Do you realize that you were created, that in your soul, in your heart, in your mind, even in your physical body you were designed and created by God to be loved?
I was trying to think of how to get our arms around it. Little iPad. I click it on and has a lot of great stuff on it but one of the things that I notice is when I click it on, you can’t see it but there’s a little thing that says, searching for a connection.
And no matter where I go, this little thing goes around and around and around and it’s interesting if you get on a plane because if you go up over ten thousand feet, you click on it and it’s searching for a 3G connection and can’t get it.
And what it does, it just keeps going ‘round and ‘round. I’ve learned how to actually eliminate almost the entire battery on a three hour flight.
Because it doesn’t do anything because there’s something inside this little machine that is a receiver. And it’s constantly looking for a transmission to connect with so it can download what’s up there onto here.
And I want to tell you, you have a receiver built into your heart and built into your soul, built into your thinking.
Actually built into the fibers of your physical body and you are, from the moment you come out of the womb and you make eye contact with your mother, there is something inside of you reaching up and reaching out to get connected and what you need and what you were made for was to be loved.
To be affirmed, to be cared for, to be held, to be valued. Not for what you do, not for what you accomplish, not for how you look. But for just who you are.
And that journey begins with the first breath and it’ll end at your last breath. And that demand and that drive for love never ends.
But, if you don’t get it right and if you end up spiritually and emotionally, like, above ten thousand feet, a lot of people spend their whole life just looking, looking, looking, looking, looking for love.
And there’s only one place to find it where you’ll be loved in that way and that’s what we’re gonna talk about. Because that simplifies life.
There’s a song that got very popular, it’s called What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love.
And Annie and I were taking a quick little road trip recently and we had to make it from one city to another and it was hard to stay awake and so, the little rent car had XM. And so, she said, well why don’t we see what’s on?
And, you know, you got like a zillion stations so, like, every twenty seconds we changed to a new station. And if it was a little song we knew then we’d sing along. But, I mean, we went through like fifty stations in two and a half hours just to stay awake.
And forty-nine of the stations had songs that were about love. Finding it, losing it, getting it, wanting it, finding it, getting it, losing it, wanting it. Love, love.
I mean, we heard country love, we heard hip-hop love, we heard alternative love, we heard easy listening love, we heard love, love, love. Tell you what, what the world wants is love.
Now, if you will open your notes, I want you to read along very carefully with me because if we’re designed and made for love and we don’t get it deeply, unconditionally, and authentically, some really bad stuff happens. And that bad stuff is why a lot of our lives are very complicated.
On the front of your notes it says, when we are not deeply and personally loved in ways that make sense to us, we will settle for any number of pseudo-love substitutes. Pseudo meaning false.
Substitutes. The idea is, I want love, do you want love? I’ve got that little thing going on inside of me going click, click, click, click, click, click, looking, looking, looking.
And if you don’t get it deeply, authentically, unconditionally in a way that makes sense to you, you’ll settle for substitutes like affirmation we receive from success. It feels a lot like love.
You’re good at that. We appreciate that. Wow, you scored a lot of points, you made a lot of money. You’re good. You’re smart. Affirmation. It’s a cheap substitute for love. It doesn’t mean that we don’t need to affirm, but it’s not love.
Or things like, adulation that you receive from fame. Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame because, you were on TV! You’re a celebrity! You’re important! You matter! We’ve seen your face somewhere!
And there’s this adulation. But it’s not love. It’s people falling in love with an image.
Or like the temporary intimacy we experience from illicit sex. When loneliness and pain and struggle and the connections don’t make it, some people log onto the internet, some people have affairs, some people do a manner of things trying to fill the hole.
And there’s this temporary sense of connectedness, this temporary sense that I’m loved and this feels good followed by lots of really bad stuff. Through illicit sex of all kinds.
Or sometimes, we look for love and the attention that we receive from our parents and our possessions.
I mean, think of the energy that goes in, the multi, multi-billion dollar makeup business - the multi, multi-billion dollar fitness business. You know, what you possess, how you appear. You get attention and it feels like love. But what the attention is focused on is not who you really are. It just happens to be on kind of what you look like today. Or what you’re driving. Or what you wear.
Or the temporary things like esteem that comes from position. Oh, you’re a somebody now. You got a corner office. You’re a somebody, you know, you’re the star on the team. You’re a somebody, you made the cheerleading squad. You’re a somebody because you have this position.
Or finally, the security that we perceive from wealth. And so we get up early and we go late and we move and we get complex, driven, complex lives because we feel like if we get more money we’ll be secure and if we are secure. Well, security feels a lot like love.
Look at the bottom of the page. This is critical. This is why our lives get complex. Our quest to be loved deeply and personally create fast-paced, overextended, complex lives driven to obtain success, fame, sex, looks, position, power, and wealth in the desperate hope that someday, someway, we’ll be loved.
