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This week, I want to write about experiencing God’s love.

We know that the Bible talks a lot about what love is and the Apostle Paul details it very clearly in what is known as the “Love Chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13.  We know that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus, His most precious Son, to die for us.   That’s the greatest expression of His love for us.

But, we’re not going to look there.

I want to take you deeper on a journey into your heart.

We talk a lot in the Christian world that our lives should not be based on feelings but on faith.

And, whilst that is true, there is a place for emotions.

God did create them after all and the Bible is filled with accounts of circumstances that affected His emotions and His responses to situations.

I want you to know that it’s alright, it’s ok, and you are allowed to be emotional.   You are allowed to be moved by God.  You are welcome to open your heart and allow the Creator of the universe to enter in and touch the very fibres of your being.

Our perceptions of God and our experiences in life are our measuring stick.

We judge God by what has happened to us and in the world around us.

Bette Midler wrote a song many years ago and said that from a distance, God is watching us.

That’s how many people feel!

You may feel that way, that God is just up in heaven on His throne watching you go about your life,

–          watching your suffering,

–          your sadness,

–          your sickness,

–          your loneliness,

–          your brokenness,

–          your hardness,

–          your success

–          your life go by as you do the motions

You may feel that God has no interest in you – you’re a speck on His radar.

He is, after all, God and we are minute, tiny, almost non-existent if you look at us in comparison to the universe at large.

You may feel that God is like an old style school head master with a big stick, ready and waiting to strike each time you do the wrong thing.

You may feel that you’re simply not good enough, you’re never going to be good enough and there’s no way God can really love you anyway.

You may feel that God is angry with you all the time because you keep making mistakes –you’ve broken the 10 commandments more times than you can recall.

You may feel that there’s no way, even though you keep trying and trying, that you’re just not good enough.

God can’t possibly love you because

– you’re not like the people on stage,

– you’re not like the people who teach Sunday School,

– you’re not like the people who walk around with their Bible under their arm,

– you don’t know your Bible like other people do

You might be someone who thinks that God only loves you when you do good things or when you keep His commands as well as the Pharisees and Sadducees did!

You might think that God will love you when you are good enough –

You know,

–          when you don’t get upset with the kids anymore,

–          when you don’t shout at your husband anymore

–          when you don’t speed through the school zones anymore

–          when you give money to street people

–          when you stop using those words that really don’t honour Him

–          when you only spend time with Christian people and never see a non-      Christian person

Your experiences in life, the way that you were brought up and the way that you were treated, have shaped how you feel about God.

The image of God as a loving Father can be horrific for some people – those who have had a bad experience or a non experience of a Father.

If your Father hurt you or members of your family, it’s no wonder you don’t understand what the love of a Father is really like – protective and just.

If your Father was absent and didn’t have time for you, you won’t understand that God’s heartbeat is for you –for time with you.

If your Father was abusive and demanding, you might feel that God expects the same as your earthly Father.

If your Father didn’t know how to share with you, to be affectionate and relational with you, you may not know that God is absolutely relational.

Our view and perception of God can range from seeing Him as a distant and angry God to a God whom nothing is ever good enough to a God who presents as a father who is not caring or even approachable.

I want to show you today that God is so much more than any of these perceptions.

God is LOVE!

It’s not what God does for us or to us, but that it is WHO HE IS!!!

Above all else, God loves you.

If you have never experienced the love of God in a personal, heart stopping way, I pray that as you read this, you will.

We all have a different understanding of God as a result of the journey that we are each on.

I want to encourage you that no matter where you are in your walk, God’s love is not absent or far from you!

God desires that you would know, that you would feel, that you would experience the fullness of His love.

Ephesians 3:14-19 in the Amplified translation says:

For this reason, seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ, I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name.

May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality.

May Christ through your faith actually dwell, settle down, abide, make His permanent home in your hearts!

May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints, God’s devoted people, the experience of that love what is the breadth and length and height and depth of it;

That you may really come to know, practically, through experience for yourselves the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge without experience; that you may be filled through all your being unto all the fullness of God may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself!

Now to Him Who, by consequence of the action of His power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams–

To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

The love that God wants us to experience is a life changing love.

