The Fruit of the Spirit series: The Father’s uncommon love
What was it that first brought you to desire the Lord? If you are saved what was it about God that drew you to desire Him?
Ill. My first recollection of God was based on fear. I heard about heaven and hell and would beg God to forgive me out of fear. But this never drew me close to God to want to know God. I prayed the sinners prayer out of fear but still kept my distance.
It wasn’t till years later that I heard the gospel and how far God would go to rescue me and was fascinated to know this God who loved me with an uncommon love. I prayed the sinners’ prayer again and began a journey to get to know this mysterious love of God. Now I know how this all started.
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way God’s love is perfected in us, so that we may have boldness on the Day of Judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. Whoever fears is not made perfect (maturing) in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” I John 4:19
The fruit of the Spirit is uncommon love that is born out of your relationship encounter with Him – you will bear the fruit of His uncommon love.
First you encounter this uncommon love of God. Somehow God arranges your path to cross with His. You encounter Him who is perfect love. His heavenly love is not based on your agreeing with Him or changing your behavior to agree with Him. He loves you unconditionally because that is who He is – perfect love.
Earthbound love is based on approval or agreement. When there is not approval or agreement then earthbound love is withdrawn.
Jesus said if you only greet those who greet you, or love those who love you what benefit is that? Even people without God love like this. HE went on to say, but I say to you, love your enemies and do good to them who despitefully use you.
His calling is to first experience love at a supernatural God level.
He does not expect you to be able to work this up on your own and do it. You can’t!
God arranges an encounter between you and His Love. It’s a set up.
“You would not have called me unless I had been calling you.”
Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia
An genuine encounter with the love of God is first overwhelming. WE are in awe of One who does not condemn us but love us unconditionally.
Ill. When this revelation comes to you it is stunning. You discover that God loves you so much that He became one of us as humans to purposely take the punishment for our sin.
Ill. On Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement the High priest would take 2 identical goats. According to custom they had to be identical. He would cast lots to determine which goat would be the sacrifice for sins and which one would go free. He would present the sacrificial goat before the people, lay hands on it’s head confessing the sins of the people and then slit it’s throat and take the blood into the Holy of holies and sprinkle on the mercy seat of the ark of covenant. The other goat was called the scapegoat and would be lead out into the wilderness never to return.
When Jesus was presented before Pilot, Pilot said of Him, “I find no fault in Him.” The people shouted “crucify Him”.
Pilot had a custom to release one convicted criminal a year to the Jews to appease them. Pilot did not want to crucify Jesus so he said, “Would you rather me release a known thief and murderer like Barabbas to you or release Jesus?” He expected the leaders of the Jews to say Jesus, but the chief priests persuaded the people to ask for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus.
Interesting parallel to the Day of Atonement with the 2 goats that had to be identical.
Jesus, who is the Son of the Father.
Bar –abbas, - means son of the Father.
Each one has the name – the son of the Father. One is sacrificed and one is set free.
For God to die in my place – He had to become like me!
We live as one who was sentenced to death, but instead have been set free because of Jesus. This IS the love of God for you!
“For God SO LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
This is the most beautiful definition of the love of God that I know.
How can we experience and live in this uncommon love?
1. You encounter and experience the love of God for yourself. You have great worth and value to God. You are greatly loved!
2. “Build yourself up in your most holy faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourself in the love of God . . .” Jude 20
3. “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us . . .” Eph. 5:2
- Remember the way He has loved you. He will provide you plenty of opportunities to walk in love
It is your responsibility to keep yourself in the love of God. Maintain God consciousness by abiding in Him and meditating on His great love for you. Many Xns do not abide with God because they have a sin consciousness greater when they think about God. They do not keep themselves in the love OF GOD.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a Mighty One, Who will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will renew you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
IF YOU have a hard time believing God delights and rejoices over you with gladness and singing then it is because you are looking at your sins rather than looking at Him who already died for your sin.
If you continually doubt your salvation it is probably because you don’t keep yourself in the love of God and you focus on your sin rather than the love of God for you. IF THIS IS YOU, I have 2 very important Greek words for you to write down. STOP IT!
As you keep yourself, abide in the love of God, you will become more rooted and grounded in love. This means you will be quick to forgive and slow to take offense. You will start to look like I Corinthians 13.
“If I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not love, I have become just a bunch of noise. . . Love is patient and kind . . . Love is not easily provoked. . . Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” I Cor. 13:1, and 4-8 varied.
Put your name in the place of the word Love and this is what your life will look like when you abide in and walk in the love of God.
Don’t condemn yourself for times of failure. You will get many more opportunities to practice this walk before going to heaven.
The fruit of love is not about you loving – but you first realizing that you are being loved by God’s uncommon love.
This uncommon love changed your heart and it will change the way you look at others too.
