God doesn’t love His people from a distance. God, who is love, takes up residence in every Christian the moment they place their faith in Jesus. If God’s love is in us, then why do we have such a hard time experiencing His love in a tangible way? If God is in us, then why does it feel like He’s not in us a lot of the time? We’ll wrestle with these classic questions of the Christian life in this message.
I want to read to you. Psalm 13 says this, how long, O Lord, will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord, my God, light up my eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death. Lest my enemies say I have prevailed over him, lest my foes rejoiced because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love. My heart shall rejoice in your Salvation.
I will sing to the Lord because he has dealt bountifully with me. David penned this song and this is some real talk, isn't it? Where are you, God. I feel like I'm going to die. God, are you there anywhere?
Have you ever felt like David did when he penned this Psalm? If you followed Jesus for any amount of time, if you're honest, you can relate to the words in Psalm 13 at one point or another in your life. Maybe some of you can relate to this Psalm in a very real way right now, as Christians, why do we go through seasons where we don't feel the agape love of God in our life as much as we would like to? We laid a foundation for understanding what agape love in part one of the series a few weeks back.
If you were with us, then we saw that love is both a noun and a verb, right?
Love is a thing that you can have is an action that you can perform and you need to have the substance of love before you can demonstrate the action of it. We also saw that there are different kinds of love. There's family love and friendship, love and romantic love. But over and above all of these kinds of love, the greatest love is agape love. Agape love does not require anything in the object of their love for it to be demonstrated.
Agape love doesn't need for you to be good or nice or pay back or do anything or bring anything to the table. Agape love makes a decision in the will to say, I'm going to bless you and do what's good for you and right for you, no matter what it costs me no matter what you bring to the table because this is good for you. It's the best kind of love we also saw from my brother John in one John chapter four, this one particular phrase that was so nice that he penned it twice.
Do you remember what it was? God is love.
God is the substance of Agafe love. And we looked at the eternal timeline to see how God demonstrated His love in eternity past in the Trinity as he loved Himself, the Father loving the Son and the Spirit and the Spirit loving the Father and the Son and the Son pouring out eternal, infinite agape love on the Father and the Spirit. They enjoyed that forever and eternity. Pastor. Then we saw God's love being poured out in creation.
When God made the universe, he didn't make it to scratch an itch on his back. God didn't need anything. That's one of the perks of being God fully self sufficient, fully content, fully perfect in himself. And yet he made the universe and mankind as the pinnacle of His creation. Why, for him?
No. We learnt because it's for us that God wanted to create a universe and make us in it so that he could demonstrate and pour out his Agathe love on you and me. And we didn't spend the rest of our lives just thanking Him and worshiping and praising Him for it. Right? What did we all do?
Every single one of us? Starting back in the garden, we rejected Him. I don't want that amazing abounding steadfast agafi love. I want to try to find life and purpose and mean outside of you. And so we either eat from the tree.
He says not to, or we do anything else that God says not to, and we reject Him and we cut ourself off from Him, the source of life and the source of love. We see God's love in Salvation where God so loved the world that he gas is one and only begotten Son. That though, if we were left in the current state that we found ourselves in our sinfulness, if we died in that state, we'd be separated from God forever. But God says I got paid you so much that I'm not going to let that happen, not on my watch.
And so the Son came down the eternal Son of God and took on flesh and walked amongst us.
He lived a perfect life that all of us should have lived. And none of us did. And then though he didn't deserve to die, he gave himself up on the cross where he exchanged himself in the place of sinned for all time. He died for us pain for our sins when he didn't have a single sin to his own name and he was buried. And then he rose again on the third day, coveting death.
Why did he do that? So that the things that separate you and me from God that would separate us in this life and forever could be removed so that we could come into a relationship with God and again enjoy the agape love that we were destined for. We saw that this love is experienced in part now, but we're waiting for a future glory when everything is going to be remade, everything is going to be new and everything that hinders people from experiencing the God they love everything sin and temptation and brokenness and fullness is going to be removed and done with forever.
And we're going to enjoy the love that the Trinity has enjoyed in himself. We're going to enjoy that love forever and ever and ever and ever.
We saw that in part one that's got a love. Let's keep building on our understanding of what a Gopee love is and how it works. And I'm going to get you write this down. This is the first filling on your outline. Every Christian has the agape love of God in them.
Every Christian has the agape love of God in them. The moment a person becomes a Christian, God comes to love, live inside them, the moment that you recognize the weight of your sin, the moment that you recognize your hopelessness to do anything about it. The moment that you see with the eyes of your heart, Christ on the cross, paying for your sin and his empty tomb after he rose from the dead. And you realize he did that for you. And the moment that you repent and you trust in Christ for the first time, the moment that you believe in Christ for the first time, the very moment God comes to live inside of you.
He doesn't just give you a get out of hell free card and say, hey, good luck with living the rest of your life. I'm going to be a father figure for you from a distance. No, he comes to make his dwelling inside you. We don't just understand who God is from a distance. After we become a Christian, we experience God's presence in us.
