“Does God Really Love Me?”  



Welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. One of the words in our vocabulary that has a variety of meanings is the word love. We tend to use that word to describe our approval of certain foods, events or people. We might love the rain on a hot summer day or we might love a warm fire on a cold winter night. Yes, the word love carries a variety of meanings, and it is used quite frequently. In the Bible, about 90% of the time the word refers to God's love for people. He loved His people, even though they were being held in captivity. He loved His one and only Son, Jesus Christ; and, He continues to love people today. And that love is demonstrated through the many blessings extended to us on a daily basis. For the next few minutes, we will think specifically about the many ways God's love is shown to us, and how we can respond to it. We will look at several passages in the Bible, as we consider the loving kindness and the goodness of our Heavenly Father. Throughout this study, we will seek to ask and answer the question, does God really love me? That is a question many people ask every day, and hopefully you will find that answer in today's lesson. I invite you now to open your heart and your Bible as we study together.



This world is filled with many people who feel unloved. They feel as if they are not loved by their coworkers, their friends, perhaps even their own family members. Indeed, that may be the case; and they often wonder why. They may also ask themselves the question, is there something wrong with me? You know, most people want to be loved. They ask what they need to do, or what will it take for them to feel and to experience love. Oh, experiencing no love from others causes emotional and even physical pain. And for some, thoughts of inadequacy go through their minds, as they consider what they have or have not done that produces a lack of love. Whatever it is, a lack of love hurts a person in various ways. One might even doubt if there is anyone who could extend their love to them. And so we ask the question, where can such people go for help? How can those who have such feelings find the love that is meaningful and real? The overall theme of the Bible revolves around God's love for people. The One who makes people in His very own image loves everyone. Yes, God sees the pain and the problems that come with feelings of being rejected or unloved. There is a story found in the Book of Genesis, chapter 21, and in that story we find a man by the name of Abram, married to a woman named Sarai; and yet, they cannot bear children. And so Sarai asks the servant girl, Hagar, to bear a son through Abram. She did. The child's name was Ishmael. Later on, Sarah was able to bear children, and that son was named Isaac. One day Sarah saw Ishmael and Isaac playing together and laughing and enjoying life as two young boys, and she became very jealous as to what had happened. And she told Abraham to cast aside Hagar and Ishmael. Obviously, Abraham did not want to do that; yet, God told him it would be OK and that He would provide. So Abraham gave them some bread and water and sent them out into the desert. Before long, those meager provisions were gone, and Hagar did not know what to do. She set Ishmael over there to the side, and she went away a distance and was watching what would take place. At that time, God intervened, and He told her things would be OK, and He expressed His love to her. He said He would provide for her, and through Ishmael a great nation would be born. And that is exactly what took place. Ishmael, no doubt, felt unloved by Abraham, his father. And certainly Hagar was the very same way, she felt unloved and rejected. Well, God offers hope and He offers love to people like that, still today. God sees the pain and the hardship and the rejection that we experience. He knows what is happening in your life and He will provide. In fact, God loves you more than you will ever know, this side of eternity. And to demonstrate that great amount of love for you, He allowed His one and His only Son to die on a cross, on your behalf. And God continues to show that love in various ways on a daily basis. David described God's love in several different ways, in Psalm 103. And even though he wrote these words many years ago, they still ring true today. They describe just some of the ways in which God demonstrates His love to us. As we hear them today, may we be reminded that, indeed, we are loved by God, we are of great value to Him, and we are special in His sight. We begin with verse 1, here in Psalm 103. <Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.> As we read those six verses, did you notice the many action words which were found? We think about a God who forgives our sins. He forgives the things that we do that are not good and right. He cast them away. And as we'll see in the next few verses, He cast them so far away from us we cannot even begin to measure how far they have gone. We notice also that He heals our diseases. That may not be in the way we would want it to be, but we know there is coming a time when we will be made holy and right and pure, just as God desires. He satisfies our desires, we know that. He, what does it say, redeems our life from the pit. He sets us free from that negative. He gives us a second chance to make things right. And as God looks upon those who are oppressed and rejected, who feel so bad in so many different ways. He pours out His justice and His righteousness up on them. Yes, those are a number of ways which God actively shows His love for you and me. Let's continue reading here, in Psalm 103, as we pick up with verse 8. <The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.