This is Love

So much of our sin is rooted in simply forgetting who we are and who we were meant to be.

Transcript

INTRODUCTION

Morning.  David Sorn.  Lead Pastor at Renovation Church.

Before we get started in our message this morning, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about what God is doing through Renovation Church…outside of our walls.

As many of you may know, our goal is to start 10 churches in 10 years (by 2022) out of Renovation.

We have already done two, and we are about to do our third.

I’m very excited to let you know who our third church planter is going to be.

It is going to be Mike Howard

(show picture of Mike Howard) 

Mike is just finishing up as the High School Pastor at Constance Free Church, and he has spoken here many times.

One of our most liked guest speakers

We’ve been talking with Mike about church planting literally for YEARS…and journeyed with him and God through this process…

And through that…God has led us to expand our reach even farther…and plant a church in Des Moines.

Des Moines is incredibly unchurched city for the Midwest.

And we believe God is going to do great things through Mike there!

Mike will be here A LOT in March and April, so we’ll be telling you much more about the project then.

And…not only are we going to make a bigger impact in the Midwest, but in the world as well.

In less than 48 hours, our Haiti Team will be departing to change the world.

I’m very excited to announce that we hit our goal for the Haiti Offering, and we are going to be able to do EVERYTHING we have been talking about!

We saw $5,936 come in last week!

So, we will be able to paint the church, build the triple-decker bunk beds for the orphans, build desks, and put on our outreaches.  

We actually raised slightly above what we were hoping for, so we were able to go and buy bed sheets for all the children as well!

Thank you so much for your generosity!

This is an amazing church!  

At this point, I’d like to call our 11 brave Team members to come on stage w/ me  .

These 11 people should be commended for their bravery, faith, and their willingness to serve.   

Alissa Speck

Ryan Speck

Linda Williams

Alex Cox

Brooke Winter

Emily Stroud

Matt Cheney

Amy Cheney

Diane Rumsey

Rachel Cheney

 And I will be going as well 

And our Team would really, really like you to pray for us.

In fact, when you leave today, you’re going to get handed a really nice prayer postcard with a picture of our team and our prayer requests.

Would you take that home?  And put it on your fridge or counter?  And then pray for us during our trip?  From Tuesday to Tuesday? 

We do this TOGETHER. 

We go.  You support.  You pray.  But TOGETHER we do this.. 

In the Bible, when people were about to go out on a missionary journey, people would come around them and lay hands on them, and commission them to go out and change the world.  It’s a really cool visual actually. 

So at this time, I’m going to ask the team to step in front of the stage…

And if you’re a friend or family member (in your house group), I’d like to invite you to come up and gather around this amazing team and lay hands on them (come on down)

And one of our elders (_________), is going to pray for us.

 

WHAT IS LOVE?

This morning we are starting a brand new series called “Real Love”

And for 3 weeks, we want to ask the question:  “What is real love?”

If we could show you what the quintessential picture of what love is, what would it be?

What’s love in its most basic and pure form?

It’s a tough question.

Writer’s, poets, and 90’s pop artists have been asking the question, “What is Love?” since the beginning of time.

I love a good butterburger from Culver’s.

That may be love…but it’s a shade of love.

It’s not real love.  Love in its purest form.

It’s like a color spectrum when you buy paint for your house. 

There are thousands of shades of white.

But we want to find PURE white. 

Not white-grey.

If real love is pure white, loving a butter-burger is much closer to grey.

I think just about anyone would agree that the most beautiful picture of love is never going to be us loving an object (whether that’s a burger, a sports team, a TV show, or a fashion statement). 

But maybe love can best be seen, defined, and demonstrated by a love that two people have for each other?

Again, that seems right at first, but it has its shortcomings.

Most of the love that our culture writes songs about and makes movies about is closer to romance or infatuation than it is love.

I’m always puzzled why there aren’t more songs on the radio about married people since the majority of people are indeed married.

We tend to glorify romantic love or sensual love above committed love

There really aren’t too many good movies made about the love senior citizens have for each other.

Maybe that’s why The Notebook was so popular?

Not that I’ve seen it J

But if romantic love seems to fade, what about committed love? 

Is that it then?   Is that the purest form of love?  Committed love in a marriage…over a period of time?