We don't just talk about God like he's somewhere out there. We talk about him like he's in here. Jesus said these words to his disciples in the upper room on the night that he was betrayed. In John chapter 14, verses 15 to 21, Jesus said, if you love me, keep my commands and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. The Spirit of Truth.
The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you before long. The world will not see me anymore.
But you will see me because I live. You also will live. And on that day you will realize that I am in my father and you are in me. And Jesus says, I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.
The one who loves me will be loved by my father. And I too will love them and show myself to them. The Apostle Paul says the same thing in his letters to the Romans and the Corinthians Romans. Eight, verses nine. Paul says, you speaking to the Christians.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but in the realm of the Spirit. If indeed the Spirit of God lives in you, and if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ. They do not belong to Christ and to the clash and Christians. Paul wrote to them, God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, the only God, the God, who is agape love lives inside each and every one of his people.
Now write this down. Your second PHILLING. Christians will never have the agape love of God taken from them. Christians will never have the agape love of God taken from them. Once you have God in you, you will never not have Him.
This is because you didn't do anything to earn His love in you. Therefore, there's nothing you can do to forfeit His love after it's come into your life. You've had a bad day. You've had a bad month. You've made a terrible mistake in your life.
You might think you might be tempted to think that God has abandoned you. You might feel like he's gone, but he's not. He's still right there in you. He hasn't left now. This hasn't always been this way for God's people.
There were times in the Old Testament when God would take his Spirit from those he had given it to. Saul was the very first King of Israel, and he'd been given the Spirit of God. And then there came a time when he disobeyed a direct command of God. The consequences of that choice are recorded for us in one Samuel, chapter 16, verse 14. It says this now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him.
Saul had the Spirit of God, and then he didn't. King David, who is the next King of Israel after Saul knew that the Spirit could be taken from people in those days, listen to what David prays to the Lord after he committed his infamous sin with Bathsheba. Psalm 51, verses Eleven David pen these words cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me. David knew the Spirit could depart, and that's why he prayed that it wouldn't. But then we get to the time of the New Testament and everything is better in the New, especially concerning God's presence in his people.
Now, when we get God's presence in our lives, we never have it taken away from us. Look again at the passage in John 14 that's on your outline in it that Jesus says, and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you some of the time. No. Read the Scripture. He says he will be with you forever.
The Spirit of Truth. When we get the Holy Spirit. Now we get Him forever. Listen also to what Jesus says to his disciples when he gave them the great Commission. Matthew 20 818 says, and Jesus came and said to them all authority in heaven and on Earth has been given to me.
Go therefore make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that they've commanded you. And behold, guys, this is important. You're not going to be doing this in your own strength and your own power. Behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.
I'm with you always what a great promise. Once Jesus is with you, he will never leave you. He's not there. Only if you feel like he's there. He's not there.
Only if you're on your best behavior. Jesus says, I am with you always. Period. Paul says the same thing in his Epistle to the Ephesians Ephesians, chapter One, verses 13 to 14. He says In Him, Christ, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your Salvation and believed in Him, we're sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.
To the praise of His glory. You have been sealed with the Holy Spirit like a King's Signet ring, impressed in wax to seal a scroll. And no one can open that scroll unless they have the approval to do so. Christian, God has sealed you with himself. He's the only one who could unseal himself from you and he has already promised to never do that.
God doesn't have buyer's remorse. He didn't purchase you at Calvary. Come in and move into you when you believed in him and then changed his mind sometime after that and leave. God isn't a retired part time tenant living in a room in your house. He doesn't live in you only during the sunny times and fly down south for the winter when your life goes through cold seasons.
When Christ comes into a Christian, he is there to stay for good and he never leaves. Write this down. Christians will be changed by the agape love of God that's in them Christians will be changed by the agape love of God that is in them. Do you know that it's actually impossible for your life not to change after you become a Christian? This makes total sense when you understand the before and after of the Christian life.
You see the before and after in magazines and on online sometimes. Right. This is what your life looks like before you buy our amazing product and then seven weeks later. This is what you look like, right? Pay now buy now limited time offer.
This is a before and after in the Christian life before Christ. We don't have the Spirit of God in us before Christ. We don't have agape love dwelling inside us before Christ. We are starving for love and we're looking for it in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways and are not any better for doing it hopeless broken, hungry and thirsty, not satisfied in ourselves. So how can we even be free to love other people the way that we should that's before Christ.
But then Christ comes into your life and he floods your life. Jesus says in John, chapter four, that out of your heart will flow Rivers of living water. He says, the believer will have this gushing flow of the Spirit of the eternal God, who is a Gothic love in you and producing life from within you. Finally, when Christ is in you, you have all your spiritual thirst satisfied and quenched. You're not hungry anymore.
