Today’s Faith Workout on faith bigger than your fears was written by Kelly Barcol, our Chaplain Role Champion, Owner of CrossFit Winnersville, and Pastor at Winnersville Community Center


I realize that a lot of people have heard about God’s love.  But I’ve found that very few people understand the depth of God’s love.  And even fewer live their life as if God’s love has invaded them, as if they’ve experienced God’s love.  Some people would say, “When I hear a message on God’s love, it’s inspirational!” but they don’t think it’s transformational, that it has the ability to change their life.  


Honestly at first that was my intention . . . Inspiration runs out quickly . . . transformation sticks…


For most of us, all of our lives we are screaming out “Love me.”  Some of you may not want to admit it but you have a deep need to be loved.  We’ve heard that God’s love is big. God’s love is universal. But is it personal?  Does it have my name on it?  


I know we’re all in different stages of our spiritual journey.  There are some of you here today that are genuine seekers. You are trying to find out if this God-thing is real and you’re looking for answers.  God loves you very much right now as you are.  


Some of you say, “I’m not a seeker.”  You feel more like a stumble-er, you struggle in your Christian faith and think, “My problem is this: I don’t think I love God enough.”  No, that’s not your problem. Your problem is that you don’t understand how deeply God loves you.  


Some say, “I’m not a seeker, I’m not a struggler.  I’m sold out, totally committed to Jesus Christ.” So am I.  But what happens in my life is sometimes I forget. Sometimes I forget just how personal God’s love is for Kelly Barcol.  That God’s love has my name on it.  


No matter where you are in your spiritual journey, my prayer for today’s message is that when you leave, you would not leave the same person.  That it would not just be inspirational, it would be transformational. Because we’re spinning around in a love starved world. We have a loved starved world.  Think of all the things that people do to feel loved. . . Think of all the things that people do that don’t feel loved . . .  


The Bible boldly proclaims there is only one love in the universe that has what it takes to meet this love-starved need.  And it’s God’s love. You can try to fill it with whatever you want but there’s only one answer.  


Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV) “The Lord said ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with a loving kindness.’” 


“I’ve drawn you.”  Some of you wonder why you’re here  You wonder why you came today. It’s because God’s love is drawing you to Him.  God loves you very deeply and He wants you to know it today. He’s drawing you here.


There are a lot of deep needs that we have, but to be loved hits at the very core of all human needs.  Your greatest need is not money. Your greatest need is not success. Your greatest need is not fame. Your greatest need is not another job. Your greatest need is to be loved. Not sentimental love, not sexual love, but God’s love. Because we so desperately want to be loved, we’re willing to do desperate things to get love.  We have these things I call Love Masks. Love Masks are things we put on to disguise our real need for love. Also when we wear these we do get a little bit of love.  


Performance.  When I achieve and I perform there are some people in our lives that are going to say, “Look what he did….  Look what she accomplished…” and we get a little pat on the ego, a little bit of value, a little bit of love.   


People.  Anything we can do to please people. . .  Oftentimes we get love and affirmation and value from people.    


Pity.  A lot of us in here will put ourselves down.  Then people will come up to us and pat us on the back saying, “You don’t resemble a toadstool.”  And we get a little bit of love and affirmation that way.


Position.  Some of us feel like, “If I can just get that next manager position … that CEO, …that next spot on the ladder, then I’m going to be valued and loved.”  It’s a mask.  


Physical affection.  A lot of times we equate contact with love.  “If I could just have sex…” That would be another form of love even though it’s a mask.


Pleasure.  “If I could just have that next vacation … that next high … that experience.”  That’s also a mask.


Possessions.  “If I could live in that house … if I could live in that neighborhood … if I could drive that car …” 


Problems.  This is more a juvenile form but a lot of kids will have a love mask, “If I just get into trouble … if I just create problems … then people are going to give me the attention I want.”  


The problem with these masks is they’re temporary.  They’re all temporary forms of love, temporary pleasure, temporary value, temporary acceptance, temporary appreciation.  The problem when you put on one of these masks – let’s be honest – people do respond. And you do feel loved. You get it.  And it creates this thirst for more. The problem is that they always dry up. Love masks will dry up because there is a limit to human love.  


That’s where God’s love is so different.  God’s love says, There is no limit. In Ephesians 3:17-19 (LB), Paul says, “I pray that you may be able to feel and understand how long, how wide, how deep and how high His love really is and to experience this love for yourself.”  Pay attention to “experience”.  Many of us have heard that God’s love is long enough to last forever, it’s wide enough to include everybody.  We have heard that God’s love is deep enough to reach into our pain and despair and high enough that we can’t take anything over it.  


But have we experienced God’s love?  Have you experienced God’s love in your own life?  Have you experienced that God loves you, really, really loves you on your good days?  And God loves you, really, really loves you on your bad days? Why? Because that’s all God can do.  The Bible tells us that “God is love.”  


“God is love,” not these Love Masks.  It doesn’t say Possessions are love.  It doesn’t say Physical affection is love.  It doesn’t say Pleasure is love. It says, “God is love.”  


Let’s make this personal for today.  I want you in your mind right now to circle one of these.  Circle which one that you default to the most. We use all of these to get love but what’s the one that you wear the most?  Make this very personal for you.  


I’ll tell you what mine is.  People . . . people pleasers are not good with money . . .  I’ve got money if I can please you, I’ve got time if I can please you . . .  I want that person to like me.  


I never had a healthy understanding of love growing up, but when my son was born I experienced real love .


If the doctor had come up to me and said, “One of you has to die – you or the baby.”  I’d have said, “Me!” I experienced the love. Then the doctor said, “Do you want to hold him?”  I thought, “He looks like a (something from the matrix movie…).” I’m nervously holding E.T. . .   I gave him my pinky and he put the squeeze on it . . . His little name tag had my name on it BARCOL.  They put that thing on him so fast, I didn’t even see it happen and I was watching the whole time. I thought God put it on before he came out or something . . .


I can’t explain it, but at that moment I experienced God’s love. . .  Joshua is 26 years old now and I know him better than anyone . . . and I still love him . . .  If I had to make a choice it would be me . . . if I had to make a choice I’d say take me . . .


When we get our arms around God’s love and we know that it’s personal and it has our name on it, we begin to comprehend that God knows me and He still loves me.  


1 Peter 5:7 (LB) says, “He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.”  You might say, What’s the big deal there?”  The “Big deal” is freedom! You don’t have to put up masks.  God loves you. He knows you. He knows your pain. He knows your past.  He knows your sin. The “Big deal?” is Drop The Masks! Quit relying on them for love they dry up but God’s doesn’t.  


God did have a choice to make and the choice was us or Him.  God said take me! You hear about this type of love. What do you do with this awesome gift?  How do you respond to it?  


You Receive God’s love. It’s a gift.  I can’t imagine what my life would be like if God removed His love from me.  Sometimes pre-believers, non-Christians discover His love, here’s how people respond.  They say, “I’m not worthy of that type of love.” My response is “Exactly. And that’s why it’s called good news.”  We didn’t deserve it and God sent Jesus to die for us.


Romans 5:8 (TEV)  “God has shown us how much He loves us.  It was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us.”  God does not say, “Clean up your act first and then come to Me.”  God says, “Come to Me. Receive it.”  



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