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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - Does God Still Love Me?

Craig Groeschel - Does God Still Love Me?

Craig Groeschel - Does God Still Love Me?
Craig Groeschel - Does God Still Love Me?
TOPICS: Easter, God's Love, He Promises

Well, today we celebrate the tomb is empty. Our Savior has risen from the dead and I wanna express my praise to God and my love to all of you. Happy Easter. You guys look better than normal. I mean, you look good. You look Easter good. Touch the person next to you and say, "You look good". Hey, online, if you look good, type in the comment section, "I look good". If you don't look good, just say, "I'm in my pajamas". Whatever, just be honest on Easter. You look good. You look good.

Hey, on Easter weekend, I wanna ask you a question. Why did you come to church today? Think about it. Obviously, A, it's Easter, but why did you come to church today? What are you hoping for? What do you want God to do in your life? What do you need God to do in your life? Why did you come to church today or why are you joining us online today? There's probably several different groups of you. There's probably some of you, your life has been radically changed by the love of God and the grace of Jesus and you're here to celebrate and you're here to worship the risen Christ and you wanna dress up to honor that. You'll take a picture, you'll get your family photo, you'll post a #blessed, he is risen.

You'll go to grandma's house. It's tradition and you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. But if we could kind of cut through the Easter formality and just be real honest, there are probably some of you that feel like I did growing up. You feel a little bit obligated. I mean, Jesus did a lot for you and so you better make a show and at least on Easter and probably Christmas, right? I mean, you feel a little obligated. And then there may be some of you that you're not a church person at all, but you have an annoying family member that is and they've been telling you, you gotta come to church and you gotta come to church and you don't really wanna be here, but it's easier just to come than to create drama around the holidays.

Why did you come to church today? What are you hoping for? What do you want God to do in your life? What do you need God to do in your life? 'Cause you guys, honestly, from right here, you do look good, better than normal. Dresses, a couple of suits. Some of you wore your best Easter t-shirt. You look good. You look good on the outside, but some of you, you're not good on the inside.

Some of you are hurting right now. Some of you have experienced a significant loss. There are those of you that are quietly, maybe privately ashamed of something that you've done. There are those of you that are going through a season of grief. Why'd you come to church today? Because honestly, if we can just kinda like, cut through the we all look good stuff, all of us are in need. And almost all of us are hurting in some way in our life or someone that we love is. And what I wanna tell you with all sincerity is, that no matter what you're going through, Jesus has a promise that speaks directly to your pain.

And so Father, we honor you. We worship you. We celebrate you. You are worthy of all praise. And on this Easter weekend, we pause and we remember your love poured out for us through the sinless life of your son, Jesus, his brutal death and his glorious resurrection. For your love and his life, we give you praise. In Jesus' name and all God's people said. Amen. Amen and amen.

All right, today we start a brand new message series. It's called He Promises. He Promises. And over the next six weeks, we're gonna look at six different promises of Jesus. I wanna tell you where we're going. Next week, I think it's maybe my favorite of all of them. We're gonna talk about the promise that Jesus promises you will know his voice. He says that he is the good shepherd, that you are the sheep, and the sheep know the voice of the shepherd. If you're wondering how do you hear from God, we're gonna look at the promise next week that Jesus, you will know his voice. Then we're gonna look at the promise that Jesus promises to be with you always. No matter what you're going through, he will never leave you. He will never forsake you. Then we're gonna look at the truth that Jesus promises to give you peace.

In a crazy world where many of us battle with anxiety and stress, Jesus doesn't just give us peace, but he gives us his peace. Then if you're worried or anxious, Jesus promises to meet all of your needs so that you don't have to worry. And on the final week, we'll look at Jesus's promise. If you're tired, if you're weary, if you're burdened, he promises to give you rest. Today, we wanna look at the promise that comes from maybe the most quoted verse in the Bible. What do you think it is? You see it at banners at football games. You even see Tim Tebow painting it beneath his eyes. What verse is it? Say it loud. It's John 3:16. The promise of Jesus's love for you. For this is how God loved the world.

