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Sunday sermon 13 January – Tell them I love them

Preacher: Ann Martin

Readings:  Isaiah 43:1-7;  Psalm 29;  Luke 3:15-17, 21 & 22

“Tell them I love them”

When I was preparing for today;  I read the readings supplied in the Lectionary and asked God,“What would You have me say?”

The words just jumped off the page, “Tell them I love them”.

So “God loves you”    Shortest sermon in History?

We all know the song, “Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

But Love is more than a song we sing or something we talk about.    It’s a way of life.

But not everyone is secure in God’s Love for them.    In fact, Joyce Meyer says, “there is an epidemic of

insecurity in our society and I believe it is because people just don’t know how much they are loved by God.

The Bible says God is Love.    It’s not just something He does;  it’s who He is.

Everything He does is based on Love.    His mercy and grace are poured out on us every single day because of His Love.    He comforts us when we’re hurting and corrects us when we need it because He loves us.    Even when He doesn’t give us something we think we really want or need, it is because He loves us and knows what is best for us according to His purpose and plan for our lives.

Galatians 6 v 10 encourages us to look for ways and opportunities to be a blessing to people and I believe that’s what God had in mind when He said, “Tell them I love them.”    It starts with a simple truth.

“God loves you”    It couldn’t be any more simple.

As people start to believe, trust and grow more secure in this truth, they want to share His great Love.

Love is expressed in words and actions.    So “tell them I love them”, and find as many ways as you can to say it.

Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones said, “Though you are one of the teeming millions in this world, and though the world would have you believe that you do not count and that you are but a speck in the mass, God says, “I know you”    How wonderful is that?

Have you noticed how everyone seems to have an opinion about you?    And how so many people are quick to drag you down?    Sometimes it’s too hard to ignore what they say and we let their words rob us of our self-worth.    Take a moment and consider the things in life that rob us of self-esteem.    Words such as “I don’t want you”,   I don’t love you anymore” or “You’re unsuitable for the job, sorry but we’ll have to let you go” or “You keep making the same stupid mistakes.    You’ll never get it right”.    “You’re stupid, you’re useless” or “Why can’t you be like your brother, or your sister, or?”  and they leave us feeling like old bubblegum that’s been scraped off the bottom of a shoe.

Understand this 1. Your self-esteem cannot be based on what you do for a living because when you can no longer do it you’ll feel worthless.    Think about some of the famous people you know,  athletes, artists.

speakers, etc.    When they can no longer do what they do they often get depressed, even suicidal.

2. Your self-esteem cannot be based on what you own.    Recently, during the world recession, the housing market for many lost up to 40% of it’s value in one year.    Millions of people saw their social status go down and their financial security go up in smoke.

3. Your self-esteem cannot be based on other people’s opinion because it will always make you vulnerable to rejection.

So!   What’s the solution?    Discover what God thinks about you and build your life on it.    “thus says the Lord, who created you, who redeemed you.    I have called you by name.    You are mine.    Isaiah 43 v 1

It doesn’t get any better than that!

You need to know your identity in order to determine what you’ll do.    It won’t work the other way around, because if what you do is taken away or you fail doing it, you’ll feel like a nobody.

So where does your identity come from?    Not from your driver’s license, which is fortunate for most of us!    Not from your passport, that just shows where you’ve been.   And it doesn’t come from your school records—which is good, because many of us still battle the negative messages we got back then!

How about you?- does your identity depend solely on what you do?    If so, it’s time to seek God’s face and find out who you really are.    God says “I’ve called you by name you are Mine.”    That means when you can no longer do what you do, you’ll still be who you are in God’s eyes.    What could be better?

Your identity comes from God.    He gives it before He sends you on an assignment.    Before Abram became great, God changed his name to Abraham which means “father of many nations”

Gideon was the least in his family.    But when God commissioned him to build an army to defeat Midian, He changed Gideon’s identity and gave him a new self-image.

“The Lord is with you, you mighty man of Valour”  Judges 6 v 12.    What credentials!

No matter what opinions others may form of you, it’s only God’s opinion of you that really matters.

God wants you to know how precious, how valuable, how important you are to Him.    You matter—He loves you just as you are.    Find out from God’s word some of the things God says about you and never lose sight of your true value, your true worth!

If you’re struggling with feelings of unworthiness then praying longer, working harder and vowing to do better won’t necessarily change how you feel.    You’ve got to address the foundation.    To do that, you must begin seeing yourself as God sees you.    Only then will you experience the stability and security you seek.

Have you any idea how God feels about you?

He sees you as:

1. Loveable…”You are precious to Me.    You are honoured and I love you.    Do not be afraid for I am with you…Isaiah 43 v 4-5.    What assurance!

2. Valuable;    if you grew up feeling unwanted, you got the wrong message.    God established your worth at the cross…”the Son of God, who loved you and gave Himself for you. Galatians 2 v 20.    The slogan on Hallmark cards says,    “When you care enough to send the very best.”    That’s what God did for you at the Cross.

3. Capable.    Without a supportive environment to grow up in, you can end up with a diminished sense of

Ability.    It’s why we compensate by overachieving.    But God know that you are capable because He’s given you special abilities.   1 Peter 4 v 10.    Furthermore He has us with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom.    So stay in your seat, and don’t let anybody tell you that your life doesn’t matter, it does, because God says so!

