God’s Love Revealed!

Sermon Notes (Sunday December 13th, 2015)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

God’s Love Revealed!

Proverb 11:25; 1 John 3:1-6

 

For those of you who have never heard of the Swiss theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968), he is regarded as the greatest Reformed theologian of the 20th century. Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics runs to over six million words and 8,000 pages ~ one of the longest works of systematic theology ever written. When Barth visited the University of Chicago, students and scholars crowded around him. At a press conference, someone asked, “Dr. Barth, what is the most profound truth you have learned in your studies?” Without hesitation Barth replied, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Karl Barth, the greatest mind of the 20th century, was impacted most, not be reading theology, but by the simple truth, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

 

Today is the third Sunday of Advent. Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy are four themes that we have chosen for the four Sundays of Advent this year. We have already covered the first two topics, the hope of Christ’s coming and the peace that He brings. Today we emphasize the love of God revealed to us in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God absolutely loves us. It’s hard to get our mind around, but it is true. He loves us. This is where the faith journey starts: understanding that God loves us. If we do not have an assurance of God’s love, our faith journey will not last long. Two quick observations as we meditate on God’s love revealed to us:

 

First: God’s Love is an Amazing Truth

God’s love is a reality that we encounter throughout the Scriptures. Isaiah 49:16 says that God loves us so much that He engraved our names on the palm of His hand. Matthew 10:30 says that He loves us so much that He knows how many hairs are on our head. Psalm 56:8 says He loves us so much that He saves our tears in a bottle. Jeremiah 31:3 says He loves us with an everlasting love.

 

God’s love is very personal toward His own. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, it doesn’t matter what you’ve experienced – God loves you. It doesn’t matter what you have thought about yourself or what other people may have said about you – God loves you. This is what God says about you! You are honored, you are precious in His eyes, says Isaiah 43:4. “This is love:,” says 1 John 4:10, “not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” says 1 John 3:1

 

Unfortunately, we have a very distorted meaning of love. Sometimes it can be difficult to understand the real meaning of love. People may say they love their job, their truck, their new hat, or their new phone. With all of these mixed messages about love, it can be difficult to understand the real meaning of love. The children performed to us today the Christmas Pageant. Friends, there is no greater love than the love expressed through Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. When we know there is nothing we can do to earn His love and there is nothing we can do to lose His love, there is a security that settles into our souls, a confidence that people cannot take away and job losses, divorce, sickness, or surgery can threaten. There is nothing like the freedom that comes from knowing you are loved by God in spite of your imperfections. God’s love indeed is an amazing truth.

 

Second: Simply Spreading God’s Love

Love is revealed. Now God’s amazing love has to be shared. We share a lot of things with each other don’t we? You find a restaurant you like, you tell people.  You find a good bargain at the store and you share the news with others.  You receive poor service someplace, you tell your friends to “stay away from there!”  And, so it goes, we share with one another.

 

People today are cynical about the gospel message as they have always been. If we receive a letter offering a free gift, our first thought it is a trap to try to make us buy something we do not want. Our world is skeptical of the gospel. We live in a world full of calls offering us help with our credit card, insurance, etc. We all know that almost all of these have some form of trickery involved. For so many people today, the gospel, God’s unconditional love, is too good to be true.

 

Because of the skeptical world of the gospel message, Christians today are very shy to share the love of God with others. Evangelism scares us, doesn’t it?  After all our faith is personal! What will happen if the person doesn’t want to hear? Will they get mad at me? Aren’t we told to avoid the topics of religion and politics? What will I say?  How should I say it?  And our list goes on and on! I think the hard question we need to ask is: Is our faith in Jesus Christ important enough to share?  Where does it rank in the list of things we share ~ a good restaurant, where to find the cheapest gas, the latest bargain we found?

 

The mission of the church is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. This is our message! Sharing our faith is challenging but it is not impossible. Evangelism means changing our attitude from one of despair and nothing can happen to one of hope and the sky is the limit for change. There were once two shoe salesmen who went to Africa to open new sales territories. Three days after they arrived, the first salesman faxed a message: “I will be returning on next plane. I can’t sell shoes here. Everyone goes barefoot all the time.” There was no report from the second salesman for about two weeks. Then came a fat airmail envelope with this message for the home office. “Fifty orders enclosed. Prospects unlimited. Nobody here has shoes.” It all depends on our attitude and our faith in the Lord.

 

In the Book of Proverbs 11:25 the Scripture reminds us that, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” The International Standard Version (ISV) translates Proverbs 11:25 this way: “A generous person will prosper, and anyone who gives water will receive a flood in return.” Last Sunday Elders Charlie Puff and Manny Nowak shared with us the encouraging news about the generosity of this congregation in helping with the budget gap we had. Keep investing in God’s Kingdom. Keep receiving more and sharing more of God’s love with all those around us. A story is told of a selfish person who inherited a rice field in India. The first season the irrigation water covered his property, making it very fruitful, and it also overflowed on to his neighbors fields, bringing a great harvest to them as well. The next season he decided that he was too generous in sharing his wealth by letting this water escape to others so he stopped the water with a specially made dam. However, in doing so he spoiled his own crop. The irrigation water brought blessing when it flowed, but when it became stagnant, it turned the field into an unfruitful marsh. Advent is a reminder that greatest love is revealed. It is now our turn to share it. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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