Brookwood Church - Love God, Love People

Experience God's Love while Expressing His Love



Experience God's Love while Expressing His Love

David Hardy |

We'll be moved to love others the way God loves us as we begin to grasp how much He loves us.








Experience God’s Love while Expressing His Love

Yes, Jesus is our Rock, our foundation. Good morning. My name is David Hardy, Executive Pastor here, and I’m speaking with you today because I believe that God loves me, and I believe He loves you. My hope is that we’ll all experience more of His love. So let’s pray for that now. 

Today we’re going to talk about love, and we’ll use the Bible, your message guide, and the Ministry Plan brochure, which you hopefully found in your chair, to help us explore how we can Experience God’s Love while Expressing His love this year as a church, and as individuals. If you look on the inside of your Ministry Plan you’ll see a few of the plans for the church year that starts October 1 in the area of Worship, Adults and Recreation, Families/Students/Children, Care/Serve at Brookwood, and Outreach/Missions in our community and the World, as well as how much money we plan to spend supporting each of those areas. On the back you’ll see highlights of some things that happened in those areas over the last year. If you look back on the inside at the bottom right corner you’ll see “My Personal Plan to Experience God’s Love while Expressing His Love”. I’m hoping we can all fill in those blanks with something by the end of this message because each one of us is a key part of the body of Brookwood Church.  Why are we seeking to Experience God’s Love while Expressing His Love?

There’s a song that was written in the 60’s that expresses what I think people have been feeling for centuries, and still feel today – What the world needs now is love sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.

Let me ask you a question. Consider this for a moment:

Why would you want to show love to someone else? What would motivate you to express love to someone else? Maybe because . . .

            -you just feel that way towards someone

            -it’s just inside of me to want to love them (kids).

            -it makes me feel good.

            -someone makes me feel special.

            -Because someone else loved me first.

I remember being attracted to my wife first because she’s beautiful, then because of her smile, then because she was so easy to talk with, then because of her hugs, then because of the person she is – I admire her, and because she loves me so well.

But why would I love someone I’m barely acquainted with, like a neighbor, or classmate, or that I don’t even know, or many of the children in India that are yet to be rescued from slavery? Or someone I don’t even like?

  1. Why love?

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 (ESV)

Because Jesus loved us first. I use the ESV translation here because the NLT says, We love each other, but most early translations just say, We love.  We love anyone because He loved us first.

And Jesus keeps on loving me, whether you love me or not. Whether I appear loveable or not. He loves.

God’s unconditional love is unmerited, gracious and constantly seeking the benefit of the ones He loves. When we begin to truly grasp how good it tastes to be loved by God, the Spirit of God in us moves us to love others that way.

Many of us have tasted God’s love, and would say that we believe God loves us, but do we really grasp how much He loves us?

I remember when I first got a taste of God’s love for me. I heard a pastor talking about the fact that Jesus was nailed to a cross and died on that cross to take the punishment that I deserved due to my sin, my wrongdoing, my self-centeredness. I deserved it. But Jesus took my place.  He did that for me.

I’ve never been able to get over being loved like that. But my actions through the years have demonstrated that I didn’t fully comprehend how much God loves me, and that I still don’t fully grasp how much He loves me. 

Why do I say that? Well if I really understood how much God loves me, I would trust Him in every situation. Now that’s the goal of my life, to trust Jesus with everything, and in every circumstance. But when I react in frustration, or contrary to Scripture, it shows that I don’t fully trust Jesus to guide me through that situation. That reaction shows that I either don’t fully understand how much God loves me, or I don’t trust His capability to do what’s best for me.

Amy and I have helped both sets of our parents to move in the last few years. Both times we told them just let us know what items you want us to take with you, and what you want to leave behind, and we’ll take care of everything else. However, as we went through the process, they continued to give us instructions on packing, and other move details that we had already promised to take care of. Now that’s understandable, and I think they believed we loved them, and trusted us to handle things, but their actions showed that they either didn’t grasp how much we loved them, or they didn’t fully trust our capability to handle everything.

When we don’t listen to or heed God’s guidance in our lives, it shows we either need to experience His love more deeply, or exercise more trust in His ways. Do I really believe God loves me? Do I trust He is capable of handling everything and knows what’s best?

