Sermon:  Reflections on the Love of God

Summary:  True love does not come from Hallmark, Hollywood, or anything else from 
this world.  It comes from the God who expresses his undying love for us in terms 
of betrothal and marriage that weathers all kinds of storms.  Therefore, true love, 
even romantic love, is a beautiful reflection of the God who created and 
demonstrates it.

Know:  Love, even romantic love as demonstrated in scripture, is not worldly but 
godly and reflects God's character

Feel:  Love for God and to others

Do:  Discuss the nature of God's Love, particularly how it informs marital and 
familial love, and contrast it to the world's view of love in these areas.  Identify 
the ways God's love is demonstrated in your life and the areas were it needs to be 
seen in a greater way.  List the challenges in your life to loving as God loves and 
commit to ways to strengthen to love of God in your character.

Text:  Eph 5:25-32

Scripture Reading:  Hos 2:14-16

1.  Valentine's Day is upon us yet again
	a.  Been thinking about it
	b.  We preachers preach timely messages on other special days
	c.  Why do we skip this day?  Too worldly?  Not worthy of a sermon?
	d.  But you can't avoid it - Commercials, decorations, school, office, etc.
2.  This is about romantic love.  Why do Christians avoid the topic in church?
	a.  Worldly?  Bible silent on it?  
	b.  Not talking about cupid.  That is too cute, makes love seem silly and  
	c.  Talking about special love between man and woman
	d.  It is part of God's design from the beginning 
3.  Bible is full of examples of romantic love, like the Song of Songs
	a. Best love poetry ever written
	b. A couple in love &betrothed, latter appears married in the book
		- Refers to each other as "the one whom my soul loves"
		- Speaks of being faint with love
		- Describes the admiration and delight in each other
		- Describes the beauty they see in each other
	c.  Some have difficulty in translating this book
		- They believe that romance is not worthy of the Bible
		- Some make it into an allegory or figurative of God's love
			= Jewish interpret it as God's love for Israel
			= Christians interpret it as Jesus' love for the church
		- Others take it at face value, it is simply love poetry
	d.  Either way, the Bible contains beautiful love poetry
		- It is romantic love whether it is simply love poetry or figurative
		- Suggests that romantic love is not inherently worldly, but godly
		- Tells us that romantic love is a reflection of the beauty of God
		- To love your spouse as God loves involves romantic love
4.  This morning we will look closer at how God describes his love for us

I.  God fondly recalls the early days of marriage to his bride 
	A.  God fondly recalls the early days of marriage to his bride (Ezk 16:8-14) 
	B.  God lavished symbols of his love on his bride - God loves passionately
		1.  Gave her fine. beautiful clothes
		2.  Gave her all kinds of pretty jewelry
		3.  She became known for her beauty
		4.  Nothing was too good for the bride of God
	C.  Passionate love brings anger and jealously when bride is unfaithful
		1.  (Ezek 16:15-17) - His bride played the harlot
			a.  She used her beauty to be unfaithful
			b.  She used the jewels & other things God gave to practice 
			c.  The text goes on and describes how she was unfaithful
			d.  How does God respond?
		2.  (Ezek 16:38-41) - God says what he will do
			a.  Do you think God is angry?  Of course!
			b.  Wouldn't you be angry if the one whom your soul loved 
			     cheated on you in your own bed?
		3.  God loves passionately, therefore his anger is passionate too
	D.  But God's passionate love is relentless and undying
		1.  God could have turned his back
		2.  But God does not close the book on his beloved bride
		3.  His love never dies

II.  The angry husband does not give up on his bride
	A.  (Hos 2:14-16) - God will "woo" here according to some translations
		1.  He woos her back, puts song in her heart again
		2.  No longer will she call him "ba-ali", which is "My Lord"
		3.  She will call him "ishi" which means "my husband
		4.  Do you see the kind of love God has for his bride?
	B.  Consummation of God's plan is a wedding (Rev 19:7-9)
		1.  God does not give up on his bride
		2.  He is going to marry her
	C.  Next scene is the groom, but no like you may think (Rev 19:11-16)
		1.  Comes riding in on a white horse
		2.  Robe is dipped in blood, his own blood
		3.  Jesus is willing to go to Hades and back to get his bride
	D.  Amazing thing is this is after his bride had been unfaithful to him