A love that is almost to much to grapple with and to comprehend.

A love that has no end to how far it will go, either in time, in distance or in effort.

God’s desire for us to experience His love is not just as a one off experience – He wants us to be rooted in His love.

He wants us to know His love so intimately, so deeply, so closely that we never have to question His love.

His love for us is never ending!

God’s love for us is real.

His love is as real as the life we live and the air that we breathe.

We need a life changing experience of God’s love – an experience that disturbs, if you like, the very core of our being.

God desires for us to have an experience that brings us to our knees and removes all of the hardness, all of the fears, all of the things that bind us up and keep us from opening our heart.

When you have been hurt, whether as a child, a teen or as an adult, you are probably more reluctant to trust people.

We are often even more reluctant to trust God.

Many people know the story of how I came to be pastoring and living in Whyalla.

I was a broken man.

I had lost everything and was desperately relying on God for everything.

I remember day after day just crying out to God and asking Him to fill my heart – my heart that had been so broken.

I knew that God loved me and that He was a good God and He gives good gifts to His children.

I knew and I’d preached it and counselled it all my life.

But, I was now living in that reality of having to totally rely on God to restore my heart and potentially give me a new life partner – somewhere, sometime, somehow.

I had no idea that moving to Whyalla for 6 months was going to change the whole course and shape of my life.

Kylie and I hit it off and we began a relationship very soon after I arrived.

Immediately, I began to feel and realise God’s love for me, through Kylie.

All the things that I had craved my whole life were suddenly being realised.

Little things and big things.

Things that I didn’t even know that I needed or wanted, or that I thought were too great to even think to ask or desire of God were beginning to happen.

God knew what I needed in a wife.

He knew I needed more than just a bride.

He knew that I needed a soul mate – someone who would love me with the kind of love that God describes

–          total

–          unconditional

–          full

–          sacrificial

–          selfless

–          trusting

God knew that my heart needed to be held very gently by someone with strong hands.

I knew that God loved me, but all of a sudden I was personally and practically experiencing His love.

His very great, deep and unending love.

God doesn’t always use people to express His love.

Sometimes He does and sometimes He doesn’t.

Sometimes He speaks directly to us, to our heart.

Sometimes He uses His words – the Bible to reveal it to us.

Sometimes He uses experiences that we go through to show us His great and powerful love.

The Apostle Paul said that nothing in life can take God’s love from us and nothing can take us from God’s love because of the sacrifice that Jesus made.

Romans 8:38-39

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

God’s love is such that He is so moved by us, His children that He will stop at nothing to show us and to make sure that we understand fully how deep, how pure and how real His love is.

God’s love is AGAPE love.

I’m sure that we’ve possibly all heard that word before and the scripture that usually accompanies it that because God loved us so much, He sent Jesus to die for us.

That’s true!  But it’s more than that!

Agape love, God’s love, is activated when He see, recognises, understands or appreciates the value of us, causing Him to behold us in great esteem, awe, admiration, wonder and sincere appreciation.

Agape love is so great that it is irresistible for the giver not to love.

Agape love, when received, is emotional.

It does require an emotion response from us.

It requires, in fact, it causes us, to be moved.

Receiving God’s love is not like when you are moved by compassion to do something, but rather it is when you are moved to be able to receive from God.   You are able to receive without restriction, without restraint, or without reservation and without hesitation.

You are able to surrender to the immense love that God wants to lavish upon you.

Agape love, God’s love, is so great and loves so profoundly that it knows no limitations or boundaries in how far, how wide, and how deep it will go to show us His love.

God’s love drives Him to action.

He wants and desires you to know and experience so that you might be made whole and complete, and that you might know the fullness of His love.

Life still happens and being loved by God doesn’t change the fact that sometimes things don’t go or happen as we would like or as we plan.

However, God desires that we would know His great love that we might be able to walk full in His love through every circumstance.

He wants us to be fully rooted and intensely established in Him and His love.

He wants you to feel and know His love.

His love that is greater than any love that will ever come your way.

Greater than the love of any person – mother, father, child, husband or wife.

God’s love is for you to feel, for you to experience, for you to know above and beyond anything else.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

GOD LOVES YOU.

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