> Once again, in these verses, we find a number of action words. God displays His compassion and His grace, just like we saw a moment ago in the first section. And then we notice that God doesn't get angry very often; but when He does, He does not hold that anger in His heart for very long. He overcomes it rather quickly. And then we think about how great His love is. As the heavens are high above the earth, so is His great love for us, far beyond what we could imagine. Perhaps you have, at one time or another, taken a trip by airplane; and you're flying over the earth and you're above the clouds and you look down and see the earth seems to be a long ways away. And yet, we realize that God is there. That God is even beyond that. He is throughout this creation, the creation He made, and His love that is represented in that is too far to measure. Yes, when we think about all of these ways in which God loves us, we come up with perhaps one statement: God's love is immeasurable. It is overflowing and abundant. God's love never runs out; but, He loves us more and more, it would seem, every day, or at least we experience those different variations of that love on a regular basis. Yes, there are so many ways in which God loves people. There's absolutely no reason for any of us to question the depth and the magnitude of that love. And no matter who we are, no matter how we might feel, there is one undeniable fact: We are loved by God, even if we feel unloved by everyone else. Yes, God doesn't reject us. He doesn't cast us out. He loves us! He doesn't forsake us. He doesn't give up on us. And those verses, those thoughts, from Psalm 103, make us feel special, don’t they! They make us realize that we are worth something to God. We are special in His sight. We are created in His image; and, in fact, He even sings over us. You know, when David wrote these words, people were making regular sacrifices to the Lord, and some of them were called atonement sacrifices. They were for the purpose of not allowing their sin to stand between themselves and God. We read about those atonement sacrifices and we realize that before the people came to offer them the priest had to make sacrifices for himself. He had to be right in order to receive those sacrifices. And then the people would offer them and the sacrifice would be put on the altar and the blood of the bulls and the goats and the lambs, they were pleasing to God. The fat that was burned was a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord, and all of that sufficed for a period of time. God was pleased with that. But then when God's Son, Jesus Christ, came into the world, all of it changed. That was no longer needed, because the sacrifice of Jesus was different than the sacrifices of the people of the animals. It was something that that had never been done or experienced before. That sacrifice is highlighted in Romans chapter 5, verses 6 through 8, in these words from these words from the Apostle Paul. <You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.> In the midst of our sin, and when we had no hope of overcoming it, Jesus died for you and me. And He died for all of us because all of us have a sinned. He did not die for anyone who did not have sin, because there is no one in that category. Yes, we all sin. We all make mistakes. We all fall short of measuring up to what God wants us to be. You know, there are times when we try to do what is right, but we just miss the mark. And God's Son, Jesus Christ, makes up for that. There can be no greater demonstration of God's love. Can you imagine doing that? Can you imagine allowing one of your children, son or a daughter, to die for the sake of someone else? It just doesn't make much sense, does it? I cannot even begin to think about how tragic that would be. And yet God allowed His Son, Jesus, to die so that we would know how much he does love us; and He demonstrates that love on a regular basis. When I think about the great sacrifice of Jesus, I'm reminded of how Paul described it there in Galatians chapter 4, verses 4 and 5. <But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman born under the Law, to redeem those under the Law; that we might receive adoption to son-ship.> That is similar to the passage we read a moment ago, in Romans chapter 5, “at just the right time” (or when the set time had fully come). Yes, God, through Jesus Christ intervened and provided a sacrifice by which we can be made right and holy in His sight. Yes, God cannot love us any more than what He has already shown. We benefit, today, from what Jesus did some 2000 years ago. He made a sacrifice nobody else has made, nor ever will make. He laid down His life so that we can experience God's love forever. The author of Hebrews wrote it this way, in chapter 7, verse 25 and following. <Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them. Such a High Priest meets our need- One who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted in the heavens.