But notice the last little line. Just for who we are. Everything in this list, when you get done, even if you receive it, people aren’t loving you for who you are. They’re loving you for the position that you have, or the appearance that you have, or the possessions that you have.
And yet, that little, dat, dat, dat, dat, that little search engine inside of you that wants to connect you and I and every single person on this planet of all backgrounds, of all races, of all cultures. We want and need to be loved.
So if love is what the world needs, three questions emerge. Where do you find it? How do you get it? And how do you give it away? Where do you find it? How do you get it? And how do you give it away?
Let’s start with number one. Where do you find it? The source of love that’s unconditional, that’s focused on who you are, not what you accomplish is God. Listen to 1 John. It says, dear friends, let us love one another. Why? For love comes from God. Everyone who loves God is born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not know God, whoever does not love does not know God, why? Because God is love.
John says, the source of the love that you need in your soul, the only thing that’ll ever fill you up is the love of God.
And he says, when you know him, when you are loved by him, one of the evidences will be that you will naturally overflow in love relationships to others. And the most attractive people in the world, the people that I want to be around and you want to be around are what? Loving people!
No one wants to be around selfish jerks. We all want to be loving people but it’s just hard. And it raises the question, what would it look like to be loved by God? I mean, that’s so ethereal.
God loves you. I heard that all my life, I didn’t have a clue of what it meant. What would it look like if you could understand and feel and see and know that you are the object of God’s affection?
I put it in your notes. Zephaniah 3:17 is to me one of the greatest pictures of getting a grasp of God’s love for us. It says, the Lord your God is with you. Part of being loved is someone that won’t abandon you. It’s someone that hangs with you.
And not only is he with you he is mighty to save. And you might write in your notes, above that word “save,” write the word “deliver.”
I mean, of course we know that he saves. He forgives our sins. But, especially in the Old Testament when you see the word “save” it has the idea of deliverance. When someone loves you’re in a jam, they show up and they help you get out of a jam! I mean, that’s who I call when I’m in a jam.
To be loved by God, the Lord your God, it’s his covenant name. It’s his personal name, Yahweh, is with you. He is mighty to save and then look at the next line. He will take great delight in you. Underline the word “in you.”
It doesn’t say he’ll take great delight in how you look. He’ll take great delight in your position. He’ll take great delight in what you can accomplish. He’ll take great delight in your success. He’ll take great delight in you.
The one that created the galaxies and the billions and billions of stars. After he created everything, he created man and then he said, the pinnacle, the most important, the apex of all of his creation is you.
Not if you do something. Not because you’ve accomplished something. But you as you are, created by God, made in his image. He takes delight in you. He’d like to spend time with you. He’d like to bless you. He’d like to talk with you. He’d like to develop you. That’s what love does. It always brings out the best in others.
So he’s with you. He delivers you. He takes great delight in you. Notice, he will quiet you with his love. If there’s one thing I hear from people all the time, Christian or non-Christian in a high-stress, complicated world - I wish I had some peace.
I wish I just had some peace in this marriage. I wish I had some peace in my heart. You know when you get peace? When you can unload all the issues and all the concerns and all the cares and when you have that sort of sense that, no matter what’s going on out there, it’s okay.
For many of us, that happens in a human relationship. There’s times I get completely overwhelmed and I write down all these different things and, you know, I’m really struggling. But it’s over a cup of coffee, sitting with Theresa usually.
And saying, honey, I know I’m not supposed to be anxious and I know I’m not supposed to be this. But I’m feeling all this and you know what? I’ve laid all this out in my journal with God, but I need, I need to sit down and we’ll kind of talk it through and just, you know what? I could be a garbage collector tomorrow and Theresa would love me the same way she does today.
And there’s a quieting of that relationship. And you know what? That’s what God wants to do. He wants to quiet your heart with his love. He wants to tell you, you know what?
You know the economy’s kinda rough right now, and the marriage has some struggles right now, and you’ve been single a little bit longer than you’d like right now and you know, there’s some physical ailments that you wish would get better right now. But, you know something? I’ve, like, got it all taken care of.
Like, you’re made to live forever. Would you, relax, will ya? I mean, if God is for you, who can be against you? If he’s got unlimited resources and you’re the object of his affection, you know, you can all, hmmmm….ahhhhhh.
Most of our anxiety is always focused on what might happen someday, someway. And he says, I’ve got that someday covered.
And then, finally notice, I love this last line. He says, he will rejoice over you with singing. This is a picture, literally, of God. And for some of us men, this is sort of a hard picture because it’s a picture of God holding you like you’re a little helpless baby.
And like if you’ve ever seen a mom, I watched Theresa do this when our kids were small and now when she puts our grandkids to bed, I can hear in the other room. And she will hold the little ones and she’ll sing over them.
And it’s just sort of this, I just want to quiet you down. I rejoice over you. God’s presence, God’s power. All of God’s pride. You are his delight. He just wants you to know, that’s how I feel about you.
