Sermon October 28, 2006 : Do you feel loved?

Posted in Sermons
  • Presenter: Steve Johnson
  • Date: October 28, 2006
  • Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA

It’s a great opportunity to share with you this evening, and as is my custom, I guess, I’ve been preaching for a very short time, but I’d like to start with a question, because questions get us thinking. And we start thinking we’re engaged, we can really wrestle with what it is being discussed or talked about or presented or you know, whatever the case can be.

So, my question to you is, do you feel loved? Francoise, do feel loved? Great. Sam, I almost forgot your name, because it’s the pressure you know, do you feel loved? Good. Do you feel loved? Do you feel loved? Have you ever been in a relationship where you knew the other person loved you. You knew that they were committed to you. How did you feel in that relationship? It feels pretty good, right? There’s some comfort, there is peace.

But now I want you to think of a relationship that you have, or maybe a relationship you’ve had in the past, where you weren’t sure if you were loved. You didn’t know if that person loved you. You didn’t know if that person was committed to you. Maybe you loved them but you weren’t sure how they felt about you. Maybe you were afraid that you would be betrayed in any moment. How did that relationship feel? Is there an easiness in that relationship? Is there a freedom in that relationship? Of course, not and I don’t care how old you are, if you’re here in this room you’ve probably been in a situation like that, where you love someone but you didn’t know if they were going to reciprocate. How that love was going to come back, in what way it would?

So, I want to tell you a story. This is a very…. It’s about, it’s a story that my dad told. When I heard it, it really touched me and I want to share it with you tonight. My dad tells us this great story about my mom and his name is Randall and her name is Marianne and he tells a story like this. I’m going to use his own words, ok, so I’m going to read this.

He says, my wife loves me. I’ve grasped this and I know this experiencially. I’ve been married to Marianne for almost 33 years and I’m still in love with her. There is no one more suited for me or who’s been more of a blessing to me. I remember vividly the night while we were dating, when I had determined to tell her that I loved her. I was so nervous that she thought I was going to break up with her. But telling her I loved her was a tense moment to telling her I was willing to commit my whole life to her and marry her. So, this was a big deal. I had a pretty good idea that she loved me, but I was making this commitment to her and it brought up all kinds of expectations. Happily she said she loved me too.

And the next step was to ask her dad for permission to marry. So, you get an idea of how old my parents are and what culture they come from, asking the father for permission.

But he says, we married and started having kids a couple of years later. We’ve always nourished a loving relationship, through our conflicts, difficult times, joyous times and every other kind of time that can come to a marriage. But there came a time in our marriage when a particular stressor seemed to become more than we could handle. It seemed as if the stress all came from me, and though we visited….. to deal with it, it did not improve.

I’ve wondered at times of her love will be enough to keep our marriage going. One day, sitting in our car porch she said some things to me that I will never forget. She said, Randall, I’ve come to the place in all this we’ve been struggling through that I can tell you, if nothing changes I will love you. I love you and I would not change the fact that we are married and are together. And he says, man, what incredible words.

It was not long after that, that we discovered the solution to the problem we’ve been having and the joy in our relationship took and even bigger upward turn.

Now, what’s the point of that story? What’s the point of these questions? The point is this: if you want to live in the fullness, if you want to be filled with the fullness of a marriage relationship, then you have to trust and experience that the other person loves you. It doesn’t work any other way and likewise, if you want to be filled with the fullness of God, you have to trust and experience that God loves you, that he’ll never forsake you, that it’s unconditional, will never stop.

And that’s what our passage is about tonight. If you turn with me to Ephesians, 3 verses 14 to 21, and I think we have it up on the screen. This is…. I have a bad habit of bringing different translations, this is the English standard version, it’s a good translation, but I use it tonight because there’s a really graphic images in this text that we could lose if we are not careful, so I want to bring this up. Then let me read this to you, it says:

“…. For this reason, -are we all there? Ephesians 3:14 to 21?- for this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with power, through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you been rooted and grounded in love may have strength to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breath, and the length and the height and the depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

We’ll stop there and we’ll come back to the end. You know, this passage is really incredible and it’s talking about everything we’ve been singing about, everything that we experience from a prayer time, that’s what this passage is about. It’s about the love of God.

