Introduction: We continue our series, Experiencing God. (Exodus 3:1-6; Mark 12:30)
- Today’s message is entitled, Relationship, and focuses on Reality 2.
- Reality 2: God pursues a continuing love relationship with me that is real and personal.
- Theme verse: Mark 12:30 (NLT)[P814]—“‘And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’”
- God wants us to know and worship Him, to serve and obey Him, but most of all, He wants us to love Him with all of our being.
- Your love relationship with God—His love for you and your love for Him—provides the foundation for your Christian life.
- We are focusing on Moses’s relationship with God to discover truths or principles of how God relates to every one of us who are His children.
- Exodus 3:1–3 (NLT)[P49]—One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. 3 “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”
A love relationship with God is...
#1 - Initiated by Him. (Exodus 3:4; John 6:63-65; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9-10)
- [Screen] Exodus 3:4 (NLT)[P49]—When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied.
- God calls to us in the same way He called to Moses—probably not out of a burning bush, but in some direct way so we know it is Him speaking.
- He introduces Himself to each of us in an encounter, revealing Himself as a reality because He wants to have a relationship with us.
- God loved us before we loved Him; He sent His Son as the sacrifice for our sins to enable us to have relationship with Him, then He calls to us as He did Moses.
- [Screen] 1 John 4:10 (NLT)[P986]—This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. [John 3:16; Romans 5:8;10:20]
- God always makes the first move in this love relationship; He ignited the bush before He called Moses’ name.
- We need for God to seek us, because we would not search for Him. [Luke 19:10]
- Sin affects us deeply, causing us to be consumed with self, so that we will not seek, and certainly not submit to, God, so He comes to us (Romans 3:10-12) and reveals Himself to us. (Matthew 16:13-17)
- We don’t, we can’t, come to Christ unless the Spirit of God reveals His identity to us (Matthew 16:15-17) and causes us to want to come (John 6:44, 63–65).
- APP.: Has God called to you? Have you responded?
A love relationship with God is...
#2 - Indicated by my devotion. (Psalm 37:4; Matthew 6:24; John 14:21; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 John 2:15)
- God created us to love us, but He also desires that we love Him!
- [Screen] Psalm 37:4 (NLT)[P457]—Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.[delight=Hebrew, anag: enjoy, be fond of, take pleasure in]
- When we love someone, we delight in them, experience joy in their presence, take pleasure in their attention—and desire to please them.
- The desire to please God results in our obedience to His directions.
- [Screen] John 14:21 (NLT)[P867]—“Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.” [1 John 2:5]
- Obedience is the outward expression of love for God; it demonstrates that you trust Him, believe that He always and only wants what is best for you, so His limitations, and even His correction, is for our good. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
- If you refuse to obey, it means that your love for God is weak.
- EX.: If a child rebels, refuses to obey, it reveals a weakness in the areas of love and trust with parents.
- Indifference in our love for God is also revealed in our attachment to the world.
- [Screen]1 John 2:15 (NLT)[P984]—Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.
- Worldly involvements may be replacing, distracting from, the love of God—both love from God and love for God—that is missing from your life.
- Even wholesome activities, such as hobbies, sports, recreation, music, reading, friends, even family, can leave little time to develop a relationship with Him.
- APP.: Do you find it difficult to make time for God? Too busy for Bible reading? Bored with prayer? Disinterested in meeting with other Christians? Do you refuse to serve or to give?
- [Screen] Matthew 6:24 (NLT)[P776]—“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” [If money controls you, you won’t give.]
- If you truly love God, that love will influence your entire life: how you use your time, spend your money, make decisions, how you treat people and conduct business, who you date and marry, what you say, how you live. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
- The more you love God and experience His love for you, the more you will want time alone with Him to talk and enjoy His presence.
- APP: Do you spend time alone with God? Do you enjoy it? (You can!)
A love relationship with God is...
#3 - Intimate and practical. (Exodus 3:5-6; 33; Matthew 6:31-33; Romans 8:35-39)
- [Screen] Exodus 3:5–6 (NLT)[P49]—5 “Do not come any closer,” the LORD warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. 6 I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
- Moses had an actual encounter with God that was so real, it frightened him.
- God saw Moses and related to him personally—knowing the burning bush would interest him, then talking to him directly, even telling him to take off his sandals.
- [Screen] Exodus 33:11 (NLT)[P76]—…the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. …
- [Screen] Numbers 12:7-8 (NLT)[P124]—…Moses… is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles! He sees the LORD as he is. …
- Throughout the Bible God heard what people were saying, He knew their feelings and their needs; He responded to them in real, personal, practical ways.
- EX.: I used to believe that the closest we could come to knowing God was by studying the Bible, reading books and reviewing commentaries about the Bible.
- But I have encountered God in real ways that reveal His intimate awareness of me.
- [Screen] Matthew 6:31–33 (NLT)[P776]—31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”
- God knows and will provide everything we truly need, though often that comes by reshaping our perspectives on what we need, by transforming our character!
- Your relationship with God is the single most important aspect of your life.
- God alone can fulfill the deep longing in your soul that we try to satisfy with activities, entertainment, purchases, relationships, sometimes substance abuse.
- Some of us have great difficulty loving God—we obey, serve, give, and worship, but we can’t say that we love Him, fear Him, yes, love Him, how?
- If we are honest, many of us think God is not satisfied with us; in fact, He’s disappointed with, and critical of us and our meager efforts to please Him.
- This inability to feel love or even complete acceptance from God is often related to a father whom we could never please, who treated us with neglect, criticism, distance (absence), harshness or even abuse—which caused us to believe we were unacceptable, unlovable, deficient in some way, didn’t measure up.
- This belief was formed from experiences with our earthly father, but it extends to and includes our Heavenly Father—often without us knowing it.
- If I am describing you, I want you to know that God loves you fully, accepts you completely, doesn’t demand what you cannot give—and receives what you offer.
- How do I know? Because I’m a father and a grandfather.
- ILL.: (Send out Brooks.) Do you think I am disappointed when he makes a mess? Upset when he’d rather play with a toy than snuggle up to me? No, I appreciate, no delight, every time he seeks me out (in concourse grabbing my leg). I give him M&Ms and Oreos that he doesn’t have to earn or even deserve, because I love him—and he can do nothing to make me stop!
- God is a better Father than me, so He loves each of us better than I love Brooks—individually, personally, practically, fully, perfectly.
- APP.: Do you know God’s love for you? Do you want to?