Why God Loves You

Crazy-Face-570x403Isaiah 54:7-8, 10 reads,

7 For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you.

8 In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer.

10 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Why does God do it? Is it because Israel is more lovable than other nations? No. Is it because Israel is faithful to Yahweh? No. There is nothing in Israel that is loveable to God. Israel was disobedient to God’s commandments. Israel was idolatrous—following other gods. Israel was unfaithful to God’s covenant. But God chose to love Israel; and so God shall restore Israel.

Have you seen an ugly face? Can you describe one? Maybe you will say that an ugly face has chubby eyes, fat lips, short nose, really bad teeth, and a face full of warts and blackheads. He has bad breath, uncleaned teeth, dis-aligned mouth, and worse, a disgusting personality.

There is nothing in us that is loveable to God. We are sinners, ugly sinners. Morally, we are people of bad breath, uncleaned teeth, of chubby eyes, fat lips, dis-aligned mouths, and our personality, disgusting.

But God says, I love you, not because you are beautiful or handsome, but because it is my nature to love according to my will, purposes, knowledge, and justice. I commend my love to you, in that while you were yet sinners, Christ died for you (Rom. 5:8).

Conclusion

I John 4:10-11, “this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” There are two big differences between our love and God’s love. Our love dictates our will most of the time. But God’s love agrees perfectly with God’s will all the time. God loves you because God wills to love you to the praise of His glorious grace.

Now John is telling us to love one another, as God has loved us. Do you have an unlovable husband, child, or co-worker? You are to love him not because he is lovable. You are to love her as God has loved you, with a love that works with the will to love, despite her “unlovableness.”

Do you know of someone you don’t like? Because you have been transformed by the Gospel, you have the divine capacity to love the unloving. You are to set your love for her or him not because he or she is lovable, but because God has loved you with his own character, and not from your own loveliness or unloveliness. Love him, then, because God first loved you.

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God Loves You Because of God’s Nature to Love

10-08-15-woeaihf-god-loves-you-this-much_miniI read about this beautiful love story by an unknown author.

One day, a young guy and a young girl fell in love. But the guy came from a poor family. The girl’s parents weren’t too happy. So the young man decided not only to court the girl but to court her parents as well. In time, the parents saw that he was a good man and was worthy of their daughter’s hand.

But there was another problem: The man was a soldier. Soon, war broke out and he was being sent overseas for a year. The week before he left, the man knelt on his knee and asked his lady love, “Will you marry me?” She wiped a tear, said yes, and they were engaged. They agreed that when he got back in one year, they would get married.

But tragedy struck. A few days after he left, the girl had a major vehicular accident. It was a head-on collision. When she woke up in the hospital, she saw her father and mother crying. Immediately, she knew there was something wrong.

She later found out that she suffered brain injury. The part of her brain that controlled her face muscles was damaged. Her once lovely face was now disfigured. She cried as she saw herself in the mirror. “Yesterday, I was beautiful. Today, I’m a monster.” Her body was also covered with so many ugly wounds.

Right there and then, she decided to release her fiancé from their promise. She knew he wouldn’t want her anymore. She would forget about him and never see him again.

For one year, the soldier wrote many letters—but she wouldn’t answer. He phoned her many times but she wouldn’t return her calls.

But after one year, the mother walked into her room and announced, “He’s back from the war.”

The girl shouted, “No! Please don’t tell him about me. Don’t tell him I’m here!”

The mother said, “He’s getting married,” and handed her a wedding invitation.

The girl’s heart sank. She knew she still loved him—but she had to forget him now. With great sadness, she opened the wedding invitation.

And then she saw her name on it!

Confused, she asked, “What is this?”

That was when the young man entered her room with a bouquet of flowers. He knelt beside her and asked, “Will you marry me?”

The girl covered her face with her hands and said, “I’m ugly!”

The man said, “Without your permission, your mother sent me your photos. When I saw your photos, I realized that nothing has changed. You’re still the person I fell in love. You’re still as beautiful as ever. Because I love you!”[1]

This is the second big difference between our love and God’s love. You love because of the loveliness or unloveliness of the loved. You love someone because you like her eyes, her mouth, and her voice, and the way she talks to you. You do not love someone because she’s ugly or smells bad breath.

But God loves, not because of the loveliness of the loved, or the unloveliness, but because it is God’s nature to love. God’s love is not dependent on something outside of himself. God’s love is based on God’s character of love. God’s love is according to God’s will, God’s purpose, God’s knowledge, and God’s justice.

[1] “Motivation.” Cited March 3, 2016. Online: http:// academictips.org/blogs/military-a-beautiful-true-love-story/.

Non-Departing Love

isaiah-54How does Yahweh express His love for Israel? He says it in majestic words. He says that the mountains may depart. The hills may be removed. But His steadfast love shall not depart from Israel. His covenant of peace shall not be removed from her (Isa. 54:10).

Again, we see Hebrew parallelism in v. 10.

A     For the mountains may depart

A1   and the hills be removed,

B     but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,

B1   and my covenant of peace shall not be removed

A1 repeats A. B1 repeats B. We see that the will of God works with the wrath of God. In v. 8, God was angry at Israel for a moment. But in everlasting love, God responds with compassion.

