FEBRUARY 14TH, 2021 // 1 JOHN 4:7-21 // PASTOR KAYLA HURST

Living Loved

What would be different about our homes, communities and world if we lived as if God was wildly in love with us?

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Living Loved - Pastor Kayla Hurst

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Note: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, and word usage.

Well, good morning and Happy Valentine's Day to you. My name is Kayla. I'm one of the pastors here at Northgate, where we envision transforming our homes, community and world by pursuing God building community and unleashing compassion. I am just so thrilled that you chose to spend your Valentine's day morning with us today in worship and in the word. And we're going to take full advantage of this Valentine's Day thing. And we're going to talk about love today specifically, we're going to talk about living loved.

Now I lost about half of you because I am very aware there are two kinds of people in the world. There is the kind that absolutely dreaded Valentine's Day. They're the ones that constantly remind you that it's the card companies that made up Valentine's Day. And then there are the people that cannot wait for this day. I mean, they've been wearing red the whole month, they are ready for this day. They love it now me I I love love. I do I love the sappy stuff. I love chocolate, who doesn't. I love flowers and the silly crazy sappy movies, the special moments. I love all of it. But don't worry, those of you in that first category, that is not the kind of love we're talking about today. Not really, we are actually going to go straight into scripture, because I'm sure it won't surprise you when I say that the Bible has a whole lot to say about love. God says a whole lot to us about love. So we're gonna start in the New Testament, in the book of first, john.

Now first john is actually almost at the very end of your Bible. And it is written likely by the apostle john or somebody who's really close to him, the same guy that they talked about in the Gospel of john, which is one of the first four books of the New Testament, and we're listening to him write a letter to a church in conflict. Now this church in conflict was was there because of some false teachers. These were people that had belonged to the church before, but now they were spreading this false teaching. And it's honestly it was because they didn't believe that Jesus was God's Son. And they didn't believe they had sinned. But one of the most marked things that the writer talks about in the book of first, john, is that these people were unloving. That was the marker that was the distinctive of these false teachers was that they were loving. And so we're gonna dive right in into first john chapter four, we're gonna start in verse seven, and we're gonna read all the way through our text, it says this, dear friends, Let us love one another. For Love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God, whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us, He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love. Not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us, he has given us of his spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them, and they in God, and so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment. In this world. We are like Jesus, there's no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. Because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command. Anyone who loves God must also love Their brother and sister, friends this passage is, is clearly all about love. And so we're gonna we're going to take sections of it here, we're going to look and see what the writer was trying to communicate to this church. And I believe what God is trying to communicate to us.

Now it's interesting because first Corinthians 13 is actually the love chapter, you may have heard it quoted at weddings, or maybe you even have it on a poster somewhere in your house. But I did a little research on it, I went back and counted. And in First Corinthians 13, there is only eight mentions of the word love. Now if you count the bits that are actually pointing to love, you can get up to 16. But in this passage, in this, almost almost a whole chapter, and first john, there are 25 mentions of the word love 25. I don't know about you, but I think this might actually be the real love chapter. So let's start. Let's start with basics here. What is love? What is love? Well, our text says in verse eight, whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. And then we see that same thing in verse 16. God is love. So the quickest answer is that love, love is God. God is love. That's who he is. In verse seven, we see that love comes from God, dear friends, Let us love one another for love comes from God. So not only is God love, but any love that we experience comes from God, as well. And then we see in verse seven and 11, that we are God's beloved. Now, here's one thing I want to tell you in the Greek language, there are four words actually, for the word, love. There's one that means family love, one that means romantic love, one that means friendship type of love. And then there's one more, it's a god Bay, love, got a love. And every time you heard me read a love in this chapter, he they were using the word a god Bay. Now, the quickest way to translate a agave Love is like charity, or empathy. But we have misused those words or, or expanded their definition so much that it needs a little more explanation.

