TEACHER: Ken Hicks
SCRIPTURES: Luke 19:5-10; Luke 23:33-34; John 15:12-14; 1 John 3:15-16; Hebrews 9:24;
BOTTOM LINE: The LOVE Story of CHRISTmas
QUESTION: If we have experienced the LOVE of the story of CHRISTmas, then what story of LOVE is God writing in our story?
As we light the Candle of LOVE today … it’s such a reminder of the LOVE God has for us … in fact, the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life.”
Paul told the church in Corinth when talking to them about LOVE … Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful or conceited, rude or selfish. Love is not quick to take offence, it keeps no records of wrongs, it does not gloat over other people’s troubles, but rejoices in the right, the good, and the true. There is nothing that love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, to its hope, to its endurance. Love never ends.
And so I want to spend a few minutes today talking about this LOVE … and the truth is … we throw around the word LOVE pretty loosely today don’t we? In fact, many times, it’s used way more often as an adjective describing our feelings about something … than it is used as a verb demonstrating action.
And maybe this CHRISTmas season we can re-discover what true LOVE is and how we can and even should use it … in fact, I read a story this week that I think really paints this picture of LOVE.
WHAT IS LOVE?
And so let’s dive into that question, just to make sure we’re on the same page. WHAT IS LOVE? Many times we hear the phrase, God is Love. Iin fact, the entire Gospel many times is summed up in that 1 statement, but I want to dive in a little deeper and see how God is LOVE, and maybe even how we can be more like Him as we experience His LOVE.
- LOVE is Reaching out to and Ministering to those that Don’t Yet Know Jesus
If we have experienced the LOVE of God … how do we respond … how is our life colliding with those who have not yet experienced the CHRISTmas story in a real and personal way in their own life?
In fact … how do we respond when we’re sharing life w/ someone who says they have exchanged their life w/ the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus … but honestly, their life does not seem to reflect that?
How do we respond when we’re sharing life w/ someone who at one point in their life had an encounter w/ God thru Jesus … and now for one reason or another … has simply walked away completely?
- LOVE is Praying for Our Enemies
Oooh … c’mon Ken … now that’s a little over the top … and I know, this LOVE of God that has changed my life gets difficult sometimes … doesn’t it?
Jesus was Forgiving even as He was dying on the cross … and remember, He was sentenced to death on some made-up charges to begin with … He forgave the criminal that was dying there on a cross next to Him … and Jesus had the audacity to pray for the Forgiveness of those carrying out and responsible for His crucifixion.
And I read His Word … and I’ve experienced God’s LOVE in my own life … and honestly … there’s no way I can NOT be Forgiving & Praying for my Enemies … and be living from the fullness of the LOVE God intended in my life of Abundant Living.
- LOVE is Self Sacrificing
Now … what does self-sacrificing mean? Truth is, there are all kinds of definitions of what that looks like aren’t there?
For some … to give up 1 Cup of Coffee or Latte a day for a month and instead use the $$ to support some sort of ministry endeavor … for some, they would consider that a HUGE sacrifice right?
1 John 3:15-16 … “15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
Don’t miss this … this is a COMMAND … not a Request … Christ has commanded us to Love one Another … I honestly believe part of how we grow and experience more of Him is in that journey of caring for and nurturing others.
And maybe this idea of Laying down our lives for them might be a little extreme … maybe … clearly it wasn’t for the Chaplains in the story … but I think at a minimum … it probably tells us up front that part of our journey will require Sacrifice … and it will rarely be Convenient … and rarely be w/o Cost … and sometimes not even pleasant to be honest.
- LOVE is Intercessory
All 3 of these other qualities all have this in Common [among other things] … they are all Intercessory in nature … they will result in us interceding or sometimes intervening on another person’s behalf … our assignment might be to serve as the calming voice of God in a disagreement … we might be called to restore a fallen brother or sister to God’s LOVE … we might be serving the role of Evangelist by strategically and intentionally nurturing a relationship w/ someone who has yet to experience God’s LOVE.
… whatever the case … we’re an Intercessor … and Jesus modeled for us an incredible picture of that …
Hebrews 9:24 … “24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.”
He is still serving the Role of Intercessor … even on our behalf … and as we experience Him more and more … and as His LOVE becomes more and more relevant in our lives, we are called to be His Intercessor’s on behalf of others.