Why are you angry? A driver cut you on the road. You heard someone talk bad about you. Somebody stole your money. You get angry. You react in anger against something that provokes you.

Israel offends God by worshiping images of other gods. God responds with wrath and judgment. But God’s anger is only a moment. In love, He sets aside His wrath.

We can say then, that the wrath of God is not blind, uncontrollable rage. Instead, the wrath of God is a function of God’s holiness. It is the response of God’s holiness. Because God is holy, he is angry at the sin and the sinner.

The love of God, however, is the very nature of God. The Bible says that God is love. But the Bible never says that God is wrath. Love is an attribute of God; a character of God. But wrath is a response to sin by God’s holy character.

The wrath of God and the love of God can be directed at the same time to the same object—Israel. Where do you see the love of God and the wrath of God at the same time to the same person? In the OT, look at Israel. In the NT, look at the cross. At the cross, God showed his love for the world, and his wrath against the sin of the world through the death of Christ. At the cross, Jesus’ death showed the love of God and the wrath of God at the same time.

God Does Not Fall in Love

04MarP63CD2000x1500John 3:16 corroborates Isaiah 54:8, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” The love of God operates in perfect harmony with the will of God to give his only begotten Son. This means that God does not fall in love, but God wills in love. Paul wrote that “in love, he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:4-5, ESV). It is in God’s love that he predestined his elect according to His will. Hence, God does not fall in love, but God sets his love for his elect.[1] God decides to love us because He wills to love us.

Thus, Yahweh can say these words in vv. 9-10.

“This is like the days of Noah to me:
as I swore that the waters of Noah
should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
and will not rebuke you.
10 For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

Yahweh will not pour his wrath against Israel, in the same way that he poured his wrath on the world in the days of Noah. He will not be angry with Israel anymore. He will not rebuke Israel anymore.

[1] Carson, The Difficult, 61.

God Loves You Because God Wills to Love You

62a90fd457a169cb5a28a23a5718a6d0Isaiah 54:7-8 reads,

For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love  I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer.

In vv. 7-8, we see the contrast between the wrath of God and the love of God. God’s wrath is a brief moment. In the brief moment of God’s wrath, God deserted them in judgment. But with great compassion, God will gather them.

Israel was scattered in foreign nations during her exile. God abandoned them as a husband abandons his wife for her adultery. Israel committed spiritual adultery by worshiping other gods. So God deserted her. God judged her.

But God’s love prevails. He will gather her. In v. 8, God’s anger is for a moment. In this moment of God’s anger, God hid His face from Israel. But with everlasting love, God promises to have compassion on her.

We see Hebrew parallelism in vv. 7-8.

A        For a brief moment I deserted you,

B     but with great compassion I will gather you.

A1      In overflowing anger for a moment, I hid my face from you,

B1   but with everlasting love I will have compassion on

you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer.

A is the same in meaning with A1. B is the same in meaning with B1. It is called synonymous parallelism. One line is the same in meaning with another line.

I see here the love of God and the justice of God at play. While God wants to punished Israel for her spiritual adultery, God also wants to continue to love Israel. In the end, God decides to love Israel.

This is not to say that God’s heart won over his head. This is to say that God’s love worked perfectly with his justice. The justice of God will still punish Israel through exile. But the love of God will restore Israel from exile. Therefore, we can say that the emotions of God can never be divorced from the justice of God and the will of God.

Herein is the first big difference between our love and God’s love. Our love dictates our will, our decisions, and our commitments, causing us to keep or not keep our promises most of the time. But God’s will dictates God’s love all the time.

Love is Loving Difficult People

Pastor Isaac Butterworth tells of a man in his church, the owner of a local imagesbusiness.

“His wife was the most annoying woman I have ever known. She was chronically ill, and her sickness had embittered her spirit. She demanded almost all of this man’s time and energy, and she was never grateful for a single thing he did for her. She complained about life, and she complained about him.

“For his part — I don’t know how he did it — but he remained gentle and serene, and he had the utmost patience with this woman. He never spoke ill of her. He never sighed under the burden of her criticism. . . . If life had not rewarded him with outward happiness, he was deeply and inwardly joyful.”[1]

Brethren, that man has experienced the love of God. Because of that, he laid down his life for his difficult wife. If you have experienced the love of God in your heart, you will also begin to love difficult people with the same love.

Right now, ask God to search your heart. Are there people you dislike? Is there someone you hate? Are there people who do not like you? Know love as you have never known before.

Give yourself. Give yourself for the good of people. In the name of Jesus, give yourself for the good of people who don’t love you.

[1] Isaac Butterworth, “The Mark of Jesus.” Cited February 14, 2015. Online: http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/ sermon-illustration-isaac-butterworth-stories-sanctification-80909.asp

Love is Giving of Yourself for the Good of Others

The second question is—What do you seek to accomplish in love? John adds,   images“so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). The plan of God is to send his Son as a sin offering on the cross. The purpose of God is that we might live through him. To live through Christ is to pass from death to life. John wrote, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:14). To live is to receive eternal life in Christ.