Agave Love is a faithful and sacrificial type of love. It's the kind of love that has no expectation of reciprocation. It's only concerned with what is best for the other person. That's the kind of love that God is. That's the kind of love that he says, the writer says, comes from God. And then this word, beloved, you might see something that looks similar is it's translated dear friends here. But another translation would be Beloved, which literally means divinely loved ones, and it came comes from that same root word of a god pay divinely loved ones. Let us love one another. I love that. That is who we are. That is the name that the writer is calling us because we are loved by God. And then it's as if he wasn't sure if we got it yet. So he just comes out and says it in verse 10. It says, This is love. This is a god Bay, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. This is love. God loved us. And we see it most perfectly through Jesus. If you go one verse back to verse nine, it says, This is how God showed his love among us. This is it. He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. Friends, Jesus is God's expression of love to us. That is who he is. Jesus is God's expression of love to us. This is so primary to our faith that one of the very first verses you will ever learn or hear when you're taking a step in faith is john 316.

For God so loved the world, that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Friends, God is love. And God loves us. He shows us that love through Jesus, and it's through Jesus, that we have life. That's what this passage says we have life through Jesus. That's why he's so important. He is the connection between us and God. That's Jesus. That's why we have him there. He is the expression of God's love to us. And he's the one that makes love between us possible. Verse 14 says this, and we've seen him testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the savior of the world. Keep going in verse 15. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them. And they in God, this word, acknowledges simply means recognized as truth, saying out loud, saying it like it is true that you believe it. This passage says that, if you acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, you are experiencing, you are living in God and God in us. That's a beautiful thing. And I believe that that's what some of you are going to do today for the very first time. At least, that's what I was praying for all week, as I was preparing this, there are some of you that for the very first time will step in and acknowledge and say that, I believe that God is Jesus, that he is love that He sent Jesus to give us life. That same word acknowledges is the word that Paul uses in Romans when he says this, Romans 10 nine, if you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. See, God is love. He loves us, his expression of love is through Jesus and Jesus gives us life. But it's not just salvation. It's not just eternal life.

It's far more all encompassing than that. It's more than that. And that's where we see the second major theme of this passage. And verse 15, says this, if anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them, and they in God, God living in us, and through us, God is living in us, and we are living in God, that living in part right there, that word actually is a Greek word men notes living in is just one word, man. Oh, and it's this idea of abiding, continuing in dwelling, enduring, being present, remaining saying waiting, right? The feeling of, of communion, of an intimate connection. That's what the writer is writing about. God has an intimate connection with us. And we have an intimate connection with him. It's like making your home there. That's what this word is trying to communicate. The writer says that this is what we have, from God, that this is what God will do in us and what we will do and God, we actually see the same word being used in the Gospel of john. So back there, one of the first four books of the New Testament, likely written by the same writer, Jesus had just washed his disciples feet at this point at the Last Supper, this was the night that he would be arrested, and then later tried and crucified for us. So this is Jesus last real conversation with his disciples, and he was giving them instructions. And frankly, he was kind of giving them a bit of a pep talk, really, because he knew what was coming.

He knew that just a few hours later, he would be arrested. So he took this very important time. And he said some really important things, he gave them a pep talk to get through. Now, that reminds me of a pep talk that I once gave actually gave a couple pep talks. And it was to my oldest kiddo when she was in seventh grade. We had these big standardized tests in Texas called the star tests. And I don't know about your home, but when there were tests coming, it kind of made our whole house crazy. made everybody a little bit on edge felt a lot of pressure. So the morning of the test, I'm getting ready to drop Mackenzie off at the middle school. We're pulling up in the car, and I decided, well, I've got to say something right? Like, I'm the mom, I need to give her a pep talk. Like, take down the stress bring up the happy I don't know, I'm gonna do it. And I actually got out and wrote down what I said, because it was that ridiculous. Okay, here's my pep talk to her. Don't worry about that test. The stars got nothing on you. You could fall asleep. Wake up with five minutes to go and still do fine. Wait, don't do that. What I mean is, I'll still love you If you fail. Wait, but you won't fail. Oh gosh. Don't get cocky. I mean, do your best but only because that's what Jesus wants you to do. Well, it's also really good for you to do hard things. I don't mean that the test will be hard. Nevermind just ignore everything I say. I'm proud of you. Wait, don't ignore that part. Oh, get out of the office. I mean, I love you. I'm sorry. I love you. Friends, not the best pep talk. But I had another chance just a few years later, my youngest was taking that same test the same kind of test at for the very first time, and I'd gotten a little wiser, a little smarter that first year with McKenzie, we had like, protein and vegetables for breakfast, you know, good stuff. That's brain food.

