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Abounding in Love, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
August 5, 2022 9:00 am

Abounding in Love, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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August 5, 2022 9:00 am

Everyone likes hearing about God’s love. It stirs up warm sentimental feelings and makes us feel good about ourselves. But Pastor J.D. explains that God’s love has nothing to do with our worthiness.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. I take myself back to these stories and this situation where God declares his love to me in his name and he says, I am. This is how I am. It's how I always will be.

I do not change. And I know that the love that he demonstrated for me in these stories and the love that culminated on the cross, that is the declaration of his love for me. That's where he proclaimed his name. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Okay, so have you noticed that the verses about God's love tend to get repeated and memorized? Passages like John 3.16, they stir up warm sentimental feelings and they make us feel good about how fortunate we are. But today pastor J.D. explains that God's love for us has nothing to do with our worthiness or loveliness and has everything to do with God's compassion toward us. We're in a teaching series called The Name.

And if you've missed any of the previous messages, you can hear them online at jdgreer.com. Today's message from Exodus 34 is titled Abounding in Love. You may or may not ever have been a groupie at some point in your life. In fact, some of you look kind of guilty and then you started shaking your head.

So I know that some of you were, but most of us, even if you haven't been a groupie, know what it's like to love somebody who doesn't love you back or be into somebody that's just not that into you. I think for me, one of the most mind blowing things in scripture, one of the things that's hardest for me to get my mind around, is that we see God, the almighty God, the self-sufficient creator, which means that he doesn't need anything. Theologians call that the aseity of God. He doesn't need anything or require anything to be happy.

He's happy in himself. We see that God continually putting himself in that position. We find him constantly reaching out to love people who don't love him back when he really has no reason to. And I'm going to tell you this weekend that understanding that one thing about God will probably do more to change your life than any other realization you could have in your life. I began this series with this statement by A.W.

Tozer. What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. What comes into your mind when I say God is the most important and most defining thing about you because we tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. But when and if you come to see the steadfast love of God, it's going to give you a joy and a fullness and a freedom that will redefine you and all of your relationships, that will transform you into being the kind of loving person that you've always wanted to know and that you've always wanted to be. Y'all, our deepest longings are for love, aren't they? I mean, we know that.

Just listen to the songs that we sing and watch the movies that we put out. We want we want love, true love. That's what our souls want. Exodus 34, 6 and 7. Moses asked God if he can see God for who he really is and so God puts him into a cave in a mountain and covers him with his hand. And God says this, Exodus 33, 19.

We'll back up a little bit there. I will make all my goodness, God says, pass before you and I will proclaim before you my name, the Lord. That's how I'm going to reveal my glory to you. My goodness is going to be expressed in a name, my holiness, verse 34, verse 5. And the Lord descended then in a cloud and he proclaimed the Lord. In Hebrew we use the proper name of God. Yahweh literally means I am.

I am. I am a God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty. The element that dominates this description of the name of God is love. It is presented here in this name like a many-sided diamond. So let's walk through because you get several descriptions that all kind of turn the diamond of God's love and show you different dimensions of it.

Merciful and gracious. God is angry at sin precisely because he loves us. The same writer who wrote 1 John 4 18, God is love, also wrote 1 John 1 6. God is light and in him is no darkness at all. The light of God's presence exposes and drives out darkness. God wants us to be filled with light and goodness and love like he is because he loves us. His love is a purifying love, not being satisfied with only goodness in himself. He wants goodness and love in those that he loves.

Something like what I would feel for my children. In fact, this is how King David said it. Psalm 103, as a father has compassion on his, compassion by the way, rahum, as a father has rahum on his children, so the Lord has rahum on those who fear him. The depth and the length of God's love revealed in Scripture is shocking. In fact, it is so shocking that God chooses to reveal to it to us through a series of stories rather than a set of propositions because there are some things that really cannot be explained adequately.