Spiritually, you have love. You're made for it. And now it's met in Christ. Now that you have love in you, you don't need to be looking for it in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. You can just walk and be satisfied in Him that frees you up now to love people freely.
You can love people with no strings attached because you don't need anything from them, right? You don't need love from them because you have love from Him. Full and perfect Rivers of living water flowing out of you.
Jesus tells us this kind of change can be recognized by others when they look at your life. Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew, chapter seven, verses 15 to 20, he says, Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous Wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits are grapes gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles. So every healthy tree bears good fruit. But the disease tree bears bad fruit.
A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Jesus is saying that if you have the love of God in you, that love will produce a life of love that people can see. And the flip side is true.
If you don't have the love of God in you, that will be evident to others too. Now, although this change in you begins the moment you become a Christian, it also puts in motion a lifetime process of continual change in you. The Apostle Paul says this in two Corinthians, chapter three, verses 18, he says, and we all with unveiled faith. Beholding, the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
We are being changed progressively from one degree of glory to another. Bit by bit we are being changed and becoming more and more like Jesus. And this change takes place over the rest of our lives. For however long we have on this Earth. Now I want to go back to a question I asked in passing earlier.
So if God is in us and he is, if he will never leave us, if he changes us over the course of the rest of our lives by his continual presence in us, then why is it that Christians don't feel the agape love of God in their lives more than we normally do? Why does it feel like he's not? There a lot of the time. If we're being honest, why isn't there a steady stream of emotional and spiritual fireworks going off in our hearts continually? Why do we often feel like David did when he wrote Psalm 13?
I'll give you three possible reasons why you might not feel the love of God in your life as much as you would like here's. Number one is the next filling on your outline. You might not be a Christian. You might not be a Christian. Now this sounds harsh, but hear me out, please.
If only Christians have the agape love living inside them, then only Christians are able to experience the agape love that's living inside them. So if you're not a Christian, it's not possible for you to experience the love of God on the inside of you. Now hear me on this, please. I do not want to add any fuel to the fire for any genuine Christian here who wrestles with the idea if they're actually a Christian or not? Because I know that there are believers who wrestle with this in a very real way.
But everyone needs to understand that a person is not a Christian just because they call themselves one. Do you understand that? Why would someone call themselves a Christian if they aren't one? Let me give you a few things. Just food for thought.
I call this inherited Christianity when my grandpappy was a Christian and my Papa was a Christian, and that must mean I'm a Christian, right? Because it's inherited down through the family lineage. That's not how it works. You might dislike the perks of Christianity. Believe it or not, there are some bad apples in the bunch.
There are some Christians who don't really act like Christians or people who call themselves Christians who are really sour apples, but believe it or not, regardless of what the media might portray, Christians are generally like really good people, really nice. And if you're not a Christian and you don't have a lot of friends, guess what? You're going to get loved on real good if you just come out and start hanging around a bunch of Christians and you start to see how everyone's here. As a Christian, you start to have a little bit of FOMO, right?
If everyone's a Christian and I don't get love like this anywhere else, when people ask, Are you a Christian?
Yes, I am a Christian because I do not want to sacrifice any of this, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you are one. You might do a lot of Christian things. Do you understand that going to Church reading the Bible giving serving are all great things that Christians do, but you can do all those things and still not be a Christian. And then there's fear alone, man. Okay, so there's this real thing called hell and Jesus is the only way out of it.
Christians are the only ones who don't go to hell. Are you a Christian? Yes. Yes. Because I don't want to go there.
But fear alone does not make you a Christian. What makes a person a Christian? They believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Christian is the root, the root word in there is Christ. We're Christ ones, Christ followers.
We love Christ. We trust Christ. We abandon everything in our lives for Christ. Christ is the treasure in our lives. Do you love Jesus?
Have you trusted in Jesus? Do you believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus? Do you ever smile when you just think about Jesus? Is Jesus the reason that you actually want to go to heaven? Because you just get more of Jesus?
Or do you just want to go to heaven because you don't want to go to hell or you just want to have eternal fishing trips that go on forever and ever and ever. And you don't even care if Jesus is there or not.
Christians are Christians because we love Christ and we have Christ in us. And the evidence that you become one with the fruit of the Holy Spirit over the course of your life is going to be evidence for all to see. Second reason, you might not experience the love of God as much as you want to on a regular basis. Here's your next fill and write this down. You might have misguided expectations for what the love of God should feel like.
You might have misguided expectations for what the love of God should feel like. You are a Christian. You have the love of God in you, but you don't know what that love should feel like. So you assume God's not there a lot of the time, even though he is. Have any of you ever heard Christians say the phrase Christians are in the world, but they're not of it.
