Summary: (PowerPoint Slides and Cell Study Notes freely available by emailing When you understand the Love of God you have received, you are equipped to love others with the same love - you learn to give it away....

He First Loved Us

Fireproof Your Relationships: Sermon Two

1 John 4:7-19

Good morning friends.

The story of Roger Bannister is legendary in the annals of sports history. On May 6, 1954, he did something that was believed to be humanly impossible - he broke the four-minute mile barrier. In front of 3000 spectators Bannister covered the distance in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. The previous record of 4.01.4, set by a Swedish runner named "Gunder Haegg," in 1945 had stood for 9 years. Why? Because nobody believed it could be done - it was humanly impossible.

But 46 days after Bannister broke the four-minute barrier, an Australian lowered the record still further. Once Bannister proved it could be done, many others did it. Today, hundreds of runners have eclipsed four minutes. John Walker has broken the four minute mile 129 times. Steve Scott did it 136 times. Bannister ran a 3:59. The record today is 3:43.

We are learning these days How to Fireproof Our Relationships. Most of us have difficulty doing things we’ve never seen or experienced before. So, throughout the rest of the messages in this series, I am going to give you practical tools and suggestions on how to be a better husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, neighbor, friend. But for this message, I want to point you to the source of good relational behavior. Like the sub-four-minute mile, many of us have missed out on an experience that God says is essential for the human soul: we’ve missed out on experiencing love at the deepest level. And the truth is - what you have not seen or experienced, you will not duplicate.

This morning I want to point you towards God and His love, so that you can see and experience love.

A couple of months back Sherwood Pictures released a film called, "Fireproof." It’s about a marriage teetering on the brink of divorce. The husband, a fireman named Caleb Holt, decided that, just like you never walk out on a partner in a fire, so you never walk out on a partner in a marriage.

Caleb’s dad gives him a book with some practical suggestions on how to love his wife. Caleb tries these steps, but they don’t work for him.

It’s like running a sub-four minute mile. If you’ve never seen one or experienced one, it’s likely you’re not going to be able to run one. Watch this scene from the movie. Clip from Session 2

"You cannot give what you do not have."

Most of us grew up in homes where we talked about love. Perhaps some of us grew up in homes where we experienced true, deep, unconditional love. As we’ve grown up, what many of us are finding is that it’s really hard to love if we’ve never truly felt loved.

One of the great problems of our world is that many many people are walking around these days trying to give and receive something they’ve never experienced for themselves.

Here is what I have learned - we’ve got to receive love before we can give it.

Let me show this to you in very practical terms. Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 John 4:7-19

The person who wrote this was an old man named, "John." John was the youngest of Jesus’ twelve disciples. At the very beginning of His ministry, in Matthew 4, Jesus calls John and his brother James out of their fishing boat and says, "Follow me."

John did. For 3 ½ years, he watched Jesus, listened to Him, ate meals with him, slept beside him, heard Him pray, and watched Him die. John concluded that, in Jesus, he had found the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

This young man devoted his life to telling others about God’s love. He did that for 50 years, then 60 years. Finally, age 65 or 75 years old, John writes to a group of people that matter deeply to him. In this little letter he calls them, "Dear children," "my dear children," and "dear friends."

Over the years, something has happened to John. In his early years, he experienced God’s love, through His Son, Jesus. When Jesus went to heaven, the Bible describes in Acts 2 how the Holy Spirit descended and moved into the hearts of Jesus’ disciples. John felt it. John lived with the Holy Spirit, God’s love, inside of him for 5 or 6 decades. And now, towards the end of his life, it’s practically all he can talk about, all he can think about, all he cares about.

By the time John writes this letter, he’s learned that relationships are really all that matters. The toys, the titles, the promotions, the events, at the end of life, they don’t really matter. Relationships do.

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