My parents have several grand kids. As the grand kids got older, they got to an age when they wanted to know how Grandpa met Grandma. What did he say? Where did they date? What was the world like before there was no WIFI?
It’s a classic love story. It happened in a small school in Shippensburg. It was so small, the 2nd and 3rd grades were mixed together. At recess, my dad slips my mom a note that says, “I like you, do you like me?” And there were two boxes for my mom to choose, ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ Apparently, that’s the way to do it cause I am here. My dad took the risk and made the first move.
Later, when they got out of elementary school, my dad took another big risk. Their first date was going to church on Sunday night together. That’s an old school, small town, classic, love story. The grand kids love that story.
Have you ever wondered if God loves you? If you were on the playground with God, would you slip God a note that asks, “Do you like me?” Most people I meet, struggle to believe that God loves them. They assume that they haven’t done enough good things for God to love them. They assume that they have messed up way too much for God to ever like them. They assume that God might love people, just not them. They would never even try to slip God a note at recess.
Here is what I want you to know today. If you were on the playground with God, He already took the risk, He made the first move, He wants to know, if you like Him?
We know this because scripture says;
4 Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. 5 Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) 6 He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
7 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people – free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! 8 He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, 9 letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, 10 a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
11 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, 12 part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.
13 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free – signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. 14 This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life. MSG Ephesians 1:4-14
God made the first move. He risked everything. He told you that He loves you before you were born. He slipped you the note at recess. That means there is no risk for us to love Him back. That means all the assumptions you have made about God might be wrong. If you assume that you haven’t done enough good things for God to love you, you are wrong because long before you were born, He loved you. He loves you regardless of what you have or have not done. If you assume that you have messed up way too much for God to ever like you, you are wrong because He loves you, right now, in your just the way you are. And if you think God loves others, just not you, you are again wrong. God slipped you the note at recess. It’s personal.
Here is how the note at recess reads, from God to you;
Long before I laid down earth’s foundations, I had you in mind, had settled on you as the focus of my love, to be made whole and holy by my love.
Not only did God love you long before He set the foundations of earth, but you need to know that it cost Him dearly to love you. God did something remarkable for you.
3 He [Jesus] was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
4 But the fact is, it was our pains he carried – our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. 5 But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him – our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.
6 We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. 7 He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. 8 Justice miscarried, and he was led off – and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. 9 They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true. MSG Isaiah 53:3-9
God knew, before we were born, that we would need help. The reason Jesus died for us is because He knew we would sin. We would all come up short of being perfect. We would be filled with insecurities, fear, shame, doubt, guilt and I could go on. We would need someone to help us, to save us, to rescue us. Jesus did just that. He paid the price to save us. He took our sin. He took our punishment. He took our pain.
Isaiah made that clear:
…it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him – our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed… He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people…
God took the risk to love you. And God’s love for you; cost Him dearly. He slipped you the note at recess that said, “I like you, do you like me?” The real question today isn’t; “Does God love me?” It’s obvious He does. The real question us; “How do you respond to Him?”
10 Whoever believes in the Son of God inwardly confirms God’s testimony. Whoever refuses to believe in effect calls God a liar, refusing to believe God’s own testimony regarding his Son. 11 This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. 12 So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life.
13 My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God’s Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. 14 And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he’s listening. MSG 1 John 5:10-14
Scripture tells us, there is one way to be saved, to be rescued. We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for us and invite Him to be our Lord and Savior. And every day after today, you relax in what God for you to be rescued.
Paul in Romans said it clearly;
It’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. MSG Romans 12:3
What we don’t do is focus on what we are and what we do for Him. No. Everyday, we focus on what God is and what He did for us.
I want to close with a couple questions for you to think about. What is life like for you? Do you see your need to be rescued? Or saved? And, does the Easter story mean anything to you? Hearing that God loved you before the foundations of creation, does that impact you? Hearing that it cost Jesus everything to love you, does that impact you?
For some people, Easter will be the religious event. We have to bite our teeth muscle through the religions thing. We did it. Check the box. Let’s eat ham now.
For some, Easter will be this incredible reminder of who God is and what He did to give us life. And my hope for you is that God’s grace today continues to reshape your heart forever.
Maybe you are somewhere in between. Maybe you are pushing through life and it’s hard. Maybe you are walking in fear or depression or pain. Maybe life has become confusing. God is sending you a message today, a note at recess. He wants to rescue you today. Will you give God that chance?