Now, it’s interesting to know that the passage is kind of picking up, if you remember, Greg preached last week, and Paul says: “… for this reason I pray”, and he says, oh, have you heard, by the way, and he goes into his long thing about how Jews and gentiles were one people, that they’re no longer separated by the dividing wall of their religion, or their faith, or their lack of religion or lack of faith. It says, now they’re together in Jesus Christ. And he kind of picks back up where he left off.

But for that reason, really goes back to chapter 1 and chapter 2, where God just talks about all these incredible things that he’s done. Really Paul says, all these incredible things that God has done for us, and he makes this point, that we’re one people, that the gospel is for everyone. And then he comes back and he says, for this reason I bow before the Lord or I bend my knee before the Lord is the expression.

And it’s not a big consequence but most times, when people prayed in that time they would stand up to pray, we don’t do that so much, but they would stand up to pray. But Paul says, out of humbleness, out of reverence, I bend my knee before God and pray. It’s a big thing that he’s asking. But he prays to the Father and that’s where I want to hit on just real quick.

He says, “….the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.”

Now, not to get into too much Greek, but the word Father is Pater and the word for family used here is an interesting word, it’s patria, you know, they sort of sound the same. If you know, almost every language Father is like papa, pater, or you know, kind of has that ‘p’ thing going. It’s the same in the Greek, it’s pater and then patria. And patria really means, that which descends from a father, so a lineage.

And really this is a special emphasis on God as our Father. It’s kind of like saying, we have God’s DNA. Every family on heaven and earth comes from God, that it’s named from God means that they come from God, that they have, we’re made on the image of God, we kind of have a little bit of God in all of us.

But the point is that we’re all one family. We all have the same father, and he’s going back to the same issue that he’s been talking about for the entire book: the Jews and the gentiles were no longer separate. Now, this doesn’t mean too much to us today, ok. I may not even know any Jews, or you know, what does it matter if the Jews and gentiles aren’t separate.

We have to understand if it weren’t for that most of us in this room would have no hope for salvation, no hope for salvation Jesus Christ. Because most of us don’t have any Jewish heritage or Jewish lineage. I mean, by the old standard we don’t have God as our Father. But God made it so that he was our Father. The Father of all families in heaven and on earth. That’s a major, major change in the course of history and that’s the one that results in us being able to have relationship with God, a loving relationship.

And again it comes back to that love, because he’s our Father. It’s all lineages. But then what Paul does after that, he’s talking about this God as our Father but he prays for power. Now, that’s interesting and we sang about tonight more love, more power, more of you in my life. That’s what I want, Lord, I want more love and more power.

But here, Paul doesn’t just pray for power, for physical strength or power for character, or power for miraculous signs, or power for any kind of you know, display of strength, or display of any kind of, what’s the word I’m looking for, kind of a dynamic outpouring of power, whatever that would be. I’m using power to describe power, but you see what I’m saying it’s not about that.

He says, that you maybe strengthened with power and then he says that you may comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, the length, the height and the depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge.

This power is for understanding, it’s not a power for what we normally would think of. So, what’s the significance of that? Why is it that this power is for understanding? The reason is this, it’s to have the fullness, to be filled with the fullness of God we have to know and experience the love of God through Jesus Christ. If we don’t do that, there’s no other power.

And Paul says elsewhere, you know, if you speak tongues of angels it’s like clinging symbols if you don’t have the love. If you have all power but you have not love, it’s useless. Love is the foundation for anything that we do in a Christian life. It’s the foundation for our relationship with God. It’s the foundation for being filled with the fullness of God.

And that’s why we need that power. And it is the same thing if you look back in chapter 1, in chapter 1 of Ephesians Paul prays that they would have power, but it’s also power for understanding, power for knowing, power for hope. It’s not power for some external expression.

But a lot of times when we read the word power that’s what we think of. But, in this case the power comes from God by his spirit to know the love of his Son. So even the power is relational. You see, the Trinity there. You see a family if you will, the perfect holy triad family. But God’s power comes through the spirit so that we may know the love of the Son.