You ever hear that phrase show of hands really quick. Okay, half good. It's a true statement, and they get it from Jesus prayer to the Father in John 17, where Jesus is recorded saying this, Jesus praying to the Father. I've given them your word and the world has hated them because they're not of the world. Just as I am out of the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. See, Christians live in this world, but we are citizens of a totally different world. We are a part of the Kingdom that Jesus told Pilate is not of this world. We abide by the laws of the Kingdom of Heaven over and above any laws of men whenever the two sets of laws contradict each other and we follow our King Jesus over and above any other leader or authority figure in this world, even if it costs us to do so.
But I think that even though these things are true, that we are in this world but not of the world, we are influenced by this world much more than any of us would like to admit. Case in point, our expectations of what love should feel like are shaped by this world. How does our culture think love feels like or should feel like? I'm going to give you an example. I just learnt this this week.
I didn't know what this game was called. I wanted to use the illustration of the game at the fair where you take the big Mallet and you Slam it down and the little pup goes up to the top. Do you know the game? Do you know anyone know what it's called? Technically, I didn't know either.
It's called the high striker game. Now you hit full strength on the puck and it goes all the way to number ten and it makes a sound and it goes off. Ten is the maximum it can go. But we are conditioned. I believe in our lives in this.
Would he expect nothing less than eleven like the pot bowing right through the top and over the top like abundant crazy overflow feelings in our life. When it comes to experiencing love, this world places the expectation that if you don't feel love like an eleven out of ten, then something's wrong. We believe it. You can't feel like a seven ever or a five or a two. That would be unloving.
You're not being loved. If you feel like a two at any moment. If you felt that way, fun has to be maxed. Comfort, Maxed. Pleasure, Maxed.
And if it's not Maxed, then something is lacking or broken. I think we have expectations for love like this. I don't feel the love from someone. If I don't, am I really loved? If I don't feel the love towards someone?
Do I really love them? Why do so many relationships end? Is it not because the feeling of love has diminished or gone away altogether. And not only do we expect an eleven out of ten sensation of love, it has to always be at that level. It can't dip below that.
We can't have moments or days or seasons where we don't feel like an eleven out of ten. On the love feeling scale, social media has shaped this expectation in us with the constant jumping from video to video and meme to meme that so many of us have been conditioned to do. Do you know what the average attention span is today? It's actually dropped thanks to the impact that social media has had upon us. Our average attention span is down from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, which is 1 second less than a goldfish.
Believe it or not, we have an insatiable need to be stimulated. There can't be any law. But what if there's a law in the way we experience God's love in us? Does it mean it's not there? We're conditioned by the world we live in to expect love to feel a certain way.
But what should you expect God's love in you to feel like? Take a look at Galatians 522. I put it on your outline so you can find it real fast. I want to show you what you should expect God's love to feel like in your life. Paul says this in Galatians 522 says, but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol.
So it says, the fruit of the Spirit. What Spirit is Paul talking about in this verse? Holy Spirit. He's referring to the Holy Spirit. Who is the Holy Spirit?
He's God. Oh, sorry. What is God? According to one John chapter four, God is love. Where is God in relation to a Christian?
He's in us. God zag in us is the seed that produces the fruit. We read about in Galatians 522, what does God zag love produce in us? Well, it says love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. What does kindness feel like?
Do you think? What about goodness and faithfulness? Does it always feel good to be kind, good or faithful? I want you to think about how long you've been a Christian for now, over that time, have you experienced more love, joy, peace, patience, goodness in your life compared to when you weren't a Christian? Are you more patient than you used to be?
Are you Kinder to people than you used to be if you've experienced the fruit of the Holy Spirit in any of the ways that are listed in Galatians, chapter five, verse 22. You have experienced God's love in you because it's God's agape love in you that's producing these fruits. I have an example of what this has looked like in my life. I remember back to when I was a teenager at that time, not following Christ partying as much as I can every weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and sometimes bonus nights the week.
But at least Friday and Saturday.
And this one particular night, I have a terrible memory. The fact that this is engraved on my memory because it's such a polarizing difference where I am today. But there was one particular Friday night and usually there's always something going wrong going on. There's a party at someone's house or going to the park or there's always something to do. And this one particular Friday, there was nothing and I was exhausted.
There was no social media. I'm older than some, not as old as others, but there wasn't display. There were group chats and different things. We had to go on the phone. I think I might even have the court on the phone I can't remember, but I would call all my list of all my friends.
What's going on tonight? Whose house are we going to? Where we going? Where are we going? Nothing either no answer or no party or nothing going on.
That one particular Friday night where I didn't go out. I didn't hang out with anyone. I experienced an aching loneliness in the depths of my heart that is really hard to put into words, aching to be with someone longing to be around other people. Now, it's been over 20 years since I've been following Jesus. And you want to know what?
I've never had that experience since I've had His peace. Now, this doesn't mean that you can't experience loneliness as a Christian. This is just a part of my testimony, but that's God's love and that's something I can take for granted. I can forget what it used to be like when I wasn't walking with Him and I got to remember what it's like actually walking with Him. This is God's love, and it's not a bunch always of emotional fireworks in my heart.
