What it Means to Have Love

Most people who have read the book of 1st Corinthians, are familiar with the phrase from chapter 13, stating that if you do not have love, nothing else matters. Most people and most preachers for that matter present this in a way which makes it seem as though this verse is saying you must work up love, and do your best to love others – and most people tend to accept and believe that to be true.

However, what I want to share with you today is a different perspective. As we take a look at 1st Corinthians 13, through the lens of Grace and the finished work of Christ, we begin to see something different than what is generally assumed. Something less focused on our efforts to try and work-up love within ourselves, and something more (properly) focused on Christ, His finished work, and His love for us. By seeing this, you will have a new appreciation and application of the love of God in your daily life.

Who’s Your Daddy?

There are literally millions of people who claim to believe in God, and Jesus Christ. Millions of people claim to be part of a vast spiritual family, and claim to be brothers in Christ. The question that I want to pose to you today in this study, is the one in the title… Who’s Your Daddy? Do you know who your daddy is? Do you know His character? Do you know His love? Are you simply existing in a spiritual family that you don’t really know… and if so, what can you do about it?

I had a conversation recently with a person who claimed that they didn’t really know what the will of God was… they didn’t really know what He would do (this happened to be in regards to healing, but the same could be applied to anything really) – this seemed strange to me, because if you have a close, personal, intimate relationship with someone, you get to know them, and you get to know their character and how they respond to things. If you see a couple that has been married for a long time, you find that they know one-another so well that they finish each-others sentences!

So what I want to share with you today, are some things about the character of God, the way in which He has revealed Himself, and how you can get to know Him in a more personal way.

The Essence of the Gospel and Love

At first, the title of today’s study might seem a bit disjointed, the essence of the Gospel and love. You might wonder if it wouldn’t be better to split these into two separate studies. Well, I thought about it, but the more that I explored each, I came to realize that the two cannot truly be separated; they are integral to one another. Without Love, there is no Gospel, and without the Gospel there is no Love. A surprising number of people today do not understand the basic foundation, the basic central core and essence of the Gospel message… all they really know, is that this guy Jesus, at some place and some time, died by crucifixion, and that for some reason He did it for them. (They may also include that He died for their sins).

What I have found is that for most people, these have become empty statements, lacking substance, lacking the essence of God’s Love and their personal identity in Christ. It’s one thing to say with your mouth that Jesus died for your sins – but it’s quite another to apply that reality to your life and to live from that place every single day. To take the fact that Christ has made you a completely new creation, and to apply it personally, and to make that identity completely yours, is the true essence of the Gospel. A fact that has been largely watered-down and even lost in many Christian circles today.

Living in Truth and Love

It’s no secret that the body of Christ is divided today. There are all manner of sects, churches and ministries to fit any particular tribe, taste or temperament that exists. There are even entire ministries dedicated to specific topics and categories. Personally I think that there should only be one category: Christ and His Finished Work – and from that, everything else will flow and every problem solved. Now, not surprisingly, when I mention this, some people get put-off and offended… they think that it is narrow-minded to say that the finished work of Christ can solve every problem, and when they tell me that, I typically respond by telling them that they have a very limited view of what He accomplished.

Sometimes that statement makes them curious and they want to know more; and sometimes it offends them even deeper – especially if they have been a believer for many years. Yet regardless of how long someone has been a believer, that doesn’t change the fact that there are countless people who have not been properly shown what the finished work of Christ actually accomplished, and so they have a dim view of what Jesus has really done for them.

What Place Are You Praying In?

Many times, I have heard people say, “I have prayed and prayed, but nothing seemed to happen!”. They are expressing their honest frustration at the apparent lack of results – and that’s okay. If we are honest, we have been there before, we know how that feels, and it is okay to express those feelings. God is not upset when people share their heart, in-fact He would much rather have open honestly than religious pretense.

When I have talked with these people sharing these feelings, we eventually get down to one main thing though, and that is the place they are in. And most are shocked when I mention this… because they don’t expect it… they don’t see it coming. You see, people have all sorts of places that they actually are in every single day. We really should only have one, but we have many, and the scriptures have something to say about it, in regards to faith and prayer in Christ; and what it says, may surprise you.

