I'd like everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes. It could very well be that you are here, and down deep inside, God and you are having a conversation. And you're thinking, "You know, I have been afraid. I've been afraid of God. I've been afraid of His church.
I've been afraid of Christians, because I've seen some phonys." And my attitude toward you God, has been fear and distance, not love and closeness!
God wants to get close to you tonight. He wants to love you. Because you matter to Him. And if you will respond, the Bible says, "If you draw near to God, HE WILL draw near to you!
Tonight as we close , if you would like to renew your spiritual life, and draw near to God again, Just come forward, we gave you a colored index card. Whatever that hurtful thing in your life is write it down and give it to God this evening. Those choices you made that you still suffer the consequences for. Maybe it was something done long ago, but still hurts, credit cards hurt us when we see that interest stack up but so do other things, whatever it is, maybe it truly is credit cards, or house payments, or maybe its deeper, pornography, drugs, alcohol. You want to have real freedom from these things, Free of guilt, worry, bitterness, and the freedom to be yourself!
Simply write it down and say, I want to let God love me. I want to renew my spiritual
life. Come forward now and take the symbol of God’s presence on your life represented in the candle you all received on you way in set it ablaze!