They really have to be sensed and felt. So when God begins to describe his love, he very quickly goes to illustrating it for you so that you can identify with it and understand what he's talking about. Let me show you what I mean. Let's start with the book of Jonah. So Jonah says this, chapter 4 verse 1, but it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was angry. He said, Lord, is this not what I said?

I told you this was going to happen when I was still in my country. This is why, verse 2, I made haste to flee to Tarshish for I knew, I knew that you were a gracious God, a wakanun God, and I knew that you were rahum. I knew that you were slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. That's a quote from Exodus 34, 6, and 7. I knew you would relent from disaster.

I knew it. Jonah finds God's love scandalous because God's love reaches out to people that Jonah knows are completely unworthy of God's mercy and his love and his forgiveness. Because we think we're Jonah in that story, but nope, we're Nineveh, and you see in that when Jonah looked at these people and says, they don't deserve forgiveness and love, and God says, that's how I feel about you.

I'm going to come as the real Jonah and I'm going to die for the real Ninevites and Jonah, you're a Ninevite and this is how I love you. Some things can't be explained. They have to be felt and experienced. That means if you've ever had the experience of being really betrayed, like by a son or a daughter or a parent or neglected by a friend or a spouse, but for whatever reason, you can't stop loving them and you keep reaching out toward them. In that moment, you get a glimpse of what God feels and what he has done with you.

Some things can't be explained. They have to be experienced and Jonah felt that and God said, that's who I am. Listen, God was happy before he made us. He didn't need us to be happy. He would have been happy had he destroyed us after we sinned, but God has so voluntarily wrapped up his emotions and our pain that he cannot be happy again until we are happy.

Theologian J.I. Packer says, listen, this is amazing, by his own free voluntary choice, God will not know perfect and unmixed happiness again until he has brought every one of his children to heaven. By his own free voluntary choice, God cannot be happy again until all those that he loves have been brought safely to heaven. I told my wife after we had our fourth child, I was like, you know, I don't think I'm ever going to be happy again in life.

She said, why not? I said, because at some point with four kids, one of them always is unhappy. It's just the way the odds work out. One of them is always unhappy and when they're unhappy, then I feel unhappy. And so throughout the rest of our lives, it's just going to cycle through. One of them is going to be unhappy at some point. Therefore, I will never be happy again as long as I'm alive until I'm dead. Then I can be happy again.

Right? Because that's how you feel about somebody that you love. God says, this is how I feel about you. In fact, listen to this, Gomer's name in Hebrew means completion. God's love and happiness cannot be complete any longer until he saves us, even if we are the greatest source of pain in his life, which we are. And even if we brought that pain that we are experiencing onto ourselves. So the hymn writer says, and can it be, and can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior's blood died he for me, who caused his pain for me, who him to death pursued amazing love. How can it be that thou, my God, should die for me? What is amazing is I look at the very things that I use to rebel against God. God turned into my salvation. Donald Gray Barnhouse, an old preacher, put it like this. Listen, the pursuing love of God is the greatest wonder in the spiritual universe. It's not the stars.

It's not the makeup of the atom. It's the greatest wonder is the love of God. When we see this love at work at the heart of Hosea, we wonder, is God really like that?

But he is. Think about it. Many years later, God would give man the trees of the forest and the iron in the ground. He would give them the ability then to form that iron into nails and to fashion those trees into a cross.

And then he would stretch out his hands upon that tree and allow us to nail him there. And in so doing, he would take our sins upon himself. This is our God and there is nobody else like him. By the way, Hosea comes from two Hebrew words that combine to mean God saves.

Amazing love. How can it be that thou my God would die for me? Died he for me? Who caused his pain for me? Who him to death pursued? Is it possible that the very thing that I used to rebel against God, the cross, was to become the instrument of my salvation?

Amazing love. By the way, did you notice that both of those are Old Testament stories? Can I take a moment to address one of the most confused, twisted ideas that people have about the Bible? They think that there's like two deities in the Bible. There's an Old Testament God, the Father, and he's a mean and grumpy deity. He's always mad. He watches Fox News every night and he's ready to kill everybody. And Jesus is like the son who went off to college and he got all these liberal ideas about grace and then he came back to heaven. He's like, Dad, come on. These people aren't so bad. They're creative and funny and the Grand Canyon is awesome.

