Rob Parsons preached on the second evening in the Big Top – here are my notes from his sermon:
We all need somebody at the gate to love us and give us hope. John 3:16 – the most hopeful verse in the Bible, all the hopes and fears of men are met tonight in Jesus. In the letter of 1 John 3:16 we see a coincidence even though the chapter numbers and verse numbers appeared later!
1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you.” Personal witnessing was key in the church Rob grew up in, but he was never great at it. We find it hard as so often we go to the mind and not the heart. The mind is important, but if we do not have it in the heart we have no hope and we can’t share it with others.
Mrs Williams taught Rob “Jesus loves me for this I know” and it changed everything for him as he believed it. The greatest need of all is to know they are loved. When the Berlin Wall collapsed we took children in who had been in the orphanages tied to the cot. They were loved, but many of those children found it hard to give and receive love. Some of us have been brought up in spiritual orphanages. We need to hear what is right and wrong, God calls us to righteous living, but we need to hear that we are loved. Lynne Hybels cried out to God one night after she felt God cracking the whip and the demands – she felt God as few years later say he wasn’t doing that but that he was the Father trying to allow her to love him.
Many of us tonight will struggle with that. If you have children you take every moment you can to encourage them. Grand children are so much fun, and much better than children! We think they’re great even if they’re rubbish.
Is God a music teacher saying yes or no to whether or not you’re in the choir; or is he a piano teacher playing with you and helping you to get confident at that piece. Do you sometimes feel that you decide God loves you on the basis of arbitrary actions in your life. He loves you when you’re his enemy and his precious son and daughter – he loves you.
You can have two computers from PC World, they look the same but they’ve been programmed completely differently. Psychologists say our software is a narrative. Many of us have a software that says God is disappointed with you. We find it hard to believe that God loves us, we are told he loves us, the Bible tells us we’re loved – we know that teachers, sports coaches and parents all love us when we do well/behave well – and knowing that God knows us better we fear that we get an F from Him – we are a disappointment to him.
Pray most mornings using a list of lots of people – sometimes it is joyful and sometimes jolly hard work. God told him whilst cuddling his grandson he doesn’t need the lift – just have a sense of dependency on me! The big story of the Bible is that God loves you. All the way through Jesus’ life as he stormed through Galilee people say it is the wrong narrative. Imagine if there was a man who was dragged to Spring Harvest wondering what it is all about, but suddenly Jesus walks in, walking past the stewards, the speakers, and says “Hey can we have a drink afterwards” – that is Jesus. Not how much you attend church, read the bible, pray, share your faith. Steadfast love occurs 147 times in Psalms.
See the yellow blossom of hope tonight that God loves you – you are loved – nothing you do can make him love you more or love you less.
Can you give a reason for the hope? Yes. Do not lose heart, do not let the accuser driver you down, you are his precious children, you are loved. There is nothing to prove.