Thus, love is giving of yourself for the good of people. God sent Jesus not for what it would do for him, but for what it would do for us. In love, you seek to meet the need of someone else.

Now God did not send his Son to give what you want. God did not send his Son to give what you deserve. God sent his Son to give what you need. You are a sinner. The penalty of sin is death. You need a Savior to save you from sin and death. God sent his Son to give what you need. God sent a Savior, his Son Jesus Christ.

We need money. We need education. We need housing. But more than anything else, we need forgiveness from God. We need redemption. We need to be saved from our sins. We need to be reconciled to God. When we begin with God, all the other needs will follow. Our starting point is God. Then the rest will follow. We need a Savior. We need Christ.

Love is seeking the good of others by meeting their needs. If I bring a street kid to Jollibee to erase my guilt, that is not love. If I help the poor just to seek tax exemption, that is not love. If I feed the hungry to make my life interesting, that is not love.

Love is not about you. Love is about loving another person in the name of Jesus. Love is giving yourself for the good of others in Jesus’ name.

1 John 3:16-18 says,
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay
down our lives for the brothers.
17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Love is laying down your life for your brother in Christ. Love is sharing your goods with a brother in need. Love is opening your heart to him. Love is doing it, and not just talking about it.

I read about a man who was preaching a series of stewardship sermons. After one sermon a man walked out of the church who really loved his money. He really didn’t care about God or the church.

He said to the pastor, “All I ever hear out of you is give, give, give, give.”

The preacher looked at him and said, “Sir, thank you for the best definition of Christianity I’ve ever heard.”

As someone once said, you can give without loving, but you cannot
love without giving. The man who does not give of himself for the good of others does not know about the love of Christ. He does not understand the cross. He does not understand the gospel.

Love is Taking the Risk to Give of Yourself

Picture1Love is God giving His Son to die on the cross for our sins. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). The word “propitiation” (hilasmos) means “sin offering.” (Gingrich) Let us try to understand John according to John, not according to Paul. John writes in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” The blood of Christ is the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In this context, a sin offering takes away sin. Jesus is the propitiation, the sin offering to God. His offering of himself on the cross removes our sin. Jesus’ sin offering, His propitiation, takes away the offense of our sin against the holiness of God.

Thus, love is giving of yourself. God gave his Son. His Son gave his life on the cross.

If I see a street kid and give him money that is kindness. But if I see a street kid and invite him to Jollibee, and we eat together, that is not just kindness. That is love.

One day we were eating on a roadside restaurant in Mandaue. About three street kids were watching us. We let them sit with us. We let them eat our food. Then we taught them to spend their limited money for food only, not on cigarettes, or rugby, or useless things.

After the kids finished eating, they hugged my companion, Pastor Gerry Rizon. Surprised, I asked him, “Do you know these kids?”

“Yes,” he answered, “they eat with us every time we come here.”

If you open your home to suffering people, you take a risk. If you take a risk, you give something of yourself. Love is giving of yourself.

Love is Giving of Yourself

What is love? Love is giving of yourself.2 “In this the love of God wasimages
made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world” (1 John 4:9). John wrote that love is manifested when God sent his only Son into the world. God gave His only Son. His only Son gave Himself on the cross for our sins. The cross then is the definitive demonstration of the love of God. But the cross is not only the demonstration of love. The cross is also the definition of love.

You have to give something in order to love. Love has a price tag; and the price tag is high.

One day Mylene asked me, “Hen, if I’d die ahead of you, would you marry somebody again?”
Without hesitation, I answered, “No!”
She said, “Why not?”
I said, “It’s expensive to love again! I’m tired of spending to love again.”

Brethren, there is a price to love. If it is free, it is not love; if it is love,
it is not free. Love costs a lot. It cost God his only Son to love this world. “For God so loved the world He gave His only Son.” It cost Jesus his life to love the church. Paul wrote, “Husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25).

2 Bryan Wilkerson, “Deep Love.” Cited February 14, 2015. Online: http:// http://www.preachingtoday.com/ sermons/sermons/2011/may/deeplove.html? start=4

Knowing Love

imagesMark Buchanan writes of a group of children who were asked what love means.

“What does ‘love’ mean?’. . .
Rebekah, 8, said, ‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over
and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time—even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s love.’
Nikka, 6, says, ‘If you want to learn to love better, you should start with
someone you hate.’
Tommy, 6, says, ‘Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.’”1

If people would ask you, “What are you doing at GGCF?” Well, you could tell them that GGCF is discipling people. You could tell them that GGCF is planting churches. You could tell them that GGCF is loving people. We love people—rich or poor, sick or healthy, and smart or not.

But how do we love people? Do we love them when it’s convenient? Or do we love them when it’s inconvenient?

Today, I’m going to preach about knowing love. The apostle John tells us about knowing love.

1 John 4:7-11 (ESV):
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

As we study this text, we shall answer three important questions. The first question is, “What is love?” The second question, “What do you seek to accomplish in love? The third question is, “Who do you show love?”

1 Mark Buchanan, “The Greatest of These.” Cited February 14, 2015. Online: http://www.preachingtoday.com/sermons/ sermons/2010/september/greatestofthese.html.