So there is power there but it’s not power that we would expect, it’s the power of knowing. It’s the power of understanding. And it’s only by being indwelled by Christ that we can rooted in his love and that’s what it says. So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

Again, faith comes from trusting, from understanding, from knowing. It has actions, it has an expression, but it’s outer expression of faith just like there’s an outer expression of love. But this power is to support these other functions, to support the faith, to support your understanding love, knowing the love of Christ.

And that’s why this power is something that helps us to live a lifestyle of being rooted and founded on Jesus Christ, and his love. Now, this undoubtedly when you first read this passage, when I first read this passage, it’s kind of a jumble of things and my wife said earlier, someone forgot to tell Paul to start a new sentence. He just keeps going on and on and on and it gets really jumbled up. And so, it’s kind of hard to make sense of every little phrase in here and it would take us a long time to pick apart every little phrase.

But the big thing is this: God who is your Father, who loves you wants you to know his love so that you can have the fullness of him. He wants you to know his love so he gives you power so that you can be rooted and founded in Jesus Christ and his love. And it seems kind of circular still. But that’s what’s going on. So, it’s an ongoing lifestyle this… when we talk about having Christ dwelling in us, we normally think of our salvation.

You know, I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, I said some prayer, I went down front, or I had some life change and now Jesus is my savior and he lives in my heart. And he does. But again, this is something that’s talking about an ongoing, continuous thing, that has to do with lifestyle, that has to do with remembering. It has to do with a continuous knowing, a continuous understanding of the love that God has.

So, if we were to think about this in terms of a relationship, we might say, just like the story of my dad, you know, I love my wife, Sonia, my wife, I love her dearly and she loves me, but every day we have to get up and walk in that love. Every day we have to wake up and love each other again. You know, she’s in my house, you know, we share a marriage bed, or, you know, she’s part of my life, she’s part of who I am, I’m part of who she is, we have this… we dwell together and yet every day we have to wake up and love each other again. And we have to wake up trusting that the other person is going to love us again. And you know, we’ve had our hard times. If you’re married you’ve had your hard times, and if you haven’t, you haven’t been married very long. But I haven’t been married very long and I’ve had my hard times.

But, you have to wake up trusting each day, and knowing each day, and expressing each day, that you love the other person and knowing that they love you in return. Because you can’t have fullness of relationship, you can’t be filled with the fullness of relationship without that knowledge and without that experience. That’s what we’re talking about.

So, one side of this is, don’t just pray some prayer and then sits down and relax and say, I got it all covered now. Jesus is in my heart, he dwells in my heart so I’m rooted and grounded in him. I’ve a foundation Jesus Christ because he’s in my heart, the passage says so, and it’s not what we’re talking about. It’s talking about something different, it’s talking about an ongoing thing, something that continues day in and day out, something that you carry with you wherever you go.

The next point I want to make is that this love of God is beyond our ability to understand. You know, it says right there, “… the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”. This word ‘surpass’ is the word that means like to throw past. It’s like you’re playing baseball and you’ve got someone running the second and you throw the ball to the left fielder, well you’ve thrown past. You’re not going to get the out,…. It’s an error, goes down in your score card, he’s thrown past. Well, then the ability to understand this love has been thrown way past our understanding, has been thrown past our ability to know.

You know, we can’t catch it. We have no chance because it’s too big, it’s too infallible, it’s too incredible to really know, to understand. And yet he’s praying that we would have power to know it. So how does that work? I think the first point is that we know God’s love by faith. We don’t know God’s love because we can get our hands around it. We don’t know God’s love because it’s simple and it’s sweet and it’s happy and … oh, that’s nice, God’s love. I can handle that, right? But it’s so much bigger than that, it’s so much more powerful than that.

So, we have to know it by faith, we can’t really know it by understanding. But he does say that we should know it. So the second way we know God’s love is by experience. And again, it’s just like the analogy of a husband and wife relationship.

