Let me tell you about a boy whose love for his mother changed history. This fellow grew up dreaming of joining the British Navy. His brother was a Navy man, and his tales and enthralled young George. The lad began dreaming of a career on the high seas. As soon as he was of age, he signed up. George’s widowed mother opposed the idea, but she reluctantly gave her consent.
But when the day came for goodbye, it was too much for his mother. Seeing him in his dashing uniform, with his belongings on the ship and his vessel ready to sail, she sobbed. She begged him to renounce his plans and to assist her with her burdens in life.
His dream had been years in the making and he could hardly give it up, yet not if it meant breaking her heart. Though deeply disappointed, he returned his uniform. The direction of the boy’s life was forever changed. But he found another pathway in life, and history was transformed because George Washington put his mother first.
If a boy’s love for his mother can change history, think of the power of God’s love toward us. God loves you are the three most powerful words, for they summarize the redemptive, sacrificial heart of Almighty God toward our deepest hurts and needs.
Just as J. I. Packer says in his book Knowing God: “To know God’s love is indeed heaven on earth.” According to Packer, God’s love is the exercise of His goodness toward individual sinners, allowing us to know and enjoy Him in a covenant relationship. No wonder Paul prayed that we would more fully comprehend the width, length, depth, and height of Christ’s love (Ephesians 3:18-19).
Rejoice in Its Power
When our lives are touched by the love of Jesus, we’re wonderfully transformed. And when enough people experience the same love, our society is changed.
The Mutiny on the Bounty illustrates this. The whole thing began in 1787 when the English ship Bounty, commanded by Lieutenant William Bligh, sailed to the South Pacific to collect plants and agricultural samples. Viewing it as a voyage to paradise, sailors signed up with excitement. Bligh appointed Fletcher Christian as second-in-command, and the Bounty stayed in Tahiti six months. When time came for departure, some of the men wanted to stay behind. The mood on ship darkened, and Fletcher Christian staged the most famous mutiny in history. Bligh and his supporters were set adrift in an overloaded lifeboat.
The mutineers on the Bounty immediately began quarreling about what to do next. Christian returned to Tahiti with the remaining crew traveling a thousand miles to uninhabited Pitcairn Island. There the little group unraveled. Disease and murder eventually took the lives of all the men except one, Alexander Smith, who found himself the only man on the island, surrounded by an assortment of women and children.
Then Smith found the Bounty’s neglected Bible. Reading it, he realized that true paradise is the discovery of God’s love revealed through Christ. The message of Christ so transformed their lives that twenty years later, in 1808, when the Topaz landed on the island, it found a happy society of Christians living in prosperity and peace.
The love of God through Jesus Christ had touched and transformed every soul.
As Christians we can relate to that story, for our own testimonies are similar.
Revel in Its Simplicity
While rejoicing in its power, we can also revel in its simplicity. The love of God is strong enough to change society, yet simple enough to touch our most tender hurts. Occasionally something happens to remind us that the simplest things are best. Think of the comfort of a simple touch. Now think of the simplicity of God’s love. According to the verse I quoted earlier in Ephesians 3, God’s love is like a cube. We’re to comprehend its height, depth, width, and length. God’s love is the simplest building block in life.
Many of us struggle with an array of issues because we don’t comprehend the simplicity of His love. Devotional writer Frances Havergal addressed this in one of her little books. “Perhaps we have the dreary idea, ‘Nobody wants me,’” she wrote. “We never need grope in that gloom again, when the King Himself desires us! This desire is love active, love in glow, love going forth, love delighting and longing.”
God not only loves you, He loves to love you. His love is greater than tongue or pen can ever tell; it goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell.
It’s not off the mark to say that growth in the Christian life is a matter of experiencing the simplicity and practicality of God’s love in ever-expanding ways. As we realize the eternal ramifications of His love, we can’t help sharing the Gospel with others.
God’s love should be transforming you every day, for His love changes everything and everyone. That’s why the most powerful words you’ll ever say are: “God loves you!”
David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God,
and serves as Senior Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information about Turning Point visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.
If you are a parent with children who’ve attended college, then you have likely sent “care” packages—a box full of toiletries, socks, cookies, new (clean) underwear, and a bit of extra money, too. Or if you support missionaries overseas, you’ve probably mailed care packages to them as well with goodies from home that they can’t find on the mission field. When disaster strikes, Aid organizations rush in to meet the need for people who are hurting, lost, and in need of rescue.
Aid organizations have been around for centuries, but the last several decades have seen an explosion of aid movements around the world. Regardless of an aid organization’s purpose, founder, focus, and constituents, they all begin with two things in common: a need and an idea. Somebody, in the face of a crisis or just lying in bed and thinking late at night, had an “Aha!” moment: “I can do something about that!” They shared the need and the idea, got others involved and excited, and a campaign was born.
I Am Responsible!
In 2009, a well-known attorney in Pennsylvania pled guilty to corruption charges. All the details of his case, trial, and eventual sentencing were widely covered in the media. I am not going to mention his name or cite the sources online where you can read about his crime because it is not my purpose to focus on his failure. What I want to do is highlight portions of a letter he submitted to the judge just prior to his sentencing:
“Your Honor, I take full responsibility for my actions and inactions. When I [got involved with the other guilty parties] I knew instantly that was wrong. I had the responsibility to say no and not to assist them in any way . . . I knew better and I lacked the courage to say no. . . . I had the responsibility to refuse them. . .. I had the ability to do the right thing and say no. I was wrong for giving in . . .. I was also wrong not to report this to the authorities . . .. I was both scared and selfish and I will forever regret that decision.
Thank you. Respectfully submitted, [Name].”
These are just some of the penitent words in his letter to the judge. Again—I am making no judgment as to whether the accused genuinely meant what he said or not. But it is worth noting that he chose not to solicit letters from community leaders, friends, family, or others who might have spoken on his behalf. He chose to face the music without appearing to try to influence the judge with others’ support.“The Devil Made Me Do It”
When Clerow Wilson turned 16, he was ready to get out of foster homes and reform school, so he lied about his age and joined the U.S. Air Force. Blessed with a non-stop personality, he entertained fellow airmen with so many funny stories they claimed he was “flipped out.” The name stuck. Leaving the Air Force, “Flip” Wilson found work as a bellhop and started performing between paid acts at the hotel’s stage show. Before long he was a successful comedian. One of Flip’s most popular characters was Geraldine Jones, whom he portrayed in a dress, a copper-colored wig, and with exaggerated facial expressions. Geraldine was constantly misbehaving, crossing the line, and violating her conscience. But she had a one-sentence explanation for her behavior: “The devil made me do it.” The phrase, “The devil made me do it,” became part of entertainment lore.
I wonder why. On its surface, it’s not a particularly funny line. Perhaps it struck our funny bones because it struck a nerve. We know we’re sinners. We’re bewildered at how easily we do wrong and how hard it is to do right. We need a rationale for our evil habits, or at least an excuse. It’s as good an excuse as any. In some way, this tagline became an expression of national self-justification: “The devil made me do it.”
If you’ve ever been able to help someone in need, then you know the truth of Jesus’ words: “It is better to give than to receive.” Dr. David Jeremiah continues his focus on stewardship by sharing some tools and tips for becoming an enthusiastic giver, so you can enjoy the many blessings that result.All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah