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About this series
Doing Less, Loving More
Most of us live very complex lives that move too fast, deliver too little, and demand too much. We often succumb to the push and pull of all the demands. We lack time for God, relationships, or ourselves. We know we need to change our pattern of life, but we either put it off or just don't know how to get started. In the end, there's a key question we need to ask and answer: What do we want to be known for? It is possible to break free from the high speed, high pressure, high demand, guilt-producing disease of our lives. The answer is counter-intuitive and it's found in 1 Corinthians 13. Discover what is needed to enjoy Spiritual Simplicity in today's fast paced lifestyles.More from this series
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?
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, 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 going to talk about. Because that simplifies life.
There’s a song that got very popular, if you came here a little bit early, you heard it. And it’s What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love. 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 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 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 affirmed, 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 all 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 appearance 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’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 – 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 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. hoever 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. 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 and you’re in a jam, they show up and they help you get out of the 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 is, “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 and with God,” but I need, I need to sit down and we’ll kind of talk it through.
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? Yeah, the economy is kind of 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 there’s some physical ailments that you wish would get better right now. But you know something? I’ve got it all taken care of. Like, you’re made to live forever. Would you, relax, will you?
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 can go, Ahhhhh.
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 if you’ve ever seen a mom, I have 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 knowledge or comprehension.” That’s a great thing to pray for one another and for your kids.
Well, it raises a question, okay, can we all agree at this point, that’s true? God really loves me and He loves me like that.
Well, how do you make the connection, 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 absolutely true 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. He says, “And 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.
And 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, trrrrrr, 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,” it 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 going to 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. 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 are times where 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…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.
And so, if you want to know, the question. Where do you find it? God. By what means? The Spirit, as you walk in obedience. Now, here’s what I’m going to tell you. Knowing where to get love and experiencing it is two very different things.
Everything I’ve said, you can agree with me and say to yourself, But I still feel lonely. I’m really kind of discouraged. I feel kind of depressed. I don’t feel very loved at all and I’m a Christian. And in fact, I’m, gosh I read the Bible some and I’m praying some. I’m in one of those small groups and it’s okay. But I’m not, I’m not getting what you’re talking about.
So let’s now ask and answer the question: how do you get it? How do you experience love? You can be deeply loved and yet not experience it.
Many, many years ago, I remember reading the article. Maybe some of you can remember about the bubble boy? He was born without an immune system. And this little boy grew up and he was in a bubble. Literally. A bubble.
And his parents, they would have to put things in through this. He never got touched. His parents loved him and they cared for him. But he never got touched and he lived literally in a plastic room bubble, because if he came out, he would die.
I think there’s a lot of Christians that, on the outside, there’s this God that longs to connect with you and touch you and love you and encourage you. But there’s this bubble.
Many times, by our own creating, sometimes by the work of others. And God wants to break through that and connect your heart to His so you experience His love.
Let me give you the two major ways that God has designed for us to experience His love. God designed love to be birthed and modeled in our families.
Ephesians 5:18, through chapter 6 verse 4. I’d encourage you to follow along and I don’t usually read a long passage. But this one is one you just need to lean back and here’s what I want you to listen as I read.
Notice we said: love comes from God’s Spirit. Notice he’s going to talk about you surrendering or allowing the Spirit to control you and then I’m going to show you, from Scripture, that God has a very clear design that where He wants us to learn about love is in our families.
He actually designed the family system to work in such a way that little boys and little girls would grow up feeling loved, affirmed, cared for. Not for what they do but for who they are.
Pick it up with me in verse 15. The apostle, after telling us all this great stuff we have in Christ, says, “Be very careful then, how you live. Not as unwise but as wise. Making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore, don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” And he says, well, what’s the will of the Lord? “Well, don’t be drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled,” and the word means controlled, “with the Spirit.”
Well, if you’re filled with the Spirit, well, what happens? Well, “Speak to one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And then, by the way, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
When you’re filled with the Spirit, there is a joy in your heart, there’s a melody, there’s a perspective where you realize God’s in control and He’s good and you choose to give thanks.
And then he says: now I’m going to talk about relationships and how love works when the Spirit’s in control. And he says: the baseline is, no one steps up and says, “I’ve got to have my way on my terms.”
“Submit,” or, “surrender one to another.” In other words, God, You’re the great choreographer and You’re going to put relationships together. You show me my part of the dance. You show me my role so that I can get and receive Your love and then give it in the way You want me to.
And so then he starts and says, okay, family relationships. “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, His body of which He is the Savior. Now, as the Church submits to Christ, so wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
And just before the women go, are you kidding? He says, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the Church,” well, He died, you’re starting to get the point, guys, “and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of the water with the word, to present her to Himself as a radiant Church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it just as Christ does the Church.
“For we’re members of His body. For this reason a man will leave his mother and father and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery but I’m talking about Christ and the Church, however,” application, “each one of you must love his wife as himself and the wife must respect her husband.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother.” Respect. Don’t talk back. Listen to them. Obey them. Why? “Well, this is the first commandment with a promise. That it may go well with you and that you may live and enjoy a long life on the earth. Fathers, do not exasperate your children. Instead, bring them up in the training and the instruction of the Lord.”
He’s going to go on and talk about slaves and masters. But here’s what he says. The Spirit of God contains the love of God. The Spirit of God comes into a human heart. He’s going to say, there can either be resistance or you can surrender and say, I want to do life Your way.