God says to us, “I love you this much”.   And because God loves us so much, he always runs towards us to bring us home and help us to start again.  Always.


Every morning, we crawl out of bed, we draw the curtains to welcome the day, and God says, “I love you this much.”


And some days you might be thinking, “But I don’t feel like loving you today God.”


But God only replies, “I love you this much.”


And some days are so busy, you forget God entirely.


But God keeps on saying, “I love you this much.”


And some days stuff happens.  Someone annoys you.  You get irritated, and you lash out in anger.  Harsh words are said.  You end up hurting the other person and being hurt yourself.  And your own voice at the back of your head says, “He’s not going to love me now.”


But God’s voice reverberates, “I love you this much.”


And another voice inside your head is saying, “I’ve had enough!  I can’t forgive my friend any more.  They’ve gone too far this time.”


But God is still saying to you, “I love you this much.”


And then you get caught up in your own priorities.  You have a life to lead, money to ear, possessions to acquire, continual improvement to make in your situation.  God doesn’t get a look in.


“I love you this much.”


Or the pain that is life catches up with you, and you have to kill that pain somehow – whether it is medication or drink or drugs – anything that dulls the throbbing insistent agony.


“I love you this much.”


And you get to your latter years, and there comes a moment when the spotlight is switched on your history so that you can see the dust that has settled on every part of your life till now, so that you wonder what on earth you have been doing.


“I love you this much.”


Or you’re thinking that actually, you have nothing to worry about.  You haven’t committed any obvious crimes.  You’ve done your duty – more than your duty.  In fact – you should be due some sort of reward for all your good behaviour and setting such high standards for everyone around you.


“I love you this much.”


Whatever your situation.  Whatever is going on in your life.  Whatever you have done or not done.  “I love you this much.”


God loves us so much.  God goes on telling us how much.  That doesn’t mean that God is blind to our inner meanness or self-centredness.  God hears our lies and untruthfulness.  God sees it all.  And he wants us to be the people he made us to be, warm and generous and loving.  He wants us to love him back and to love the people he gave to us.  But when we can’t do that, he doesn’t stop caring.  He just hopes that one day his love will break through and we will respond.


Do you hear God telling you how much you are loved?  Does your heart not lift when he calls your name?  The shepherd is looking for the lost lamb, and the lamb who is trapped in a difficult place is bleating, calling out, so that the shepherd can find her.


The shepherd is saying, “I love you this much, that I will come and find you in the dark and in the wilderness.”


Jesus had just told the story of the Loving Father who ran out to welcome his reprobate son when he came home from wasting his money and wasting his life.  And he was saying: this is what God is like, welcoming us home, whatever we have done.


The loving father is saying, “I love you this much.  You are always my beloved child.  Whatever you have done, you are forgiven when you come home.”


But what happens you get found out in your own personal dishonesty, when you have deceived those around you, and suddenly the truth gets out.  You have been accused, and there is no denying what you have done.  Would you risk everything, your whole future, on knowing God is loving and forgiving, generous and merciful?  Would you trust your future to God who loves you?


In the story Jesus told, one bad egg did just that.  The next story Jesus told was about the dishonest manager who got sacked and risked his whole future on the generous spirit of the big boss.  He reduces the debts of the Master’s debtors, one by one, reckoning that they will be kind to him when he is on the streets.  The rogue knows that his Master is someone who remits debts, and there is no way that the big boss is going to overturn his action and add once more to the burdens of the debtors.


Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.  Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those who owe us.  The rogue gets it.  He is betting on the nature of the Master, which is an extraordinary thing to do.


Jesus is saying, we need to put that kind of trust in God’s love and God’s mercy and God’s overwhelming generosity.  God loves.  God forgives.  That is mercy.


God is saying to you “I love you this much.”

The question is: are you listening?  Do you trust God when he says that?  Do you hear him when he calls your name?