So good morning. I thought I heard someone’s voice that usually doesn’t come in person, I was excited, but amen. Oh, you’re here, Lou. Amen. So my name is Joshua Mayes and I lead the singles ministry here alongside some great brothers and sisters and another area that I serve in is on our media team. And our goal as a media team is to reach as many people as possible on the Internet. So we said this before, but please share, please, you know, comments and different things like that.
It just helps us plant seeds. And you never know what God will do with the seeds that you planted, amen? Amen, so small spoiler alert this morning, we’re going to be talking about God’s abounding love, and this is out of Exodus 34. So if you’re on line, please drop a comment about how you feel loved most by God. You know, maybe it’s through worship in the word, or maybe it’s spending time in nature. Oh, we would love to hear how you connect with God.
So as a church, we’ve been going through a sermon series called Who is the Lord? Yes, who is the Lord? And the last couple of weeks we have been answering this question by peeling back the names and the historical context, the words of the passages in Exodus 34 verse six through seven. So our goal has been to paint a very clear picture of who God is by studying out his character and and walking through this passage.
So Tony has done a great job walking us through, you know, God’s name. And what does that mean? God’s grace and also about God being slow to anger. So if this isn’t changing or deepening your theology, I just encourage you to go back in this marinates in those sermons. There’s so much packed in there and it’s definitely changed the way that I view God.
So answering this question of who is the Lord is just so important, because for generations people have debated like who God is. And some of us have been part of those debates. Right. Like, is God a man or is God a woman, is God me, is God you you know, is God an animal that should be worshiped like even his character can be debated with questions like, is God just right? Does he have compassion for this world?
Who does he hate and who does he have grace on? So these are many questions that maybe are we ourselves have asked and have been a part of conversations with our friends and family. So that’s just a little bit of what we’ve been kind of exploring here as a church. And weekly, we have been reading this passage in Exodus 34 it’s right here, and we’ve been reading it out loud together. So if you’re at the building or you’re at home, I would love for us to keep that going. And on the count of three, you can read it out loud together.
One, two, three, the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished. He punishes the children and their children for the sins of the parents to the third and the fourth generations. Great job. That’s awesome. Give yourselves a little, you know what I’m saying?
Over the last couple of weeks, we have been having this structure where we look at the original language of the text of this passage, and then we connect it to God’s character and then we connect it back to Jesus. So I’m going to continue down that road as we explore this abounding in love part that’s here.
So to get the conversation started in the chat online, I would love to hear some of the scriptures that come to mind when we talk about love, because I know that in the church, it’s actually kind of a common thing to talk about God’s love, right?
It might be the most common thing that people know about God. Like no matter how much you have or haven’t read your Bible, some of us have heard, you know, God loves you. And there’s that thought.
But I know for me, when I was younger, I went to a Christian school and I was in pre-K and I still remember. It’s so weird. But they had us sing a song and it goes. John three 16 says that God so loved the world. So excuse my singing. But there’s a running joke that I have you with a brother that we’re going to be on the fourth string worship team like the back up or the back of the back up.But you get the point right, like even from a young age, some of us have heard something like this.
Some of the most popular scriptures around the world are about God’s love. So we have John 3:16. God so loved the world. You know, John, thirteen verse, thirty four and thirty five. You know, we’re supposed to love each other, as Jesus did. In First Corinthians, it talks about love being patient and love being kind. And first John 4: 19, it’s like God first loved us. Like there’s this thought that, you know, some of us may know. But today, like I said, we’re going to be going back to this Text in exodus thirty four and we’re going to be talking about God’s abounding love.
So in the Hebrew, there’s this word, rab, you got to, like, kind of roll your r’s a little bit. It’s a little Spanish hebrew, you know, I’m saying. But so it’s rab, right. And this means something that is exceedingly great. It’s populace. It has a large quantity, a large amount great in size. And the same the same word in the same word in Hebrew is used here in Genesis. So in Genesis it has this word called Great Deep. But this passage is when we’re talking about the flood. Right. So this passage reads in the 600 years of Noah’s life, on the 17th day, on that month, the day and all the springs of the great deep burst forth and the floodgates of the heavens were opened up.Right? So we see this word the great deep and again that abounding-ness that we see in Exodus 34 in the Hebrew is rab. Right? So which is the great deep.
