God Loves You

God Loves You  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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I Need A Hero

Almost every super hero movie has it. A time when there is that character trying to persuade the hero of the story to over come, to push through, to go the distance. Inevitably as if it were written this way, the hero pushes away their most courageous, encouraging supporter. Blinded by grief, anxiety, or even fear the protagonist is incapable of seeing the obvious that the audience is. I am a big fan of D.C. Comics, The Green Arrow. He is a character that shares an embattled history of wrong choices and harmful results. This character is not as popular is Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Captain America, or Captain Marvel, but there is a time in each of these stories where the hero can miss the obvious— that the people around them love them and want to share with them. Oliver Queen, The Green Arrow falls into this pattern more than most. This billionaire turned shipwrecked loner that once had all the power and resources imaginable comes face to face with a life he hated. His character uses that anger as a fuel to complete his mission but those closest to him are frequently pushed away. It seems Oliver Queen can’t deal with the fact that some people want to love him.
I don’t know if this is something you can relate to, as you are sitting here, but once upon a time I had a lot in common with Oliver Queen. Hello, My name is Todd Christine, and the title of this talk is God Loves You.
Signs are important things. They communicate necessary information such as, highway exits, flow of traffic, products in the isle of the grocery stores, and where the restroom is located. When we talk about love, and most importantly when we talk about God’s love, there are signs all around us. I am from a very small town in Centre County PA. Nestled against the mountains, I grew up in the midst of God’s great creation. The night sky was filled with the brilliance of a billion stars. The mountain ranges full of colors of fall. I remember the first time I had ever been to the ocean. I was an adult and recently married. Stepping onto the sand for the first time looking out to the Atlantic, I had never felt so small. The grandness of God’s creation was all around me. Psalm 8
Psalm 8 NRSV
To the leader: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David. O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
The very creation we get to experience is a testimony to the richness of God’s love for us. The word Testimony is an important word, it is an “evidence or proof” offered by a witness. Creation acts as God’s witness to us or the proof to us of His great love!
God created us to share in the riches of His magnificent creation. Though, I must admit, it was easy to become numb or even ignore the awesome wonder of God’s creation that surrounds me.
This is a pattern that has plagued humanity from the beginning, Humans have the capacity of free will. Because of this trait or freedom of God’s gift, humanity has chosen to ignore God.
The Creation of Adam (Italian: Creazione di Adamo), also known as The Creation of Man: plate 54 , is a fresco painting by Italian artist Michelangelo, which forms part of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, painted c. 1508–1512.
God’s Covenant with humanity:
The Bible can be described as God’s love expressed to humanity. God’s wooing and humanity’s response. Sin, in the fall separated us from God but did not fracture God’s love for us! God’s love is present despite our sin.
this love comes in the form of a series of covenants offered by God. God’s desire is to make complete the relationship that has been separated by sin.
Covenant is a two way road, with each party moving toward the other, it is a mutual undertaking.
God offers a relationship: Grace
God does not offer us things but a relationship of genuine self-giving 1 John 4:7-12
1 John 4:7–12 NRSV
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
We respond to God’s convincing grace, this friendship grace is us realizing how much God loves us and how much we want to love God in return. Grace is a word that you may know, it is often confused with blessing the food before we eat, it is a word that is best described as a truly free gift on behalf of creation. Like the the sunshine traveling 93 million miles to kiss the earth and allow earth’s life to thrive and blossom.
Throughout the entirety of our lives God has pursued us. God’s preventing or prevenient grace at work in our lives before we could realize it.
Grace: God’s love expressed to creation.
What does this mean? God loves us, even in our brokenness, and shortcomings, even in the things we don’t like about ourselves, God loves us now.
When we do screw up, when we do get it wrong God offers us forgiveness. That makes God the most awesome God. His grace is greater than our sin.
We get a new start. A do-over. When my children play games, something usually takes place that they look for another chance. I must admit, that I often let them roll the dice again or take another card. Maybe it will work out better. While God’s mercy and compassion bring us forgiveness for our sins, God also, because the work of Christ Jesus gives us a do-over. We get to try again. This is not so that we can be confident in getting it right, but we realize that through God’s grace and working alongside the Holy Spirit, God draws us closer to Him. This divine dance is the rhythm God invites us to in our daily activity, the acting out of the event called life.