Let's try to rescue them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus's greatest stories of wonder about the love of God are always about the love of the Father, the Father that is revealed in the Old Testament. And Jesus said, this is how the Father felt about you. The cross was the Father running after you. The cross was the Father exposing himself to scorn and ridicule and pain just so he could get us back. And Hebrews 12 says he didn't even think about the pain and the ridicule. He didn't think about the fact that he was naked on a cross.

He didn't think about the torture. All he was thinking about is, I get my children back. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. We'll get right back to the teaching in just a moment. But first, let me tell you about our latest resource created exclusively for our Summit Life listeners. The Bible calls us to honor our parents. And one way that we can do that is by praying for them. The book Five Things to Pray for Your Parents will help you to pray rich, intentional prayers for your mother or father, whether biological or adoptive, working or retired, frail or fit, married or separated, whatever their situation. If we want to love them well, we need to pray. We're offering three of these Five Things to Pray books this month in a bundle. How to Pray for Our Parents, Praying for Our Children, and then How to Pray for Our Community.

Reserve your set today by calling 866-335-5220 or visit us online at jdgreer.com. Thanks for being with us today. Now let's get back to the final moments of today's message.

Here's Pastor J.D. Y'all, I'm gonna tell you something. The Trinity is hard to understand.

There's a lot of things about it I don't feel like I can explain to you because there's some things I'm not sure I understand fully. But I do know this, that in Christ's death on the cross, listen, the Father himself was suffering for our sins because God did not send somebody else to die for our sins. He did it himself. It's what makes the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons so wrong because God didn't create a lesser being and say, oh, go die for them. God said, I will do it myself. And we know that the Father and the Son are one being, but at the same time, we know that the Father and Son are separate and that's where it gets confusing.

And we know that the Father loves the Son more than anything, which makes the sacrifice even more painful because I'm pretty sure that I could give up my life for you more easily than I could give up my son, Adam's life for you. My dad used to teach our Awana program when I was in the fourth grade and I remember him telling this story. He reported it as true, it might be one of those legends, I don't know, whatever. But he said the stories of a guy who worked as a switch on a railroad, back in the old days when they had to manually sort of switch the tracks if a train wanted to go on a different track. And so this man who operated the switch on this bridge, standard day, nothing really out of the ordinary. There was a big passenger train coming down with hundreds of people, high speed barreling down this track. And they were just going to go down this right track, nothing out of the ordinary, when all of a sudden this guy gets an emergency message that there's been a bad mistake at the previous station. And there's another passenger train that got put on the same track, also coming now at about 75 miles an hour, also filled with hundreds of people. They're no more than two miles apart. There's no way they can stop.

They will collide. You have to switch this track immediately. So the father looks out to switch this train coming on this one to this track over here, when he sees that his seven-year-old son has gotten down into the gears and the machination of this track. And he knows that if he pulls that lever, it's most likely going to crush his son.

His son can't hear him. There's no time to react. And so he has to make a split second decision. Do I crush my son or do I save these hundreds of people's lives? And in the last minute, he does what he feels like he has to do because of the amount of people on these trains. He pulls that lever, crushes his son, and this train goes by at full speed, filled with people on this train who were laughing and eating, oblivious to the fact that this guy just crushed his son so they could stay alive. I remember my dad telling us this story in Awana, and I remember him doing it with tears in his eyes.

And I remember me thinking, would he do that to me if I was in that? I mean, I don't I don't know all there is to understand about the Trinity, but I know that there's something about the fact that God gave up not only himself, that God gave his only son, that suddenly helps me to see the kind of love that we are talking about, that God willfully endured so that you and I could be saved. Henry Nouwen in the book The Return of the Prodigal Son says, perhaps the most radical statement that Jesus ever made in his life, Luke 6 36, be merciful, be rakum, the way that your Father in heaven has been rakum to you. As I have been to you, this is how I want you to be to others. So I have three questions for you.