So when it’s talking about the great Deep is talking about all of the water that comes from underneath the Earth, God flooded the entire earth. And we’re talking about like not just millions but billions of gallons of water.
So this scripture here is making the connection between God’s love and water. Right, the water of the flood, to be exact. So an illustration I think, that most of us can relate to is when we go to the beach, one of my favorite beaches is Hollywood. I love going to dinner. We go out there. We’re going there today after church. It’s great. We love it. And I’ll look out into the water and I see like it’s the Atlantic Ocean and I’m mesmerized, right? By God’s creation. But so let’s just take that right. So in the Atlantic Ocean, I did a little bit of research and it says that there is eighty two billion gallons of water within the Atlantic Ocean and within each gallon there is one hundred and twenty eight ounces per gallon.
All right. So let’s say, right, that every ounce of water is equal to one ounce of God’s love. Now, if I told you, OK, go back. We just go back one? So there is 82 billion gallons of water for each ounce you guys get where I’m going. There’s one hundred and twenty eight per gallon. So in the Atlantic Ocean, if we multiply, you know, the ounces of a gallon plus how many gallons in the Atlantic Ocean, we come up with this very large number.
It’s one hundred and four quadrillion ounces, right? It’s about one hundred and four to one hundred and five. And I told you, if I told you, like, you know, that’s how much God loves you, you would be like, oh, that’s enough. That’s great. That’s that’s but in the wise words of Billy Mays, like, wait, there’s more. Right. So so with that, you know, we have we have a ton of love from God.
But we’re going to go back to Genesis here. And this is a picture of of the flood and unfortunately didn’t have any cameras. So it’s not a real picture. It’s more of a drawing. But you get the gist. This is Noah’s Ark. And in Genesis seven, verse 18 and 19, it says this. Can slide, it says in genesis seven verse 18 and 19, the waters rose and increased greatly on the earth and the ark flooded and the ark floated on the surface of the water.
They rose greatly and it covered all the mountains under the entire heavens, right. So water bursts from the ground and then it pours down on the earth in such a way that it covers the mountains. So you see this picture.
These are mountain tops. But imagine if they’re covered like Noah’s Ark is floating over them. This depiction is it’s kind of crazy. So we know that the water, like in the ocean, has bounds. You never see really, like all the time just, you know, catastrophically, you know, increase. And we know that there’s floods that have bounds. But in Genesis, God’s power breaks the bounds of earthly restrictions with the flood. Right. But this is actually the way that he loves as well. He breaks the bounds of earthly restrictions.
So this is what’s wrapped up in the word abundance, we see God and Moses having an exchange, a conversation and in Exodus 34. And God is telling Moses that his love is as boundless as the floods of Noah.
And the thing is, though, that not this is not the only thing he he describes his love to be like God’s love is like the flood of Noah. And we understand that it’s wide. Right? Like we understand it is why we kind of get that thought.
But then it comes down to this very narrow point as well, and it becomes something that is vast but is also personal, that God’s love is very detailed. The love of God is not just some emotional, like physical, fickle puppy love, but its mature and committed and intentional. So if you’re in a relationship with God, right, he views you as someone who is valuable. He cares for you. He’s concerned about you. God views you as a light to this world.
God views you as someone who is needed and God loves you so much that he knows all of your thoughts, he knows all of the hairs on your head, every detail about you. But that was before you even born. So just as a side note, I think one of the greatest values as a believer is, is to believe that we’re valued. We have to believe that God loves us. See Yahweh, El Shaddai, Elohim, his love, It’s not shallow. His love is without bounds, so it is literally as deep as the ocean as we’ve seen in Exodus to examine this word rab
And now we’re going to look at what this word love means in context, because we can say, like, God loves you, God loves you, God loves you. But what does that mean? So the word is He-sed like you need a little spit to kind of get it across. But I’m just going to stick with He-sid. It’s nice. Is cool.
So this word he-sid it’s the Hebrew word that we find in Exodus when it says abounding in love. So love translates as this word. And, you know, if you listen to a few sermons and you’re kind of familiar with love, like studying out, you may have heard of words like, you know, agape. Right. Which is this suffering, sacrificial, like unconditional love. You may have heard of Eros, which is this romantic love that we see on there’s storge, which I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly, but it’s more of like a family love.