God knew every flaw and weakness you would have and every mistake you would make when He called you into relationship with Himself.    Nothing about you surprises Him.     God knows—and has always known

everything about you.    He knows what you will think, do and say every day for the rest of your life on earth.    He also knows hoe He will help you, teach, you, correct and encourage you, and give you grace for all your faults and failures.    He is always for you, never against you, no matter what you do.    This truth should set you free to lighten up, enjoy being who God made you to be and have a laugh at yourself.

You are who you are.    You do what you do, and it’s not always perfect.    In fact, sometimes you really mess up!    That’s part of being human.    But if you also love God, have a heart to change, and ask Him to help you, then you can relax.    God is working on you, changing you every day, helping you grow.    God is not mad at you.    Enjoy Him and enjoy yourself even though you are not perfected yet.

After all, the first question in the Catechism is “What is the chief end of men?”    To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

You are destined to be moulded into the image of Christ and nothing can stop that from happening if you will simply co-operate with the Holy Spirit and spend time with God.    You don’t have to clean up your act first.    You can come as you are, and God will make you what you ought to be.    When people come as they are, God will work miracles.

God loves us unconditionally, and that means He accepts us the way we are and then helps us to be all we can be.

I hope you also know how pleased and delighted God is with you.    Can you imagine walking around your house or driving in your car singing, “God is pleased with me and He delights in me”    Do you have that kind of confidence?    We should believe what God says in His word about how He feels toward us.    God may not be pleased with all our behaviour, but He is pleased with us if we love Him and want to make progress.

Jesus says that there is one way people will know whether we belong to Him or not, and that is our love for one another.    Love is the distinguishing sign or characteristic of a Christian.

It’s what sets us apart from the rest of the world.    The world is looking for something to believe in, something real, something tangible.    They are looking for love.    And God is love. 1 John 4 v 8. “Whoever does not love does not know God for God is love”    We need to show them Jesus.    We do that by walking in His love and demonstrating that love to others.    What we do for others does not always need to be a big thing.    It is often little acts of kindness that mean the most.

Charles Spurgeon said that Faith goes up the stairs that love has built.    “Faith works by love”    Love provides the energy for our faith.    Knowing God’s love for us as individuals and learning to allow His love to flow through us to others is the power behind our faith.    Just as a car needs petrol in order to move, our faith needs love in order to take us where we need to go.

Man’s love fails and gives up, but God’s love does not.    Man’s love is finite and comes to an end, but God’s love is infinite and eternal.    Man’s love is dependent on favourable behaviour and circumstances,  God’s love is not.     People place conditions on their, but God’s love is unconditional.

Loving people unconditionally is a very big challenge.    I am tempted to say it is impossible.    But God tells us to do it, and He never commands us to do something and then leaves us to perform it on our own.    His grace,, His power, His ability and favour is sufficient for us, which means He enables us to do what He has called us to do.    Sometimes God actually sends some people into our lives to function as ‘sandpaper’ to help smooth our rough edges.

Learning to walk in love with ‘unlovely’ people is one of the most important tools God uses to develop our spiritual maturity.    Romans 5 v 8 says “He loved us before the world was formed, before we loved Him or believed in Him”
God does not require us to earn His love.    We couldn’t anyway.    Love is something we are to become’  it is not something we do and then don’t do.

As followers of Jesus Christ, the love we are to show to the world is the unconditional love of God flowing through us to them.    When we have God’s love in us, we can give it away.

It is like the waves on the beach.    We use up one but there is always another on the way so we will never run out.

We can choose to love others lavishly and unconditionally, as He has loved us.

The love of God is the most wonderful gift we are given.    It flows to us, and then it should flow through us to others.    Loving God, yourself and other people should be our focus in life.    Remember what Don said a week or two ago.    He said about JOY.    “Jesus first, yourself last, and others in between”.    Receive God’s amazing unconditional love, then you can love yourself and live to give the love away that God has given to you.

Jesus gave us the command to love in Matthew 22 v 37—39    “You should love one another, just as I have loved you”    By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

You cannot give away something you don’t have.    And unless we possess love for ourselves, we can never progress in the will of God, which is to love other people.    We all need to accept ourselves, knowing that although we are not where we need to be, we are making progress.    Jesus died for us because we have weaknesses and imperfections, and we don’t have to reject ourselves while we are letting Him work in us.    Choose to believe what God says about you!

You train others to treat you by how your treat yourself.    So go to God today, and ask Him to tell you who you are and what you’re worth.    He will say, “You are precious to Me.   You are honoured and I love you.”    That’s God’s opinion—make it yours!    You can make your life an experiment of living in the love of God.    Every morning when you wake up let your first words be “I’m loved by God.”

Write these words on a card and carry them with you.    When you’re tempted to despair because you’ve blown it, take out the card and look at it.    When you’re overwhelmed by all you have to do, read it over and over to yourself.    Take it out when you’re tempted to sin, to dishonour God, to lash out in anger and hurt someone, or deceive someone, or use someone.     When you’re afraid, when you’re anxious, when you’re alone, remember and feast on the words that give life.    “I’m loved by God.”

God loves you.                        Believe it.

To Him be the glory.