Saturday 1 August

Bishop Harold Miller was speaking at the first Evening Celebration of New Horizon 2015.  Here is a summary of his message brought to you by the NH Media Team.  Enjoy!

Reading 1 John 4:7 – 16.

1) God’s very nature is love

You can put a whole lot of different things at the end of the phrase “love is…” But when you turn it on its head “… is love” can only apply it to God. God is love! We know that “agape” is the sacrificial, self-giving, totally selfless love that is at the centre of who God is. It is absolutely central to his being.

The starting point tonight is that God’s very nature is love. He cannot be other than loving. Relentless love is the love that keeps on loving, no matter what, because it is at the very heart of who God is.

2) God set his love on us

The heart of my testimony is this that God’s love was set on me. If there had only been me in the world as a sinner, Jesus would have died for me. It is so important for us to understand this. It isn’t because of anything that I have done. It isn’t because of any goodness within me. It certainly isn’t because I made the decision to follow him. God loves me because God loves me. Our love for him is always a response!

3) God’s love and wrath are complementary not contradictory

There are many songs about the love of God, which are sometimes sentimental. Yet, it is in propitiating the wrath of God through Calvary that the love of God is most fully displayed.

When Jesus makes his proclamation at the beginning of Mark’s Gospel, his first words are, “Repent.” When I know my need of God, as a sinner, the truth that he has done everything necessary to make possible that relationship with him, is music to my ears.

“Here is love, vast as the ocean, loving kindness as a flood, when the Prince of Life our ransom, shed for us his precious blood.”

It can be hard to explain at times, but it is the most wonderful liberating truth when we experience it in our lives.

4) God’s love adopts us as his children.

See what kind of love the father has for us that we should be called children of God… We need to be careful of the danger of misusing the phrase “children of God”. People might say, “Aren’t we all children of God?” By creation, we are made in the image of God. But the biblical use of the term “child of God” describes those who have been adopted into God’s family.

One of the most wonderful discoveries for me was that when you become a Christian, you are born again. It really hit me when I was a student. A group of us had gone hitchhiking in Greece and we ended up in Crete. There were Gideon’s bibles beside the bed in the pension where we were staying.

A card inside mentioned the evangelical church in the village. At the end of that service in that little church, the most amazing thing happened. I will never forget it. A little Greek widow, all dressed in black, grabbed hold of me and she said, “We will meet again in heaven!” In a flash, I realised that when we are born again, just as we are born into a family, we are adopted into God’s family and we have family all over the world!

5) God’s love is to be seen in loving lives

The love of God which was given to us before we ever deserved it, is exactly the same love he calls us to live out in our lives. We will be looking at that challenge throughout this week.

6) God’s love is seen in people who do not love the “world”
The desires of the “world” should not characterise people who love God. In the past, there was too much emphasis on the wrong kind of worldliness (outward things). People who are prepared to give up their safety, their security and do without possessions or standing in the world because of the love of God – they are an example of those who don’t love the “world”.

50 years ago, I gave my life to the Lord at a Boys Brigade camp at the age of 15. It was an amazingly transformational experience. On that day, 24 July 1965 at 10am, God revealed to me that he loved me. At the end, the preacher gave an appeal and my hand shot up because I knew that God loved me so much. I thought I’d made a decision but I think that God made the decision for me!

We need to give unconditional love if people are going to be won for the kingdom of God. Keep praying and praying and praying… and giving and giving and giving in such a way that the grace of God becomes real to those around us!

We grow up from the point of conversion but we don’t grow away from it. We must grow INTO the grace of God that we experienced when we first came to Christ!

Can we get back to the wonder and simplicity of understanding what Christ has done for us?

Can I grow in it, mature in it and live in it all the days of my life?