Well, by the time we got to Chloe, my youngest, we went out for pancakes, I hop with whipped cream, not a vegetable in sight, mostly because vegetables don't belong in breakfast. But this is the pep talk that I gave Chloe, hopefully a little bit wiser, but I'm still not sure says this. And this family, we don't stress about Star Star is a test for the teachers that the students take. If the test comes back and tries to tell me you're dumb, I will assume the test is stupid. Jesus, your teachers and your family already know the truth. Use your strategies, take your time, and go show off. Great news, Jesus was a much better Pep talker than I will ever be. And he took this time with his disciples to say some really important things. He covered a lot of ground that night. But in this particular passage, I want you to listen for men know I want you to listen to that word that is remain in this passage says this john 15. Four remain in me as I also remain a new. And then he gives us an example from nature. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. The night he was arrested the night he was going to have his last full conversation with these guys. Before he went to the cross. It's this that he wants to tell them. He wants to be sure that they understood this stuff that's about to happen. This isn't just about your salvation, because remember, at the time, the disciples probably thought that he was going to overthrow the government. He was going to be a savior in that way. That's the kind of Messiah he was gonna be. And Jesus was like, not exactly, but also all of this stuff. It's not just for your salvation. It's for something more.

This wasn't just about a ticket to heaven, the time he spent with them on Earth, the ministry, the healing, even all the way to the cross. All of that was so God could live in us, and we could live in him. Friends, the best part of Heaven is being fully in the presence of God anyway. It's not the golden streets, pearly gates, none of that. It's being fully in the presence of God, the God who loves us, the God who is love. France choosing Jesus without this dwelling abiding remaining life in Christ is simply joyless fire insurance. It's not worth it. But life in Christ, living in dwelling in abiding in remaining in god that's worth dying for. You see, friends, God in His love sent Jesus so that we can live life in him, and he in us. Now let's go back to our passage here. In first john four, verse 16, says this and so we know and rely on the love God has for us that love we just talked about God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them. Did you hear that? whoever lives in love this time? And yes, that lives in is that same men? No. we abide in love. we settle down and remain we make our home. In love. we dwell in it. Friends, we live, love. That's what he's asking us to do. To live love. Verse 17, says, This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment. In this world. We are like Jesus, I love Eugene Peterson's way he put it in the message version.

He says this. Love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us so that we're free of worry on judgment day. Our standing in the world is identical with Christ. Can you imagine it? Our standing in the world is identical with Jesus. God loves us the same as he loves Jesus, his son. That friends that is what the cross affords us. This is a life changing. Truth, if we really grab a hold of this, if we really settled down into it, that we are loved with an A God, they love by the Creator of the universe, the King of kings, the Lord of lords. It has to change the way we live, not like it has to like it's a command. No, it will change the way that we live. That's when we see the third theme here in verse 11, and 12, it says, Dear friends, but remember, that's more like divinely loved ones. Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God lives in us. And His love is made completeness. He's basically saying divine loved ones, since you are loved, love, divinely loved one, since God loves you so much. Let it spill out, and love. That's what it will be like to live, love. See, we don't get to see God not with our physical eyes on this side of eternity. But we can make this love tangible, when we love one another. If Jesus is the expression of God's love for us, then our expression of love to God is loving one another. That's how that works. That is our tangible way of this love that we have in God. When we love one another. It says that God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.

We have a part to play, we have a part to play in the love of God that is growing within us. This made complete word is is can also be translated made perfect. And I was trying to think of a picture that you could use to describe what that means because it's not making it perfect. Like everything is just so it's more like it is like a pirate's telescope, you know those things where they do. And then they pull it out like that like a pirate telescope. Well, that's what this word means basically, is to pull it all the way out so that it is at its peak effectiveness. That's what made complete means made perfect in. That's what we are doing. That's what happens to God's love in us. When we love one another. His love becomes full and complete, it becomes perfect and effective. And the end of our passage actually shows us the converse what happens when it is not that way. Verse 20, says, Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. And he's given us this command. Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sisters, friends when you live loved, you love others. It is both descriptive and prescriptive. It both describes what just organically happens. And it also commands us to do it. It's both a simple reality and a prescription for what God is asking of us.

