Transcript for the Hearing Impaired:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who ever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life
I John 4:7-8
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Let us pray
Hide me behind your cross, Lord. May my words be your heart. You have told us you love us, help us to know your love and live it every day of our lives. Amen
Henry Moorhouse was a wild young man who, by age sixteen, was a gambler, gang-leader, and thief. But during the Revival of 1859, Henry gave his life to Jesus. While D.L. Moody was in Great Britain, he met this man, and Moorhouse said to Moody, “I am thinking of going to America.” “Well,” said Moody, “if you should ever be in Chicago, come down to my place and I will give you a chance to preach.”
Now Mr. Moody was not two-faced, he was merely trying to be polite, but mentally he was saying, “I hope he won’t come.” There are so many people, you know, who want to preach, even though God never meant them to, and Mr. Moody was not quite sure of Mr. Moorhouse.
Mr. Moody was rather taken back one day when, just before leaving for a series of meetings, he received a telegram from Moorhouse which stated that he had just arrived in New York and that he would be in Chicago on Sunday. “And now I’m going away,” Moody thought, “and I told him he could preach here.” So he told his wife and his committee that a young Englishman was coming and to allow him to preach once. “If the people enjoy him,” Moody added, “then put him on again.”
When Moody returned he asked his wife, “Well, what about that young preacher?”
“Oh, he is a better preacher than you are.”
“Why?” said Moody. “He is telling sinners that God loves them. He is wrong! God doesn’t love sinners!”
“Well, go and hear him.” replied his wife.
“Why? Is he still preaching?” asked Mr. Moody.
“Yes, he has been preaching all week and has taken only one text, John 3:16.”
That evening he went to hear Moorhouse preach. The young man stood up in the pulpit and said, “If you will turn to the third chapter of John and the sixteenth verse,” said the young man, “you will find my text.” Moody later recalled, “He preached a most extraordinary sermon from that verse…. I never knew up to that time that God loved us so much. This heart of mine began to thaw out, and I could not keep back the tears. It was like news from a far country. I just drank it in.”
Night after night, Moorhouse preached from John 3:16, and it had a life-changing effect on D. L. Moody. “I have never forgotten those nights,” Moody said later. “I have preached a different Gospel since, and I have had more power with God and man since then.”
Later, when Moorhouse fell ill and was on his deathbed, he looked up and told his friends, “If it were the Lord’s will to raise me again, I should like to preach from the text, ‘God so loved the world.’”
Those five words serve as the catalyst for the sermon series we begin today. God so loved the world. It is the underscore of everything – God loves us. God loved us. But what does love mean here? What kind of love does God have for us? Does God love us like our parents love us? Does God love us like our friends love us? Does God love us like a boyfriend or girlfriend? What does the love of God look like? How is it possible that God’s love could be so compelling and so provocative and so immense that it could be proclaimed over and over and have impact? What does it mean to say God loves?
God loved us enough to create us, to form us from the dust.
God loved us enough to let us fail, to let us choose our own way over God’s – to let us chain ourselves to sin and defeat and heartbreak and sorrow and death.
God loved us enough to provide a rescue, a way back: through wanderers, murderers, adulterers, defaulters, promise-breakers, foreigners, strangers, and lovers.
God loved us enough to show us mothers, judges, kings, and prophets who loved and spoke for God and kept reminding us of the promise of redemption
God loved us enough to send us Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, to preach and live peace, grace, hope, joy, and love.
God loved us enough to see Jesus rejected, to see him die, to see him buried.
God loved us enough to raise Jesus from the dead and send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all we have in him and empower us to live like him.
God loved us enough to want us to live like Jesus – and abundant life infused with all the fruit of the Spirit, redeemed, free, loved.
God loved us enough to still let us choose our destiny.
God loved us enough to promise the hope of forever, of resurrection from the dead, and judgement.
God loved us enough, God loves us enough, God will always love us enough.
For God so loved the world…
God’s love for us isn’t like any other love we know: every other love we see in life is one that could fail us.
God’s love never fails.
God IS love – the apostle John who spent close time with Jesus, enough that he calls himself the “one whom Jesus loved” in his Gospel, and calls US beloved through out his letters, tells us that this is the lens through which we can read all of Scripture. He says that God IS love and that when we review all that is and was and will be by first acknowledging that truth, we can trust all we are and all we will be to that God.
Because God loves us.
God loves you when you lie
God loves you when you cheat
God loves you when you gossip
God loves you when you hate
God loves you when you are angry
God loves you when you are sad
God loves you when you are sick
God loves you when you are healthy
God loves you in every moment and in every situation you find yourself
God loves you when you cannot see it
God loves you when you are angry with God
God loves you when you don’t believe in God
God loves you more than I can tell you, more than you can understand, more than you can see, more than you have ever seen
And God tells us this truth OVER and OVER in this book.
The wonder of the Bible is not just that it has come to us, but even more that it comes to us with a solid continuous message: YOU ARE LOVED by the GOD WHO IS LOVE.
God loves you.
God loves me.
God loves every person in this world who was, who is, and who will be.
Maybe you had great parents who loved you perfectly. Maybe you have had a great boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife who loved you very well and made sure you knew it.
Maybe you have a child or a grandchild and you love them with a love you cannot articulate and you cannot express adequately
God loves better. God loves bigger. God loves more. All of that perfect love that we might know in our lives – those are mere shadows, mere slivers of what it looks like when we look for the immensity and fullness of God’s love
Maybe you have lived your whole life and never heard someone say “I love you” or maybe those words only came with pain and heart ache and sorrow. Maybe those words always came with conditions and rules and you knew that if you broke any of the parts that you were supposed to uphold – you knew it would cost you the love.
God’s love isn’t like that.
God loves us, God loves you, God loves without condition. God wants you to understand that love, God wants you to see it, or at least a glimpse of it.
God would say to you, right now, today without any hesitation: I love you.
Can you hear it?
Over the course of the next year and a half, you are going to hear it every week.
God loves you.
God wants you to know it. God wants you to live in it.
God wants you to be able to love others because you know you are loved.
God’s love is expressed to us every week, most tangibly, as we gather at this table: The Son who died and yet lives, gave everything so we could know the depth of God’s love.
So, Come. Drink the wine. Eat the bread. Know you ARE loved.
God loves you. Go, love the world with him.