Summary: Let’s get rid of some misconceptions of God. What if you knew that God really loves you? What will happen if you let that touch your heart?
God gets bad press. And I’m not so much talking about in Newsweek or in the PD or on NBC, ABC, or CBS. I’m talking about in your mind… and mine.
Some of us think that God admits us begrudgingly into his Kingdom. That Christ found a loophole in the law. That He did some fancy plea-bargaining and squeaked us by the Judge.
Let’s get rid of some misconceptions of God. What if you knew that God really loves you? What will happen if you let that touch your heart?
Being loved increases your blood flow. Your face glows. Your eyes look brighter. You walk a little taller. Your step has more spring. There’s more joy in your heart.
And your life will overflow with love. More love – real love – for your spouse, your family, your friends, and the world around you. You can impact others with the same practical, transforming love that God longs to lavish on you. See, God loves us not for what we do, but because we are. And He wants us to love each other the same way.
Today, we are going to learn some more about the God you’ve longed to know: a Father head-over-heels in love with you. A God who is intensely committed to your highest joy.
Text: Zephaniah 3:17
Series: So loved
The title for this series comes from what is one of the most famous verses in the Bible, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” It’s what Christmas is all about. God gave up His Son from heaven to be born on this earth because He “so loved” us.
We learned last week that this word “so” means “to a great extent.” God’s love for us is “to a great extent.” Sounds like a passionate love. And God’s great love can make a great difference in your life… if you get it!
Some of us suffer from the “blue Christmas syndrome.” “Have a holly jolly Christmas. It’s the best time of the year?” “Yeah, right!” “It’s the most wonderful time of the year?” “OK. Maybe for you, but not for me. Don’t you know that psychologists’ offices are full around Christmas? The happiness themes of Christmas songs just remind me of what I’ve lost or never had.”
Listen, Zephaniah has good news for people who suffer from the Christmas blues.
Zephaniah lived about 400 years after the Temple in Jerusalem was built. Over the years, God’s people forgot about God. Their worship had grown cold. So, God raised up a king, Josiah, who read a copy of God’s word, something that had been ignored for decades. Josiah was broken. So, he and this prophet, Zephaniah, called the people to revival.
All of chapter one is a warning. See, God is love. But He is also a consuming fire. Not everyone is an object of His love. Some get wrath. God is a righteous judge and will not tolerate sin. He will not turn a blind eye to our sin.
The great day of the LORD is near… day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation…
Zephaniah 1:14a, 15a (ESV)
You say, “I don’t want that. What can I do to avoid that?” Zephaniah 2:3 tells us.
Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD.
Zephaniah 2:3 (ESV)
Seek the Christ or see the consequences. Who gets love from God? People who seek Him humbly, obediently, righteously. Yes, judgment is coming. But there will be those who will turn to God. And they get an incredible gift – the gift of love.
And that’s the gift we want to unwrap today. The last 12 verses of Zephaniah are amazing because they display the blessings of God for changed people. If we are truly changed, He takes away judgment.
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you…
Zephaniah 3:15a (ESV)
“If I don’t get judgment, what do I get?” You get love – love from God. If you’ll ask God to help you move it from your head to your heart, Zephaniah 3:17 can beat the Christmas blues for you.
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)
God has emotions and feelings. Not like ours. We’ve been affected by sin. His passion is pure. His heart beats with warmth and affection toward His children.
Every phrase in this verse can encourage your heart. These truths are antidotes to your doubts and depression and despair. Five big ideas about how passionately in love God is with you…