Summary: We begin to look at the fruit of love which comes from God by examing His love for us.
1. Couple of Sundays ago we began a study of the gift of the spirit - the attitudes or the characteristics which show that we are indeed believers who have the indwelling if the Holy Spirit within us. That we are no longer controlled by sin but by the Holy Spirit.
2. What the fruit is is really the character of God being revealed in us - not what we do but what we are. That which controls the way we think, speak, and act.
3. As we said, we have a role to play. We cannot bear fruit, it is the work of the HS, but we can cooperate with the work of the HS in us. How? (John 15:4-5; Gal 5:25; Phil 4:8)
4. This means that we can show forth the fruit or bear the fruit by being in touch with God - focusing on Him and meditating on Him.
5. As we go thru the individual items included in the fruit of the Spirit, our focus will be on God first - making sure that we understand and consider that we know and believe that God has these characteristics and then how we respond to them.
6. This week we begin to consider the first item - LOVE. We can see how our approach applies. (Phil 1:9-11; 1John 4:19). The knowledge of God and His love enables our love to abound more and more. If we abide in the one who is love, we become more loving.
1. This week we begin by looking at the God who loves us. Sometimes we may question if he does.
2. Read Mal 3. Man sat across table from me with a mug of coffee in his hand. "I love my son, but every so often he does something to aggravate me.I get so angry at him that I yell at him. Then one of us leaves the
room in anger and we seem further apart than ever before".
4. Some time later I listened to his son. "My father doesn’t love me. All he wants me to do is to be a good little boy and do what he says".
5. I often here similar words from others. Perhaps as a parent or child you feel this way at times. Parents and children can cause each other more grief than any other person in the world might. Some of us even carry hurts from parents throughout our lives.
6. If I look back over childhood, I see that as a child I often did not see my parents’ love for me. I was too preoccupied with myself, my interest, my own world. I didn’t understand that many of the rules they had made were there to protect me and teach me. I was too rebellious.
7. If I didn’t sense their love, it was mostly my fault - I was not open to it or ready to recognize or receive it.
8. In passage today, we hear a parent say to child "I have loved you" - God tells this to His children, the people of Israel.
9. And just as child may not see parents’ love, the people say to him "How have you loved us?"
10. Setting of passage. People of I. had been carried off to Babylon and after 70 years, they returned to I. They rebuilt the walls of the city and rebuilt the temple. Nehemiah had already governed for about 12 years. About 400 years before the birth of Christ.
11. Would think people happy to be back in their own land again, but soon after return they were disillusioned.
a. They thought God did not keep earlier promises he had made
b. Ezekiel said land would abound with miraculous fruitfulness, instead experienced drought.
c. Isa - population would swell to a might throng, instead the population remained a small fraction of what it had been before
d. Israel. would rise in esteem to the glorious reign of a new David and Isa - that all nations would come and serve them. Instead under power of Persia and its governor.
e. People felt God had deserted them and let them down. How could He now say "I have loved you"?
12. We may feel that with God somehow. Where is He? How can he say "I love you"?
13. In this setting, Malachi gives the word of the Lord. "I have loved you"
14. What does this mean? Norman Snaith gives 3 characteristics of this love.
a. His love is sovereign. God is over all and He is not required to love us, but it is His nature to love - its who He is.
b. Unconditional. We have done nothing to earn His love. Moses said that God did not love or choose the Israelites because of anything that they had done, but because He simply loved them, like a parent to a child yet much more.