Nope.  Even there, our selfish desires often get in the way. 

I remember high school and college being an odd time as so many of my classmate’s parents got divorced.

People who had appeared “in love” for decades, but now as they became empty nesters…they found their love to be empty as well 

So I don’t think that even married, committed love is a perfect picture of real love.

 

 

HIGHER LOVE #1:  SACRIFICIAL LOVE

It’s funny how you can remember certain songs from childhood better than others

I can remember riding in the back of my parents Ford Taurus in the mid-eighties listening to Steve Winwood’s Higher Love. 

And that’s what we’re talking about here…that there has to be some sort of higher love.

That Real love…in its purest…most white form…has to be greater than what we can see with our own eyes.

And thankfully, that’s what the Bible tells us.

This morning, we’re going to study a passage that speaks exactly to this subject.

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(Renovation App)

It’s a letter from one of Jesus’ disciples, John.

(1 John 4:9-10) – NIV  - Leave up for a minute

9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 

So look at verse 10:  It says, “THIS IS Love.”

The New Living Translation even says, “This is REAL Love”

The great pastor Charles Spurgeon says of this very verse:  The disciple John is saying, “ This is love. 

“This is love.  As though you could find it nowhere else as it is here.  Here is the height and depth of love immeasurable.  Here is love summed up, here is love’s climax.” – Charles Spurgeon

So we must ask ourselves, what makes THIS…love?

Or, why is this love of God a higher love?

I want to give you 3 reasons why this is the highest of loves, and there are certainly more. 

But each of the 3 reasons is going raise the bar higher than the one before.

In the first 1 or 2, you might even see examples of it in human love

Let’s take a look at the first reason:

HIGHER LOVE #1 – A SACRIFICAL LOVE

So much of love…in our world…is an emotion we have because we’re benefiting from it.

When you fall in love, what is it, at the start that you “love” about love?

You love the feeling that YOU get!

But the love of God is a sacrificial love.

It’s not about what He GETS from it, but what He GIVES to it.

Back in 2004, I went to Hawaii on unfortunate circumstances.

Lindsey’s grandfather, who lived in Hawaii, was dying.

While we were there, I got a chance to go to Wayne Cordeiro’s church.

Wayne is one of the leading pastors and writers in America.

And he’s known as a great storyteller

He sometimes tells the true story of an older member of his church who had many scars on his hands.

So one time, Pastor Wayne asked him why he had so many scars.

The man responded by telling him the following story.

He said, “One morning back in the 1960’s, the tide receded so much that the children ran out to catch fish in the tide pools left behind.

We thought it was fun at first, but within minutes, a sixty-foot wave charged our unsuspecting town with a force we'd never seen before.

The Tsunami waters rushed inland and pulled homes, cars, possessions, and people back into a watery grave.

I ran as fast as I could to our home, where I found my wife sobbing uncontrollably. "Robby is missing," she shouted. "I can't find Robby!"

Robby was our six-month-old child who was asleep in the house when the ocean raged against our helpless village.

I was frantic as I looked over the shore covered with the remains of the stick houses that were now piled in heaps along the sands.  

Realizing that another wave may soon be following, I began running on top of the wooden structures, tearing up pieces of twisted corrugated roofs that were ripped like discarded remains of a demolition project.

I tore up one piece after another running over boards and broken beams until I heard the whimpering of a child under one of the mattresses that had gotten lodged beneath an overturned car.

I reached under and pulled up my little son, Robby.

I tucked him under my arm like a football player running for the end zone, then I sprinted back over the debris until I reached my wife.

We ran for higher ground, hugging our child and one another, thanking God for his mercy.

Just then, my wife said, "Your feet and your hands! You're covered in blood!"

I had been wearing tennis shoes, and I didn't realize that as I ran over the wreckage, I was stepping on protruding nails and screws that had been exposed in the rubble.  

And as I pulled back the torn corrugated roofing looking for Robby, the sharp edges tore into my hand …. I was so intent on finding my son that nothing else mattered”

That’s a glimpse into the kind of love God has for you.

The Bible says that God loves you so much…that he sent his own son on a rescue mission to save your live. 

God is so crazy in love with YOU (yes you), that he sent his one and only son, Jesus, to die a horrible death on the cross, for you…so you could live.

See, real love, always costs something.

