Love Letters
Jer 31:3

Long ago the LORD said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. NLT

This message was preached February 9, 2003 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at toulonbaptist.com  

Most people do not write love letters any more. Since the day when the telephone came into its prime, people do not write like they used to. Some of the older generation still will send letters but it is nothing like it used to be.

In some ways, not writing love letters is a sad thing. It is hard to think back to twenty or thirty years ago and remember the phone conversations that you had. But letters have a way of hanging around. They find their ways into drawers and boxes in the closet or the attic. They can be read over and over again. When my dad and mom were young, long before I came along, dad was out in South Dakota sheering sheep. He sent several post cards home to mom and the then two kids. My sister still has those cards. They are windows into their lives back then.

Now some love letters are not so much a testimony to love as an effort to say the right things. You remember the story of the young man who sent a letter to his girl friend. It said I love you more that the bees love their honey. I love you more that the trees love the gentle breezes. If ever the beavers could live without their dens, if the birds could live without their nest, then I could live without you. I would walk though fire to see you. I would swim icy waters to get to you. With love, John. P.S. If the Packers aren't playing Saturday night, would you like to go out?

Some peoples love is forever but forever takes on a whole different meaning.

A college man walked into a photography studio with a framed picture of his girlfriend. He wanted the picture duplicated. This involved removing it from the frame. In doing this, the studio owner noticed the inscription on the back of the photograph: "My dearest Tom, I love you with all my heart. I love you more and more each day. I will love you forever and ever. I am yours for all eternity." It was signed "Diane," and it contained a P.S.: "If we ever break up, I want this picture back." Charles Krieg --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 97-98.

But our God's love for us is much different. He has not only promised to love us for all eternity but He has already loved us from all eternity. In our text God tells the people of Israel that He has loved them with an everlasting love. Understanding and appreciating God's love for us will take us forever. But I hope that we can get a better view of it this morning.

  1. Everlasting
    1. In human relationships we often talk of loving forever
      1. But usually that really means I will love you as long as you love me.
      2. Sometimes it only means I will love you until someone else comes along to replace you.
    2. But God, being eternal and all wise, sets His affection on us not only for eternity future but He loved us in eternity past.
      1. 2 Tim 1:9 It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life. He did this not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan long before the world began--to show his love and kindness to us through Christ Jesus. NLT
      2. When you understand that, you can feel secure in His love.
        1. No need to worry about Him falling out of love with you.
        2. Nor can you do anything to make Him love you more.
    3. But God's love is not to everyone.
      1. The Unitarian Church teaches that God loves everyone and will bring everyone to heaven.
      2. Beside the numerous passages that teach many will not go to heaven.
      3. God is said to hate those who sin.
        1. Ps 5:5 Therefore, the proud will not be allowed to stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil. NLT
        2. Such men Jahve hates; for if He did not hate evil (Ps 11:5), His love would not be a holy love. (from Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
        3. Ps 11:5 The LORD examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates everyone who loves violence. NLT
      4. God could not be a holy God and not hate those who are evil.
    4. A liberal theologian once wrote, "God has to forgive, that's His job."
      1. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
      2. That is so demeaning to God and makes Him our servant.
      3. Nothing compels God to forgive.
      4. Rom 9:15 For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." NKJV
      5. Only those who come to the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.
      6. Never think that you can put God in a box like that.
      7. We need to see that God's love for us is precious, not something to be spurned like a silly child spurs the love of another child.
      8. The song writer wrote, Amazing love how can it be that thou, my God should die for me.
  2. Sacrificial
    1. God's love for us cost Him personally.
      1. John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
      2. His love brings us from condemnation to righteousness by the sacrificial death of His Only Begotten Son.
      3. Eph. 5: 25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, 26. that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27. that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.
      4. We could solve about half of the marriage problems in this country if husbands would follow our Lord's example.
    2. In this the God of the Bible loves differently than any of the other gods of other religions.
      1. The god of Islam provides no atonement.
      2. He grants mercy but does not demand justice.
      3. Islam teaches that Jesus Christ did not die on a cross, did not rise from the dead.
      4. But then so does the liberal Christian theologian.
      5. All the other world religions think the idea of an atonement is just so much foolishness.
      6. 1 Cor. 1:18. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
    3. If love can be measured by the sacrifices one is willing to make for the other then there is no comparison to the love of God.
  3. Personal - intimate
    1. God does not want to know us from afar.
      1. James 4:8 Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites. NLT
    2. He wants to have a daily relationship with Him.
      1. Ex 29:38 "This is what you are to offer on the altar. Offer two one-year-old lambs each day, NLT
      2. Matt 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread. NKJV
      3. Luke 9:23 Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me. NLT
      4. Acts 17:11And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth. NLT
      5. Heb 3:13 You must warn each other every day, as long as it is called "today," so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. NLT
  4. Expressed - written
    1. God has blessed us with a love letter.
    2. A love letter that it takes a lifetime to appreciate.
    3. A love letter that He intends for us to read.
    4. A love letter that tells us of all His love and care for us.

Do you know that God loves you?

Have you read it in His love letter?

Have you experienced that love in your own heart and life?

Are you in love with Him TODAY?