And this is one way that you can look at God's love in you, how it might feel in you. There's another way we can experience God's love in us that doesn't line up with the misguided expectations that our world tries to cram around us. See, God is our Heavenly Father, and our Father always does what's best for us, even if it doesn't feel good in the moment. It's what a good and perfect Father does. And he has the long game in mind for our lives.
And this long game includes a very specific plan for each and every one of his kids. Let me read a passage for you from the Book of Hebrews, chapter twelve, starting to verse eleven. The author says this endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as his children. For what?
Children are not disciplined by their father. If you are not disciplined and everyone undergoes discipline, then you are not legitimate. You're not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live?
They speaking of our earthly fathers disciplined us for a little while, as they thought best. But God disciplines us for our good in order that we may share in His Holiness. Nope. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. The author of Hebrew States that God disciplines his kids.
Now, when you hear that God disciplines us, please don't think abuse or punishment think training athletes must lead very disciplined lives if they're ever going to be Olympians one day and God is disciplining us training us because he hates us? No, because he loves us. Now, what's he disciplining us to become well. Romans 829 tells us he's training us to become more and more like Jesus. Romans 829 says, for those whom he forenew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son.
To become more like Zeus is the best possible outcome for any of our lives. It's better than money. It's better than health. It's better than relationships. It's better than anything.
It's what we should want for ourselves to think like Jesus, to love like Jesus, to obey the Father like Jesus. It's what our Heavenly Father wants for us, even if we don't want it for ourselves at times. And you know why he wants it for us because he loves us perfectly. Does discipline feel good? Always?
No. Actually, it rarely ever feels good. But we're so not like Jesus that there are a lot of changes that God has to work in us. And those changes are going to be uncomfortable at times. But is it good even if it doesn't feel good?
Yes. Especially if it makes us more like Christ. I share this because life for the Christian isn't going to feel comfortable a lot of the times. And when those times come, I want you to know that it doesn't mean you're not experiencing God's love. You may be experiencing His love in radical ways, but you wouldn't know how to recognize that because you wouldn't be able to know how to recognize that you are experiencing His love in radical ways because the world you live in has misguided your expectations of what love should feel like more than you probably realize the world would have.
You believe that love only ever feels good. But God's love in us is much more profound than that. Okay, I'm going to set up now the third reason why Christians sometimes don't experience the love of God in their lives as much as they would like to by sharing a parable with you. Okay, now you're not going to find this parable in red letters in your Bible. That's because I made this parable up myself.
It's a homemade parable. It's a moonshine parable. Here it goes. There was a man who lived up north in a very cold land, but this man's home was fixed with a permanent supply of heat. The house was rigged in such a way that there was always heat inside the house, no matter how cold it got outside.
The heat came in through the fireplace fixture in the living room, and it heated the entire house. There was nowhere in the house where the heat didn't reach. There was no way this man ever had to be cold. But one day, this man decided to go downstairs in his home where his large deep freeze unit was. He opened the door and he climbed into a large deep freeze unit, closed the door over his head and covered himself in ice.
The weirdest part of the story is this while he gas is the freezer. The man he knew he had a permanent supply of heat warming his entire house. And yet he was confused as to why he was so cold. We can see why he was cold, but he couldn't understand it. That's the end of the parable.
Now, when Jesus shared a parable with the crowd, it was up to each person in the crowd. Whether or not they wanted to understand what the parable meant, they had to ask Jesus to explain the parable to them. So let me ask you. Do you want me to explain what the parable means?
The cold land is the world. The house is the man. The heat in the house is the presence of God in the man. The man is a Christian. There's no reason for the man to be cold in his home because he has a permanent supply of heat in his home, and yet he chooses to put himself in the freezer.
The man's choice to go into the freezer is the man's choice to sin. And as long as he chooses to stay in the freezer, it keeps him from experiencing the warmth of God's agape love that is in his life. This brings us now to the third reason you may not be experiencing the agape love in your life. As much as you would like to write this down, you might have sin in your life that hasn't been dealt with. You might have sin in your life that hasn't been dealt with.
The Apostle John says this in his Epistle One John chapter One, verse six. If we say we have fellowship with Him with God while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. If a Christian walks in darkness, they cannot have fellowship with God. At the same time, a Christian cannot live in open rebellion to God and expect to feel His sweet presence in their life at the same time. I'm not saying that a Christian won't ever sin far be it from me.
We will sin all of us. But there is a difference between wrestling with sin, hating in your sin and trying to put your sin to death versus making peace with your sin, justifying your sin and walking in your sin without any reservation. Some of the sin Christians commit can be put under the category of obvious sin. The Bible gives us plenty of lists of obvious sins here's, one of them found in Galatians Galatians chapter in verses 19, Paul says, now the works of the flesh are obvious sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions factions, envy, drunkenness carousing, and anything similar.
I'm warning you about these things.