The Generosity of God Revealed

God is generous. I know by making this one statement, I’ve probably managed to offend someone. The idea of a truly generous God is not very popular today. Many people will say that they believe in a giving and generous God, but when you dig a little deeper, you will find that those same people only have a superficial belief in the generosity of God – which is to say that they don’t really believe that He is generous at all. I have encountered quite a number of people who feel that they must beg God to give them things and barely scrape by in life, and even some who think that the more needy and poor they are, the more it gives God glory and keeps them holy and humble.

On the other side, I have encountered people who say that God could not possibly be generous, because He wants to “test and try us” or “teach us lessons”, and then there are those think that God would just be some kind of magical genie, and so they oppose His generosity on those grounds. So what I want to share with you today, what the scriptures say about God’s generosity, and what He says about Himself.

Yes God Loves You That Much

Over and over again, I hear people say “If God loves me, then why did this happen?” – and you can fill in the blank with almost anything. If God loves me, then why did I get sick? If God loves me then why did this person die? If God loves me… then He would’ve prevented it. This is a real stumbling-block for a lot of people. And it’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to ask the question, and it’s okay to admit feeling that way. And I want to prepare you for what I am going to share with you today, because I am not going to give you the standard canned-response that most religious leaders would… I’m not going to tell you that the bad things that happened were actually good. I’m not going to tell you that you just need to grin and swallow it because God works in mysterious ways and we can never understand it so just suck-it-up and take it. Absolutely not!

Now here’s the shocker… The Bible also does not tell us to behave that way! Those are all things that religious leaders have come up with. Distorting the truth of scripture, usually not on purpose, but because they themselves didn’t have the answer and they were trying to protect people’s feelings and emotions, but ended-up doing more harm. So what I want to share with you today, is what the Bible actually says about the love of God – specifically in hard times – and how His love can be clearly seen in it.

Eternal Life, A Relationship With Jesus

When we hear the words “eternal life” many images and ideas come to mind. For most, it conjures a moment in time when one prayed a payer to go to heaven, that is what is generally believed because that is the idea that is most often taught in churches all across the world. They say “if you are unsure of your destination when you die, simply pray this prayer and you can go to heaven.” Simply pray the sinners prayer, or invite Jesus into your heart, are all common Christian lingo, for what amounts to basically nothing more than spiritual fire-insurance.

It’s no surprise then that people see God as distant and impersonal – just a being up in heaven, with no real interest in their day-to-day lives. They don’t know Him, because honestly, they have never been introduced! The finished work of Christ has been reduced to a cold, emotionless contract.

The scriptures however paint a very different view of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus for you; as well as eternal life. In truth they are much more than the way in which they have been presented. And this is what we will be studying today.

Seek First the Kingdom of God

One of the more notable statements made by Jesus can be found in Matthew 6:33, in which Jesus says that we are to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all of the other things will be added to us. Now, as believers we have become fairly adept at seeking God’s righteousness, as that was made available for us by Jesus on the cross. Yet it is interesting that His righteousness was not the first thing mentioned by Jesus when telling us what to search for. Jesus said that we are to seek first the Kingdom of God.

Now in many Christian circles, the Kingdom of God is not talked about very much; most people don’t even properly know what the Kingdom of God even is, or how to define it. We haven’t really sought it first as we were told to, but we have instead been seeking His Righteousness without His Kingdom. That’s why today in this study we will be examining what His Kingdom is, and what it means to seek (and find) the Kingdom of God.

Jesus Loves You (Even When You Don’t Feel It)

The phrase “Jesus Loves You” is powerful. Never has there been three simple words that have the ability to break bondages and transform lives like this one phrase. I have been in situations where this one simple phrase has totally delivered people, broken down emotional walls and set captive hearts free. And I have also been in situations where the phrase has been mocked, snickered at and downplayed to be less than what it is. The sad reality is that much of the latter, has actually happened by church-goers.

In many Christian-circles, we have reduced the powerful phrase “Jesus Loves You”, and we see it is something less, because our own vision and understanding of it has been lessened. I have talked to believers who respond to the phrase “Jesus Loves You”, with a “Yeah but…” – I know He loves me, but I still need more, kind of mentality. We fail to see the vastness of His love, and all that it includes. Today we will be looking at the wonder and majesty that is the love of God, demonstrated in Jesus Christ, and by seeing the truth, we can receive it for all that it is.