When we live loved, when we make our home and rest and abide and dwell in God's love for us, we will automatically begin to love other people because God loves them too. And so they get love from us because God loves them and God loves us it spills over. So if you find yourself struggling to love someone, it's time to remind yourself how much God loves you and them you don't have to strive to love them more try to find their best qualities know just be reminded that God loves you and that God loves them. And anyone that is worthy of God's love is also worthy of hours. But I get it. Some people are just harder to love they just are I we call them ers extra grace required. Small fact though we all are eg ours in Jesus book, right? The grace is required for all of us, but it kind of reminds me of when I was in student ministry I had this great assistant. And she was an amazing human not just an admin but just an amazing human. She worked in she she volunteered in prison ministry on the weekends so she would spend her weekends going to the women's prison and spending time Building relationships and discipling these women who a lot of were in prison for a really long time? Well, there was a time when we were getting ready to go on a quick little trip with a bunch of middle schoolers. And we needed a room mom for the sixth grade girls. And since she was in the office, I thought I'd ask, you know, would you come with us? And, you know, spend the night with these sixth grade girls be the room mom for them? And she was like, Oh, no, I'm sorry, I got plans. And then she started to kind of laugh at herself, because she said, I just realized Kayla, that what I was just telling you was that I would rather spend time with people who were convicted of murder, than I would spend a night with sixth grade girls like that is that is where I value that kind of relationship. But I kind of get it. I feel that way, sometimes about my fellow Christians, I don't know about you. But there are times where it is easier to love. The not yet Christians, the not yet followers of Jesus in the middle of their messy, messy lives, than it is to love believers behaving badly. It's hard. It's hard to love sometimes. And it's as if God knew that we would need help loving other people, even and especially our fellow Christians, so he gave us a Helper, the Holy Spirit. Verse 13, says this, this is how we know that we live in him and he in us, he has given us of His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is another marker of life and God and God in us. The Holy Spirit empowers us. It empowers us to love others. It gives us the power to do it. Right. The same power that rose Jesus from the dead is the same power, that we have to love each other. Even the people that are hard to love me, if you think about it. Love is one of the fruits of the Spirit. It's a product of having the Holy Spirit in your life. So I guess if Jesus is the expression of God's love to us, our expression of love to God is loving one another. Then it's the Holy Spirit who empowers us to love one another. The Holy Spirit empowers us to do it. And it all starts with God's love. First 19 we love because he first loved us.

We love others because he first loved us. We love God because He first loved us. We loved fill in the blank, because he first loved us friends that his living loved and that will change your world. Think about it. Imagine the confidence we could have if we really started to live, loved. see other people's opinions begin to fade whenever you know, the opinion of the creator of the universe. worries seems to quiet when you remember and live in the love and care that God has for you. Shame doesn't get to stick whenever you are living in God's love and forgiveness for you. Fear. Nope, we see in verse 18, there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. Because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. Now, don't get tripped up on that Word Perfect. It's the same pirate telescope. It's being made complete. It's growing full strength and effectiveness. So if you are struggling with fear, get back to living loved. allow God to remind you how much he loves you. Because experience in living in the love of the Father will every time drive out fear. Friends, have you had your heart battered by this broken world is this? Are you struggling to grasp the love of God? Maybe you have a hard time thinking that you could be lovable. Maybe you wrestle with shame because of the things that you've done in your past. Or maybe you heard messages when you were a child that said you had to earn love. This isn't about striving. This isn't about earning anything. Friends, you cannot do anything to earn God's love. Someone needs to hear that again. There is nothing you can do to earn the love of God. Earlier in this same letter.

The writer says see what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God. God lavishes his love on us and He calls us his own his children. It isn't about rule following our perfectionistic rule following or legalism. Paul actually says that love was a choice God made before we even chose to receive it. Romans five eight says, but God demonstrated his own love for us in this while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God loved you first. He loved you first. Now, this isn't some a future self. This cleaned up, put together more shiny and perfect version of yourself know he loves you right now. The way you are, he loves you. He's not scowling at you. He's not disappointed in you. He's on your side. You don't have to hide anymore. You don't have to be afraid of intimacy and closeness with the Father. You don't have to be careful what he knows because he already knows it all. He sees it all. He sees you. And he loves you. He chooses you. I've asked the band to come up and play a song. And this song is actually written as if God is speaking to you. It's from the perspective of God talking to his children. And Oscar is going to sing that for us. And I would just encourage you over these next few moments.

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