Here they are. Number one, number one, do you believe in the steadfast love of the Father? Do you believe in it? You see, in these stories, they're all about you. You are Nineveh that he, beyond everybody's comprehension, came to forgive. First Peter says the angels are confused by it. They long to look into it. They can't understand it. They're like, God, why would you go after these people? These people don't deserve to be forgiven.

These people deserve judgment and they're amazed by it. You are Nineveh. You were Gomer that he won't, that he can't let go. Like Gomer, you stood there naked and ashamed and he walked up and bought you back and he clothed you, not with your robes of prostitution. He put back on his robes of righteousness.

You are the prodigal son for whom he stands daily on the gates of heaven longing for you to come home, for whom he slew not the fatted calf but himself at the cross, whom he clothed not with a garment that you had purchased but one that was purchased by his blood. And there are times that you cannot feel the love of God. Listen, I'll be honest with you, there are many days I cannot feel the love of God. And on those days when I cannot feel the love of God, I take myself back to these stories and this situation where God declares his love to me in his name and he says, I am. This is how I am. It's how I always will be.

I do not change. And I know that the love that he demonstrated for me in these stories and the love that culminated on the cross, that is the declaration of his love for me. That's where he proclaimed his name. I've told you that probably the greatest demonstration of the love of God happened on the night before Jesus died. He goes into a garden called Gethsemane where he just wants to spend a few moments alone with his father before the greatest trial of his life.

But the most odd thing begins to happen in Luke's telling of the story of Gethsemane. Jesus begins to be terribly afraid. The word is horrified. It's the same word that we would use if you saw your family massacred in front of your eyes. He feels something in the garden.

There's nobody there driving nails in his hands. What's causing that emotion? It was so terrifying, Jesus said he almost died from it. Jesus did not exaggerate.

That's not a figure of speech. He literally almost died. He began to sweat great drops of blood, a medical condition that doctors call hematridosis, which is where you're under such emotional strain that the capillaries in your face burst, your extremities burst, and you literally begin to bleed out of your pores. What was it that Jesus Christ, who had cast out demons and raised the dead and walked on water, what did he see that terrified him so badly he almost died? Luke gives you a clue because Jesus calls out in the father's name three times in those verses and not a single time is there an answer. What's happened is God has already begun to turn his face away from his son. Jesus goes to experience the radiance and the fellowship of the father that he's known from all eternity and all he's met with is silence. The crucifixion began in the Garden of Gethsemane a long time before the first nail went into Jesus's hands.

Now here's the question. Why did God give Jesus that vision there? Why not wait until the next day when Jesus would be on the cross to show him all that? Why give him a glimpse of it in the beginning? That's Jonathan Edwards' question, the theologian.

Let me give you his answer. It was so we could see Jesus go to the cross voluntarily, knowing full well what he was about to experience so that his love for us would be put on display even more. God wanted us to see Jesus see what he was about to go through, see it very clearly, so that when he walked out of that garden and set his face to the cross, we would know he did not do it. It did not take him by surprise.

He knew exactly the price that he was going to pay and he was going to do it because he wanted to purchase you. And that means that there are times when I don't sense the love of God. I don't feel good. It means there are times I look at my circumstances and I don't see, well God if you love me, why isn't this happening? But I know that my soul has found a resting place. My soul has found an anchor. It has found a place that I can run into and it is the name of God because the name of God was declared to me throughout the Bible. The name of God was demonstrated for me at the cross and I know that if Jesus would not turn his back on me when literally hell itself was squeezing the life of out of him, I know that he will not turn his back on me now. If you are the kind of person that has to determine God's love based on whether your business is going well and your family's going well and based on how you feel, you will be unsettled every day of your life. But when you come to understand that it is based on the settled work of Calvary, that God says I am not I was, I am means I don't ever change, I am yesterday, today, and forever, then you will find an anchor for your soul that will let you weather any storm because that is the one thing you will be sure of is that God's love has been forever settled and demonstrated. I am, I always will be, and I never change. Do you believe in his love for you? Some of you say I believe in his love, but it's more like, oh, God's sentimental and I'm awesome. See, what's going to happen in your life if something's going to reveal that you're not awesome?

