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December 25, 2020 1:00 am
At Christmas, we would rather not think about the end of life. But the eternal life Jesus provided for those who believe means that death is not the end. In one sense, Jesus becomes the beginning of the real life we were meant to have.Click here to listen (Duration 25:02)
Wasn't doing was raising his voice introduces greater love hath no man than a man lay down his life.
His friend that's what Jesus said and that's what he did. There is no greater love than the love of God through his son. And that's a wonderful Christmas gift from the Moody Church in Chicago. This is with Dr. Sir who is clear teaching helps us make across the finish line. Students are still in the midst of your series on the gifts Jesus brought to us so long ago which gift is your focus today will debris talking about the gift of love and the reason we are doing that is that indeed, as you've already mentioned.
Greater love hath no man than this, but that a man lay down his life for his friends and Jesus died for us. But before I go any further I just want to wish you every single listener a very blessed Christmas. Let us worship Jesus. Now I need to tell you that the older I get when I look back I always think of various Christmas says I have experienced. May I just get personal.
For a moment as a boy out on the farm. Growing up in Canada. I remember one year, our mother went to a tree cut down a branch and that was our Christmas tree. There wasn't much under the Christmas tree but we would always read the Christmas story and then the youngest in the family would hand out whatever gifts there were under the tree and I was the youngest. So I always had that privilege I have that memory and many other memories, but the real emphasis that we all need right now is once again to focus on Jesus Christ.
Christmas means love the gospel in a nutshell, God loved the world if you don't feel loved and if you wonder whether or not God loves us.
Listen carefully because we have hope on this very special day. What is the most difficult attribute of God to believe it's not hard for us to believe that God is a God of all power. I mean after all, if you see the stars you know that God must be all-powerful hurriedly. It's not hard to believe that God is a God of justice. There is something within us that cries up just and we want justice and that desire is a good biblical desire because we are created after the image of God.
And we desire justice and we can somehow grasp God's holiness, but the attribute of God, which is the most difficult to believe is the attribute of love and the reason that it is so difficult is because we look at the world and the love of God seems to be so contrary to everything that we know on earth and everything that we experience. For example, the love of God is contrary to natural disasters. We know that natural disasters take place in the world and that the horrendous hurricane such as sand deity, devastating earthquakes in Haiti. We could go on and on and on and indicate the tremendous suffering of the human race, and that seems to be so contrary to love because those are the kinds of things that God could very easily prevent and then we have crimes horrendous crimes. The shooting of children, and even though we say will. God didn't do that human beings did and yes it is true that humans did it. God didn't. The fact is, it happened on God's watch. So the question is how do we know that God loves the world, can we point to that says this is love without ambiguity and without question one of the most beautiful passages in all the Bible and the love of God is found actually in the book of first John, if you have your Bibles you turn to first John chapter 4 and we can see there the love of God and what were going to do is were going to find that love where it is best seen even in the midst of devastation in the midst of unanswered questions God's love will be there first John chapter 4 verse 711.
Let us love one another, for love is from God.
Whoever loves has been born and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love and he repeats those words. A few verses later.
Now, of course, that doesn't say that all that God is God's love.
Yes, God is just as God is all-powerful, but God is love and we say to ourselves, where, then, do we see with clarity and John goes on to answer our question, what I'd like to do for the next few moments in my remarks will be few, is to look at the love of God from three perspective. First of all God's love has acted toward us.
It is acted for us.
Let's continue reading the text it says in verse nine.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us that God sent his only son into the world so that we might live through him.
God sent his son were talking Christmas were talking Bethlehem to realize that Jesus is the only one who is ever born, who, because he was God the son of God is the only one who is ever born who chose where he would be born what time he would be born, and who his mother would be Jesus made all those choices along with God the father because other children are born.
But Jesus was sent into the world what a difference in the reason that he was sent into the world is very clear. It says verse 10 in this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. So there you have Christmas, Jesus sent into the world. There you had Easter Jesus Christ coming to be the propitiation for our sin. Now that word propitiation means that he is the sacrifice he is the atoning sacrifice Old Testament times, the high priest offered sacrifices and especially on the day of atonement. There was a sacrifice that was offered and then he went into the holy of holies. And you know that whole story and it is there that the Ark of the covenant was in blood was put on that Ark why as an atoning sacrifice, but it only pictured the coming of Jesus.
It could be the real thing. And so Jesus comes in by one offering he perfects all those who are sanctified. Bible says and is one offering takes care of it all.