Do you wanna know how good God is, how loving he is? This is how he loved the world. That our loving God gave his one and only Son so that everyone, this doesn't matter who you are, what you've done, how dark your life has been, everyone who believes in him, who believes in Jesus will not perish, but will have eternal life. I wonder how many of you believe that God loves the world? Raise your hand. I grew up believing that God loved the world, but I wasn't sure if God would love me. I wonder if any of you have ever felt like that. I knew he could love everybody. I knew he could love the world, but I wasn't sure he loved me because I knew what I had done. And I knew about those that I had hurt. And I knew about my secret struggles that I didn't wanna tell anybody at all. I knew about my spiritual doubts. I knew about my dark thoughts. I knew how bad I was. How could God love me? Eight billion people in the world, how could he personally love me?

Well, I like the St. Augustine quote. St. Augustine said, "God loves each of us as if there were only one of us". And what I wanna do today is I wanna show you, no matter what you've done, no matter how dark your life feels, that you are the one Jesus loves. You are the one that he loves. And Jesus told a parable about this very personal love in Luke chapter 15. Jesus said, "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do"? Jesus says, "Won't he leave the 99 others in the wilderness and go search for," how many, say it with me, "Search for the one that is lost until he finds it". And Jesus goes on as he tells the story. He says, "If he finds the one, he puts that little lost lamb on his shoulder and he calls all of his friends and said, 'Come over, let's have a big party. Let's celebrate because the one that was lost has found the one I was searching for. I actually have with me.'"

And then scripture says this. In the same way Jesus said, "There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner that repents and returns to God than over 99 others who are righteous and have not strayed away". It is a promise that you are the one Jesus loves. You are the one. And what's amazing about Jesus is he didn't just promise his love, but he proved his love. In fact, in 1 John 4, scripture says this, that God is love. Everybody say that. What is God? God is love. In other words, love isn't just what God does, but it's who he is. God is love, and this is how God showed his love among us. He demonstrated it, that he sent his one and only son into the world that we might have life through him. This is love. Watch this. Not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son, Jesus, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. This is a ridiculously powerful verse, that God loved us so much he sent Jesus.

Now, I wanna ask you a little question just for fun. This verse is so powerful, but it's even more powerful when you know who wrote this verse. A little bit of Bible trivia just for fun. Who wants to play Bible trivia? Who wrote 1 John? Excuse me, this is not a trick question. Nobody's gonna say it out loud. I might be wrong. Who wrote 1 John? John, very, very good. Now, this is not John the Baptist. This is John the disciple. And what you may not know about John is that he actually had a nickname. Jesus was cool. If you're friends with somebody, they got a nickname. If, this is a guy thing. If they don't have a nickname, then they're not really a friend. And Jesus gave out nicknames. It's pretty cool. He called Simon, he called him the Rock.

Sorry, Dwayne Johnson, but long before you were the Rock, Simon was the Rock. And there were two guys, James and John, that were brothers, and they became disciples, and Jesus gave them a nickname. What do you think he called James and John? Let me tell you what he didn't call them before you guess. He didn't call these two guys the two gentle lambs. He didn't call them the Bible brothers. Jesus called them the Sons of Thunder. That's cocky. I wanna be one of the Sons of Thunder. I'm picturing Thor and his brother on a Harley, Sons of Thunder. These guys were tough. They were brash. They were loud. They might have said some words that were inappropriate for your LifeGroup before they were a follower of Jesus.

Why did Jesus call them the Sons of Thunder? We do not know exactly, but Luke chapter nine gives us a glimpse, and it's pretty cool. The context is whenever the people in the Samaritan village rejected Jesus, the Sons of Thunder spoke up. And let me tell you what they didn't say. The Sons of Thunder didn't say, "Can't we all just get along, guys? Come to my LifeGroup. We'll eat bagels and wear lululemon and go out for avocado toast". They did not say that, okay? Whenever the people were rejecting Jesus, let me tell you what the Sons of Thunder said. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven and destroy them"?