I'm Christian. I'm warning you about these things. As I warned you before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Now, I'm not going to spend a lot of time discussing the things in this list well, because they're fairly obvious. If you walk in any of the things walk in any of the things in this list as a pattern in your life, then you won't be able to experience the presence of God's love in you in a regular, ongoing way.
And if you are walking in any of these things in a regular, ongoing way, you should be concerned because Paul says that if you practice these things in an ongoing way, you are in danger of not even being a Christian. Now, some of the sins we commit as Christians are obvious and they will hinder our ability to experience God's love in our lives. But some of the sin we commit can be put under the category of less than obvious sin. I want to highlight just one of these less than obvious sins.
And just because a sin is less than obvious, it doesn't mean it won't impact the way you and I experience the presence of God's Agathe love in our life.
So a less than obvious sin that will keep Christians from experiencing the love of Jesus in their lives in a regular, ongoing way is the sin of not abiding in Jesus. Jesus says this John chapter 15, starting to verse one, I am the true vine, and my father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away and every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes that it may bear more fruit already. You are clean because of the word I've spoken to.
You abide in me and I in you as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine.
Neither can you. Unless you abide in me. I am the vine. You are the branches, whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit. For apart from me, you could do something no, apart from you can do nothing.
If anyone does not abide in me, he's thrown away like a branch and Withers and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, am I word to abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it'll be done for you by this. My father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples, as the Father has loved me. So have I loved you. Abide in my love.
If you keep my Commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my father's Commandments and abide in His love. These things. I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. What does it mean to abide in Jesus? To put it simply, it means to rest in him, to trust him, to be near him, to position ourselves in a way that allows us to experience him more.
If we go back to my homemade parable just for a second, abiding would be the man getting out of the freezer, walking upstairs and positioning himself near the fireplace where the heat of God's love is coming into his home so that he would be in the best position to experience the heat. Abiding in Jesus isn't the mechanism that brings the presence of God into our life. His presence is already there. In the life of a believer, abiding in Jesus puts us in the best position where we can experience His love in us.
How does a Christian abide in Jesus?
Well, this is the role that spiritual disciplines play in the life of a believer. Spiritual disciplines like studying your Bible, praying, fasting, giving, serving. There's more so all of these and more put the believer in a posture where they can experience the love of God that is already in them. These things, when you do them on a regular basis, help us align our heart, our soul, our mind and our body with God. Then we can do what Jesus taught us when he said, and you shall love the Lord your God, with all your hearts and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
I said that not abiding in Jesus is a less than obvious sin. Why is it sin not to abide in Him? Besides the fact Besides the fact that he tells us repeatedly to do it and to disobey Jesus. And so Besides that, what are we doing if we're not abiding in Him? What else are we going to?
What else are we trusting in? What else are we enjoying? What else are we pursuing? What else are we filling our minds with? If Jesus isn't the answer to these questions, what's the answer things of this world.
I believe my personal belief that the lack of abiding in Jesus is the single biggest reason why Christians don't experience the agape love in their lives more than they do. We don't put ourselves in a position to know Him better and we are worse off for it. Jesus says, whoever abides in me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit from apart from me. You can do nothing. I want to share another personal story with you if that's okay.
And I want to show you from my life what not abiding in Jesus can look like it's negative effects on a person and a key. And hopefully I pray I help to some of you a key to turning things around. If you ever find yourself in the same spot that I was in, and still I'm currently walking through, let's flash back to about six months or so from this very moment at this season in my life, working exceptionally hard. If you know anything about Gospel City Church and Jeff and I who passed this Church, you can accuse us of a lot of things, but you can't accuse us of not working hard.
We labor diligently to serve Jesus and to serve every single one who calls gospel to the Church home.
Work hard, work hard so much that we have a running joke where some people say you guys have two pastors. What do you guys do with all your spare time? I wish the Lord will bring us more pastors actually, Besides the .46 months ago, working hard every day, dust held on dustled on working, serving striving. I'm not saying work is bad, but I'm just trying to paint this picture for you, okay? Burning a candle on both ends, burning a candle on both ends and at the same time as work expenditures going up.
Do you know what's ending down is? My abiding time with Jesus? I'm doing it and it didn't happen overnight, but gradually abiding. The sweet presence of just putting myself in by the fireplace of his love and just sitting there to enjoy him becomes rote and dutiful. Of course I have to get up in the morning and pray.
I'm a Christian. I got to tell other people to pray. I have to pray. Of course I have to read my Bible. I got to tell people what the Bible says.
It's kind of part of the job description. I have to read the Bible. I have to pray, but something began to switch in my mind. I was seeing these things as duties to perform and not opportunities to spend sweet time with Jesus. My time in prayer in the morning kept decreasing as I looked at my time in prayer and in the word as an impediment to all the work that I'm trying to accomplish for Jesus in His name.
This is going on for weeks and you wouldn't know it because somebody didn't look at the outside. God looks at the heart, but we look at the outside. Perhaps striving faithful working kind, nice. But inside, spiritually dying going on for weeks. I tell myself, okay, life is hard.