What a marvelous Savior. We have an therein is love. You know, sometimes the impression is given wrongly, that God is a very manageable angry God and then Jesus comes along and Jesus is the is the benevolent one he makes a sacrifice for God the father, but God doesn't really love us. But thank God for Jesus who does at the wrong way to look at the Trinity. Remember, the Bible says for God so loved the world the remarkable thing about the Christianity which is opposite to other religions.
You can go on the Internet you can find auto Christianity is like other religions because there are other religions that have sacrifice etc. etc. but only in Christianity is it true that God becomes the sacrifice God loves the world, the decision that Jesus Christ should die, was a voluntary decision, but it was made by God the father, God the son and the Holy Spirit, and in fact God created in order that he might redeem because redemption is the sparkling jewel of his glory, and of all that he is, and that's why we love him because he first loved us and sent his son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin. The big issue between us and God is sin, and if you don't acknowledge that in your life. You cannot be redeemed because Jesus came to save his people. The Bible says from their sins. That's why he came. And of course the Bible says that he did this even before we loved him even when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his son.
The apostle Paul says I think of little Martha coming into a room and saying to her mommy as she had one doll under one arm and another doll under the other arm, mommy, mommy, mommy. I love them. They never love back. God loves us back, but God loves us even when we didn't love him back. Herein is love. God's love acted for us and I say also that God's love from another perspective, acts in us. God's love acts in us. You'll notice that in this text we should read it versus them versus the 12 and following it says no one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God abides in has his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us because he has given us of his spirit and we have seen and testify that the father has sent the son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the son of God, God abides in him.
Verse 17 by this is love perfected in us that we might have confidence for the day of judgment over and over again. John is uses the word by the love of God abides in all those who know God and of course that is proof that you are born again, let me say here today that if you don't love God at all. If he is if you are indifferent to them or don't care about them or you are tempted to say that you don't owe God anything that would be proof that you have never been born again. That's what John says here in the text you see when we are truly born again of the Holy Spirit. God creates within us a love that we do not have naturally and this love is created within us.
You know it says in first Peter regarding Jesus whom having not seen you love. Now let me ask you a question. Is there someone whom you have never seen or connected with that you love. I don't think so.
You might be kindly disposed to other people you empathize with their problems with their sins with their sorrows.
The fact is that we do not love unless we know people and when we love someone whom we have never seen whom having not seen you love. That is really proof of the work of God in the human heart, creating within us a love that we do not naturally have and that is proof that we know God. Do you love God not saying that we love him perfectly, but we do love him because he first loved us. The text of Scripture says so let's keep that in mind God's love works in us, but God's love also acts through us and for this. I'm going to go all the way to verse 19 we love because he first loved us.
If anyone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar 30 years ago when all of you were a little bit younger. I preached a message here from this pulpit entitled three big lies there already from the Gospel of John here in chapter 1 he says if you say that you walk in the light and yet there is darkness in your life you live. Chapter 2 he says if you say that you know God and don't accept the divinity of Jesus, you lie.
John is very very upfront Disney and he saying if anyone says why I love God, but I hate so-and-so your brother in the church you're a liar. He says because he who does not love his brother whom he has seen once again arguing it's easier for us to love people whom we know and see how can he love God whom he has not seen when you get married and some of you have learned this possibly too late.
You not only get your mate but you get the family to I don't know of any instance, though perhaps it is happened where someone says I want to marry you but I don't want your family. I don't want your relatives. I just want you alone when you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. The truth is, like it or not you get all of us to get all of his brothers he get his sisters you get everybody was related to Jesus. And here we are in all of our perfections and imperfections which should really be highlighted and here we are in all of these shortcomings. And the Bible says I'm putting you together that you might love one another.
That's why you know there's emphasis today on the computer and how you can go to church on the computer and I suppose that all throughout the world.
Their people listening to this message today because we stream live all over the world and of heard from at least 80 different countries so very glad for that.
And sometimes if the time zone is right. I listen to church services on the Internet to but there's nothing that can really take the place of individually getting to know other believers and showing them love, despite the fact that perhaps they hurt us or they perhaps are so imperfect that we find it very difficult to be around them. And of course they feel the very same way about us. The Bible says don't tell me that you love God, and you hate your brother because if you love God and you received his divine forgiveness and you've received his grace. You will be kindly disposed even to those who have done evil against you because the love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit by the that is been given unto us. I've often said it and I'm saying it again. The world can out entertain us. The world can out give us the world can outnumber us, but let it never be said that the world can out love us because we had within us the love of God that is been shed abroad in our hearts. And so what John is really saying is, is that the love of God is lived out in our hearts.
Let me nail this down for all of us by making two concluding statements to help us to understand the implications. First of all, love is very costly.