And then we have phileo, which is more of a brotherly love. But in the Hebrew, this word he-sed it boils down the commentators boil it down to a loyal love, like a committed love. Right. So this type of love is is built on generosity. It’s built on faithfulness and enduring commitment.
And when I was think I’m thinking of this illustration for some reason I began to think of a guy named Michael Orr. Michael or was a offensive tackle for Ole Miss. And then he went on to win the Super Bowl with the Ravens. But some of us know Michael Orr because of this movie The Blind Side. I mean, raise your hand if you’re seeing The Blind Side. OK, so we’ve got a few people here.
So and this movie, his story is just quite amazing. He’s raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and his mother was hooked on drugs and his father wasn’t really around. So he didn’t really have like a family, no one that was really committed to him. And there was a man named Sean and I don’t know exactly how they met, but he was a father of a family who lived on the wealthier part of town. Some of us may say he lived on the other side of the tracks.
So Sean started to build a relationship with Mike. right? And eventually the family agreed to make Michael a part of the family. But how does this relate to God’s character? Well, when they took Michael in, they didn’t just give him things like food and basic things like that, they actually brought them into their home, adopted him as a son, and they committed to him and the things that he needed, they committed their time. They gave to him generously, but they also stood up for him.
See, growing up in Memphis, there was a lot of racism and discrimination going on. And I mean, this family would step in to like coaches or just random people and they would stand up for him, which is weird because if you look at this picture, he looks like he’s like eight foot tall and everyone else looks like they’re really small, especially in person, like he’s huge.
But they would actually be standing up for him. They would tell people, this is my son, this is my brother, I’m committed to him. I’m going to protect him. And just as that family like, loved and committed themselves to Mike God commits himself to his people. So the problem with mankind, though, is not that, the problem with mankind is that not all of us have this loyalty back to God, right? We don’t we don’t all have that relationship with him.
So throughout the sermon series, we’ve been kind of finding Old Testament stories that quote Exodus 34 and illustrate God’s relationship with humanity. So, Nehemiah, in Chapter nine, we find that Nehemiah is a man who who deeply loves God, he is not just emotionally in love with God, like he’s truly zealous, like he’s proactive, as Joe said he was, he said this a few weeks back, but he was an initiator. You know, he went after things in such a way. He prayed, God, let me build the walls of a Jerusalem, give me the favor to do this. And his goal was to inspire people to be faithful to God once again, to recommit. So in Chapter nine on Ezra and Nehemiah have the people united, the Israelites, and they’re having this time of prayer together and in that time of prayer, they’re giving God praise for his grace and his love for the generations that that they have been unfaithful.
Right? And they were praying. And you can see this repeated pattern within the prayer of like they were God makes a promise to them and then they just become unfaithful to God and kind of just turn their back on him. So here are some examples, right. So there is Abraham. He had a wife and she was barren, unable to have any children.
So God comes into his life and he’s like and he’s like, you know, I’m going to bless you with a nation, not just a son and not just a family. I’m going to have a whole nation through you. But in that time, in the midst of God’s promise, Abraham just began to lack faith. He began to lack faith. But even in their lack of faith, God still stayed committed and was faithful to the people.
So the Israelites, this nation that comes from Abraham. At one point, they are yeah, they are in Egypt and they’re they’re literally slaves, they pray to God, God, please come save us. God comes. He brings Moses and he says, I’m going to going to take you out of this land. He takes them out of the land and with the Israelites, do they turn around, they make another God and then they give him the credit.
Imagine if you bought someone a house or a car or something like that, and then they just turned around and they’re like, oh, this whole other person did this for me. You’d be like on now stop playing. All right.
So so, yeah, we can really see this pattern, like throughout the Old Testament. And the Israelites were praying to God about this, just just relenting and just talking about the unfaithfulness to God. But it’s easy to look at the Israelites and just think man, they’ve fallen short of commitment. But the truth is that we fall short as well. We fall short, especially when we compare our love to the way that God loves. The world can mistake love for just an emotional thing. You know, we can love someone, but over time, like our loyalty will fade and we can we can love someone with trials and tribulations.
