Our God SO LOVED! It’s not ordinary love, it’s not human love. Young people get so taken up with what they think is ‘love’, but it’s infatuation. Love, real love is something deeply emotional, life-consuming, life-changing. Jesus didn’t just say God ‘loved’ the world, but that God SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE! He gave the most precious thing that He had. And what God wants you to do is give back to Him the most precious thing you have – your own life, your own soul – that’s what He wants in return! Give yourself to Christ!
We are ‘two times’ God’s!!! He made us. And when we were launched onto the ocean of the world, when we were caught by the wind and blown far away, the Bible says, we were lost! And the only way God could get us back was to find us, pay the price and buy us back! So now we belong to God two times! Firstly, because He made us, and secondly, at an incredible price, He paid a ransom!
There is a story I love to tell. It’s about a boy who, with his dad, made a toy sailing boat. They carved the wood and shaped it, painted it, made sails for it – took it to the seaside and launched it. It was wonderful! It was floating and the wind caught the sail – and took the boat out of reach! They couldn’t get it back. It was lost! The boy was so sad. A few days later, looking in a shop window in the town, he saw a boat – HIS boat! He went into the shop, “Hey! That’s my boat in the window, I made it!” The shopkeeper said, “You can’t have it, it’s mine! I bought it. If you want it, you’ll have to pay the price!” The boy went back home in despair. Of course the father gave him the money, the boy went back to the shop, and now, clutching his boat tight to his chest, he ran home, shouting to his parents, “This is my boat! It’s two times mine!!! Because I made it, and because I bought it back!!!”
WHO IS JESUS? It’s still a question today, definitely among non-Christians and even in some churches. Yes, we celebrate ‘Christmas’ and ‘Easter’, and everyone recognises it’s all connected with Jesus. But so many, like Nicodemus, don’t recognise WHO JESUS REALLY IS, and why He came! John 3:16 is not an isolated statement, but part of the answer that Jesus is giving to Nicodemus. HE, Jesus, not a ‘preacher’, is saying – “For GOD SO LOVED the world…” This one verse, John 3:16, has been in my mind so much that I am bursting. I have to speak about it. It’s as if the Holy Spirit is burning something into my mind, and yet it’s probably one verse in the Bible that is preached more than any other: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’
“We are all members of one Body in Christ, and everyone members of one another. We, being many, are one Body”, and although we have different gifts, we should employ the gifts as God gives us the grace! This is the Body of Christ; we are united not just in ‘love’ – but honouring and respecting the ministry of the others. Paul also urges us to “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, instant in prayer…” and to “Bless those who persecute you, bless and curse not!” It is all part of our Christian witness and service.
The perfect Will of God is something which is in your heart to do! According to the measure of faith He has given you. Wherever you are, God is with you. But is where you are right now simply according to your mind and your will – or according to the perfect Will of God? When I launch out and do some of the crazy things I do, people ask me, “How much time did you pray? And did God tell you to do it?” But so often I’ve done it because it’s in my heart!
What is the Will of God for your life? Speaking to the Christians in Rome, Paul says in his letter to the Romans, Chapter 12:1, “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” When I was growing up, we used to sing a song, ‘Lay your life on the altar for God’! I don’t hear this teaching from preachers today. Later Paul was to literally lay his life on the altar, he died as a martyr in Rome. But here Paul sees that as followers of Christ – and he’s appealing to us – to lay our lives on the altar of sacrifice!
'What shall separate us from the love of Christ?... For I am persuaded that neither death not life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!’ Nothing! This was to comfort me when I was in the communist prison, because the whole time I was in prison from 1972 through 1973, I KNEW that what I was doing, what had brought me into the prison, was by the WILL OF GOD! Whatever they did to me, however they tortured me and beat me – all the time I was there, I had the peace of God which passes all understanding! When the other prisoners were suffering – broken marriages, broken lives, suffering with the ‘prison-shake’ – the peace of God kept me, because I was persuaded, and I KNEW, that neither cancer, nor death, nor danger, nor principalities, nor powers, nothing – no height, no depth – could separate me from the love of God in Christ!
The Spirit helps our weaknesses, for when we don’t know what to pray for correctly, the Holy Spirit Himself makes intercession on our behalf, with groanings that cannot be uttered! There comes a time when the Spirit within us, who is transforming us, helps us! In v27, ‘He that searches the hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit!’ Here is the direct involvement and action of Jesus Himself, who searches our hearts, and knows our hearts, and at the same time, He knows and understands the mind of the Holy Spirit! Do you understand how powerful this is? Christ knows our thoughts, knows our desires, and at the same time He knows the desire and will of the Holy Spirit!