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Sunday, 14 October 2012

‘ENCOUNTERING THE LOVE OF GOD’

Rev. Brent Russet

By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa: 
http://www.sunnysidechurchottawa.com/                

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PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, October 14th, 2012:
http://proxy.autopod.ca/podcasts/chum/6/8985/good_news_022_oct14.mp3
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Broadcast Notes:
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‘Encountering the Love of God’

            Good morning. This program is sponsored by “Good New Christian ministries” Box 184 Rideau Ferry, ON. KOG 1WO. This is Brent Russett speaking. I am one of a team of four that get to share God’s good news with  you, every Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. I grew up in the Ottawa Valley, and I have pastored in Ottawa for 22 years.

            One of the pleasures I have had in the last 22 years is to see people really encounter God. When we encounter who God is, it has a way of changing us. This morning I want to talk with you about “Encountering the Love of God”.

            Before we go there let’s hear from....

Music – Sandi Patti – Let there be praise – track 1 (3:03)

            I remember when I was a kid our family took a trip out west. We went to visit my aunt and uncle in Edmonton. My parents were quirky that way – there was no point of taking a holiday unless you were going to visit someone.

            So we drove and we drove and we drove to visit my aunt and uncle. After we had visited them we thought, we are so close we should go and see the Rocky Mountains.

I had heard descriptions or the Rockies. I had seen nature documentaries on our 20 inch rabbit ear driven black and white tv. You know the kind of documentaries. The helicopter flies around and through the passes of the rocky mountains. They looked pretty good to me on our black and white television.

On our trip we drove past the foothills and then for the first time in my life I encountered the Rocky Mountains. They were blow me away beautiful.

            I had seen them on my black and white tv but this was jaw dropping, eye popping, awe inspiring amazing. As we drove from Jasper to Banff, it was look at that – look at that, do you see the colour of that water. Look at the size off that one.
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            This morning I am hoping to take you for a drive into the heart of God where you really, really, really encounter his love.

            Let me tell you a little of my story. I grew up in a Christian family. I grew up singing Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.

“Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
The bible tells me so.”

            Ever since I was really young I heard of the love of God. One of the first verses I memorized was John 3:16 –

16  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. 

            But it is one thing sing about the love of God or to hear about the love of God,  it is another thing to really encounter the love of God. The love of God – to me when I was growing up -  was kind of like seeing the Rocky Mountains on a black and white television. I believed it was true. I knew about it in my head. But until I encountered the love of God in person – I didn’t really get it.

            Maybe you can relate. You know in your head that God loves you – most of the time – on your good days. If you have been to church you have probably sung about the love of God. And if  I were to ask you, you would say, yes God loves me – but you know that sense of his love doesn’t  go very deep.

            I want to read for you one of the great passages from the bible. The apostle Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote

            Romans 8:
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

NO – HE GOES ON TO SAY

37  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
 38  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
 39  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

            God loves you. Lets listen to . “How deep the fathers Love for us” from the heart of worship CD And then I will come back an unpack this scripture with you.

If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

            This passage of scripture in Romans 8 is so overwhelmingly positive that it is easy to gloss over the negatives. The passage asks a lot of questions.

Who will be against us.?
            Remember this is the apostle Paul who is writing: The one who was stoned, whipped, arrested, imprisoned, maligned and a hated. And he asks who can be against us.

            What you need to understand is that Paul is not saying that if you are a Christian that you will not experience any opposition. He is saying that when God is on your side, the opposition becomes less significant.

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
            Well the answer is quite clear. Satan is called the “accuser of the brethren” He sees it as his role to accuse you. He will remind you of your past. He will remind you of the most shame filled moments of your life. He will remind you of the moments that you are most prone to beat yourself up about. In fact when you are beating yourself up about those things that you have done in the past, you are singing a duet with the devil.

            But whether it is he or you who are bringing up charges, Paul says that compared to what Jesus did, that he died and he rose again and now says those things are dealt with they are gone.  There is no charges- no condemnation.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ (hardship persecution famine nakedness danger or sword)
            Paul has experienced all of these and most of us have experienced some of them.

            Now what happens when we go through stuff that is hard, whether it is poverty, or grief, or a difficult job, or a medical illness, we are tempted to say where is God. But even when you feel far from God, God’s love is still clinging to you.

