Bible Reading – 1 John 4:7-end
God is Love? Easy to say and easy to believe when things are going well.
When surrounded by a loving family, friends and we are within a fellowship
People sharing their experiences, supporting others and in turn being supported
All proof that we are designed by God to have the capacity to love within us
Unfortunately many today don’t acknowledge God’s ways, his creation or his Love
Living in a comfortable society makes people think they don’t need God
Unable to understand why a loving creator can allow so much evil to occur
That’s our theme for today, how we can respond to that view?
What’s is God’s love and what isn’t it?
God’s love includes many things; caring for his creation, giving freedom
Setting down standards, providing judgement and justice,
Living in the real world we know that life has it’s up’s and downs
For some the up’s are very good, and for some the bad is very bad indeed.
When it’s bad, life seems unfair and seems at odds with a ‘good God’ who created life
We ask in the Lord’s prayer, not to be led into temptation,
Yet life is a series of temptations and at times we fail everyone of us,
But like a loving parent God wants to put us on the right track
Which is why we are given the Word of God, his direction his standards.
It’s God giving us the right direction, and with standards comes correction
Justice is the responsibility of the rule maker so it follows correction is part of love
Trying to make life good for everyone those we know, and those we don’t
We need to study God’s Word, what Jesus taught
Jesus didn’t live a easy life full of privilege,
And as his followers we can’t expect to either
As his followers we need to do what we have been told to do
And to do that we need to understand what it is we have been told
Loving, like life, has it’s up’s and down’s, and any parent will confirm that
We need to come to terms with the reality of life, so we can live God’s Love
And on this later when we will delve into God’s love in more depth.
For now let’s tell God how much we love him by singing 17 – O Worship the King
Bible Reading Luke 21:5-28
Talk – God Loves you!
I start every service with this most important message, ‘God Loves you’,
But I was taken aback when a very good Christian friend challenging me.
Saying, “Can you substantiate that God does love
Considering all the pain and suffering that occurs in his creation?”
The trouble is there is a basic misconception of who God is and what love is,
Those of us who have been or who had loving parents do have an insight into it.
Love is not just about caring for someone, nor is it about control.
Not allowing mistakes or anything that might hurt or endanger happiness.
Love requires setting standards giving freedom and being there when things go wrong
At times we all have to deal with illness, pain and suffering,
The loss of something or someone, a beating we had, war, famine, disasters
Of course we would like to live in a world where none of theses things happen.
Fortunately by making Jesus Lord of our lives, one day we will.
And to get there we are judged on how we use the greatest of God’s gifts – Freewill
Hate, greed, violence, war, these can be put down to the use of man’s free will
We use our freewill, for better or worst, we have the ability to decide what we do
Without freewill we are as every other animal – dominated by instinct alone
So if we make a mess of things, well, we shouldn’t blame God.
If I drive recklessly and have an accident then the responsibility is mine not God’s
We cannot blame God who gave us the gift of freedom when it is us who abuse it.
A gun, in itself is not bad, it’s the person who abuses the situation, that is,
When God’s ways are rejected abuses happen
Our greatest command is to Love God, then ourselves and then our neighbours.
We need his forgiveness because we don’t live up to his requirements
His design of us, his hope for us all because of our abuse of his gift of freewill
God created a world of order, based on his ways, his pattern of living.
The world and everything in it has been designed to fit into its own place.
When things don’t fit into the place God set for it, is it surprising thing go wrong.
The saying once bitten twice shy three times a fool is one that may seem rather harsh
Particularly when applied to disasters, but for the moment let’s be dispassionate.
We know that within our created and complex universe
The earth is a living entity that’s required to do certain things to survive.
These include, making internal movement, letting off gas, spinning and irrigation.
Put another way, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes and storms.
If people choose to live where these occur and not provide themselves with protection
Then they have to expect that disasters will adversely affect them.
If we build on flood planes and don’t build defences then expect flooding
We know where the fault lines are, so when cities are build on them
Then earthquakes destroy places like San Francisco & Tokyo don’t blame God.
Jesus taught us not to worry for it serves no useful purpose.
We know that worry causes stress and stress causes illnesses
We also know we need good diet and exercise, not cigarettes, drugs, alcohol etc
If we feed our minds and bodies on those thing that Gods tells us not to
Then we have to expect our bodies to react in a way that is not good for us
Many of the illnesses in our society today are self-inflicted.
Those who abuse God’s ways and the gifts they’ve been given
These are the causes of our suffering, not God.
Our world has been created with many disaster possibilities?
But our existence and freedom is far more important than our pain
For our destiny is more often than not, something we can control ourselves.
Freewill is so precious, that God allows us to make mistakes
When societies become evil God shows his care by removing them from creation
But he keeps giving people another chance and he keeps trying to correct us
Teach us the best way to live, yet our western world is turning our backs on him.
Too often mankind does the opposite of what God has designed for it.
God gives freedom but Satan brings slavery, craving to things that will not last
Power, greed, immorality, gluttony, class systems, possessions, sloth, indiscipline
The list goes on and on, the main philosophy today is ‘I’ll do what I want’
Which put another way is, love myself and forget about neighbours and God.
Human disasters! Why were there mudslides in Central America a few years ago
Killing hundreds and making thousands homeless?
Because people decided to remove all the trees on the mountain side,
And why do so many starve and die, living in areas where land cannot sustain them
Forced there by greed, hate, no resources or education, abuse of power & leadership,
This world is God’s creation and we have a duty to obey its creator
To fulfil our purpose in living, which is to please him
We need to study these areas so we understand why these things happen
Then we can have greater confidence in witnessing for our Lord
We need to have answers when people challenge us when we do say God loves us.
And why doesn’t God treat the good people better than the bad,
Well Jesus explains why in the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5:43-end.
Because he loves everyone equally and wants us all to follow him
We have been given freewill and living is about what choices we make
How we handle difficulties, problems, issues these are our tests in living.
And there are occurrences that we may not like, which God freely admit to causing.
However these can have the purpose of judgement on those who turn from God
God hates evil, leaving such societies alone for years, but eventually he acts
He gives people every chance to do something themselves about the situation
First prophets are sent then when these are ignored punishments is given
Israel is an example of punishment used properly being a tool of love
For it gives the acceptable boundaries of behaviour
When Evil takes hold in a society and God cannot be found within it
As in the world of Noah, Sodom, Egypt, Israel, Jerusalem, after Jesus was murdered
God will act with terrible consequences for those who have no hope of redemption.
We continually break God’s command, creating our separation from him.
So God needed to bring forgiveness, his truth and his ways before each one of us.
To give everyone the choice in deciding to follow his ways or not.
We have been given an open book into God’s mind in the form of his Son, Jesus.
Through him we gain forgiveness, faith, eternal life and The Holy Spirit as our guide
By being given the responsibility of freewill without limits, we should not abuse it.
And the answer to the question, ‘Why does God allow suffering’
Our free will is more important to him than the suffering we cause to ourselves
God made us Free, we have the Freedom to accept or reject his ways
If God were to stop evil we lose our free will, we become as animals
Ruled by pure instinct, unable to choose to love God and share his kingdom
Freewill is that element of love that allows us to come to know God
We need to use our freewill wisely, trust In God,
And in the teaching that Jesus brought us
We have a true friend in Jesus who support us and has given us God’s ways.