Our commitment starts to deplete and the world can start to question God. I see this a lot. And I’ve even done it myself, you know, like, are you doing the right things? But we should really be asking the question, is the world doing the right things and are they doing it God’s way? See this verse in Nehemiah, I’m going to put it up here, is verse in Nehemiah it shows right. Like the way that God acted when people were unfaithful to him.
This is his. Yeah. The way that God acted when people were unfaithful. And so it says they, which is Israel, and they refuse to listen and they fail to remember the miracles that you performed among them. They became stiff necked and in their rebellion, appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore, you did not desert them, right.
So right here at the end, it’s it’s what we’re talking about in Exodus. He quotes Exodus, but then he ends with therefore you did not desert them. God stays committed when he loves. God stays true to his character. And and he does this despite how others even treat him. The prayer in Nehemiah starts with Abraham, right, and and this betrayal just isn’t really a new thing because it didn’t start with Abraham. It was actually even before that in the garden. This has been since Adam and Eve, the beginning of mankind.
Since the beginning of time, I imagine you’re God, in the beginning of time. Imagine if your children just betrayed you. Imagine if the person you’re dating or your spouse was just not being committed to you, just being half way. Imagine if they hated you, right?
Like, what would that do to your heart? Oh, that due to your own character, your own love, but because God is abounding in love. He was loyal, he was faithful and he was true to his word. So the character of God is not only unmatched, but is it’s just undeserved. I mean, go back. I can’t go back. OK, yeah, but the character of God is not only unmatched, but is undeserved.
So stick with me here. So we’ve talked about God’s love being boundless, like the flood. We have talked about God’s love being committed when when we’re not really committed. And so we’re going to end with God proving his love. See, when God proves his love, he doesn’t just say, I love you. He actually shows it. See God, saying, I love you in the Bible is not very common. But God always shows in truth and in action that he loves us.
So in John, three 16, the song I was trying to sing before, you know, there’s this verse and some of us may know it says, God so loved the world that he gave his only his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Right. So God so loved the world that he did something about it and God so loved the world that he gave his son.
He offered his son. He sent his son down. And he committed his son to us. The world was in need of a savior, and God said to himself, Here am I, send me.
The world was prideful. So he humbled himself and he came down. The world needed a way to be reconciled to him again. So he became the way and the father’s characteristics of abounding love are all shown through his son.
It’s easy for us to take for granted God’s commitment to us, we were supposed to be faithful in our obedience, but we just constantly fail. And yet he stays in a relationship with us, even though we’re the ones who are flawed. We don’t deserve grace, we deserve wrath, we don’t deserve love, we deserve war. And sometimes I wonder if the world is getting better at this or for getting worse, but being better or being worse is such a bad position when the true position of the world is fallen. All right. The only way to get in a good position in this world is when we’re in a position of commitment to God.
So right now, we are in position to get into position, you know, saying like we have the opportunity to make that commitment, to be faithful, to continuously pursue God and his love, which you have to ask yourself, examine yourself and ask, and am I being faithful to him? Am I being loyal to him? See, Israel’s problem was never that they did not believe in God or know who he was. Their problem was that they kind of lacked this loyalty and faithfulness to him.
So are you committed? And I’m not talking about a commitment in your own way, but are you committed the way that the scriptures call you to be committed? So there’s plenty of opportunities, you know, at our church, we have a class called Discover Class Joe Sterns. He hosts it with Mike Degree and it’s a great time to to reevaluate that, to to kind of refresh and get to know man, am I am I committed to God the way that he calls me to be.
And even if someone invited you out to church, I would ask them, hey, can we talk about this? What does it mean in the scriptures to be committed to God? So right now we’re going to have communion. And this is a time where we get to reflect on these questions. This is a time where we get to thank God and just praise him and remember the sacrifice of Jesus. So let’s bow our heads, as we take communion.
God, thank you for this time. We just we just come to you in awe of you of your abounding love God, it’s as deep as the oceans. It’s as great as the floods, God is committed. It’s loyal. It’s perfect, Father. And we’re just grateful that you’re even willing to have a relationship with us, God. We thank you for Jesus’s sacrifice and just the fact that you’re willing to come down and do that for us. And we didn’t deserve it. We thank you, in your son’s name we pray. Amen.