This was John who wrote about the love. Hey, can we just wipe 'em out for the glory of God in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit? Can we just burn 'em, fry 'em? Black spot right there on the driveway. This is John. For his whole life, John was the guy that would've gotten kicked out of his kid's soccer games. That this was the guy that didn't just start the fight, he finished them. He would've been rude, he would've been harsh, he would've been violent. And then what happened? John started spending time with Jesus. And every moment of every day, Jesus loved John. Jesus loved him. He loved him as he was. He loved him whenever John might've crossed the line. He loved him whenever John might've done something that was inappropriate. And Jesus just kept on loving John. And we don't know when. It probably took a little bit of time and it probably took a lot of love.

But John's identity started to change. And how do we know? Because John started calling himself by a different name. Three times in the gospel, John called himself the one that Jesus loved. I'm the one that Jesus loved. Jesus loves every single one of us as if there were only one of us. And John said, "I'm the one that Jesus loved". No longer John the hothead, John the screw up. No, I'm John, the one that Jesus loved. So why'd you come to church today? What are you hoping for? What do you want God to do in your life? What do you need God to do in your life? I don't know who it is, but there is someone here that needs to hear from heaven that you are the one that Jesus loves. No matter what your parents said about you, no matter what they made you feel like, no matter how you feel about yourself, no matter how much you've failed, no matter who you hurt, or what you said, or what you did that you can't undo, you are the one that Jesus loves.

And I want you to take a moment, all of our live churches, every single one of you, I want everybody to participate, even if you don't really wanna be here. And what I want you to do is just say this, just softly and say it and feel it. I want you to say, "I am the one Jesus loves". Would you say that? "I am the one Jesus loves". I want you to close your eyes and two more times, those of you online, you just type it in the comment section, I hope you will, but just a couple more times. Eyes closed, I want you to say it, I want you to feel it. "I am the one Jesus loves". One more time, hear it from heaven. He loves you, he sent his son for you. Say it, say it and believe it. "I am the one Jesus loves".

This is not pride, this is truth. He loves you, you're the one. And I believed for so long that God loved the world, but I couldn't believe that he would love me. Can I be honest? Sometimes it gets old being a pastor 'cause you gotta be all pastoral. Sometimes I just wanna be a dude. Can I be a dude/pastor? First, I'm gonna be a dude 'cause I wasn't always a pastor. I grew up in the '80s, MTV, "Risky Business" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". Some of you know what I'm talking about. Don't even laugh at that. I was ridiculously insecure. I was so insecure that I lied so many different times I couldn't even remember what story I told to some people. And I cheated and I stole and I got caught and arrested for stealing. What did you steal, dude/pastor? Several things, but I got caught. I got caught stealing a $6 pair of running shorts to give to my mom for Mother's Day.

Not only was I bad, but I was dumb. I got caught stealing a $6 pair of running shorts from Montgomery Wards for my mom and to make matters worse, she didn't even run. And like most people in my family before me, I had a drinking problem. And so I decided to quit drinking in college and I couldn't quit. And one time I got so stupid drunk that my friends took me back to my room and I remember looking in the mirror, I don't know if any of you have ever done this drunk hatred thing where you look at yourself and I remember looking at myself going, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I hate who you become, I hate you. And I hated myself, I hated who I'd become. And I went and I got in my bed and the room was spinning and they tell you if the room's spinning, put your foot on the ground.