You know God’s love because you walk in it. You know God’s love because you experience it. I can’t explain my love for my wife. I once told her, she once asked me why do you love me. I said, I don’t know, why do I love you? If I said I loved you because you’re smart, well, then if you stopped studying, or if you get a brain injury and you aren’t smart any more, do I stop loving you? No, do I love you because you’re beautiful? Well, if your looks go, or you’re hit on the face with a truck, that would kill you, but you know, if something happens like that, do I stop loving you? No. There is no reason I love you. I love you because I love you. I love you and this is what I told her, I love you because God gave you to me. That’s why I love you, because God gave you to me and he gave me to you, so, you’re mine and I love you. That’s the reason and that’s never going to change.

But I experience that. I can’t really explain it. I can’t explain my love to my wife. I can’t explain the love I have for my God. Can you explain the love you’ve got for your God? If it’s a simple love, maybe you can, but if it’s a love that’s grounded and rooted and the love of Jesus Christ, you have no true means to explain it, because it’s beyond explanation. But you live it. You know it because you live it. You trusted that God was going to come through for you in some situation and he did. And through that experience you gained more trust, you had bigger faith. So you trusted in God for something bigger, and he came through for you, and you experienced it and your trust was well placed and so your trust got bigger. And you trusted God for something else. He came through again. And that’s the life of faith. See, ongoing life of faith.

And again, you know, we are told in Ephesians later on, that the love Christ has for his church is a lot like the love that a husband and wife have for one another, and it’s so hard for me, just a year and a few months, decide of getting married. It’s so hard for me to explain it outside of that analogy. Because it’s the closest thing that I have. And now that I have a daughter back there, the one that was crying, bothering you, because I have her now, I’m starting to see more from God’s perspective, you know, not completely, but I’m starting to see what it’s like to love someone who can’t even love you back yet.

What it’s like to love someone who hasn’t earned any of it. What it’s like to love someone who only is a nuisance on a very physical level, on a very earthly non love level, she’s nothing but a nuisance. She frowns. She’s nothing but a nuisance: we have to change her diapers. I had to get up in the middle of the night to take care of her, we do. We had to buy things for her that I don’t want to spend my money on powdered milk. I don’t want to spend my money on diapers I’m going to throw away after they’ve been on for 30 seconds sometimes. You know, why would you spend your money on that? Now, it’s crazy and that’s what I do every day, I take care of her, we take care of her. We buy things for her, we get up in the middle of the night for her. We stop everything when she starts crying and that’s what we are to God. We’re this little nuisance that wet her diaper and cries, gets up in the middle of the night and needs someone to hold her hand and carry us. We need someone to wrap our blanket around us, we need someone to put our pants for us, and we’re always taking our socks off and so we need someone to put our socks back on again.

That’s what we are on a very mundane level. But God says I love you and you experience it over and over again. And that’s how you know. Those are really the two biggest ways to understand this love of God. It doesn’t make any sense, maybe it makes sense to my wife, she carried her for 9 months, but on some level, shouldn’t she be annoyed that she had to carry her for 9 months now that she’s out? I don’t want to have anything to do with her. That’s not the way it is. That’s not the way God is. But, that’s the love that he has, it’s beyond description and yet we know it.

You can’t describe it but you can taste it. You can’t explain it but you can feel it. You don’t understand it but you know it more than anything else on your life, if you are grounded in Jesus Christ, if you have a foundation on Jesus Christ, if you receive that power from God that allows you to open your eyes for the first time in your life and see it.

You know, when in light there are these ways, right, different… there’s a light spectrum and there are certain frequencies of light that we can’t see, and there are certain frequencies of sound that we can’t hear. I don’t know if it’s all frequencies, but you get my point. We can’t see all the light, we can’t hear all the sounds, but they are there. But imagine if all of a sudden you could see that other color, I don’t what it would look like, but there are other colors besides the colors we can see, there are other sounds beside the sounds that we can hear. What if all of a sudden you could hear them? You wouldn’t know what to call them, but you would see them. They’re right there, there’s that color that is not blue or brown or pink or green or red but it’s a color that I’ve never seen it before, and there it is, because someone opened my eyes. That’s what it’s like.