III.  The husband loves his wife
	A.  Love does strange things
		1.  Makes people look past warts and rough edges
		2.  Some say, "I just don't know what he sees in her!"
			a.  Maybe she is a plain Jane with many flaws
			b.  Maybe she is mismatched, a mess
			c.  Maybe nose too big, hair to stringy
			d.  Maybe she is less that average
		3.  But to her man she is the most beautiful thing
		4.  Love causes you to look past those things to who she is
	B.  Isn't that what God does?
		1.  He looks past the surface
			a.  Look past all our rough edges, our filth, our ugliness
			b.  Looks and sees what we are & what we can become
		2.  They say love is blind, I disagree 
			a.  I know ungodly love can be blind
				- Someone can be star struck
				- No longer capable of thinking rationally
				- Becomes an idiot
				- That's not what I am talking about
			b.  God's love for us was anything BUT blind
			c.  God's love didn't blind him to our faults
			d.  God's dealt with those things and looked beyond them
		3.  True love is not unaware of the flaws, warts, and the dirt
	C.  (Eph 5:25-32) - Describes our Lord's love for his bride
		1.  Our savior's love was anything but blind
			a.  Jesus was acutely aware of our faults
			b.  But Jesus didn't turn away, he dealt with them
			c.  Why?  Because of his unfailing love for us
			d.  Jesus looked past those things toward a beautiful 
			     relationship between himself and his bride
		2.  You have been created in the image of God
			a.  You are the crown of God's creation
			b.  You are his jewel and his joy
			c.  You are his delight
			d.  You were created as a thing of beauty and glory
		3.  Sin corrupted you, but he looked past that and saw YOU
		4.  He sanctified you and cleansed you 
			a.  Now you have no spot, wrinkle, or any other such thing
			b.  He gave you a spiritual makeover
			c.  Now you are the most beautiful thing in the world to him
	D.  If someone says, "I just don't understand what he sees in her," 
		1.  Answer:  He sees the beauty of God in her
		2.  There is no greater beauty than this
		3.  In fact, there is no other beauty than this
		4.  The love God has for us is the model for the love we are to have 
		      for our spouse, and for each other

1.  Point of all this - Romantic love not from Hallmark, Hollywood, etc.
	a.  In fact they usually distort it
	b.  True love, even romantic love, not of this world
2.  Romantic love, and every other kind of true love, comes from God
	a.  Need to discard the idea that romantic love is worldly
	b.  Romantic love is of God too
3.  Christians are not frigid prudes that do not know what romance is
	a.  Christians are passionate people full of life from the giver of life
	b.  So remember this at anniversaries, birthdays, valentines, every day...
	c.  We serve a God full of passionate love
	d. Nothing is more godly that displaying God's passionate love to the one 
	     whom your soul loves 
4.  Want to conclude with a story from the newspapers a few years ago
a. Early in 2005, John Phipps got called to work early. He boarded a train to work and went to sleep. He was jerked awake and saw smashed bits of train all over the place and a mist falling on his face. It dawned in him that he had just been in a bad train wreck. He touched the back of his head and found it bloodied. He was also bleeding below the waist. He called out for help, but no one was there. He reached out and felt a chair and saw his bloody handprint he left behind. The realization hit him: he was going to die. Without thinking, he scrawled a message on the back of that chair with his own blood. It read, "I (heart) Leslie." There was more room, so he wrote, "I (heart) my kids."When rescuers arrived, they saw the message. Fire Captain Robert Rosario said, "I have seen some gruesome things on this job, but that moved me." Phipps was rescued and taken to the hospital. Leslie Phipps said she does not remember how she first learned about the message, but a nurse gave the family a photo that appeared in the paper. "Hallmark is never going to top this," she said. "It's moving, it's thoughtful and it's chilling all at the same time."
b. A dying man writing a message of love with blood is a moving one. c. But there is another moving love story written in blood. - Jesus expressed his love for a lost world in blood. - You see, due to sin, we were separated from God. - But God didn't close the book on you. - Jesus died to take away that sin (inv) God wants you to... =========================================== Small Group Notes: Reflections on the Love of God Summary: True love does not come from Hallmark, Hollywood, or anything else from this world. It comes from the God who expresses his undying love for us in terms of betrothal and marriage that weathers all kinds of storms. Therefore, true love, even romantic love, is a beautiful reflection of the God who created and demonstrates it. Open: (choose one) - Who was your first love? - What is the greatest demonstration of love you have ever seen or experienced? Explore (Eph 5:1-2; 5:21-6:4) 1. Discuss how the Lord describes the love that he has for us. What does this say about him? 2. In what way(s) does Christ see beauty in his "bride?" 3. How does the love the Lord has for us compare to other versions of love we see in the world? Can even romantic love be godly? 4. What is to be the foundation of the love we are to have for each other? How does this inform the way Christians are to love their spouses? Their parents? Their brethren? Others in general? 5. Read 1 Jn 4:7-8 and discuss the importance of true Christian love. Apply 6. What are some ways you demonstrate the love of Christ in your life? 7. What are some ways you struggle with showing true Christian love? 8. What would it take for you to love more like Christ did? Prayer