Listen - I Love You

Bible Book: Malachi  1 : 2-5
Subject: The Call of God; Tithe; Stewardship; Giving
Series: Listen Up - God is Speaking - 8 Sermons
Introduction

If I could open the greatest dictionaries in the world's largest libraries and could find the most beautiful and detailed vocabulary conceivable, I would not be able to fully tell you the magnitude of God's love. If I could take the colorful hues and tones from the earth's most beautiful rainbow, I would not be able to paint the loveliness of His love. If I could produce the most glorious music which the ear can receive, I would not be able to sing fully the splendor of His love. To describe the love of God in all its fullness is impossible. But we can understand more about His love than we now know. We can grow in our appreciation of the love of God.

I feel like the two men who saw the ocean for the first time. One said to the other, "Look at all that water." The other replied, "Yes, and just think, we are only seeing the top of it!"

The love of God is so vast that in our most observant moments we only see the surface of it. It is higher than the highest mountain, deeper than the deepest sea and wider than the clearest sky. It is more profound than the loftiest thoughts of the most intelligent people on earth. Yet, what we can see of it, we must seek to see fully.

Ephesians 3:17-19 reads, "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

How sad to read in Malachi 1:2-5 of the people of God who doubted and questioned the love of God. God says, "Listen, I love you." He was speaking to a people who had drifted far from their first love – their love for God. They neglected His Word, His House and His ways. Yet, we hear God calling to them in love.

Note with me an explanation, which is very revealing, regarding God’s love for a rebellious people. In this text we learn three things about the love of God.

I.God's Love is Emotional

One might say that love that is not emotional is not really love. The word itself implies an emotional element. Yet, when we look at God’s love we can miss the deep sense of emotion within it, unless we consider it carefully.

A. It is a Familiar Love

In verse 1 God uses the word "ahab." This is one of the Hebrew words for love. The Hebrew word "ahab" is a designation with which we can identify and a word that speaks of love in a manner that we can understand.

In our consideration of love, you can think of this word as describing the love of a father for his son, a mother for her daughter, a child for a parent, or the passionate love of a newly married couple. Do you know how you love your children, even when they are disobedient? That, also, is one way this word is used. Realizing the nature of the word used here should help you know how God loves you! God chose to use a word with which we could associate when speaking of His love for His people – even those who have not returned an appropriate love for Him.

B.It is a Felt Love

Also, the word ahab speaks of deep, heartfelt passion. It is a word of immense emotional expression. God does not just love us with words, but with His heart.

"The love of God how rich and pure,

How measureless and strong,

It shall forevermore endure,

The saints and angels song."

A father overheard one of his sons telling the younger son that he had better be good or his father would not love him anymore. The father interrupted the conversation to inform the lads that he would never cease to love them. The older son asked, "But if we are bad, you will not love us, will you?"

"Yes, I will still love you," said the father. "My love will just change."

"What do you mean, your love will change," one of the sons asked?

"If you are good, my love will be glad. If you are bad, my love will be sad. If you are bad enough, my love will make me mad. But I will never cease to love you!"

That is exactly how God loves those who belong to Him. The thing is, you just don’t want to face a mad father’s love in your home, and certainly not the One in heaven!

II.God's Love is Irrational

God’s love is imponderable, unquantifiable and immeasurable. That God should love such creatures as we are is simply an enigma – but He does love us! He tells us that He loves us. The songwriter penned,

"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."

The Bible says that even the number of hairs on your head are numbered by the Lord. What concern God takes of us! Scientists tell us that a black-headed person, on average, has about 110,000 hairs on his head. A blonde has about 140,000. I don't know how many hairs a black-headed person has if that person has dyed her hair blonde, but that is a totally different issue altogether. But this I know, God knows how many there are and each one is numbered! Interestingly, you lose about 100 hairs a day. A man removes 1/64 of an inch of beard if he shaves everyday. From age 20 to age 65, a man removes about 25 feet of beard. But God knows the number exactly. It is irrational for anyone, much less the God of heaven, to care how many hairs are upon my head. But God cares and God knows. You would only know such things if you had an incredible interest in and love for a person to even care about such a trivial matter. Oh, what unfathomable love and care God has for us!

A.God’s Love is Undeserved

Ephesians 2 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God not of works lest any should boast!

Charles Wesley penned the words,

"Amazing love, how can it be,

That Thou, my God, should die for me?"

His love is so undeserved. We were sinners, but He loved us. We are sinners, but He loves us. We will be sinners, but He loves us. Such love is undeserved!

B.It is a Love Undesired

At first we do not desire this love. This is proven by the verse, which tells us that we love God only because He first loved us! Without His love, we would be eternally lost. Ephesians 2 tells us that we were dead in our sins, but God spoke His love into our hearts and quickened us by His Spirit.

One gentleman was dying. He knew he was saved, but was troubled that he felt so far from God and felt such little emotional love for God. He told his pastor who related the following story. "I go home each day to a little sweet child who sits on my knee. The child is so young, if I should die suddenly, she would not remember me at all. If I am broken hearted over some matter, the child is not troubled about it all. Does she love me, or do I love her?" The man answered that it was the father's love, not the child's that counted. Likewise, the pastor said, "It is God's love for us, not ours for Him that is important." That caused the light of faith to rise in the man's heart as never before.