And you see when you live in that experience of God’s love, then you can have, you can be filled with that fullness of God. You can be filled with all that God is.

You know, if we look back again at chapter 1 of Ephesians, I just want to read, I just want to go there because when you look at what God is, in the first part of Ephesians then to say that you can be filled with the fullness of God sound ludicrous.

It says, “… this is the God –and let me point out, everything God does in this passage, he does for you- … this is the God who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing. This is the God that shows us before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless. This is the God who has all praise, who has all glory, who has all grace, who redeems us through his blood, he forgives our sins. He has riches that he lavishes on us with all wisdom and understanding. In him we’ve been chosen and predestined to the plan of him. He works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. This is the guy that makes everything happen exactly the way he wants it to happen.

We don’t have a God who tries, you know, he has to try to overcome whatever obstacle’s in his way. You know, this isn’t like he’s a bulldozer and he starts pushing his rocks out of the way and then he comes up with this huge mountain and you can’t do anything with it. This is the God that takes that mountain, just brushes it away. Everything that he wants to happen, happens. The fullness of that God can be in us if we understand that love.

You know, this is the God who takes the most basic discrimination in the history of the earth: Jew and gentile. Now, if you think racial discrimination’s bad, you haven’t seen anything yet. You know, in the south where I’m from whites and blacks couldn’t sit in the same part of a restaurant. But Jews and gentiles, it wasn’t just that they couldn’t sit in the same part of the restaurant, a Jew didn’t even want to see a gentile. A Jew didn’t even… if he touched a gentile he had to go by God’s requirement and clean himself. You know, it was this most basic discrimination and somehow part of the way God…. I mean, they got it wrong in terms of what God expected them to do, but they were trying to follow God’s word, and it was the most basic discrimination you could have.

We have God because we are Jewish, then nobody else does. No one else has a chance. God said no, that wall has been broken down. The God who can do that is the God who’s offering you all of himself. There was love. But not only that, not only is God, our Father, who loves us, not only does he have relationship with us, through his Son by the Holy Spirit, not only can we be grounded in his Son and have a foundation in his Son and in his Son’s love, Jesus Christ, the love of Jesus Christ, so that we can experience the fullness of God, but on top of that he does even more.

And if we look in verse 20, it says, “now it’s him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory and the church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations for ever and ever, amen.”

This God who is doing, who is promising all this to us is saying, ‘and you ain’t seen nothing yet’. He’s saying, ‘you don’t even…. You know, how you can’t see my love, you can’t understand my love. You can’t even understand how badly I want to give it to you, you can’t even understand how much I’m going to give it to you. You can’t even understand how much I’m going give myself to you. You have no concept of how great I am and how great I’m going to be to you’.

And when we hear that, our response should be shock and awe because the best thing we can imagine is nothing compared to what he can do. And not only nothing compared to what he can do, but nothing compared with what he wants to do. And again, if you look back at this, this passage is the climax, it’s kind of a theological mountain that Paul is climbing and building and whatever he’s doing. He’s… the whole first three chapters of Ephesians is this kind of theological treaties that comes to its climax in these verses.

But if you look back at what he’s built, he’s built this whole system where God is doing everything for you. God is doing everything for you and he’s doing everything for you. And then he says, ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’. If you want the fullness of who I am be grounded in the love of Jesus. Oh, and since you can’t do it on your own, I’ll give you the power to do it. And that’s a promise, folks. That’s a promise that’s too good to pass up.

You know, I just want to take a moment to look at this very end again and it says, “… to him who’s able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think according to the power at work within us”. So, it’s that power again, that work is the power to know his love which results in being filled with his fullness.

“…. To him be the glory in the church and in Jesus Christ throughout all generations”. To him be the glory in the church and in Jesus Christ. Isn’t that interesting? Because if you think about it, Jesus is the Son of God, right? Jesus in the foundation in which we have to be grounded in order to receive that love, and yet the glory comes first from the church. His glory comes from the church.