You're going to suddenly wake up one day and realize you're Nineveh and you're Gomer, and then at that point you're not going to have your positive self image to go back to. It's only going to be what God declared on the cross. Your life's going to fall apart and you need an anchor, and that anchor is the finished work of Jesus. On Christ, the solid rock, I stand.

All other ground is sinking sand. Number two, have you embraced his love for you? Have you embraced his love for you? We're going to see this more next week, but he's not going to force his love on you.

You've got to choose to receive it. Salvation is a gift. It's found in a personal relationship with Jesus. It's not just believing in him that he's there, it's trusting him personally for yourself. That's why we say personal relationship with you. Have you ever received him personally as your Savior?

If you're a believer, are you renewing yourself and the reality of this love daily? Romans 5, Paul says the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to shed abroad God's love in our hearts. Shed abroad literally means poured out. It's not a little tiny word. It's the same word that's used when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.

It's a flood. What we're talking about is this understanding that God just pours out his love and there's this sense of intimacy because you know that you belong to God, the Holy Spirit. That's not a special thing you get every once in a while. It's not what happens once a week in church. It is to be the daily reality of the believer and the Holy Spirit gives it to all those people who ask him. Are you living with the sense of that love? Listen, I promise you, if you are not living in the awareness of that love, there is no possible way that you feel any connection to God. Some of you don't love God, you don't feel affection to God, and what you need is not me standing here yelling at you about you need to love God more. You can't. Your love for God will always be based on the perception of his love and his tenderness toward you.

Here is number three, last one. Have you sensed his love in you for others? Have you sensed his love in you for others? I often say this, but there's just no way to experience the magnitude of raccoon, mercy, and to be the recipient of of wakanun, the grace, and just remain the same. We always say that those who really believe the Gospel, who understand it, they always become like the Gospel.

Why? Because you can't experience that kind of power and just remain the same selfish, self-centered, unforgiving, stingy person that you've always been. That kind of mercy and grace when it impacts you, transforms you, and you become like that. A message about the transforming power of the Gospel on Summit Life with JD Greer. So Pastor JD, how can we know what to pray? For instance, in one of our new resources this month, we learn how to pray for our cities and communities. But why is that important?

And what is it going to teach us? I start with the assumption, Molly, that a lot of us sit down to pray and basically it comes out, you know, God bless all the missionaries and everyone everywhere. Amen. We don't exactly know what to pray. And so for me in my own life, having a kind of a clear map of categories I'm praying for and then scriptural instruction about what to pray for those things has been very, very helpful. It is an integrated, essential part of my quiet time every day, which is why we're giving this bundle of three prayer books as just as a way of helping you this month.

This particular one on cities, your city that you live in, even if it's a small town, it's full of people with needs. This will help you pray for the lost in your city. It'll help you pray against the injustices there. It will also help you celebrate the good things God is doing in your city. And, you know, prayer is one of the best ways of discipling yourself in the scriptures.

Because as you pray, you learn to think rightly about, about the world that you live in. It's how to pray for your city book. That's a part of, you know, two others that we're giving about your kids and how to pray for your parents is something that I think will really, really help you to that end. This bundle of prayer books comes with our thanks when you donate to support this ministry today. The suggested giving level is $35 or more. And every penny you donate is used to advance the gospel through this ministry. Give today and ask for your set of five things to pray books when you call us at 866-335-5220. It's even easier to give on our website at jdgreer.com.

I'm Molly Vitovich. Next week, we're coming to the uncomfortable topic of God's wrath, but Pastor JD explains that his wrath isn't a demeaning doctrine to be swept under the rug. It's a glorious reality. We'll discover why that's true next week here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-15 16:03:00 / 2023-03-15 16:14:13 / 11

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