Summary: Learn how God’s love, approval and perfecting work empower His children for living.

There was a time when I worked with the youth of this church. My favorite line was, "Don’t worry about what you cannot do; do what you can." These were words intended to empower the youth to live productively.

This morning, God’s Word has some truths that will empower us to live productively, also. Most of us are not serving God and living productively because we are controlled by our fears and our needs. The fear of failure, the fear of the unknown and the fear of disapproval by others stifle our lives much more than that of limited time, limited energy and limited physical resources.

We are also controlled to some degree by our need to be loved, to be accepted and to be adequate. Most of us will look to almost anywhere and anyone to have these needs met, even to the wrong places and people. Some young people join gangs to be accepted. Some adults leave their marriage partner in search of someone to meet their need for love or significance.

Let me suggest that lives controlled by unhealthy fears, and needs that are met by the wrong ways or people, will never experience God’s intended joy for life. Jesus disciple, John, the author of this letter wrote in 1 John 1:4, "We write this to make our joy complete." So let’s listen to what he has to say.

The text for this morning is 1 John 3:1-3, and as we study this text, we will discover truths that empower living.

If you were here six months ago, or whenever we began our study in 1 John, you would know that John wrote this letter to warn Christians against the lies that crept into the church during his lifetime. John goes into some detail about the lies and the false teachers, but he spends most of his time setting us straight with the truths from God.

This morning, he gives us three truths that empowers us to live out our God-given potential. These truths help us face our fears and find our needs met in God alone. Let’s look together.

First, John tells us that the children of God are greatly loved. We see this in verse 1a.

John wrote in his record of Jesus’ life, John 3:16, "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." God’s great love is offered to everybody, but only those who believe will benefit from His great love.

If I write Clifford a check for a thousand dollars, and he doesn’t cash the check because he doesn’t believe I’m that generous, he will not benefit from my generosity. Likewise, if you do not believe what God has done for you out of His love, you will not benefit now or in eternity from God’s love.

John 1:12-13 read, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God -- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."

I was talking with a neighbor whose car was hit from behind this week. He got out and made sure the driver who hit him was okay, and he calmed her down. That’s love and that’s kindness.

But in order to compare with the great love God has for us, my neighbor would have to pay for the damage of both cars out of his own pocket, adopt the driver at fault into his own family and give that driver full family privilege. That’s how great God’s love is.

Paul speaking of the Christian in Romans 8:17, "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ...."

God’s love would have been great to have simply forgiven us through Jesus’ death on the cross, but his love didn’t stop there. He gave us the right to be His children and heirs with Christ. We who believe have all the privileges of God’s family member.

Steve Brown tells of his friend whose husband walked out of the marriage for another woman. The wife vowed that if she ever married again, she would marry the ugliest man in town. This way no one would tempt him away. Two years later, she did just that. He was ugly on ugly, but he would sometimes sit around and just smile, because he couldn’t believe that she would marry him.

Each of us ought to sometimes sit around and just smile, because of the great love God lavished on us, changing ugly sinners into children of God. Experiencing such love from God helps us overcome the temptation of meeting love needs inappropriately and to overcome the fear of rejection. The love of God empowers us to live with fulfillment and to live boldly.

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