God Loves Me!
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Ephesian 1:4
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Today, I begin a new series, titled 'The Immeasurable Riches of God's Love'. To start with, let me remind you that God loves you. His love for you is unquantifiable. Many of us have equated God's love to the abundance of the possessions that we have, or sometimes do not have. Nothing could be further from the truth. God's love for each one of us is certain, and independent of how we feel about His blessings in our lives.
Here is the rendition of our foundation scripture, Ephesians 1:4 in the New Living Translation: 'Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes'. As eternal beings, we existed before the world was created, much older than our natural birthdays. You are a spirit being mastering the human experience. I have come to realize that the grace of God, which has been our focus over the last couple of weeks, is simply an expression of His love for us. To embrace wholeheartedly the blessings that God's grace makes available to us, we must first accept without equivocation this truth that God loves us. And as such, everything that God has blessed us with through His Son, Jesus Christ is on the basis of His love. Every victory and success in life is predicated upon the understanding of God's love for each one of us.
Just as it is impossible to trust someone who hasn't got your best interest at heart, and does not love you, so it is difficult to put our trust in and have faith in God, if we do not fully appreciate His love for us. For instance, if you are hoping that next year will be significantly better than this year, then that hope must be built on the truth that God loves you. In short, there can be no progress in life, until you are rest assured that you are loved by God. If we do not fully embrace this truth, then our lives soon become reduced to our spiritual performance and activities. So here is this understated truth once again: God loves you unconditionally, and there is nothing you need to do or not do to qualify or disqualify for His love.
As stated above, God's love for us precedes the creation of the world. Better still; the world was created as a gift to us from God. Our world was designed, fully inhabitable, prepared for humanity. Jeremiah 31:3 puts it this way: 'Long ago the LORD said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself" (NLT). You may have suffered rejection from those around you, possibly members of your family or friends, but as long as God loves you, you need not worry. He simply cannot stop loving you, because He is Love personified!
To fully understand this subject of love, let's examine the story in the 22nd chapter of the book of Genesis, where Abraham prepares to sacrifice his son as instructed by God. His obedience got God's attention in verse 12: "Don't lay a hand on the boy!" the angel said. "Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son" (NLT). The theophanic appearance of Christ as an 'Angel' in this passage was a foreshadow of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary in the New Testament.
To drive this truth home, Apostle Paul writes about Christ's sacrifice and love in Romans 8. He starts in verse 31 by writing that God is for us. 'What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else? (Romans 8:31-32 NLT). The love for God that Abraham demonstrated in Genesis in preparing to sacrifice Isaac is fully expressed to us, when God sacrificed His Son, in exchange for our redemption – it is not based on our status in life, whether our careers, family, health and other physical parameters. In other words, God's love is solely based on Christ's work of salvation on the cross. Another passage in Romans explains this further: 'But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans 5:8 NIV). With God's love, comes the abundance of everything that we could ever ask from God. Here is a better rendition of Romans 8:32: 'He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?' (NIV). In Christ, you have your joy, peace, deliverance, health, wealth and salvation.
As we read further, verse 35 reads: 'Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture' (MSG). Nothing can stop God loving us! Such unquantifiable, immeasurably more is God's love towards us. We must now receive that love. The moment we grasp this truth, our prayers and disposition towards our prayers will change. A person who finds it difficult to fully appreciate this truth will undoubtedly live below God's best for him or her. In response to verse 35, the words in verse 37 read: 'No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us' (NLT). Your victory in life is rooted in your knowledge that God loves you.
In rounding up this discussion, Apostle Paul concludes, saying: 'And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.' (Verses 38-39 NLT). To cap this up, exercising our faith in order to experience all our God-given blessings is rooted in fully embracing God's love for us. Psalm 115:12 reveals that: 'The LORD has been mindful of us; He will bless us'. He is always thinking of each one of us. So can I encourage you to embrace and celebrate this wonderful gift from God to you – His love? It will indeed revolutionise your life.
In his letter to the church in Ephesians, Paul prays that they will continue to grow in their love for God. Here is the prayer in full; Ephesians 3:14-21: 'When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth, I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think' (NLT).
To fully understand the scripture above, here is an exegesis: Firstly, Paul prays that the spirit of the Christians in Ephesus and Christians today, by inference will be strengthened by God. A weak spirit gives room and control to the flesh. However, a strong spirit will accommodate and express fully the workings of Christ within us. Secondly, Christ, who is the personification of love, when expressed within us, reinforces our appreciation of God's love for us. The use of the word, 'root' in this passage connotes stability and strength, in addition to nutrition and resources. Thirdly, the full expression of God's love in our hearts enlightens and endorses our understanding of the various dimensions of God's love. In addition, not only would we understand these dimensions, but we would be invigorated with the abundance of God's life. To kick-start this, we need to interact with God's spirit within us. Finally God's power, His love in us, enables us to accomplish infinitely more than we may ever ask or think.
As we round up today, let me share with you seven benefits of knowing God's love:
(a) The knowledge of God's love increases the quality of your life: From your God-given view point, you live life stress-free.
(b) The knowledge of God's love positions you to win the battle of life: Romans 8:37, reads: 'No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us' (NLT). When you face the challenges of life, the love of God within will provide the strength you need to overcome. David's confidence against Goliath grew, as he recounted God's love and deliverance from the wild beasts, the lion and the bear, he had previously fought against.
(c) The knowledge of God's love increases your confidence that all things will work out for good for you: As you grow in God's love, it reinforces within you the knowledge that God will not abandon you, no matter what. He will take care of you despite the hardships and the problems in life. Isaiah 43:2 puts it this way: 'When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you' (NLT). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew this, when they were thrown into the furnace.
(d) The knowledge of God's love gives you a sense of a bright future: Probably, everything around you is falling apart at the moment, yet you can be rest assured that everything is going to be alright, because of God's love for you. Jeremiah 31:17 says: 'There is hope in your future, says the LORD, That your children shall come back to their own border'. I declare that there is hope in your future; the love of God will see you through the storms in Jesus name!
(e) The knowledge of God's love turbo-charges your faith: As you live each day, be confident that God is with you. Believe God to overcome the challenges, those mountains that have confronted you hitherto.
(f) The knowledge of God's love leads to intimacy with God: Just as in the natural you often gravitate towards those who love you, in the same you are often drawn to spend time in God's presence and to fellowship in the gathering of God's people.
(g) The knowledge of God's love helps you to love others: When you are aware of the undeserving spotlight of God's love shining on you, you reciprocate this to people around you. Atimes when people offend you, you are humble enough to respond in love and forgiveness, knowing fully well that God loved you when you were once far away from Him.
In rounding up, I encourage you to embrace the love of God in every area of your life. May that love continue to strengthen you in your walk with God every day, in Jesus name (Amen).
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