You can see this even in something as basic as having children.

If you are going to have and love children…it’s going to cost you.

Your freedom, your time, your energy…possibly your sanity.

Real love always costs something to the person giving it.

And our passage says that God SHOWED his love…by sending his son.

It says, “By sending his son as an “atoning sacrifice’”

What does that mean??

It means that you and I sin (we don’t live according to God’s holy ways) all the time.

multiple times a day.

And by the time you and I stand in front of God, our lists of indictments will be so long, it might take months to read it.

We’re guilty.

And thus, there’s no way we’re going to get to heaven on our own merit.

No one on this earth is even remotely close to “earning their way” by their own good deeds.

Being a nice person in no way will pay for all the wrong we’ve done against God.

But God…because He loves you…because he LOVES YOU…sent his own Son…to die on the cross…to take the punishment (which is death) for you.

And by being sacrificed (as our passage puts it), in your place, God’s wrath against your sin is satisfied because it was turned away and directed towards Jesus.

It’s sacrificial love.

It’s a higher love. 

 

 

HIGHER LEVEL #2:  IT’S UNDERSERVED

But this is real love we’re talking about.  A quintessential, pure look at love..

We can take this thing even higher.

HIGHER LOVE #1 – A SACRIFICAL LOVE

HIGHER LOVE #2 – AN UNDESERVED LOVE

Most of the examples of love we see in our lives aren’t sacrificial.

But…you can indeed find some examples.

What about undeserved love?

Even harder yet to find.

It’s an even higher form of love.

Think of the Hawaiian man and the baby.

He rips apart his feet and his hands because…it’s for his baby!

His baby has done nothing wrong to him at this point! 

That’s sacrificial love, but it’s not undeserved love.

Examples of undeserved love are few and far in between, but you can find a few:

Many of them come from war.

Or other incredibly painful stories.

Just a few months ago, there was a story in the news of a New Hampshire man who, while drunk and high, was messing around and accidentally shot and killed his roommate.

No one would have blinked if the parents of the young man who was killed were angry at the man who killed their son.

Yet, they forgave him. 

And when he was let out of prison just a few months ago, they even found him a place to live and got him a job.

Underserved love.

Not very common…at all.

A higher love.

But God’s love for us is not just sacrificial…it’s undeserved. 

Think what God does for us…and think about it from God’s position.

One of the greatest thinkers of all of human history, the Apostle Paul, writes it this way in his letter to the Romans in the Bible

(Romans 5:6-8) – NIV

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Look at the picture Paul is painting here! 

This is critical to understanding real love.

God created you in your mother’s womb.

He’s literally watched you every nanosecond of your life.

Even more than that, God is present everywhere, so He’s been with you every second of your life.

And the vast majority of that time…He’s not even a thought in your mind.

Can you imagine what that’s like for Him?

He created you! 

The only reason you exist:  God!

The only reason you’re still breathing:  God!

And yet, we mostly ignore him.

Worse yet, we sin…right in front of Him.

We hurt each other

We don’t forgive each other

We lust, we steal, we lie, we gossip, we’re corrupt, we’re selfish…and the list goes on and on.

We’re not exactly the definition of lovable creatures.

But it’s even worse!

Not only do we sin against each other…we sin against the very God who created us and gave us life

We ignore him, we curse his name, we blame him for things that aren’t his fault…

I look at my own life…there was a time when I even persecuted his followers!

AND YET…..Who is this God, really?

I’m not asking “What have you heard about him” or “what have you thought of Him in the past?”

I’m asking, “Who does the Bible really say He is?”

The Bible says:  That despite all of that…ALL OF THAT…he looks at you…and He loves you.

And that He loved you first!

This is why John says in our passage, “THIS is love, not that you loved God, but that GOD loves you!”

That He loved you and died for you while you were still sinners.

In other words, God in his foresight, looked upon EVERYTHING (and I mean everything) you would ever do, and because He was so in love with you, He said, “I’m going to send my son to die in their place”

Sacrificial love.

Undeserved Love

God loves you. 

Even though we don’t deserve it. 

God loves you.

He’s crazy about you.

Like no one else is crazy about you.

God loves you.

And He wants to be in a relationship with you!

 

 

 

HIGHER LOVE #3 – A LIFE-GIVING LOVE

And as if that weren’t enough, I want to show you that Real Love, love in its purest form, is even higher than this.

