John 21:15 “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.”
Do you love Me more than the stuff you get? Do you love Me more than the benefits of being with Me? Jesus used the word, ‘agape.’ Peter used the word ‘phileo.’ Jesus was talking about sacrificial love, but Peter was talking about loving Him like a brother.
John 21:16-17 “He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
The third time, Jesus used the word ‘phileo.’ Then, He talked about how Peter would die.
Jesus asks us similar questions.
The Love Test has to do more with giving than receiving. It’s more about position than about words we say or actions we take. It’s the difference between blessing and cursing. It’s the difference between the love that flows in and the love that flows out. It’s positioning ourselves.
Jesus was saying, ‘If you love, then give. Give spiritual food. Give the Word of God.’
There is blessing and cursing. Some people feel rejected and cursed by God. You cannot be cursed outside of the Word of God. There are curses. The devil is not powerful enough to stumble upon a curse and put it on you. You can stumble upon blessings, but you can’t just get cursed from the devil.
God wants to break some curses, but it’s not about breaking curses from the devil. Sometimes, our own mind is our greatest enemy. God wants to test you and find you. The fiery furnace is for refining silver. God puts His people through that for our good.
God called Abraham to a land he didn’t know and received a blessing that he could not contain. He was already wealthy and had a nephew that he had to separate from. His nephew, Lot, went into an area called Sodom and Gomorrah. A war happened to these cities. He took his servants and fought for them. He had very little and won. The king said that Abraham could take all the stuff that he wanted except the people. Abraham said, ‘No.’ He wanted God to get all the glory and not for that king to think he had made Abraham rich.
Some ‘blessings’ are not from the Lord and other ‘blessings’ are not necessarily for you. If a new job with more money takes you away from church, this isn’t a ‘blessing.’
Abraham later met a king named Melchizedek, both king and priest. Abraham gave a tenth (tithe) to him.
Gen 15:1 “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”
Love is not a feeling. Jesus tests our hearts to see if there is love there. God said to Abraham, ‘I am your exceeding great reward.’ Knowing that God is protecting you, you don’t have to worry about certain things.
What would you do if God said, ‘I’ve got a reward for you?’ What would your response be?
God doesn’t fool around with hypocrisy. He is in control of all things including the devil.
You’ve got to start thinking legacy. God will bless you and you’re going to get more than you can contain. Position yourself to give from all that overflow.
‘God so loved the world that He gave…’
Gen 15:2-3 “And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.”
Abraham understood that legacy is what God was all about. Abraham needed a child to pass this legacy onto.
Do something with what God gives to you.
2 Sam 22:1-4 “And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: 2 And he said, The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence. 4 I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”
David understood that God was his shield. God was his high tower so that he could get above his enemy. God was his higher ground. God is his refuge, a place of peace, no war, no worry about the avenger of blood. You may be guilty, but you can’t be attacked in the city of refuge.
If you are constantly in warfare, you’re not doing it right. There is a place where you don’t have to fight. God says, ‘What is in your heart?’ A test comes. It’s not the devil. It’s God shining on you. He is your shield.
Psalm 18:35 “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.”
You know you’re wealthy when you’ve got somebody to manage all your stuff.
Gen 15:4-5 “And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”
There is something greater than being a believer.
John 8:31-32 “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
You have to ‘continue.’ It’s easy to believe. What will you do with it? Will you give?
1 Cor 13:1 “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
You’ve got to love by doing.
Until you start thinking about legacy in what you do with His love, His overflowing blessings, you aren’t really loving. It’s about a job that allows you to bless others without worrying about any lack. Obedience opens the windows of heaven. When you give, God gives back. Tithing is more about love than about a percentage.
We fast because we love. We give because we love. We obey because we love. We are willing to suffer loss because we love. The devil is not able to curse you.
Balaam wasn’t a false prophet, he was a bad prophet. He took money to curse the Jews. He couldn’t curse what God had blessed and he couldn’t bless what God has cursed. But, Balaam could teach the enemy how to get the Jews to curse themselves by disobeying God.
If you are worrying, you have not passed the Love Test. God wants to open up generational blessings.
Abraham lied to the king because his wife was beautiful. The king did take her, but God protected her and cursed the king. That all happened before Isaac was born. The same thing happened, Isaac lied to a king about his wife too because she was pretty too.
When you go to the doctor, he or she will check you out and then ask questions about any diseases your family members have had, checking your DNA.
The love of God can break every curse known to man! All addictions are reversible and breakable.
When you start to love Jesus, you start to give up stuff or let go of stuff that doesn’t please Him and you start to do stuff that does please Him. Love makes you do crazy things. You’re happy to do it because you’re loving.
Why do some people decide to do keep doing wrong things? Is it because of convenience? Convenience takes. It’s not giving. These are curses that we bring on ourselves. If you want to know the legacy kind of blessing, you’ve got to love. You’ve got to start giving.
The lie of Satan is to get you to curse yourself. It’s about taking instead of giving.
It’s not enough to be a believer. ‘He that believes on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’
John 7:37-39 “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
You can test God’s love by giving.
Mal 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
You can prove God by loving, by giving.
Play ‘Catch’ with God. He throws to you and you throw it back. The ball goes back and forth and it’s a lot of fun.
In Judges 2, it talks about the fact that God left the enemy alive to teach the people to fight. The next generation needed to learn how to fight. The previous generation needed to train the next generation. God will prove you and test you to see whether or not you love Him. The Jews wandered for 40 years to see what was in their hearts.
If you don’t have peace, God might be testing you. Give. Love. Obey. Love breaks curses, it will give you blessing. Give and you prove that you belong to Jesus. Don’t let Balaam’s doctrine come on you.
How do we show Jesus love? By loving and giving to people, by obeying, by spending time with Him in prayer and worship. He will tell you. He will show you what to do.
More Questions for Personal or Group Study:
- Who do you love and who loves you? How do you show it (to the people you love) and how do you know it (that they love you)?
- How has God blessed you? How have you blessed Him?
- Read 1 Cor 13:1-13. What does love NOT do? What does love do? What is the ‘greatest of these’? Why?
- How has this sermon challenged your thinking and/or convicted you? How can you encourage someone else?
Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.
For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.