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The Story
God Is Love

God is Love.  God is love.  God is love. 

--The starting point of the Story is... God is love. 

--The first thing we need to know about God is... God is love.

--The filter by which we evaluate our theology is... God is love.

--Who you are begins with an understanding that... God is love.

--For the next 31 weeks, we will explore... God is love.

--There is no better sermon that I can preach than... God is love.

--The point I am going to make this morning is... You guessed it... God is love.

Listen to these verses of Scripture...

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Zephaniah 3:17 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.

1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

This morning I am going to explore chapter one of The Story Bible looking for love.  Let’s hope we look for love in all the right places. 

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Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Wait, wait, we have to stop there.  The word, in Hebrew, for God here is not YHWH it is Elohim... wait, wait, Elohim is plural.  Before the creation of the universe God; Elohim; existed in relationship... they existed in love.

Before God was holy, or just, or righteous or set apart from sinners... God existed in relationship with himself.  God is love before we even existed. 

Genesis 1:26 Then Elohim said, "Let us make man in our image...” 

Let us, let us who exist in love; let us God the Father; God the Son; God the Spirit; from their love create humans.

God is love before creation.

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But, then, God moves in love to create... creation. 

Picture each day of creation.  Listen to the poetry of love in each day of creation...

--Day one - "Let there be light” ... feel the warm of light as it strikes your face... is that not love?

--Day two – God called the expanse Heaven... Look into the stars on a clear night... if not love exactly... certainly wonder... which is close enough.

--Day three – “God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas.”  Stand on the edge of the sea and be filled with the vastness of love.  We talk of love as deep as the oceans. Then, pick a flower and smell the love of God as he created all the plants...

--Day four – the Sun power all there is in love... the moon is nothing if not love.

--Day five – all the birds and fish... are the beauty of love

--Day six – taste that cheeseburger and tell me God is not love. 

Each day of creation speaks of a God who is love.  God is love in Creation.

But, then, we get to the ones he created it all for...

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Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them...

We were created to be loved and to love.  Why else would God create us than to have something to share his love. God is not vain that he needs our worship.  God is love in that he craves our love.  God was so love that he would explode without something to bestow his love upon.  We are created to be the object of God’s love. We are created to join in fellowship with the Three who existed in love from all eternity. 

We are created to be the object of his love.  We are created to be His vessels of love.  We are created to share His love with the rest of creation.  We are His image, in the center of the temple of creation to be the conduit of love from the Three to all creation.

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

We are created to be the conduit of love/dominion over creation... to be the conduit of his blessing!

God is love in creation of us.

But, then, he gets to the best part of all creation; the best of love...

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Genesis 2:20-23 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.  So, the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."

The high point of love in creation was the creation of woman.  I can image the first time Adam saw Eve. Adam had to swell with... God is love.

Sidebar: The word for “helper”, that is used for woman, in the Old Testament is most frequently used of God.  It is not to be confused in any way as inferior... It is the flavor of...

Psalm 121:1-2 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

She is the last of creation... the high point of a creation filled with love.  She is created to be love.  Just saying.

God is love in the creation of woman. 

But it doesn’t stop there... I have to read my favorite verse of chapter one of The Story Bible.

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Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day...

I wonder what that would have been like? Every afternoon, during that precious time of day, when it is not yet dark, but the colors all come alive.  Then God walks up to join his creation, appearing as a person, asking how their day went...

--Did you name any animals?  Aardvark is an unusual name but it is an unusual creature.

--Did you taste any new fruit?  Passion fruit?  Did you like it?  Not as much as bananas.

--Did you explore any new area of the Garden?  Wow, you found a cave? With crystals...

--Did you do anything new today?  You made a swing?  That is fun.  Sure, I would love to.

How fun would it have been to be God... experiencing the wonder of his children’s new-found loves.

God is love in the cool of the evening

But things changed... in the disobedience. 

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Genesis 3:6-7 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

But, even, in the fall we see the love of God.

Genesis 3:21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

The first animal sacrifice was made to “cover” Adam and Eve.  God continued to love his creation.

But more importantly we find the first hint of a plan...

Genesis 3:15 “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

He will one bruise the snake’s head.  Through the next 31 weeks we will move toward “He” bruising the snake’s head!”

There is one more act of love in the fall...

Genesis 3:22-24 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever-" therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. 

Humans had learned how to do evil... to do violence... as we see in the next story of Cain and Able.  With the ability to do evil... it would be unloving to let humans live forever...  The capacity for unending violence was too much.  The God of love, could not allow that much violence to each other... so, in love? God cut of the Tree of life.

But here is a sneak peak to the end of The Story...

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

God is love even in the fall

But, what is bad, gets way worse...

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Genesis 6:5-6, 11-13 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart...  Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence and God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.  And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

God is love in the Flood.  What?  “Wiping out everything is love.”  I think so.  How could God sit back and watch his beloved creation do unspeakable violence to each other.  How could He indifferently sit down and ignore all the pain, and the hurt, and the destruction, and the rape and the murder and the torture... as if it were nothing.  God’s creation made in love, had become anything but, so he brought it to an end.

Love, I think so.  But after the flood we find this promise...  a promise that gives me hope...

Genesis 9:12-17 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:  I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."  God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."

A covenant to never again destroy the earth.  A covenant made with humans and the animals to never again destroy them. Hope of God’s restoration of creation.

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In the first chapter of the Story, we begin with... God is love. 

In the last chapter of the Story, we end with... God is love.

In all the 29 chapters, between the first and last, we will discover...God is love.

Let’s close by singing... of the Mercies of the Lord

 

Tim Stidham

January 14, 2017

Los Alamos Church of Christ



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