How can I experience God’s love so that I trust Him more and express His love to others? I don’t have the power, the strength in me, to truly love God, love people, and live like Jesus, nor to even truly experience how much Jesus loves me. So . . .

  1. How do we experience God’s love?

Let’s look at Ephesians 3 to get that answer. First step is to:

 

  1. Rely on the resources of His Spirit.

In Ephesians 3:16 Paul says,

I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.  Ephesians 3:16 (NLT)

Paul is praying that God will give us inner strength through His Spirit.

God begins the process of relationship with you as His Spirit gives you the strength, the capacity to know Him.  His unlimited resources are available to you. For what purpose?

Why is God giving you strength from the Spirit? He’s giving you strength to trust Jesus and to experience His love.

Ephesians 3:17 says:

            Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:17 (NLT)

Our step is to trust Jesus. As we trust Jesus, the Spirit gives us strength to experience God’s love.

Ephesians 3:18-19 Paul prayed,

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is.  Ephesians 3:18 (NLT)

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:19 (NLT)

It’s the Spirit who pours all the resources of God into giving you the power to experience the love of Christ. How do we tap into the resources of God’s Spirit? Look back at verse 17:

Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:17 (NLT)

  1. Exercise trust in Jesus.

As we trust in Jesus, we put our roots, our lives, ourselves, our efforts, into experiencing God’s love. How do we exercise our trust in Jesus?

We have outlined three steps in our Ministry Plan that can help you as an individual, and us as a church, exercise trust in Jesus and put ourselves in a place to experience the love of God, three categories of exercises we can do to develop our trust in Jesus. First:

  1. Communicate with God.

One of the key ways to build a relationship with anyone, including God is to communicate with them. Here’s three ways you can communicate with God.

  • Receive what He says to you through the Bible and prayer.

One reason we may not realize how much God loves us is not necessarily because we’re against Him, it may just be because we ignore Him. How will we know how God feels about us unless we hear back from Him? How can we say yes to Him if we don’t listen for Him? We miss out on experiencing His love when we don’t know what He’s already said to us in His Word, or when we don’t take time to listen for how He wants to uniquely speak His Word into our lives.

Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. 32And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (NLT)

We can be set free as we get to know Jesus through His teachings, and through what He wants to say to us. We can experience His love as we receive what He says to us. Some tools to help with that are the message guide, small groups, and personal Bible reading and prayer.

Another way to communicate with God is to:

  • Express what you admire and appreciate about God.

Let us come to Him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to Him. Psalm 95:2 (NLT)

 

Communicate with God with thanks for what He’s done, with praise for who He is. Take a moment to think of something you admire or appreciate about God. Express that to Him. Can you see how that draws you closer to Him? How it helps you experience His love for you?

  • Give who you are and what you have to Him.

Jesus said:

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. Matthew 16:25 (NLT)

When we trust the control of our life to God, we communicate that we believe He loves us, that we trust Him, that we love Him. Jesus, You’re in charge. Tell me what You want me to do so I can say yes to You.

One way that I give myself to God is by trusting my finances, my money to Him. Jesus said:

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also beMatthew 6:21 (NLT)

 

Where you put your money will show where your heart is, where your focus is. If you want to grow your trust of God, give Him some of your money. The example of the Old Testament is to give 10% of your income to the place where you worship God, and Jesus affirmed that practice in Matthew 23:23. But when we give our lives to Jesus, everything belongs to Him. All our money is His. So ask God, what do you want me to give to help Brookwood Church to carry out this Ministry Plan, but also ask God what He wants you to give to other ministries like the 39 ministries and partners Brookwood helps support, or you can visit brookwoodchurch.org/disasterrelief to see how you can give to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian. I can put my roots into Jesus and experience His love as I give Him my life and my money.

Look back inside your Ministry Plan at the Personal Plan to Experience God’s Love while Expressing His Love. Ask God what step He wants you to take to communicate with Him and put down what comes to your mind. We also can exercise trust in Jesus and experience His love as we:

  1. Connect with Christians

Jesus said: For where two or three gather together as My followers, I am there among them. Matthew 18:20 (NLT)

What are some practical steps you can take to connect with some Christians for the purpose of experiencing the love of Jesus?

