Since before Easter, Pastor Richard has been teaching a series entitled God's Surpassing Love. Our Home Churches around the world have been super blessed and are experiencing new levels of God's love, fresh revelation on the unconditional nature of God's love and seeing the fruit of that new and deeper understanding.
This week, Pastor Richard closes the series with a powerful word on 1 Corinthians 13. The 'love chapter'. But before you jump to any conclusions on what this is about, read on! We are so familiar with this passage. It's used at nearly every wedding we've ever been to, right? And it's a beautiful passage, no doubt about that. But it's nearly always used to describe how we are supposed to love others. I'm not sure I've ever heard it used to describe how God loves us! Check this out...
Romans 5:8 says But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
While we were yet sinners.
Religion has painted a picture of God's love as something that has to be earned. So much of religion, Christian or other, puts the emphasis on you to be something different, to discipline yourself and earn your way into the favour of God. There's nothing wrong with discipline, of course. Taking up your cross, dying to yourself and living a life that seems to go against the 'norm' are all important aspects of the Christian walk. But that foundation and motivation to live that life, to walk that road, comes from knowing how much you are loved.
To begin with, let's take 1 Corinthians 13 and change the word 'charity' to unconditional love. The original Greek word is 'agape' which means unconditional, unmerited love. You can't earn it! This is a wonderful insight into God's love for us.
It says 'Unconditional love suffers long and is kind, it is not easily provoked, it bears all things and endures all things.' So, the next time you're worried about whether God really loves you or not, the next time you're anxious about your future or ashamed about your past, remember this; God's love bears all things and endures all things. It is not easily provoked! It suffers LONG! And it's kind.
Your Heavenly Father is a very patient Father. If you have kids, you'll know that there is an end to your patience, right?! At some point, you had enough. Hey, we've all been there. But God doesn't love like we love. We've talked about that before in this series. God's love is truly unconditional and His patience NEVER runs out. Wow! Praise the Lord!
Let's read Isaiah 54:7-10
For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.
This is not a picture of an angry, unforgiving, quick to judge God. How about another classic passage of scripture, Romans 8:35-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul is saying here, ‘Guys, you think God’s condemning you? He sent His Son to die for you! He suffered for you. It’s Jesus Who is interceding for you. How can He be interceding for you and judging you at the same time?’
It says that love envies not, nor seeks not its own. God has no other agenda other than your wellbeing. He’s not trying to manipulate you or use you. God’s not in this for Himself. There’s nothing selfish about His love. He’s not trying to get you to do anything that’s not in your own best interest, for His glory or the benefit of others.
It says love is not vaunted, which basically means it's not boastful or proud. 'Puffed up' some translations use. Matthew 11:28-29 says this;
Meek and lowly in heart. God is not puffed up or boastful in His love toward you. It's not big-headed or self-serving. He is in it for you!
It says that God's love believes all things. God hasn't given up on you. He made you for a purpose and He still believes in you, no matter what. I don't care how old you are or what mistakes you've made, God isn't through with you yet! He has amazing plans for you and dreams for you and is holding His arms open wide for you to run into them and be loved beyond anything you can imagine. He has gifts and callings for you that He will not go back on. His gifts and callings are without repentance, Romans 11:29. So, I hope there's a shout of joy rising up inside of you right now that never stops!
Finally, it says that God's Unconditional Love never fails. It never fails church! There is nothing you can do to make Him love you less. And, there is nothing you can do to make Him love you more! No matter what religion might try and tell you, that is a truth that should reverberate in your heart every day for the rest of your life.
Never doubt that YOU ARE LOVED!
I hope this has been a blessing to you. If you'd like to know more about this message, Upstream Home Churches in general or if you'd like prayer, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. You can go to the contact page here: https://www.upstreamministries.com/contact or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
We'd love to hear from you!
Watch a snippet from Pastor Richard's teaching by clicking the image below.