            Paul says  

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

            You have heard those verses before. I heard those verses before. And I believed them in my head  - but it seems to be a long way between the head and the heart somehow.  Have you ever been there? You know the right answer – and it is easy to believe it for everyone else it is just hard to believe it for you.

            Maybe yourself image is poor. You wonder if you are having trouble with you, how could God not have trouble with you. And while we are on the subject – why did God make me the way that I am – how is that love.

            Maybe you harbor some deep secrets that you don’t want to acknowledge to yourself . You think to yourself – if people knew what I was into, or if people knew what I did last week,  or if they knew my past and what I had done and where I had been – they wouldn’t really want to be around me. And if they wouldn’t how can God love me.

            Maybe life just has beaten up on you. Life just hasn’t gone like you thought it would. Abuse, or divorce, or illness, or trauma, or bad luck, has happened and you feel somehow tainted. Oh you put up a good front most of the time, but in those dark moments you wonder – and you wonder if God really could love you.

            Maybe you are just aware of the fact that you are one of 7 billion people on planet earth. If God’s love is divided 7 billion ways, you figure there is not a whole lot of love for you.

            The problem with all these scenarios is that they under estimate God. They under estimate his size his power and his love. God can hear the prayers of 7 billion people at the same time, and it does not even tax his band with. God can know the lives, and hopes and dreams and heartaches of 7 billion people, he can know how many hairs are on each person’s head – and that is like simple arithmetic to him.

            And so when it comes to God loving  you, he sees you, he knows you better than you do yourself, and even when you can’t see it, he sees what is loveable in you. He sees your value and he sees your worth and he sees you, and he loves you for you.

            In fact he loves you so much that Christ died for you. In fact as we look at our Scripture passage the love of God and the death of Christ are so intimately connected.

34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

            When Christ died, he died for you. Please understand the bandwith in that statement. God knows you well, he loves you deeply and the full work of Christ is ready to applied to your life individually.

            When I was growing up, I had a poor self image. It actually seemed that other people liked me, more than I liked me. I figure God had to like me. As I said before, I believed in the Love of God – but it was a long way between my head and my heart. It was kind of like viewing the Rocky mountains on a black and white television.

            Through College and seminary I was kind of the middle of the road type of student. Not at the top of the class not at the bottom of the class. My social life seemed to be the same thing, I was neither popular nor unpopular. My spiritual life had that same mediocre quality to it. I knew God, but I got down on my self for blowing it so often. I was very aware of the verse, to whom much had been given much is required. I felt like I had been given much. Yet I wasn’t doing much.

            But there was one day when I was reading 1 John – the passage that we opened the service up today with – it says “God is love” And somehow the immensity of the Love of God, the sheer size of God that he  could know everyone else, but he could also know me personally, the death of Christ and the power of Cross, that God could deal with the whole world – but also me personally came into focus and I moved from a black and white tv perspective to a in person up close perspective. It came into focus. And it blew me away.

            Hear me – God loves you deeply, personally – your faults haven’t surprised him. Your sin hasn’t surprised him. But the depth of his love will surprise you.

            This morning I would encourage you pray, God I hear about your love, I want to believe it for me. Jesus come to me and show me how to encounter the love of God the father.

I proclaim that you are loved in Jesus Christ.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus, I pray that as people come and see who they are, but more, see who YOU are, I ask Lord, that you would show them the immensity of your love; the band-width of your love; the sheer size of your love: so that they could encounter your love afresh and anew; so some people will be encountering it for the first time. May they know how much you really care for them. Amen.

            One of the great pictures in the New Testament of God is found in a story that Jesus told. He had a son, but his son was not interested in staying with the Father any more. In a rather gruff manner, he said give me my inheritance now – I’m out of here. And he left.

            He lived the kind of life that when he got a little older would fill him with shame, any time he thought of it. But the father the father kept on waiting. He had heard rumours of his son.

            Finally the son came to his senses. And thought he had squandered all his  money, and lived in a way that now made him cringe, he thought maybe I will go home – I don’t expect that my Dad will care about me, but maybe I could at least work for him.

            The Father though, was looking down the road. He saw the son a far off. He ran towards him. He hugged him. He forgave him. He embraced him. He loved him. That my friends is a picture of God.

May you know   Jesus Christ personally and profoundly.  May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart .  And may the heavenly Father surround you with His constant and abiding and accompanying love

Rev. Brent Russett
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To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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