“For the love of Christ constrains us. . . So from now on we do not regard anyone according to the flesh.”
2 Cor. 5:14 and 16
With this uncommon love of God in us and flowing through us, we don’t see anyone according to the flesh or the old man that has died in Christ Jesus. We only see the new man God is making. This is the way God treats us and this is the way we are to treat others.
Ill. In OT God approaches Gideon and calls him according to his destiny in God. Gideon is afraid and hiding out and yet God calls him a mighty man of valor! By looking in the natural no one would see this in him!
- God sees the heart and His calling upon people and calls them up to their true identity. People need encouragement to walk into their calling.
- Instead of calling people out for their bad behavior why not call them up to their true identity – the way God sees them.
Ill. Years ago we started accountability groups in church. The idea was to provide a safe place for people to confess their sins and faults to one another and pray for one another. Some worked well but most did not because it became a place to call people out for their sin rather than calling them up to their destiny.
People do not change by stopping bad behavior. They change by realizing their true identity in Christ and being called up to that place of living.
Do we not confront people with sin? Yes, but not to condemn.
We point out to them that this behavior is not in accordance with who they really are. We call them up to a higher calling and give encouragement to get back to abiding mode.
There are 2 radio frequencies and God broadcasts only on one:
AM and FM
AM = Abiding mode – trust, confidence in God.
FM = Failure mode – negative, doubting God.
Gideon was plugged into FM – failure mode. He was negative even after God encountered him. He complained about not seeing any help from God.
God called him up to plug into AM – abiding mode with God. God encouraged him to walk this out with Him. This is true accountability!
Another time God sent Samuel the prophet to anoint the new king of Israel. He sent him to Jesse’s house and told him the Lord sent him to anoint one of his sons as king. He said he did not know which one yet but the Lord would show him. First the oldest, Eliab and thought surely he is the one, because he looked the part. The Lord said, “do not look on the appearance or height of stature because I have rejected him.
“For the Lord sees not as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
One by one they passed before Samuel and he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.”
Now Samuel must have been perplexed. We went through them all and the Lord has not showed men any of these are the one. Do you have any others?
Just the youngest tending the flocks in the field, but he is nothing to mess with. Call him. He was the one. He did not look the part, but he had the heart!
Look how Love calls us up into our identity.
Ill. When we prophesy over people we should not condemn or pass judgment and neither should we flatter with false hope. We should be at peace and rest to hear the true voice of the Lord for them. Ask God how He sees them and tell them what God said. NT prophecy will always edify, encourage or comfort and help that person know their true identity in God. A NT prophet will help people to know how to abide and to hear God for themselves. Prophesy will always lift you to God’s calling and not condemn you and put you down.
The heart of the Father is to lift you up and protect you from all those condemning voices of shame and condemnation.
Ill. A friend pointed out to me something I never thought on concerning the parable of the Prodigal son. Younger son told his father he was leaving home and wanted his inheritance now. The father gave it to him and the young man went and wastefully spent it all until he was destitute and had no option but to return home, beg forgiveness and hopefully be allowed to work as a slave.
We call this guy the prodigal – but is he?
The older son stayed home and kept working every day thinking he had earned the right to his inheritance.
One day news came the younger son was returning home. The Father was so excited he told his servants to kill the fatted calf, get ready for a party.
The older sons comes home and sees a party being prepared for his younger brother and he gets offended that His father is giving his brother such grace. He yells at his father asserting he had been faithful and that a party should be given for him, He earned it.
All of us are in this story.
1. The outright rebellious that have strayed and need to return to the Father’s love.
2. The religious who have think God owes them because of what they have done or not done. They want the blessings or stuff from God rather than a relationship. They somehow think they deserve it! This is still rebellion underneath.
The real prodigal is not the younger son or the older brother but God! H The word “Prodigal” means extravagantly wasteful.
Here is the picture of the Father’s uncommon love:
“But while the younger son was yet far away, his father saw him and was moved with compassion, and RAN and embraced his neck and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
The Father pulled up his robes and in an undignified way showed his legs and ran to meet his son. This was totally against middle eastern culture for an older man to run. POINT: He did not care what other people thought about him.
Jewish custom was when a child had been disrespectful to his/her parents that the community would ban them child from coming back to town. If they heard of them returning the townspeople would meet them at the edge of town saying you are not welcome here for the trouble you caused your parents. Go away. As far as we and your family is concerned you are dead.
One of the reasons the Father ran to meet his son was to get there before any in the community to get to him and condemn him.
This is the uncommon wastefully extravagant love of God for us. You have to experience this love in order to receive it and be able to give it to others.
Love is not about you loving – but first you realizing that you are being loved by this uncommon love of the Father.
What will this look like? Very obvious and noticeable to those around you. You will be so uncommon in this world that you will stand out. God will arrange opportunities for you to walk this out and manifest His uncommon love where you live, play and work.