Love Where You Live – Part 1

Part 1

Matthew 22:34-40 NKJV But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. (35) Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, (36) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (37) Jesus said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like it: ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ (40) On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

When God was creating all of the universe, paying attention to every detail, He would stop and admire His work and say that, “It was good.”

In Hebrew, the word translated good means: pleasing to the senses, is useful and profitable, is abundant and plentiful, and is kind and giving.

Genesis 1:4 NKJV  And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:12 NKJV  And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:18 NKJV  and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:21 NKJV  So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:25 NKJV  And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:26-27 NKJV  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  (27)  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:31 NKJV  Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very (exceedingly) good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

That is because He had only one purpose in mind and that was it was all for man and to meet his needs.

  • Raise or lower the universe’s rate of expansion by even one part in a million, and it would have ruled out the possibility of life.
  • If the average distance between stars were any greater, planets like the earth would not have been formed; any smaller, the planetary orbits necessary for life would not have occurred.
  • If the ratio of carbon to oxygen had been slightly different than what it is, none of us would be able to breathe the air and survive.
  • Change the tilt earth’s axis just a few degrees in one direction and we would freeze. Change it the other direction, and we’d burn up.
  • Suppose the earth had been a bit closer or further from the sun, or just a little larger or smaller, or if it rotated at a speed any different from the one we are spinning at right now. Given any of these changes, the resulting temperature variations would be completely fatal to humans.

Someone must have gone to a lot of effort to make things just right so that you and I could be here to enjoy life.

In short, modern science points to the fact that He did all that He did because we really matter to God!

Luke 15:1-32 NKJV  Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.  (2)  And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”  

Luke 15:1-2 MSG  By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently.  (2)  The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.”

Luke 15:324 NKJV So He spoke this parable to them, saying:  (4)  “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  (5)  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  (6)  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  (7)  I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.  (8)  “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?  (9)  And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’  (10)  Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  (11)  Then He said: “A certain man had two sons.  (12)  And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.‘ So he divided to them his livelihood.  (13)  And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.  (14)  But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.  (15)  Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.  (16)  And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.  (17)  “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  (18)  I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,  (19)  and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ‘  (20)  “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.  (21)  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  (22)  “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.  (23)  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;  (24)  for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

This is the only instance in the Gospels where Jesus told three parables about the same thing in a row.

Three common threads that run through these stories:

  1. There was something of great value was missing, something that really mattered.
  • The missing sheep was important to the shepherd because it represented a portion of his livelihood.
  • The lost coin was vital to the woman’s survival. Perhaps she was a widow and the coin represented a large part of her entire financial well being.
  • The son mattered greatly to the father.

In short, what Jesus was saying in these three simple stories was that these people: the lost, the wanderers, the spiritually confused and selfish actually have value to the Heavenly Father! 

God’s love is so great that it can look beyond sins and treasure the wayward people behind them. God’s love says, “Even though you’re way off track, you still matter to Me! You really do!”

When you and I begin to look at others with the attitude that they really matter to God it will revolutionize the way that we treat people.

You have never locked eyes with another human being who isn’t valuable to God.

You will love in awe of the scope and depth and breadth of God’s love and you’ll treat people differently.

You might say, “All right. People matter to God, but how much?”

  1. That which was missing was important enough to warrant an all-out search. 

The sheep got lost and shepherd went out looking for it until he found it.

The coin was missing and the woman turned her house upside down until she located it.

In the story of the wayward son, the father exercised restraint and let the son use his free choice and make some bad decisions but his eyes kept scanning the horizon looking for the day when his son would return home.

When you really value something, and it winds up lost, you just naturally want to search for it. 

Luke 19:10 CEV  The Son of Man came to look for and to save people who are lost.”

  1. When that which matters and was lot is found, the retrieval results in great celebration. 
  • The shepherd retrieved his lost sheep and threw a party.
  • The woman found the lost coin and threw another party.
  • The wayward son came home and the father threw the biggest party of all.

Luke 15:10 NKJV  Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:10 MSG  Count on it–that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”

Whether last week or forty years ago, when you gave your heart to Jesus, all of heaven erupted in a magnificent cosmic celebration where your name was written on the banner that hung up.

If that brought joy to your heart knowing that kind of celebration occurred on your behalf, just imagine what kind of joy will take place in your heart when you are a primary player in the process.

There is nothing like the adventure of being used by God to contagiously spread His love, truth and life to others – the people that matter so much to Him.

That is how much people matter to God. If people matter so much to God, then they should matter to us too.