  • Get with someone to help you develop your trust in Jesus.

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)

            Just get with someone for the purpose of knowing Jesus better. Where can you find that? A simple step would be to try out a Brookwood small group. Many of our groups will be going through the Seven Realities for Experiencing God workbook after we start the Experiencing God series next week. You can get help with that at Ministry Spotlight today, or you can come to the Groups Sampler tonight at 5 pm in the Concourse where you can meet many of our group leaders and explore which group works for you. Or get some friends together and go through the Experiencing God workbook together as Perry teaches through it on Sundays. 

Or you can 2) Help someone else develop their trust in Jesus.

By serving as a small group leader, or as a mentor, or by helping someone go through our Essentials discipleship program. 

I want you to see an example of how God works when someone takes a step to Connect with Christians, and someone else follows God’s leading to help someone else trust in Jesus.

            <Small Group video>

What step can you take this year to connect with Christians? Look back at the Personal Plan on your Ministry Plan. Ask God, what step do You want me to take to Connect with Christians?
You can go by Ministry Spotlight today or come to the Samplers tonight to get some help with those steps or indicate through the connection card or email [email protected] that you want someone to help you get connected with a group or person who can help you know Jesus better.

A third way we experience the love of Jesus is when we:

  1. Care for Others

Not just Christians, anybody. We experience Jesus when we care for others. A couple of practical ways to do that. One is to:

  • Serve someone. Jesus said:

And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’ Matthew 25:40 (NLT)

When we serve someone, we encounter Jesus.

Ask God, Who do You want me to serve and how?

We have teams that meet practical needs of people in our church, or teams that partner with agencies to meet practical needs in our community, or to serve with mission trips overseas. And as we serve, we look for ways to:

  • Share what Jesus has done. For you. For everyone.

So that the people we’re serving can experience His love as well. Ask God, What have you done for me? And share that with someone else, especially the story of how Jesus died for you and gave you new life.

As I experience God’s love, I will express it to others. As I express God’s love to others, I will experience His love. Watch this video to see an example of that.

<Serve Video of Christian Thompson>

Look back at your Ministry Plan. Ask God, how do You want me to Care for Others?

You can find ways to serve here at Brookwood, in our community and around the world at brookwoodchurch.org/serve. But ask God to show you how you can care for your neighbors, your classmates, anyone you come into contact with. Though we have many teams serving in our community, God can work through you as an individual to express His love to someone else. You are the church, you don’t have to go through the organization of the church to be the church and express God’s love in your community.

Finally, we experience God’s love as we . . .

  1. Receive the results of His love.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:19 (NLT)

What are the results of experiencing God’s love? We’ll be made complete. We’ll have life as it should be instead of just life as it is. We’ll have the transformed life.

  1. God will receive glory.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.  Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

            When we experience God’s love, He will get the glory for all the work He is doing in and through us. God is doing the work and God gets the glory.

  1. His work in our life will exceed all our expectations. Even greater things than these He will accomplish in us and through us when we experience His love by expressing His love.

Wouldn’t we like to see that? Let’s take time to ask God what steps He wants us to take to Experience His Love this year by Communicating with God, Connecting with Christians and Caring for Others. And while you’re doing that, ask God what He wants you to give to support the Ministry Plan at Brookwood. This brochure shows what we plan to spend in the five key areas of Brookwood – Worship that helps us Communicate with God, Adult, Family and Recreation Ministries that help us Connect with Christians in order to Communicate with God and Care for others, Care/Serve that helps us Care for Others at Brookwood, and Outreach/Missions that helps us Care for others in our Community and around the World.  The dollar in the Ministry Plan shows how the money is distributed among these areas. We will vote on this plan at the end of our services on Sunday, September 22. If you have any questions about our Ministry Plan for this coming year, or would like to see a more detailed budget, please feel free to come to the Ministry Plan Q & A next Sunday at 2 pm in Pod I.

I pray that each of us would ask God what steps He wants us to take to Experience His Love while Expressing His Love so you can say yes to Him today.

Our Care Volunteers are coming now and will be down front or in the Care Connection Room in the Concourse to pray with you or to talk with you about how you can Experience God’s Love. PRAY

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