Summary: In this lesson we explore the truths that God is and that God loves.
A. One day, the children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch.
1. At the end of the cafeteria line was a large pile of apples.
2. The nun had made a note, and posted it above the pile of apples, “Take only one. God is watching.”
3. Out in the cafeteria on a table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies.
4. One child whispered to another, “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.”
B. Is that your view of God – A big eye in the sky always watching?
1. If not, then what is your view of God?
2. A distant deity on vacation?
3. An old man with a long gray beard who has lost his strength?
4. An angry policeman just looking for ways to issue tickets?
C. While growing up, one of my favorite movies was the Wizard of Oz.
1. Several parts of it used to scare me – including the flying monkeys and the wicked witch.
2. Perhaps the scariest scene to me as a boy was the part where Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion were going down that long, dimly lit hallway that led them to the Wizard.
3. As they entered the large inner sanctum they were greeted by explosions and billows of green smoke, and a giant, menacing, bodiless head with a booming voice who said, “I am Oz, the great and terrible! Who are you?”
4. As Dorothy attempted a response, the Wizard boomed, “Silence! The great and powerful Oz knows why you are here! Step forward Tin Man.”
5. As the Tin Man stepped forward, shaking with great trepidation, the Wizard boomed, “You dare come to me for a heart, you clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk?”
D. Is that your image of the God of heaven and earth and how He treats us?
1. What is the image of God that Jesus conveyed here in John 3:16.
2. Let’s return today to what is perhaps the greatest verse in all the Bible – John 3:16.
3. Jesus declared, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
4. Twenty-six words of hope.
E. You might have recognized that I have borrowed the title for this short series from a book by Max Lucado named “3:16 – The Numbers of Hope.”
1. What Lucado covers in 12 chapters, I hope to address in 5 sermons.
2. Last week, we introduced the context of John 3:16 and talked about the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.
3. Today, we want to work with the first part of John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world…”
4. Let’s examine the three parts of this simple sentence – For God – so loved – the world.
I. For God
A. Most of us here this morning have flown in a commercial airplane, right? Raise your hand if you have flown on a commercial airplane.
1. I find flying to be a thrilling experience, but I know that many people think otherwise about flying.
2. There are many great parallels between flying and life.
3. For one, when we get onto an airplane, we entrust our lives to a pilot.
a. Most of the time we don’t get to meet them or ask them about their credentials and experience, but we know they are up there in front, behind that security door.
b. We trust that he or she knows what they are doing and where they are going.
c. No matter what turbulence or mechanical difficulty we face, we trust the pilot to carry us through.
4. God is the pilot of the universe and of our lives.
a. If we are smart, we will fasten our seat belt, lean back in our seat and enjoy the ride, while God does the driving.
B. As Jesus began John 3:16, he began by introducing us to the pilot, to God himself.
1. Jesus assumes what Scripture declares – God is.
2. John 3:16 begins as the Bible begins with the existence of God being taken for granted.
3. The Bible begins in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
4. The Bible says that only a fool would think otherwise – “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” (Ps. 14:1)
5. Do you struggle believing that there is a God? Let’s consider some proofs of God’s existence.
C. First of all, look above.
1. Look at the world around us.
2. On a clear night, venture away from the city lights and look up at the sky.
a. The fuzzy band of white light is our galaxy, the Milky Way – One hundred billion stars!