Well, that didn't work so I put my whole body on the ground. And I had a rabbit, I don't know why I'm telling you this but I had a pet rabbit and I let the rabbit out of the cage and I'm on the ground, I'm drunk and a rabbit hops on my chest, I thought at least my rabbit likes me. And I reached over and turned on a boom box. If you don't know what a boom box is, you can Google it or ask your grandma. I turned on a boom box and the station, radio station, if you don't know what a radio station is, that's another thing too. But the radio station was oddly on some Christian station that I don't ever remember putting it on, 91 FM. And I was sitting there, my rabbit was right there, the room was spinning, I was hating myself and this female DJ came on the radio and said, she said, "I don't know who this is for". But I want you to know that God still loves you.

I'm telling you, right there in the middle of that little fraternity house room, God put it on her heart for one person that in the middle of all my sin, that I was still the one that he loved. Where does this fit in to Easter? What I want you to understand is that God didn't just shout his love from heaven, but he showed his love on earth. And Romans 5:8 tells us just very directly that God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. While you were still sinning, Christ died for you. While you were still lost in your lust, he died for you. While you were still seeking after your own greed and personal attention, while you were still living for the desires of this world, while you were still comparing and while you were still gossiping and while you were still hating and while you were still harboring unforgiveness, he died for you in that moment.

And the gospel of the good news is that the Virgin Mary gave birth to a son and they called him Jesus, because Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save us from our sins. And after healing the sick and befriending prostitutes and loving lepers, Jesus willingly walked into the arms of his betrayer. And he suffered an emotional anguish in the garden of Gethsemane. And Jesus did not resist arrest. He didn't even defend himself at the trial when he was completely innocent. And he willingly subjected himself to physical and emotional torture, where the creation spit on the creator. And they mocked him, making fun of him, putting a crown of thorns on his brow, and they whipped him and they beat him again and again.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said that he didn't even look like a human being. And the Roman soldiers drove spikes through his wrists and through his ankles. And Jesus, the innocent, sinless son of God, hung naked for hours on a cross. In the heat of the day, in excruciating pain, his muscles would have been cramping. He would have been dehydrated. He would have been hallucinating. And it would have been in shock, slowly suffocating. And the only way he could get a breath was to push himself up with the stakes through his feet and pull himself up with the stakes through his wrist, with his back bloodied across the cross and pull himself up and get a breath while people cursed him.

And while they despised an innocent man, he looked up to his Father in heaven and said, "Father, please forgive them. They don't even know what they're doing. I wanna know why, what could possibly motivate anyone to endure such suffering, torment and pain"? And the only answer is love. Love. God demonstrated, showed it, displayed his love that while we were rejecting him, Jesus died for us. And I don't know who this is for, but somebody needs to hear it. You are the one that Jesus loves. Jesus said this of himself, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for one's friends". There is no greater love in the history of the world than the love that God showed for you when Jesus gave up his life so you could be forgiven. On the cross, Jesus was thinking about you when he said, "It's finished, God. I did everything you sent me to do".

And he looked up to heaven and he said, "Into your hands I commit my spirit". And he breathed his last breath. And at that moment, the earth shook and the sky went dark. And that was not the end of the story. Because three days later, when the women went to the tomb, the stone was rolled away and that tomb was empty. Jesus was not there. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God raised him from the dead so that anyone who calls on his name would not perish but would have eternal life. Jesus was the sinless sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. So I'm gonna ask you like just dead honest, and please don't play the stupid church game. Why'd you come to church today? What are you hoping God will do? What do you need God to do?

Some of you, you're desperate right now. You're about ready to give up. Others, you are hurting. You're trying to smile on the outside, but inside your heart is breaking. Some of you feel alone. Others of you feel afraid. Some of you feel trapped. Some of you have almost no hope left. Some of you have doubts. Questions. You feel ashamed. You feel dirty. You feel unworthy. And God told me to tell you that you are the one that Jesus loves. You are the one. You are the one that Jesus loves. And for some of you, this will be the day that everything changes. This will be the day that everything changes. If you receive it, if you believe it, you're the one. You're the one. You are the one.

