This morning I want for us to consider the Love of God. We have been looking at “I AM” statements for us as followers of Jesus to believe as truth and to declare as praise to God. God is fully blessed when his children proclaim and praise back to him the true state of their identity in Christ. There are times when we feel hard-pressed on all sides. These challenging times may make it difficult to rise up to God, but that’s ok, because it is during these times that we find ourselves on our knees in dependence and humble prayer. These times of testing come so that we can discover more and more how much God loves. He is all that we need in our times of desperate need. This morning I hope that we can take away this revelation, “I AM LOVED” by a gracious, loving and merciful God.
Children of God
The term, children of God, is an all-encompassing phrase that speaks of one’s association, connection, membership, relationship to God’s family. In John 1:12-13, the Apostle John brings clarity to this point by stating, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” The reality of being a follower of Jesus begins individually, in the sense of one receiving Christ or being born-again (from above). But that is just the beginning of the journey. Our personal faith is brought to maturity when we understand that we belong to a family, God’s family. And as such we are his children and we are brothers and sisters to each other. It is within the family of God that we develop our character (Christ-likeness), grow in our calling (we are all ministers of the gospel), express our commitment to God as we are faithful in the small things, and as we are commissioned to fulfilling the dreams God has for us. This “children of God” understanding is an ongoing and progressive work of maturity in our lives.
The Love of the Father
Here is a wonderful key text for this morning. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). This verse begins with a key word that is translated “behold” in the English language; to take special notice, to consider, to pay attention to, don’t miss the point… Here are several behold-revelations that God wants us to discover in this verse.
· Great is the Love of the Father. This great love is sacrificial, (1 John 4:10; John 3:16). His love is great, marvellous, of an incredible quality. This love is out of this world, intentional, head over heels kind of love.
· This love has been lavished, bestowed, given, extended to us. Here is a great way to picture this. Jesus loves picnics. When Jesus fed the Five Thousand as seen in Matthew 14, he fed the masses; “he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples” (verse 19). This phrase includes the same word found in the Greek language, to lavish or bestow. God’s love is more than enough to meet our needs in all circumstances.
· We are children of God. This is a broad statement. We understand that we have God as our Father; this is super-natural and super-spiritual, this is Divine, there is an inheritance now and, in the age-to-come, we are chosen, adopted, redeemed and forgiven in Christ (Eph 1:3-8). This ends with a declaration – “That is what we are!” In other words, not only do we behold revelation, but we are to boldly declare it. I am a child of God and I am loved!
The last point I would like to make this morning speaks to the Love of God related to Christian maturity. As cute as children, or grandchildren can be, we desire them to grow and mature and reach their full potential. This is also true in the family of God. There are rights-of-passage in every culture. This is true in the context of Scripture as well. We see in the Scriptures moments in the life of Jesus relating to growth.
· Firstly, he was born and 8 days later was circumcised (Luke 2:21) and marked as a Hebrew child. After his circumcision Jesus “grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him (Luke 2:40). This is the season of growth as a young child, learning to discover love and life. Learning that “I am loved” at this stage is foundational for the healthy upbringing of a child.
· Secondly, when Jesus was 12 years old Joseph and Mary took him to the Temple for the Feast of Passover. Jesus stayed behind in the Temple while his parents and family returned home. When they realized he was missing they returned to find him. His response is significant. “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:50-51). Learning that “I am loved” at this point in life leads to a lifestyle of obedience, while growing in wisdom and stature and favour with God and men.
· Lastly, we see in Jesus life his baptism and commissioning into ministry. He was about 30 years old when his Father’s business in heaven was transferred to Jesus’ life on earth. The Father states, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). We all need to know we are loved as an adult and that we please God. If this was good for Jesus it is good for us as well.
I am Loved (by God) is the statement we are focusing on this morning. It is important to us to have a knowledge of the Love of God, not just in our heads (intellect) but also in our hearts (experientially). Love is action and needs to be encountered on a regular basis. No matter the age of maturity we find ourselves in, we must be open to the Love of God touching our lives. We can’t live just on the Love of God as immature believers, we need to grow and learn all about obedience, wisdom and godly character. But we don’t want to stop growing as spiritual teenagers, but grow into maturity as sons and daughters, who can handle the Father’s business on earth as it is in heaven. God is looking for children growing in the knowledge of “I AM LOVED” at whatever stage of spiritual maturity they find themselves. What an exciting journey of faith and love we are living. Be blessed today knowing that You are Loved.
Eph 3:14-21 - For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.