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Love

Mission: Christmas  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:51
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Intro

Nature and effect. Two ways to perceive a thing. The nature of a thing can be described in terms that are appropriate to it. The effect is, by necessity, only partially about the thing we describe.
If we described the nature of a pillow, we could use words like down, fluffy, hard, flat, smelly, or like-a-cloud. These words are appropriate to a pillow.
But if we describe it’s effect, we must take things other than the pillow into account. A pillow that is too soft and flat for you might be just right for me. So the effect for you would be a sore neck, but for me a wonderful nights sleep. The effect must include some outside reference.
Now what if we described the nature of yesterdays Argentina vs. Croatia soccer (ahem… football) game? Those descriptions of a pillow would hardly be useful in describing the nature of that match. I scanned coverage of the match and found words like route, unstoppable, quick-fire, off-balanced. These are appropriate types of word to describe the nature of the game.
but the effect entirely depends on what side of the 3-0 score the team (or fans) are on. For one, finals. The other spectators. For one celebration. The other aggravation.
And like these two examples, we can examine the nature and the effect of the birth of Jesus. With consequences inexpressibly greater than a nights sleep or a soccer game, we do well to not only consider, but fix our gaze on Him. For He is our hope and salvation.
Pray

Ministry of His Person.

Luke 2:1–7 ESV
1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

God’s Love is...

Present.

Emmanuel - God with us (verse?)
He expressed the love of presence by joining humanity in our place.
He perfected the love of presence by presenting Himself at OUR judgement.
He produces the love of presence by residing with us, in us, through us. What God is this that dwells with man? And who am I that He should know my name?

Participant.

It wasn’t enough for God to swoop in and conquer sin. He dwelt with it before He dealt with it!
God does not participate with sin. But God is a participant with sinners. There is often pushback to “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. It’s incomprehensible to one who has not been redeemed. But let’s remember that if God’s message of forgiveness and reconciliation required His committed participation in the lives of sinners, we should not expect to see the results He intends without doing likewise!

Personal.

God’s love is expressed in the personal investment He made. In the flesh. With all the details and dinginess that can accompany it. He was spared no discomfort in His birth and upbringing, but shared Himself as an offering of love to us.
He also partook in every trial of pain in death.
Romans 5:8 ESV
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God’s forgiveness is personal to us for the redemption He offers us. But don’t forget it was personal for Him too. His death was no mirage; His body not less than ours. Jesus, in his person, gave all he had. His love demanded it
In each of these things God has loved us. In his birth they are displayed. In His death they were made powerful. And in both of these expressions of love are written in our heart. Given for our benefit. Effective for making us holy.
So we are called to follow Him, be like Him, for His love to live in us! May we seek opportunities to love others in expressions of presence, participating in their lives in a personal manner. Anything less is sharing less that the love of God.
So we have seen the nature of God’s love expressed in the wonder of Christmas. Now let’s see the effect of it.

God’s Love Draws Us In.

---> (Verse before fill-in)
Luke 2:8–21 ESV
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
The revelation of the nature of God in the ministry of his appearing draws us in. It drew these shepherds in.

But First, Blown Away!

But before they were drawn in, they were blown away! I struggle to find the adjectives.
Shepherd keeping watch over their flocks by night. (v. 8-9)
There’s a good argument to be made that Jesus was bore on September 11th of 3 BC. If that was the case...
It was dark! It was likely the first sliver of the crescent moon that would have set less than an hour after sunset.
They wound’t have know anything other than the quiet, cool, dark of a lonely Bethlehem rural hillside.
I’m sure you’ve been woken up sometime when it’s still dark with someone flipping on the light. This must have been magnitudes above that!
From quite dark solitude - to an angel of the Lord and the glory of the Lord surrounding!
Message of the Messiah (v. 10-14)
Fear not! Nice try!!
But there’s a message of great joy! - The Messiah is born!
“And this will be a sign...” It seems the angel and the glory of God and the multitude of angels would be the sign. But NO! The sign is the absolute normal thing of a new born baby wrapped just like you’d expect.
Has there ever been a birth announcement like this? And there will never be another one again.

Then Come and Wonder.

They found a new priority. Where they were just concerned with sheep, they now were intent on the King! They were just doing their job, they now find new purpose. What they had seen was wonderful - and they HAD to share that wonder!
The effect of Jesus birth transformed the perspective of the shepherds. And when Jesus transforms us, He make us to transform others. They transmitted the wonder
I wonder how that went down. Are shepherds like ranchers? I don’t see a bunch of ranchers bringing news like this in a gentle quiet manner. They went with hast! LETS GO!!
Jesus was hours old. Any sleep would bee good sleep. For Jesus and Mary. But in crashes these dirty, sheep-smelling guys right out of the field, and right our of breath! How do you tell that story? Where do you start? Did they all start at once? Even if they tried to start quiet, Their excitement would have gotten the better of them.
But they didn’t stay all night. They had sheep to tend, and Mary would have been beyond exhausted. Despite that, she lay down with this newborn miracle pondering all the wonder those shepherds told them.
They headed back to the fields. After they exchanged phone numbers, friended each other on Facebook, and took some selfies with Jesus. I do wonder if they ever saw each other again. Did they follow the life of Jesus? Could they have? I don’t think we can know that. But we can know they worshiped God! The effect of God’s love on them was transformation, adoration, and praise.
The effect on Mary was awe, and wonder, and heartfelt search for understanding. She was as overwhelmed by God as were the shepherds.
Then there’s the effect of God’s love on Joseph. He wondered, no doubt. He was overwhelmed no doubt. But we see he was obedient. Luke 2 21 “21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”
Just a passing thought. Joseph is the only human to give God a name. What a place of honor that is! Now the name was given to him from God, but God put Joseph in the position to assign the name.
I pray we will spend time this season, just as Mary, pondering the wonders and treasuring the message of God coming to love us in person. We’ve seen the nature of that love. But the question is - what is the effect? What is the effect on you?
Will God’s love be to you a glorious light in dark places?
Will it be to you a message of hope and salvation?
Will His love elicit wonder and drive you share “what wondrous love is this?”
Will the love of Jesus invite you into obedience in a more sincere and deeper way?
I pray that as God’s love in the form of the person of Jesus is present in your thoughts and actions, participates in forming attitudes and responses to those lost and hurting people around you, and is personally transformative in such a way that just being in your redeemed presence transforms others around you.
May God’s love this Christmas season blow you away, and may it then draw you in to a closer relationship with Him. And may our hearts echo in meaning if not in splendor the words of the angels
Luke 2:14 ESV
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Pary
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