New Hope Notes
Only God Love
Pastor John Bishop
I was amazed at all the volunteers this weekend and I realized that
So being here is like feeling all the love. Being with Pastor Wayne is really great too since he is one of the nicest and Godliest men around. But somehow when we met at dinner I was so nervous. I was so nervous that when I went to the bathroom and washed my hands, instead of gently pushing the button for the liquid soap I blasted it all over my shirt. And I thought, “So now what?” Sure enough the first person to come in and see me was Pastor Wayne!
Anyway, today I want to talk about love. I think we do not really “get” love. We say we love our spouse like we say we love Taco Bell. We say we love chocolate like we say, “I love you.” Don’t we do well planning weddings? But do we do well planning marriages?
Love seems to be the easiest thing to say but the hardest to do. It is the thing that changes our lives the most. You see, my dad died when I was 4 years old so I had abandonment issues. Generally, you will express love based on how you were loved. So I had problems because in addition to losing my dad at a very young age, my step dad was abusive.
But think about this, what is your picture of love? I was raised in part by my grandparents and they had a real love relationship that was really “‘til death do us part.” And I got to see that beautiful picture of love and what really mattered. Now that was a story that touched my heart. But in 1992, I heard a story that made me feel really uncomfortable. It was the story of a couple who got married but the wife has an affair. In spite of the affair, the husband takes her back. But then she keeps having affairs and bears children by other men. The husband faithfully continues to take her back. That story made me feel very uncomfortable.
How does it strike you? Does it make you uncomfortable? Is that how you see marriage (and love)? That wasn’t how I saw love. Yet, that “uncomfortable” story is a love story straight out of the Bible. It’s found in the Book of Hosea and it is an important story because it is a biblical illustration of love…God’s way. In the book of Hosea, God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute who will bear children by other men so that Hose” will know how God felt toward Israel who continuously betrayed Him by “adulterously” worshipping other gods.
Understanding this story of love is very important because what we experience in love (as in the rest of life) affects what we are capable of giving in love. And in a similar way, what comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you. Then to carry this further, the extent to which you give love will affect what you will receive in love.
People think that the opposite of love is hate but actually it is apathy. It is like having things in your life more important or more attractive to you than God. For me personally, if I can get true love then I can be a better husband and father. On the other hand, given my background, if I was not given more love then I would have a tendency to love like my abusive stepfather. But we have to realize that God loves us so much that He will pursue us relentlessly, just as how God instructed Hosea to pursue his unfaithful wife again and again. We need to realize that nothing we do will make God love us less or more for that matter. God loves us just as He can and when we understand the enormity of his love for us, it gives us the capacity to love others more. Similarly, sometimes we will not forgive someone because we feel that God has not forgiven us but when we realize and accept the fact that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us and to forgive us of our sins, once we understand (and accept) that kind of forgiveness, it makes it easier for us to give that kind of forgiveness.
My wife and I love
Well, during my growing up years, I was “love dysfunctional”. I think I had problems with how to love because, like most people, I did not want to be hurt. Well, love is risky for God as well. In the Book of Hosea (the illustration of God’s love), Hosea’s wife has affair after affair but he continues to bring her back over and over again. I think we do not make a commitment to Christ because we are afraid to fail, or we are afraid that Christ will leave us just as Hosea’s wife left him. But we have to have the love of God in our hearts first in order to give it to others. And when we finally have God’s love in our hearts, we will never be the same again. God is most glorified in us when we are satisfied in Him, or in other words…when we realize that we need nothing else but Him.
Toward the end of the story, Hosea’s wife Gomer hits rock bottom: she is being humiliated and auctioned off to the highest bidder like cattle. But Hosea comes to rescue her once again and bids all that he has to win her back. He sweeps her up in his loving arms, the crowd parts and he takes her home again. Wouldn’t you love someone who pursues you like that?
When we hit rock bottom and get to the end, we often find the beginning of God. Brokenness is when all you counted on at the end doesn’t work. It is a place where your failures meet God’s love and is turned to beauty. When you have love, then you can give it so you have to learn to get it. Will you allow God to pick you up in His arms?
Jesus said that He would give everything He had to redeem us back. Brokenness is where God does His best work. This was the case of a woman named Carly. She was born out of wedlock and was always looking for her place in life and trying to prove herself. She was raised in a Christian home and married a good, Christian man; however, deep down inside, Carly did not really believe that God loved her. She tried to fill the void in her heart with overeating and poor decisions. She looked for love outside of marriage and finally hit rock bottom in hopelessness and brokenness. But, when Carly thought she had lost everything, she heard God’s truth. She finally felt God’s love in her heart and she is now truly living her life for Christ.
Why are some of you out there still waiting? I think sometimes we get into drift mode. But we have to remember that there is nothing we can do that will make God love us more or love us less. We also have to know that it is not enough to know that Jesus died for us; we have to respond to Him. Pray to Him. God is calling you to come home. You have not gone too far or done too much for Him not to want you back. Pray to come home into His arms.
Brokenness is when you know that you cannot save yourself. When that happens, pray, “Jesus, I believe you died for me and rose from the grave. Come into my heart. I repent my mistakes and my sins. Save me. Rescue me. I need you. Amen.”
God’s love never changes and because of that, we have a chance to change our lives.
1. What are bad things you have done when you felt broken?
2. What are good things you have done when you felt broken?
3. Why did Hosea take Gomer back?
4. How can you create a heart of forgiveness like Hosea?
5. What should you do if you need forgiveness?
6. What is your picture of love?
7. Why does God love you?