Now, the church is the body of Christ and then his glory comes from Christ who is the head of the church. And it’s kind of like saying, you know, this whole family thing is going on, we’ve the Father with his lineage of all the families on earth are his, that have his name from him, and he blesses us, he gives us power by the spirit in the Son and then he talks about us being able to glorify God as part of Jesus Christ, as the body of Christ, united because that’s what this whole thing is all about. There is a people who are not united and now they’re united. United in Jesus Christ, the body of Christ brings glory to God.

And so it’s this crazy thing, and we’ve talked about it before: God does all this stuff for us so that we can glorify him. And that seems a little selfish if you think about it. If I did great things for you so that you would praise me, what would you call me? We won’t say it here. If I did great things for you so that you would say nice things about me, you’d catch on pretty quick that I was some kind of a scoundrel.

And yet when you think about it, since God is the greatest, most wonderful thing, person, presence in the universe, in the all of everything, I can’t even just say… created because he wasn’t created, but he’s greater than everything there is. He deserves all that glory and the thing is he’s doing this for us so that we can take part in glorifying him, because without his help we can’t do it. We can’t glorify him the way we’re supposed to without his help.

And really that’s the greatest calling that any of us could have: to glorify God and to be in a relationship with him. You may have heard something similar to that before. That’s the greatest thing that we could possibly do, and God’s allowing us to be a part of that.

So, at this point Paul, this whole time in Ephesians has been showing us two groups of people that were divided, who’d come together to be one group as a church. They were Jews and gentiles and now they’re a church. And it’s the love of God which is revealed in Christ that enables us to be one people, to be one family, to be one church.

Look at this room, should be one church? Should be one congregation? If this congregation didn’t exist, would we be in the same room together? Would we be friends? Would we be hanging out on a Saturday night if it weren’t for this service? I don’t think I would know any of you except my wife, because I met her somewhere else. I wouldn’t know any of you if it weren’t for one body, the church.

And chances are that we wouldn’t have crossed pass very often, and if we did we probably wouldn’t have stopped to introduce ourselves. Not because I’m better that you, or you’re better than me, just wouldn’t have happened. This is not a normal group of people that you find somewhere else. You know, maybe at a baseball game you find a diverse group of people, but they’re not there to be with one another, they’re there to watch some guys on a field. But we’re here to be together. That’s not natural, do you see that? Do you see that that’s not natural, that that’s not normal? Does it make sense what I’m saying that we shouldn’t be in the same room together except that it makes sense because of Jesus Christ?

So, as we live our calling, this reality of God’s love that brings unity has to be just implanted and imprinted on our psyche, on our thinking. We have to have glasses that say, you know, you are loved by Jesus Christ and because of that you’re united to all believers , the body of Christ. Like on your glasses and you walk around and you read that all the day. If you could somehow do that. If you could have you know, maybe one of those colors, the color of lens that illustrates love. You know, we talked about seeing through a colored lens. If there was a color of love, that’s the kind of lenses you’d have to have on your glasses, to see the world the right way. Because we have to think like that. And the Bible talks about it, rooted in Christ, grounded in Christ, established in love and these are words that reflect an ongoing, continuous sustenance, an ongoing, continuous, dependence on that love of God.

You know, think of roots for a tree, the tree doesn’t grow roots, get its water and then move on. It stays there, it has to. And the foundation of a building, you don’t use the foundation to build the building and once it’s done its job you move the building. It needs the foundation to stay up. The tree needs those roots to live. We need to be grounded in Jesus Christ to continue in the love of God and to have the fullness of God in our lives.

Now, if you’ve heard….. And I said this is kind of the climax of Paul’s theological mountain that he’s climbing, this is the apex of his thought and after this he goes on and he talks about all the things that you should do because of it. You know, he builds the theological mountain and he talks about all the things that you should do because of these ideas that he’s presented.

But, how does this passage affect us? A big part of it, it’s just like the story I told you with my dad. He really wasn’t sure if my mom could keep loving him. And I’ll tell you what, I know what he’s talking about. Honestly I have no idea when that story, I don’t know what he’s talking about. I was there, I lived in their house, I’ve no idea what he’s talking about, this problem they were having, so I don’t know what it was. But I know what it’s like to wonder and I’ve done so many horrible things, can this person keep on loving me? And I know what it’s like to wonder, I’ve done so many horrible things, can my God keep on loving me? I know what it’s like to think that.