If there was only you, God's love is so good. It's not just what he does, it's who he is. That he would send his son. You are the one that Jesus loves. If you don't feel his love, I wanna remind you, love is not a feeling, it's a promise. And it doesn't matter what you feel, by faith, believe the promise that you are the one that Jesus loves. Can you imagine a God that is so good? A God that is so loving, a God that is so compassionate, that he would send his son to suffer, the innocent one, the perfect sacrifice to die in our place, so that anyone who believes in him would not perish, but would have eternal life. Would you say it again, and say it with faith and believe it in your heart? "I am the one Jesus loves". Say it again. "I am the one that Jesus loves". No matter what you've done, no matter how dark your life has been, no matter how far you feel from God, say it one more time. "I am the one that Jesus loves".

So Father, by your power, by your grace, by the presence of your Holy Spirit, would you reveal deep down in our hearts, by faith, how much you love us. And God, our only reasonable response is to worship you, to praise you, to give you all the honor for who you are.

Today, as you're praying at all of our churches, those of you online, I wanna talk to those of you who know his love, and you've got friends or family members, people in your life that don't know his love and need his love. If that's you today, you've got people that you're praying for, or people that you care about that maybe are far from God and broken and need his hope and need his healing, would you lift your hands right now? Just lift them up all over the room. You can type it in the comment section. I have someone who needs Jesus. We're gonna pray for them.

God, we ask that by the power of your Spirit, you would use us, use others, use anything to reveal your love, that people who are broken would find healing, that those who are hopeless would find hope, that those who are far from you will be brought near by the grace of Jesus. We believe by faith, God, that in a world of darkness, your light will shine, that lives will be changed. God, draw those who need you into a relationship that they could forever be changed by the grace of Jesus.

As you keep praying today without looking around at all of our churches, there are some of you that this is the day that everything changes for you. This is the day. My story, I grew up, we went to church Christmas and Easter and a couple times extra just for good measure. And I kind of believed in the love of God for everybody else, but I didn't know it personally. Didn't know it personally. And I always thought God was kind of an idea. I didn't realize that he was a relational God, that he was loving me. There are those of you today, you don't know where you stand with God. You're not fully engaged. You're not following Jesus.

Let's just call it what it is. You weren't at church last weekend. You don't plan to be here next weekend. It's not really a priority to you. But when you recognize just how good God is and what he did for you, your only reasonable response is to say, "All of me, like my life becomes yours. I wanna give it all to you". How are you made right with God? It's not by your good works. It's not by becoming religious. It's not by trying harder. It's not by stopping doing the wrong things. The way we're made right with God is by grace, the grace of God. Jesus' death and resurrection, it was enough. That paid the price for your sins, for my sins.

Now, what do you do? You believe. How crazy is that? When you call on the name of the Lord, the name of Jesus, the name that is above every name, there is something about that name. When you call on the name of Jesus, your sins are forgiven and you are made new. There are those of you, this is your day. This is why you're here. All of our churches and online, those who say, "I need that. We're stepping away from the old life. We're stepping into the grace of Jesus". When you call on him, you are made new.

Today at all of our churches, those who say, "Yes, I'm stepping away from my old life. I need his grace. I am the one that Jesus loved. Therefore, I give my life to him". That's your prayer. Lift your hands high right now. All over the place, lift them up and say, "That's my prayer today". Praise God for you. Others say, lift up your hands and say, "Yes, I surrender to Jesus". Right back over here and over here as well. Praise God for you. Others, if you lift them high and say, "Yes, Jesus, I need your grace. I surrender to you. Would you be the Savior and Lord of my life"? Online, you can type in the comment section, "I am surrendering my life to Jesus". You can type that in the comment section. And today, church, nobody prays alone. Would you pray aloud as the family of God? Just pray:

Heavenly Father, forgive all of my sins. Save me. Save me. Because I know I am the one Jesus loves. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for new life. Now fill me with your Spirit, so I can know your love, and show your love in all that I do. You have my whole life. In Jesus' name, I pray.

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