Sometimes you have to just push through and it's true. You got to push through. You've got to push through. But sometimes you got to just be honest with yourself and saying something's not right in here. And there's a couple of moments in the last several months where the Lord just gave me this win.
It was like, call me back to Abide. Call me back to him, simplify everything. And I said, you know, my schedule, Jesus. I don't have time for that. And instead of coming back to a place of worship, back to a place of just bowing my knee before my King and just sitting beneath him and before him, I started to comfort myself in other things, things of this world.
And here's the thing before you get too scared, not sinful things. I started to watch a lot of TV and watch a lot of movies and play a lot of games on my phone. Just mindless games. Those things are not bad. You want to play a game every once in a while, be my guest.
But what happens is I start to spend hours. None of my work gets sacrificed, so I'm still being productive. But all my downtime, everything is just mindless numbing out. Not only am I not going to Jesus, I'm filling myself with things that cannot bring me life or only bringing me further and further into spiritual death. This is going on for weeks and weeks and weeks, staying up late at night, just wasting my life secretly.
Now here's the next thing that you need to know. This relationship that we have with God is crucial to how we're going to actually have a relationship with people in our lives. On the horizontal plane. Your vertical relationship with God is going to influence how you love people and spend time with people. If you're walking closely with God and filled with His spirit and being ministered to Him on a regular basis, guess what?
You're going to have Rivers of living water flowing into your heart. Would he so full that you're able to serve and give and not require anything? You just give yourself give, give, and it's a joy to do so sacrificially even. But if you're not in touch with him, if there's a vacancy, a void, a lack that is going to come out into your relationships with other people, there's no way around it. Maybe not today or tomorrow.
It's just a matter of time now. Do you know who gets the brunt of that? Not the people that you see once a month, not the people you only text every once in a while, the people that are closest to you. And so here's I'm sharing these things with you, just as I was sharing with Jeff before we started this. You guys need to hear this kind of stuff because me and me and Jeff aren't glorified yet.
Believe it or not, we don't have this whole sanctification thing like, perfected. We need the Grace of Jesus as desperately as anyone else does. Maybe more because of the calling that God has in our lives. So I'm letting you into my life just to let you know that I'm as a human being like you, a fellow brother and sister in Christ like you that we need. I need Jesus like you.
Here all this to say, this began to really affect my relationship with Jess, like my wife too. And she could testify to this. I began to view her the same way I was viewing my quiet time with Jesus. It's just duty I have to be with Jesus. That's my Christian duty.
I have to be a good husband because that's my duty. But as I'm dead in my heart with Jesus, it's coming out in my relationship to her, not screaming, not angry, just cold and getting colder and colder and dead. No time for this small talk, no time for just enjoying each other's company. Do you have something to say to me. Okay, then let me just fix that problem and there's no problem.
Okay, then I don't have time. I don't have time just to talk to my wife. It's pathetic. It's really sad. I was working seven days a week.
We finally began to take a day off and we'd spend that day together. We'd sit down and just spend time together. And I would just be ending that time because this is my duty. There's nothing on the schedule. It's just me and the wife of my youth, my one I love more than any other person Besides Jesus.
And I could just barely tolerate just hanging out. She asked me a question, one word answer. Have a problem with something. I don't have time for that. I'm too busy.
And then I would just spend time doing my duty. She's talking in my mind, just waiting for our special, intimate time of conversation to be over. So I can say, you know what? Look at the good husband I am. I set aside one day a week just to spend time with you.
But you ask her about it and it was just useless. It was vain. It was vain. This was going on for weeks. And then we could go Thursday.
We could go Thursday. It came to point, and she's so gracious. She'll be embarrassed by this. She's such a godly woman and just loves me in that trying to understand, even verbalizing. This cuts her husband to the heart.
But verbalizing things like, is this the way it's going to be? From now on? Do I have to just get resolved in my mind that you're just going to be just cold and dead? I just have to just serve Jesus and just love you like this. Like, I don't want it to be this way.
But just tell me if this is the way that it's going to be. And most of the times when she asks her things like that, I would just be silent for some seconds or minutes. It got to the point where we could go Thursday, I'll say talking for hours. She was talking. I was just sitting there and it was getting emotional from her here's.
The point several hours in is not going good.
I need to confess. I wasn't even due to confess what's going on in my heart. And I said to her, I don't feel anything in my heart and I don't care.
They get this sucky things to say. And again, if I didn't say it, it didn't mean it wasn't true. All I said was what was true in my heart. And I said it, and I'll tell you what happened. Like a miracle happened.
Milliseconds after I confessed that to her confession of my sin to her. Are you familiar with the story of Elijah when he prayed? And it didn't rain for three days or three days? Three years. Three and a half years.