 HIGHER LOVE #1 – A SACRIFICAL LOVE

HIGHER LOVE #2 – AN UNDESERVED LOVE

HIGHER LOVE #3 – A LIFE-GIVING LOVE

Let me show you one more thing out of our passage:

(1 John 4:9-10) – NIV  - Leave up for a minute

9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 

Verse 9 says that “He sent his one and only Son into the world (WHY?) that we might live through Him!”

God’s love for you is amazing. 

See, not only did He sacrifice his Son for you.

Not only does He offer you undeserved love no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done…

He takes it even a step higher.

He tells us that through His love, we have the opportunity to LIVE through Him.

So He’s not just saying to you this morning, “I love you”

He’s saying so much more.

He’s saying:

“I love you SO MUCH that I want to help you live forever with me”

“I love you SO MUCH that I want to…when you die…whisk you away to the greatest paradise you could ever imagine…for all of time. 

THIS IS LOVE!

Sacrificial, undeserved, life-giving (eternal life giving!)

This is love.

And God wants to give it to you!

Jesus’ disciple, John, who wrote these words, also famously penned John 3:16, which tells us how to receive that love, and that eternal life

Look carefully at these words…like you’ve never seen them before

(John 3:16) – NIV

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

And that is how you receive God’s love…and eternal life in heaven.

You believe in his son Jesus Christ.

You say to God, 

“God, I can’t do this on my own.”

“I’m never going to be good enough on my own”

“The love I’ve been searching for in this world…is not real love”

I believe that you love me, and that you sent your son for me, and I want to know you and follow you

That is how God will completely forgive you.

That’s why Jesus pays the price for you on the cross

This is how you can have life eternally in heaven with God.

But I want to tell you, that that LIFE can start RIGHT NOW.

For some of you, I believe today is the day that you tell God that you believe…so you can let that love into your life for the first time.

And you start to follow this God who has been ready to love you your whole life.

In fact, this morning, I want to give you a chance to tell God (just as the Bible says) that you believe. 

A chance to make a decision to believe that God sent Jesus for you, and to follow Him.

Because it is a decision…to believe or not.

In fact, it is the most important decision you will ever make.

It’s a decision that will determine your eternal destiny.

And I want to give you an opportunity to be forgiven and experience God’s love…even this morning.

In fact, let’s just have everyone bow their heads and close their eyes.

I want this to be a special moment between you and God.

If you want to become a follower of Jesus Christ and believe that He died for you…

If you want to be in a relationship with God and start getting to know His love for you…

I want to give you an opportunity for you to tell God “I believe,” so you can be forgiven…and start to experience the Real Love of God.

If you want to do that this morning… …in just a moment, I’m actually going to ask you to quietly stand up where you are.

NO ONE is looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!).  This is about you and God. 

This is just a way for you to symbolically say, “I believe.  I’m putting my faith in Jesus.  From this moment onward, to the best of my ability, I will be a follower of JESUS.

If God really loves me this much, then I’m going to tell him right now, that I believe, and I will follow!

Maybe you are here today and have believed God exists, but you don’t have a relationship with him. You’ve never made this commitment. This is a time for you to do so.

So wherever you are, all across this room right now.. If you’d like to become a follower of Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to stand up wherever you are.

If God is nudging your heart in this…that means He’s real.  That means…it’s TIME.   If you feel it in your pulse…in your heart…that’s God.  Accept His forgiveness.  Start a new life with Him.  It’s amazing!

If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?

It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at… the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths. 

So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me

IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe. 

So, let’s all say it together with these new believers. 

Repeat after me

Dear God

I confess to you, that I have sinned against you. 

But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place

And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins. 

And now I commit, to following you, with my life.  

(you can keep your eyes closed)

If you are standing, I need you to do one more thing for me.

It will only take 2 minutes, but it’s 2 of the most important minutes of your life.

I need you right now to quietly sneak out of your row, and go to the back of the room (go ahead)

Our follow-up team is back there by the blue rectangle to give you some extremely important resources to get started on the most important journey in your life.

So head back there…it’ll only take 2 minutes…and you’ll be able to sneak back to your seat during the music.

Let me pray as we get back into worship.  


Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.

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