And that’s what this passage is about. When you are unsure of God’s love for you, you’ve no basis to build any kind of a spiritual wall, you’ve no business, you’ve no basis on how much to build a relationship with God. But when you have a freedom that comes from knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt that God’s love is never going to leave you, you can blossom like my dad and my mom, their relationship went to a new level. When she said the words, you know, ‘even if nothing changes I love you’. Even if you don’t get better I love you.

Have you ever heard those words? That would make me cry, even if you hurt me and keep hurting me and you keep hurting me, I love you. Even if you fall again and again and again I love you. I’m not giving up on you. There’s a freedom in that and that freedom inevitably leads you to work a lot harder on not falling, and to work a lot harder on not hurting the other person. And, you know, I don’t know how we hurt God we can definitely do things that aren’t pleasing to him. But we can never be separated from the love of God.

And if you know that passage in Romans, Paul says, for I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present or things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing can separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

He was convinced of that and he had a freedom to build a whole life on that. Paul’s entire life was built on the knowledge that he could not be separated from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ. And so, that’s why I say ideas have consequences. You have to believe that, you have to know that.

You know, Roberto came up here, when we were singing and he basically preached my sermon for me, because he said some of us, you know, we’re singing about the love of God, we were singing about the power of his love, that I can sore like an eagle when I’m grounded in the love of God, and he said, some of you may not feel that love, some of you may not know the love of God to the extent that it provides you a freedom to sore like an eagle in relationship with him. You don’t have the knowledge of the love of God that can be a basis for the entire outworking of your life.

Some of you don’t know what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone where you know that they’ll love you back no matter what. You’ve always been hurt, you’ve always been betrayed, you’ve always been rejected at some level and in this life, on some level, you will always be betrayed by another person, you’ll always be rejected, you will always be dismissed, you will always be hurt, you will always be let down at some point and it’s great when you find someone who after that apologizes and says, no, I still love you.

But what I’m talking about is a God who will never do any of those things to you. a God who is willing to give his Son, up to death for you. A God who is willing to order all of creation around your knees, a God who is willing to put all other concerns, all other issues on the back burner in a sense, for you. That’s a special kind of love.

Now, we’re saying these songs, I love the worship team to come up and sing …. Love again. But, as we start singing, I want you to ask yourself, do I have that foundation? Do I know that love? Because if you don’t, then you need to come up here and get that assurance, and maybe it is, you know, I have my salvation, Jesus dwells on my heart, but I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say that he dwells in it to the extent that I can be grounded in it and know his love, that it’s beyond understanding and experience. I don’t know that, I haven’t experienced that love.

You know, come up here, we want to pray for you. Yeah, you don’t have to come up here, but it’s a step saying, God, I want to live and walk in your love. I want to experience your love, I want it to be a continuous thing. I don’t want to say, God, I’ve done my prayer, I’ve done my thing, now just let’s get on with it. If you want to say, Lord, I want to walk in your love, I want to walk in the fullness of you, I want to be filled with the fullness of God, and you don’t know that love, get up here and let us pray for you. Or stand up where you are and let me pray for you, because without that, what hope do you have? What hope is there when you don’t have what God says is the basis for everything else that’s to come?

And you know, Roberto prayed a prayer, a strong prayer, because there is power that comes when you make that decision, there is power that comes when you yield yourself to the Lord, there is power that comes when people of prayer lay hands on you and speak truth into your life. There is power that comes when God overwhelms you with his love and his spirit just washes over you and you feel nothing else except the love of God. It will bring you to tears because there’s nothing better in the world, it’s the basis for everything we do as a Christian, it’s the foundation. It has to do with knowledge, it has to do with faith, it has to do with experience. This isn’t about throwing away your brain for some cuckoo idea, this isn’t about neglecting the experiences you’ve had for some intellectual faith. This is about your heart, your mind, your experiences, everything being united in a love of God.


Sermon delivered by Steve Johnson taped October 28, 2006 at Congregation Lion of Judah Listen | View (100K) | View (400K)

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