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       Sermons | Passionate worship

      This sermon was preached by Pastor Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

      Dec. 19, 2021 | Fourth Sunday of Advent

      Speak to us, Lord. Speak to us in the waiting, the watching, the hoping, the longing, the sorrow, the sighing, the rejoicing. Speak to us by your Word in these Advent days, and walk with us until the day of your coming. Amen.


       

      The Advent of Love
      1 John 3:13–24

       G IFTS ARE A WAY we show someone that we care about them. Birthdays, weddings, whenever. They are a physical expression of care and love. A gift is some “thing” that represents our love — some “thing” we hope will provide joy.

      We read of the perfect gift in John 3:16:

      “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

      † † †

      GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD that He gave. What did God give? His only Son!

      God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to participate in our humanity. Born of Mary, laid in a manger; the frailty, weakness, dependence, vulnerability of a baby. Yet, bearing our weariness, our sorrow, our tiredness, our pain.

      God gave His Son to the cross. Dying in shame, rising in victory, now reigning in glory. That’s God’s great gift of love for you, for me, for all of creation.

      † † †

      GOD GIVES US the gift of love in the person of Jesus Christ. God doesn’t make a list and check it twice to find out who’s naughty or nice before giving his love gift. This gift is free for everyone. God’s gift of love is always free, always more than we deserve.

      The gift of Christ on Christmas is not because God owes us, not because God is somehow in debt to us. Not because we’ve given something to God, and he needs to give us something in return. Not because we are lovely, or lovable. Yet, God does love us, and God gives us the very best.

      God loves us enough to give His Son to Calvary. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

      † † †

      HERE IS LOVE. Here is how much you are loved. But the story of God’s faithful love does not end with God’s good and gracious gift of love to each of us.

      Now that we know what love is, we live that love for others. We pass along that love to others — especially those who need signs of love.

      “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

      † † †

      LET’S SAY YOU GIVE ME a German chocolate cake for Christmas. If I share with Lisa, the amount of cake for myself goes down. Or I could turn around and give that German Chocolate Cake to someone else — regift it — then it is completely gone. I no longer have cake. That’s the way we often think about gifts. If I share, then there’s less for me.

      But that’s not the way with God’s love. Once you’ve experienced it you want to pass it on. Give away God’s love. Regift God’s love — pass it along to someone else. We receive this amazing, unwarranted love as a gift from God. A gift of his very self because God is love.

      Now that we have that love, now that we have been overwhelmed with such extravagant and costly love, we freely, lavishly, share that love with others. We give that love away. But, here’s the thing. Unlike German chocolate cake, if we give love away, we never run out. We never give it all away. We always have more of God’s love to share.

      The fourth candle on our Advent wreath represents love. God gave us steadfast and abiding love. We are empowered to offer God’s love to others by our actions and in truth.

      † † †

      THE WHOLE IDEA behind the entire letter of 1 John is that in the sacrificial love of Christ we see and experience God. Having received this gift, we are compelled to live out that love in what we say and what we do. The evangelist makes it clear:

      “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us — and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.”

      What does it mean to lay down our lives for another?

           ■ to put our own wants aside to do what we can to meet the needs of others
           ■ to share the burden
           ■ to alleviate pain and suffering when and where we can.
           ■ looking at one’s glass as always full enough to share
           ■ being content with enough
           ■ not hoarding our time, our talents, or our possessions.

      † † †

      JESUS WAS BORN A BABY, fully God and fully human. Jesus is God’s love in person.

      Jesus taught us how to love by living with us on earth and being an example to us.

      Now, he calls us to love others like he loves us.

      — Keith Cardwell   


      «The whole idea behind the entire letter of 1 John is that in the sacrificial love of Christ we see and experience God. Having received this gift, we are compelled to live out that love in what we say and what we do.»

      SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY

      This is the Word of God for the people of God:


      1 John 3:13–24
      Holy Bible, New International Version


      13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 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. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

      19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

      — This is the Word of the Lord.
      — Thanks be to God.



      Footnote:
           a.  1 John 3:13  The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verse 16.


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      23208 Swift Church Road
      Foley, AL 36535
      Phone: (251) 943-8367
      email: swiftpc@gulftel.com


       

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