Our concert of praise To Jesus we raise, And all the night long Continue the new evangelical song: We dance to the fame Of Jesus’s name, The joy it imparts Is heaven begun in our musical hearts.
–Charles Wesley
Reasons we ignore God’s love:
Ignorance: We can claim we never knew. There is a large portion of the world that does not know about the love God offers in Jesus. My daughter just this fall told me during a conversation with a friend the subject of a pastor and church came up and her friend had never heard those words. She pressed her friend and asked if she knew Jesus, her friend said no. Paytyn, took the opportunity, to share the story of God to her friend.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 NRSV
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
1 John 4:18 NRSV
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
Hebrews 4:14–16 NRSV
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Desire for control and not surrender.
Trusting God with our needs, and most often our happiness, and life pursuit is a terrifying thing. My call to ministry was such a decision. What if I wanted something different? Ps. 4:5
Psalm 4:5 NRSV
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.
1 Timothy 6:17 NRSV
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
Doubts about the reality of God.
How often do we ask “is God even real?”
Even if God is real how can I trust God that I can’t see or touch?
Maybe it is out of want to fit in, or be popular. Christians are not painted in the best light in movies or on television. Not to mention if we take our faith seriously we may not be able to go and see certain films, shows, or participate in activities that go against God’s want for our lives.
Results of Ignoring God’s love:
There are many stories that you likely have heard or have read yourselves that speak of the wealthiest of people being completely miserable. They spend their lives searching for fame, fortune, and fun only to be left empty.
Ecclesiastes 1:1–11 “The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun goes down, and hurries to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south, and goes around to the north; round and round goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they continue to flow. All things are wearisome; more than one can express; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, or the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has already been, in the ages before us. The people of long ago are not remembered, nor will ther…”
We mistakenly think we can fill in that empty space with the desires of this world that will always leave us wanting but it is a hole in our hearts, in our souls that is only shaped like our Creator.
Anger and grief result in our lives when we go against God.
We have been wired with a conscience that is aware of our divine parentage. Like a square peg in a round hole, our lives don’t seem to fit when we live against what God has designed and given us.
Adam and Eve after they had sinned realized that God was coming and they mistakenly thought that they could hide from God. sewing leaves together, they mistakenly thought they could hide themselves.
Poor Self-Image, low self esteem, bad feelings about who we are.
Our identity is not in who we are, what we have accomplished, who we hang out with, or the clothes we wear. Who we are is defined by our relationship to God. When we reject God we reject our identity.
Like a flower removed from its stem, when we walk away from God the cost is severe. We are left empty with nothing to fill us up. Like trying to fill a colander with water nothing stays within us.
Accepting the love and relationship God offers:
What does this even mean? When the moment came that I responded to the love God offered, I had been raised in a Christian home by very strict Christian parents. My small town life wanted to stretch and to grow. I went off to college and studied philosophy, and ideas from around the world, and I renounced my faith. I dabbled in Buddhism, agnosticism, deism, and even as embarrassed as I am to say, Wicca. Alcohol and destructive activity had left me in a misreable state of depression and self loathing. Some time later, at a church event my brother assisted in hosting (He invited me for food and no college kid says no to free food). I was listening to the speaker. His name was Andy Otto. He gave a word that pierced my soul.
I needed to believe God. God loved me even in my shame, my embarrassment of being “enlightened”
God desired and spoke to me and through prayer and study I not only believed in God but I believed God.
The testimony of other believers is a powerful thing. :Look out for how God works to get the attention of others too!
Revelation 12:11 NRSV
But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.
When you believe God and learn to trust Him, trust that he has a purpose for your life. You have a purpose in God’s story. You matter and it is written especially for you. These days that we are gathered here, open your heart to hear God’s personal message for you. When you spend time in prayer, worship, study, and community.
What could be different about your life if you leaned in to the relationship.
Say yes to the love God is offering you today. Don’t wait if you feel God knocking on the door of your heart. It is a relationship like no other. While you may not be a comic book hero you just might be the hero to someone else who’s life you can change through your testimony.
Bilbo: "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you'll be swept off to."
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