No rain and then one day he just prayed and the rain was going to come. And Elijah sent his servant to go in to look into the distance and say, what do you see? He says nothing. And he went back and forth seven times. And then the 7th time, the serpent said, oh, I see a tiny little cloud coming.
And Elijah says, okay, everyone run, because the storm has come. The rains are coming. And if you don't run, you're going to get swept up by them. This is what happened to me as I confessed my sin to my wife. And again, I hope I painted this picture for you.
Just dead inside. No feeling, Milliseconds. Later, I said to her a lot. I think I did. I felt anyone was like I said, Here it comes, that little cloud, that little cloud.
Here it comes, Milliseconds. After I confessed my sin to her, God just broke something in my heart and I just began to weep. I just began to weep and feel for the first time in weeks, if not months. This is a sweet weep.
It's not beautiful sight, but it's beautiful in your spirit. She's freeing me. And it was such a tender moment. She leaned over her. We always lie in our bed.
And when we talk and she just leaned over and she was crying by this time too. And we're just in sweet tears now the better kind of. And she just put her hand and she just leans into me and she's just holding me. I'm just broken before Jesus and broken before her. Just confessing how terrible of a husband I am.
And Jesus begins just the healing process so we could go Thursday. Our relationship has been night and day since I'm still working on the Zeus. Like my abiding. To be honest with you, I'm still work in progress there, but it's better than it has been for weeks and months. I want to bring an application and wrap this message up here's.
Why I share this with you. If you're doing great with Jesus right now, praise Him. If you're not resonating with what I'm sharing with you right now and you're like, no, no. Like life is eleven out of ten right now with Jesus. Praise Him.
Thank Him for that. Ask him to guard you against complacency because we're all like sheep are prone to stray and prone to wander. Enjoy it. And I don't want to be a doomsday or, hey, just wait for the crap to hit the fan. It's coming.
I don't want to be that person. Maximize the joy in Jesus as much as possible. Lord willing until he raptures us home. But pray you don't. If you're not doing so great in Him right now, if I wasn't a preacher's message six months ago, I'd be giving you different advice.
Do you know how you have to go through some things on your own before you can give more gracious advice. Don't jump to making promises that you can't keep with God. Okay. Got him starting tomorrow. I'm reading my Bible for an hour.
I'm going to pray for an hour. I'm giving all my money to the poor. And now we're going to be right back to square one where we started. Don't write checks with your mouth that you can't cash with Jesus. Don't do that.
But do do this. Do what I did with Jess. Do this with Jesus. Confess to Him. What's in your heart?
Jesus. I feel dead in my heart and I felt like this way. I feel like this way for a long, long time and I don't know how to make it any different. I can't conjure up life in my heart here's where I am. Lord, can you help me?
Can you help me? Can you touch me? Spirit of God. You raise people from the dead. Raise my dead heart to life.
Jesus, ask him to do that. Ask for help and then begin to look at what abiding in him can look like practically. But don't start with a todo list before you just bear your heart to Jesus. He already knows what's in there. Share what's in there and then ask him for mercy and he will give it to you.
I'm going to close by reading the same Psalm that I opened with, but I'm going to highlight the end instead of the beginning. David said this in Psalm 13. How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all day.
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord, my God. Light up my eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death. Lest my enemy saved. I prevailed over him lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
And then one of the best words in the Bible ever. Right. But I have trusted in your steadfast love. My heart shall rejoice in your Salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He's dealt bountifully with me.
I feel this way, Lord. But you are good. I feel this way right now. But you are God and you are good and you are for me. And I will rejoice in your Salvation and pray that my feelings will catch up with my praises.
Will you pray with me, Lord, we're going to spend some time singing songs and true things to you.
This is the cry of my heart. Lord, I just want you to do exactly what you want to do in every single one of our hearts that are here right now. You know what you want to do in us. You are our Heavenly Father. You're perfect wisdom and perfect love and perfect Grace.
I have no idea the things that you have in store for us. I just know that they're really good that they're perfectly good. I pray and I give you thanks for any of my brothers and sisters that are here tonight that are in a great season in their life, in their faith journey following you. It's just sweet and it's rich and it's full. I praise you, Jesus, for that.
Thank you for that. Thank you for that season in their life. But I also pray for any of my brothers and sisters here, Lord, who are just dead inside. They have life because they have you. But experientially.
They feel dead. Stress is overwhelming. It feels like they can't keep their head above water and it feels hopeless. And it feels easier to quit than to keep moving forward. And I pray for them, Lord, that you would penetrate the darkest parts of their heart and shine the light of your hope in them.
Whisper what they need to hear from you in this moment. Right now, you are God and you are a living God and you live in us. Reveal yourself to us and heal us and do it all for your glory, Zeus. Because when people see our lives, sinners who have been redeemed and Saints who have been wallowing in the mud being restored and full of life. Do you know who gets the glory, Lord, you do.
When people see us walking with you, they see you. So do that in us. Jesus, we pray, have your way in our hearts, Jesus. Amen.