Let me speak to someone here today who is unsaved – who has never trusted Jesus as Savior. Do you know that God loves you? The first thing a person without Christ must feel is the undeserved love God has for him or her. When you realize that you are dead and lost in sin, and you respond to the prompting of His love, you are drawn to Christ and receive eternal life. If you sense that love today for the first time, or perhaps you have felt this before but were unwilling to come to the Lord, today is the day for you to receive Jesus Chris as your Lord and Savior. You can only be saved because He loves you! He gave His Son on the cross for you.

III.God's Love is Processional

God's love flows like a mighty river in a great procession. Those who know the Lord are caught up in that wonderful flowing stream of love and grace. How is this so?

A.It is Sometimes Historical – The Backward Look

Sometimes the love of God is best viewed in the past. We see how God has blessed us in our own personal history. As the spiritual says, “The Lord brought me from a mighty long ways.”

The songwriter penned:

"And when I think, that God His Son not sparing,

Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.

That on the cross my burden gladly bearing,

He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Savior God to thee,

God how great thou art! How great thou art!"

Donald Barnhouse was traveling when he felt his car swerve. He knew what it meant; he had a flat tire. He pulled over and groaned at the thought of taking all the heavy books out of the trunk to fix the flat. He saw a young man pull up in a jeep and he waved him down. He told the man he would pay him to fix the flat. The young man got out of the truck with his dog by his side. As he took the books from the trunk of Dr. Barnhouse's car, he asked why there were so many books. Barnhouse told him that he was a preacher and carried a lot of books as he traveled so he could study the Bible. The young man kept working but confessed that he had little interest in religion. He told Barnhouse that his wife was very religious but that he was indifferent to the matter.

All the while he was working on the flat his dog sat near him. Sometimes the dog would lick the young man's hand. Occasionally the young man would stop long enough to pat the dog lovingly. Barnhouse commented on this. The young man told how the dog had saved his life. He loved the dog dearly. Even though his wife protested, he let the dog eat at his table and sleep at the foot of his bed. Barnhouse went on to say, "Sir, it is interesting that you love a dog who risked his life to save yours, but you do not love the Savior who actually gave his life to save your eternal soul.

B.It is Sometimes Visual – The Outward Look

Then, sometimes we see God's love in the present. Our present blessings overwhelm us. If we count our blessings rather than our burdens, we are overcome with the goodness and love of God toward us. No matter what you are going through today, God’s love is present in your life. Even the unsaved receive the sunshine and rain, the breath they breathe and the blessing of life on earth. Yet, without understanding His love at Calvary, you cannot be saved. Why has God allowed you to live so long, when you don’t trust Him? It is because He loves you and is giving you every chance possible to trust in His Son, Jesus Christ.

C.It is Always Prophetical – The Forward Look

Occasionally, however, we cannot see the past for the weight of the present. Our present situation is so burdensome that we cannot count our many blessings even though they are present. We are in a storm of dismay and confusion. What then of the love of God? That is exactly where the people of Malachi's day found themselves. They made a mistake of judging the love of God on the feelings they were experiencing rather than resting on the promises God made.

Dear friend, no matter how dark your night or heavy your load, God loves you. He says, "Hold on, my child, joy comes in the morning." Don't judge the matter till the Lord has finished His work.

Psalm 23 speaks of this. If I cannot see the goodness and mercy following me in the history of my life, and if I cannot see the Shepherd for the valley of the shadow of death defeating the enemies around me, at least I can hear my Savior say, “You will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!”

We are in the flow of God's love. The songwriter composed these words:

"O the deep, deep love of Jesus,

Vast unmeasured, boundless, free!

Rolling as the mighty ocean,

In its fullness over me.

Underneath me, all around me,

Is the current of thy love;

Leading onward, leading homeward,

To my glorious rest above."

Another penned:

"Love lifted me, loved lifted me,

When nothing else could help, Love lifted me."

God's love leads us, God's love lifts us, and God's love gives us life!

Conclusion

Richard Armstrong, in Make Your Life Worthwhile, reports the story about a man in Wales who sought to win the affection of a certain lady for 42 years before she finally said, "Yes." The couple, both 74, were recently married. But it is interesting how he finally won her hand in marriage. For more than 40 years, the persistent, but rather shy man, slipped a weekly love letter under his neighbor's door. But she continually refused to speak and mend the spat that had parted them many years before.

After writing 2,184 love letters without ever getting a spoken or written answer, the single-hearted old man eventually summoned up enough courage to present himself in person. He knocked on the door of the reluctant lady and asked for her hand. To his delight and surprise, she accepted.

Imagine God's dilemma. Time and time again He tried to get His message of love through to His human creation with little response. But God did more than say that He loved us in a letter or Bible book, He sent His Son into this world to die for us. He wrapped up His message in a person. That person is Jesus!

Have you loved Him in return? You can have a heavenly home if you will accept His love and grace for you. You can know a great joy as a believer, if you will but live in the reality of the Love of God for you.

And, let me add, every Christian comes to a point to renew his or her love for Jesus. Are you as close to the Lord as you ought to be? Is there some room between you and the Savior? Listen! Listen! You can hear Him saying, “I love you!” Perhaps today is a good time for you to respond back to Him. Come during this invitation – renew your love for the Lord.