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Who loves ya, baby?

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"Who loves ya Baby? Be beautiful...." the tag-line of bald-headed Kojak, tootsie pop in hand. Funny 11-second clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMOYhApOa7c

Decades later...Kojak? Telly Savalas? ha, who cares?


However there is One who loves ya Baby, and that truth makes all the difference in the world . . . God.


Truth is--

God's heart is so full of love for you it is difficult to comprehend .   

God's heart desires one thing-to love and be loved by humanity. 

God's heart shows no partiality; he is an equal opportunity lover. Yes everyone.

While we may show partiality because of race or class, these things do not cross God's mind.

 

I take you back to the pages of Paul's most loved letter, Philippians. The church he established in old Macedonia serves as a grand expression of God's heart. Paul's stay in Philippi centers around three people-three very different people. But first, let's consider Philippi herself as context is so important when understanding scripture. Why did Paul go to Philippi? The city was a commercial center in the ancient world--prime location, gold and silver mines, status as a Roman colony, and maybe most importantly, the main road that traveled through the town linking Rome with her eastern provinces. All of these made Philippi a great spot for the good news of Jesus Christ.

 

Upon arriving in a new town, it was Paul's custom to go first to the synagogue, but there was none in Philippi, which indicates there were few Jews in town. [Luke records this in Acts 16.13ff https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+16.13-40&version=ESV]

So the missionaries went to the river just outside of town to look for a place of prayer.  Once there, Paul did indeed find a small group of the faithful including Lydia, a successful businesswoman from Asia.

 

Paul and Silas told the group about the Savior, and Lydia opened her heart to Jesus Christ, and was baptized along with her household. Ah, the river! So grateful for her newfound relationship with the Savior, Lydia insisted they come to her home to stay; and 'she persuaded us', Luke noted. Note: first convert in Philippi, European soil - Lydia.

 

Day after day, as the Christians made their way to the river for fellowship and prayer, a demon-possessed slave girl shouted their presence as they walked through town. (Can you picture that?) "Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" And it left ... along with the money she made for her owners fortune telling. Uh-oh.

 

Her owners had Paul and Silas brought before the authorities, who ordered them beaten with rods and thrown into prison. Being sternly warned to carefully guard them, the jailer put the battered men in stocks down in the bowels of the prison. But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God, and there was a strong earthquake; the jail doors opened, and their chains fell to the ground. (Look at God's response to Paul and Silas's prayerful praise!) Sure that Paul and Silas had escaped, the jailer prepared to kill himself, until Paul shouted, 'No...we are all here! Do not harm yourself.' Wow, wow, wow.

 

Upon realizing the prisoners were still there, the jailer looked at Paul and then Silas, and realized these men were like no others. Think of it--after being beaten, stretched out on stocks in the cold damp prison cell, and late at night, they sang praises to God. That was anything but normal---peace and joy even while they suffered? The jailer wanted what they had. [wait...have you ever looked at someone and thought the same thing? I want their faith, I want their joy...!] 'Please tell me how I can be saved?' he urgently pleaded. Paul responded, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved." The jailer and all of his family members put their trust in Christ and were baptized, adding to the number of Christians in that town called Philippi. 

 

Remembering their faces, Paul writes, "I thank my God every time I remember you." Of three of those we are now aware-the wealthy Asian businesswoman, Lydia, the set-free Greek slave girl, and the Roman jailer. It seems Paul's heart mirrors the heart of God, who loves and draws all of us to himself . . . no partiality, no consideration of gender, race, or social status. God does not play favorites, and I for one, am glad-otherwise, I would surely be on the outside looking in.

 

No matter who we are or what we have done, 

God extends great love toward us. 

Now, let's reach back and experience his love. Amen.

And one more thing, let's endeavor to love others well--especially the tough ones.


Christine - The Everlasting Love of God, song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaTKSQ1-fh8



Philippians #2

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