> Unlike those high priests we referred to a moment ago, Jesus does not need to offer sacrifices for our sin day after day, first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. Jesus had no need to do that because He had no sin in His life. And so He sacrificed Himself so that we could experience the forgiveness of our sin. It makes no difference how much sin we have committed in the past, makes no difference what kind of sin affects us, even still today, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God Son, covers them all. And Jesus is the only one who could do that. It took someone who was sinless and holy and who was blameless, one who was the exact representation of His Father, to make such a sacrifice. And that is exactly the way the Hebrew author describes Jesus, there in verse 26. And when Jesus died upon the cross, He took away our sin and the guilt we bear because of it. And we can now be set free from the curse of sin and the guilt that it brings. You know, often times we can deal with sin in our life, but the after effects, the guilt, weighs heavily upon us. And what Jesus allows us to do is to not have to live with that guilt and that burden any longer, that our sin is eliminated and we can now stand in that right relationship with our Heavenly Father. We go back to Psalm 103 and pick up these words, in verses 17 and 18. <From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children- with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.> To fear God does not mean to be afraid of Him. It does not mean that we are to run and try to hide from Him. That will never work. It means, rather, to show Him honor and respect. And the best way to do that is simply to obey God. Because our sin is now removed, we obey the Lord. With what God did on our behalf, we now live with faithful obedience. And we do that for the purpose not to earn more of God's love or to say that we deserve his love; rather, we live an obedient life in grateful appreciation for what has already been done for us. It expresses our thanksgiving for His unlimited love. As Jesus taught those who followed Him throughout His public ministry, He made this statement, according to Matthew 7, verse 21. <“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”> Oh, there is a big difference between just believing in and following Jesus Christ. We are to move to be a disciple of the Lord, and we do that through faithful obedience. Yes, if we are followers of Jesus Christ and have received His love and His forgiveness, then we will want to do the will of our Father. And so we respond to that love with obedience. And that might sound like a very difficult thing to do. We might say, “Well, those commands are hard, they're difficult.” Yet we read in 1st John 5 and verse 2 that His commands are not burdensome. They are for our good and benefit. They guide us in the very best way to live. And when we obey them, we honor the One who loves us so very much. Yes, we are to keep in mind the words of 1st John 4 and verse 18. <We love because He first loved us.> You know, the Bible teaches us God loves us in so many ways that we cannot even imagine. And through His Son’s sacrifice our sin is forgiven as we respond to what He did. And so as a natural response, we live an obedient life. Let us keep in mind, today, we can never out love God. We can never do for Him what He has already done for us, and continues to do for us every day. Yes, God loves us and God forgives us and God saves us. And in response to that, we then joyfully live a life of obedience, submitting ourselves to Jesus Christ, His Son, walking in His footsteps, becoming a dedicated disciple of the One who gave His life so that we can live without the guilt and the burden and the curse of sin. And through this relationship we have with Jesus, we are able to feel those different measures of love every day. If you are feeling unloved today, if you are feeling lots of rejection and being overlooked and neglected, I want you to know that God really does love you. If you wonder if anybody will ever love you for who you are, know that God loves you for who you are, because you are made in His likeness. And know, also, that God provides a way through His Son, Jesus, to experience His love, not only now but for each and every day, and also for all eternity. Never forget God really does love you.



As I stand here in this open field, I'm going to look to the east, and as long as I'm looking in this direction, I am looking to the east. It never turns into the west. But as I turn 180 degrees this way, I start looking to the west. And as long as I'm looking this direction, I'm looking west. The same is true when, in America, we fly to the east over the Atlantic, we continue going to the east until we make a significant turn. And likewise, the same is true flying west over the Pacific Ocean. We continue flying west. Well, that's rather obvious. We know that. There is no way to measure the difference between the east and the west. It's immeasurable. It doesn't happen. And that is exactly what we read in Psalm number 103, in regards to our sin. The Psalmist states, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does God remove our sin from us.” Isn't that a wonderful thought? God eliminates, He removes, our sin from our life, through Jesus Christ, His Son. And as a result of that, He forgets our sin. He forgives our sin, and we should also. I don't know what sin might be in your life. I don't know what kind of life you are living. But if it is full of sin, if you are tired of that sinful life, know that God can remove it from you. He has a solution for our sin problem. I hope you have received that solution and you are experiencing God's immeasurable love.



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