The Perfect Love

This Valentine’s Day, we celebrate love and traditionally spend it with those we love deeply.  Men we’ll take our wives out to dinner and wish our daughters and other ladies in our lives a happy Valentines Day.  We celebrate love in all it’s human forms.   But we shouldn’t forget about the perfect love that God has for us.  Look at what Christ did for us.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  -Romans 5:8

Let that soak in for a minute.  It always gets me when I read that verse.  He died, gave up his live, took on the weight of our sin….even while we were still sinning.  Those of us that weren’t even born yet…he died for us, before we were born.  We still sinned and continue to sin, yet Christ died for us.

He died for us, knowing full well, that we might never love him back.  Now that is what I call true love.

So today on Valentine’s day, I’m gonna spend some time with my loved ones here on earth, celebrating what we have together.   However, I’m spending some time with the one that loves me perfectly.  Thank you Jesus!

http://groovesharks.org/?artist=newsboys&track=pouring-it-out-for-you

 

Love the unloved

During my journey to find my purpose, to find what Jesus really means to me, I’ve been meandering somewhat without direction. I’ve come to some great revelations about the Bible, about God and about myself. But I’ve sat back wondering, am I getting any closer to what my goal was? Am I discovering what Jesus means to me?

As God usual does, he’s provided an answer, without me even realizing it. The current sermon series going on at our church is about the relentless love that God has for us and out of that love, his unending pursuit of us. As Hosea 2:14-15 says,

But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her out into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.

Can you love the unloved?

Last weeks sermon (which can be found at – https://vimeo.com/143556735) entitled “Hosea: Go Marry a Prostitute” speaks to this idea of loving the unloved. We find in Hosea 1:2 that God gives Hosea an incredible task;

When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so some of her children will be born to you from other men. This will illustrate the way my people have been untrue to me, openly committing adultery against the Lord by worshiping other Gods.”

So what did Hosea do? Well exactly what God wanted, he went and married Gomer, a prostitute.

Now, I stopped and asked myself…what would I do? I seriously doubt God will ask me to marry a prostitute as I’m already married to a wonderful woman. But what if God asked me to love someone that no-one else has? What if it’s a family member that everyone else has given up on? Could you invite him over to dinner? Or maybe it is that homeless guy that lives under the bridge on your way to work? What if God asked you to be his friend?

What if you’re the one that is feeling unloved?

Do you feel unloved? There are times when we may all feel that way in one way or the other? But I know that I’ve lived a dream of a life compared to many. I came from loving parents, both of which were greatly involved in my life and still are. My siblings, while we’ve had trouble like most siblings do, we still love each other. I married a wonderful woman and have four awesome children. God has blessed me greatly.

But there are many that are not so lucky. Through circumstances and choices made, they’ve not lived the life like I have. They’ve not had those the loved them, in fact many have lived a life feeling unloved. The video shared in the sermon, but not included in the video above because of copyright restrictions is of Annie Lobert. Annie, is a former prostitute, who struggled in that lifestyle all the while battling drug addiction and cancer. When she hit bottom and on death’s door from an overdose, she realized that God was pursuing her and has been all along. She cried out to Jesus, who saved her from certain death and restored her. She found peace and Love through Jesus.

She has since been called to minister to those other ladies, still stuck in that lifestyle and has founded Hookers for Jesus. Annie has found the love and acceptance in Jesus that she was seeking in the sex industry. Watch her testimony, it’s powerful.

So what does this have to do with my own journey?

I haven’t lived the life Annie lived, nor gone through even a fraction of what she has. But our daily struggles are all to real for each of us. No matter how deep our Valley of Trouble is, God is always right there with us. He’s always there if we’d just let him in. He relentlessly pursues us, no matter what we’ve done or how far we’ve strayed. He is always right there.

Can we share with others the love of God, until we’ve received it ourselves? Can we truly love people like God loves us if we don’t accept His love first? Can we share with others that which we don’t have ourselves?

Hosea loved his wife unconditionally. He loved her despite her background or past transgressions. He loved her despite her future transgressions or failings. Annie loves the girls still stuck in sexual slavery, because she knows what it’s like to feel unloved and she wants to share with them what she has already received, the love that Jesus is giving her. Throughout the Bible God shows us that he loves us unconditionally and throughout the Bible, his people rejected his love…but he simply loves us where we are and no matter what, he simply loves.

My thought for the day: No matter where I’m at in my life and no matter my past, God is there for me and loves me as he always has and always will.

While we were sinners, Christ STILL died for us.

jesus-with-sinnersA favorite verse of mine is:

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  – Romans 5:8

Notice what isn’t said in that verse.  It doesn’t mention that Christ died only for the clean or the healthy, it doesn’t mention that he died only for the good looking people.  It doesn’t mention that he died for just those that have a job and live in a nice house.  He DID die for those people AS WELL as all the others on the margin of society.  He died for everyone.  Why?  Because we are all sinners.  I am, you are, the person living in a mansion is, the person living under a bridge is.  We are all sinners.

Given that….why do we not translate that to our own lives?  Do we want to only associate with those that are well off?  Do we only want to be seen around those that are clean and come from a good home?  Are we only to be seen around those that are considered “wholesome”?

Let’s look at these verses from Mark 2.

That night Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to be his dinner guests, along with his fellow tax collectors and many other notorious sinners. – Mark 2:15

Levi, a tax collector (tax collectors were not held in high esteem back then, maybe much like today) invites Jesus to a party that is also being attended by many others, including some pretty awful sinners.  There were probably thieves, murderers, prostitutes and other unsavory people there as well as just normal hardworking, honest people.  But then look at what the religious leaders say;

But when some of the teachers of religious law who were the Pharisees saw him eating with people like that , they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with such scum?’  – Mark 2:16

See back then, the Pharisees and others who thought themselves “clean” didn’t want to be associated or seen with such people.  I think we often have much the same problem as today, not so much with the religious leaders, but with people in general.  I’ve seen a situation recently where some people invited some homeless people to a Christmas gathering, some of those people may even have had an unsavory past, but now they are just homeless, struggling to survive in freezing temperatures.  These people were invited, and then some friends and neighbors expressed concerns and stressed that those types weren’t welcome.  I have to think that sounds like something the Pharisees may have been thinking here in Mark 2.  “Why are those type of people hanging around Jesus?” or more likely, “Why did Jesus invite those type of people?”

But let’s see how Jesus responds,

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor — sick people do.  I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.” – Mark 2:17

Well there ya go, Jesus for those that needed him.  Can we be more like Jesus and help those that need help?    Are we blessed so we can be a blessing to others?  God often uses those on the margins, the insignificant to do great things.  Do we walk by them without offering even a smile?

Christ died for us, even though we were sinners and didn’t deserve his love for us.  But he loved us anyway.  It’s the least we can do, love someone that no one else will.