Love is very costly.
The Bible says that God gave and I read it too quickly.
Didn't I God gave his one and only son. This is verse nine. God sent his one and only son into the world.
In Italy there is a church with a painting that I think represents very good theology. The painting is of the crucifixion of Jesus with the nails through his hands and his feet, but there's also a shadow behind Jesus and that shadow is God the father, and it is as if the nails have gone through him as well. He also suffered knowing theology. There is a disagreement, there are those who say that God cannot have emotions because the argument is that if you say God has emotions, then you're saying that God is changeable and I am the Lord, and I change not. I disagree with that theology I read the Bible and I find that God is a God of deep emotion.
That's why in the Old Testament.
It talks about God, loving, and God being angry and God responding. Let us say it categorically that when Jesus died on the cross considering the love between the father and the son and the relationship of the Trinity.
Considering all that it is God who suffered, it is God who suffered now. He suffered voluntarily at the things some of us suffer and it is involuntary at all. It's imposed upon us, but God chose to suffer to redeem us and to show his love and love is always costly. Jesus said in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Luke.
He said love your enemies, be kind to them, do good to them because you are like thy heavenly father.
Our heavenly father for he also is kind to the ungrateful and evil man you want to be God like love your enemies, do good to them. Pray for them.
Bless those who curse Jesus, and you see that love costs us something, it costs us something when we exercise it.
It also cost us something when it is withheld from us. You know the price of love to be in love with someone and then they reject you and it hurts a lot more love has within it a cost and when we ask ourselves the question, where is God when we look at natural disasters and when we see evil in the world. What we do is we hurry to the cross. We hurried to Jesus Christ and there we see love very clearly manifest was net a man by the name of Frederick Lehman who wrote the words, could we would think the ocean fill and where the sky of parchment made where every stock on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade to write the love of God of love would drain the oceans dry, you wrote, and even though the scroll went from sky to sky. I didn't practice that particular coding it before I came here so it ended a little roughly, but you do get the point.
Don't you God loves you and it's costly to him, but he loves you anyway and we should love in return. There's a second lesson and that is that love actually heals love actually heals. You'll notice it says this in the text verse 17 by this is love perfected within us so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is, so also we are in the world. There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear or fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
What John is saying is this, that if you are not sure of God's love toward you. You're gonna live in fear of judgment and of course, only those who are born again had that great sense of confidence. Another word that John likes to use and uses throughout his book. But what John is saying is that God loves you so much that if you knew as a believer that his love toward you was totally unconditional and that he loves you and loves you and loves you anyway.
Imagine the confidence that you would have been God's presence.
Imagine how that would free you in your life. No need to magnify what you are able to do. No need to try to build up your image. No need to try to be the richest person on the block.
No need for that because you are loved by God.
Yesterday, those of us who were here at the women's luncheon, we heard a marvelous testimony of a young woman who grew up in knew something was wrong and her family. Something about her. She was treated differently the age of 18. Before she goes to college. She is told that she is adopted and her aunt actually turned out to be her biological mother. You can imagine, and her biological father was in prison for selling drugs.
You can imagine this great sense of identity.
This identity, Christ, and over and over again. This young woman use the word love how love healed her God's love, the love of other people.
Look at what the Bible says in first John were still there. Chapter 3 verse one see what kind of love the father has given to us that we should be called children of God. And so we are the reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now and what we shall be has not yet appeared but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is and I want to say wow.
Well, this is Pastor Luther and indeed on this Christmas day. We want to say wow the me ask you a question. Do you feel love today or do you think that when God looks at you all that he sees is your sinfulness will if you know Jesus Christ as your personal savior God sees you in Christ, and I can say with authority. God loves you. Now he does discipline us, but he loves us and how do we know that God loves the world, is it because we look at nature and we see God in nature. Well, oftentimes all that nature gives to us his heart ache tornadoes. Oftentimes earthquakes and what have you know whenever we think of the love of God. We think of two things. First of all Bethlehem and then Calvary will on this Christmas day. I hope that you take time to worship the Lord our God, and I like to remind people that that baby in the manger. There was so much more to him than could be seen by human eyes. God of very God.
One time my daughter asked me dad who is taking care of the world when God was a baby. Will Jesus was the father was and so was the spirit three in one, taking care of this world and yet it is correct to say that today on this special day we look into the manger and we see God of very God enjoy this Christmas. Always remember where here for a purpose to share light with others. You can write to us at running to win 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 at Christmas we celebrate the eternal life. Jesus makes possible for those who believe in one sense that belief marks the beginning of the real life we were meant to have. Next time Jesus the gift of life. Running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church