Can you imagine what would happen and how free your life could be and how you could simplify and begin to push some of the stuff on the front page of these notes to the side if you honestly, in your heart of hearts believed that’s how God actually feels about you at this moment.
And, are you ready? Nothing you can do can ever change that. Now you can have windows of blessing through obedience. But even when he disciplines us, it’s because he loves you.
That’s why Paul would pray to the Ephesian church. He would pray, since God already loves you, I pray that you might be strengthened in your inner man so that you might comprehend the height and depth and length and breadth, and to know the love of God that surpasses all knowledge or comprehension.
That’s a great thing to pray for one another and for your kids.
Well, it raises a question. Can we all agree at this point, that it’s true? God really loves me and he loves me like that.
Well, how do you make the connection? You know, the fact that he loves and how do you get it operational in your heart, in your life, in your experience.
Notice what the scripture says. It says, God deposits his love in his follower’s hearts through his Spirit. The same passage, 1 John, he goes on. He says, we know that we live in him and he in us, because he’s given us his Spirit.
Put a circle around “live in him” and then another circle, “live in us” and you might put little arrows and connect them. We know, he says it’s absolute truth that we live in him: connection. And he in us: connection. Because he’s given us or he’s deposited in us his Spirit.
And then he explains how that works. We have seen and testified that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges, literally the word is “confess.” Agrees with, that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.
He says, there is a condition to experience and receive God’s love. Christ died on the cross, fully God and fully man, to pay for your sin, my sin, the sins of all people, of all time. He’s our sin substitute. He says, if you confess and acknowledge.
It’s not your good works, it’s not your religiosity. Christ died in your place as your substitute and if you turn from sin, receive his forgiveness, he says the Spirit of God comes into your mortal body and you live in him and he lives in you and he takes up residence inside of you.
He will then manifest the power and the presence of the living God and now you have that connection.
On my little iPad it goes like this, dit, dit, dit, dit, dit, dit, dit, dit, dit, dit, dit. Then it goes, chhh. And it connects. And then a bunch of stuff, whoooooh, downloads.
And he wants to download adoption and forgiveness and place you in his family and grace and seal you with his Spirit and give you spiritual gifts and create a new path and the same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you the moment you do that.
Now, he goes on to say that when we’re filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit, the outcome or the overflow is love. So, the Spirit lives inside of you, the Spirit, God, the second person of the Trinity, is the means by which God’s love gets from out there in here, and then look what it says in Galatians 5:22 and 23.
The fruit. Singular. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Goes on to say self-control.
So, that love that I just described about his presence and his power and you being the object of his affection. All of that is available. But there’s only two reasons why you can’t experience it.
Reason number one would be living like I did my first eighteen years outside of Christ. I intellectually was aware of God’s love, but I had never turned from my sin, asked Christ to forgive me, and come into my life.
If you’ve never done that, today’s a great day to do it. It’s called being born from above. Or being born by the Spirit. The Bible calls it salvation. It’s when you experience forgiveness and his Spirit comes into your life and you are justified. You’re declared righteous before God because of what Christ did for you.
Now, the second reason, you can be a believer and his Spirit lives in you but what I’ve found is, I can have this thing and I’m not gonna mention which carrier that it is but there’s times where I can turn this baby on and I can be working and then all of a sudden cannot send mail. Cannot receive mail. It drops. You know, just like you have a dropped call. It drops, I can’t get anything.
And maybe it’s because there are too many buildings or maybe it’s a dead spot. But basically there’s interference. There’s times when interference from whatever signals come on that little pad, and I can’t get anything. I’ve got the pad, I’m connected, I paid my bill. But there’s interference.
And you can have the Spirit of God living in you, but if he’s not in control, if there’s interference like sin. Like you know exactly what God wants you to do, but you say no.
If your priorities are out of whack. If you get so busy and so inundated doing other things and pursuing other [things]…you know, God in his great love doesn’t bless if there’s interference.
And so he says if we confess our sins, he’s faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So some of you are here today that you desperately need to experience God’s love and intellectually you’re saying, yeah, I really want that. And you’re saying I know I’m really a Christian.
And you’re saying but my life is crazy. And I’m not experiencing that. Well, guess what? Part of how you experience it is, he wants to give you grace and he wants to speak to you, but it’s been a while since you really talked to him.
And he wants you to stop and simplify your life and quit chasing the wind and be quiet before him. And he’s going to bring people into your life, if you slow down, and get connected to them. Where you get together and he’s going to show up in the physical bodies of other people and love you. Through their words and their arms and their feet and their kindness.
And so all I want to get to you is to know one thing. You were created to be loved. The source of love is God. His means of experiencing that love is depositing his Spirit inside of you.
And third, his Spirit can live inside of you, but you need to surrender to and be in alignment and obedience to that Spirit so what he has for you, you can actually receive.