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Christmas Gifts: Love

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Love

What is Love?
Video: https://skitguys.com/videos/item/its-the-most-wonderful-time
Stop. Experience the love of Jesus this season.
Stop. Rest in the love of Jesus this season.
Stop. Know how much you are loved by God.
The Kind of Love We are Used to:
Normal Love
In normal situations parents love their children, family loves each other, friends love each other. God has made all mankind in a way, that even though we are broken and sinful we can still show affection to certain people. So we might tend to congratulate ourselves on how loving we are when we are just being human.
We like this kind of love best because it is easy, it takes little effort.
Pleasing Love
This one is where actions that may even appear benevolent are only done for self. The question is asked, did it please me first? That is usually the beginning stages of a relationship, we like how we feel when we are with that person. We may do anything for them but we really are all about how we feel. If we don’t mature and the relationship doesn’t mature, we throw out things like, I just don’t feel it anymore, or you get bored because that initial love is gone. But this kind of love is just as common in different kinds of relationships as it is to romantic ones.
“I’ll love you if you love me”
This love doesn’t originate from a desire to follow Jesus and it doesn’t originate from a commitment to love. This is a quid quo pro kind of love. This isn’t Christian love at all, it is the essence of the kind of love we see so frequently in our society.
What is the true test of love?
Do I have that love growing in my life?
John 1:9–14 NIV
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John
John 1:9–14 NIV
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
I think we would all agree that we would like to become better at showing love. But were do we start?
Do I have that love growing in my life?
I think we would all agree that we would like to become better at showing love. But were do we start?
The theme of this passage is simple. It Is God’s will for each of us that his Love is made complete in us. God created each of us to be fully developed in our ability to love. In each of our unique and creative ways.
The original church that this letter was written to had a group of people in it who were breaking off from it with their own beliefs about God and what it meant to love. Their incorrect beliefs was giving them the freedom to exclude others and elevate themselves. Their love was conditional and it was hurting the church family. They probably were losing perspective on what it mean to love and were beginning to lash out at these folks who had broken off and probably each other. Because we have to admit we usually are best at hurting those we are close to.
But John didn’t leave them without hope and he doesn’t leave you and me without hope. He holds up Jesus as an example of someone who loved perfectly and and wants to love each other and others through us.
1 John 4:7–10 NIV
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:7-

(NIV)
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
(NIV)

God let my sin push Christ to the cross.

God let my sin push Christ to the cross.

God let my sin push Christ to the cross.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

God let my sin push Christ to the cross.

God let your sin push Christ to the cross.
We have a tendency to throw pity parties…"Nobody loves me! I'm not worth anything! I'm not loved by anybody." We cry ourselves a river and we’re wrong! You're wrong.
The Bible says "`The mountains and hills may crumble but My love for you will never end,' so says the Lord who loves you." God's love will never end.
There are two characteristics that make God's love different from human love.

God's love is constant.

It's never going to end. God is not fickle. God is not unpredictable. Most of us have experienced inconsistent love because we live with human beings. We're all inconsistent. God says, "My love is never going to end for you."

God's love is unconditional.

God's love is unconditional.

It's not based on performance. It's not based on you measuring up. As human beings, we try to give unconditional love to other people, to our parents, to our friends. We can’t. When you say, "I love you because..." that's conditional love.
But God says to you, "I love you period! No conditions. No qualifiers. Just in My grace." You don't ever have to ask, " Did I do enough right things? Is God going to love me now because I had a quiet time?" His love is not conditioned upon your performance. That's grace.

“I am the one Jesus loves.”

Write that down.

“I am the one Jesus loves.”

Write that down.

But why does he love us. Why does he show love towards us.
Becuase of who he is. In the Old Testament we see this picture of love shown towards the nation of Israel.
Deuteronomy 7:7–9 NIV
The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
It wasn’t even because the people were good enough.
Deuteronomy 9:6 NIV
Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.
An Irish priest sees a peasant kneeling by the side of the road to pray. He says, “You must be very close to God.” The peasant looks up, thinks for a second, and says, “Yes, He’s very fond of me.”
He did it because of a promise he made to a man named Abraham,
Genesis 12:2–3 NIV
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
And because of Christ we can share in that promise,
Galatians 3:29 NIV
If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
An Irish priest sees a peasant kneeling by the side of the road to pray. He says, “You must be very close to God.” The peasant looks up, thinks for a second, and says, “Yes, He’s very fond of me.”
An Irish priest sees a peasant kneeling by the side of the road to pray. He says, “You must be very close to God.” The peasant looks up, thinks for a second, and says, “Yes, He’s very fond of me.”
God is fond of you!
God says, in Christ, I am acceptable, I am valuable, and I am lovable. Even when I don't feel very lovely, He still loves me. His love is consistent.
But there is a warning in this passage. If you don’t love you don’t know God. There is that word that keeps coming up. Gynosko. In this part of 1 John it is used in more of an experiential rather than a cognitive sense and points toward relationships. The original readers were confronted by people that believed they had a special knowledge that others didn’t and it gave them license to put others down. But here John says to them True love is based out of relationships experessing God’s love to each other.
So a question for us to think about is.

Have I put conditions on my love for __________________?

Have I put conditions on my love for others?

Have I put conditions on my love for __________________?

But what is the standard for that love? It isn’t talking about a love that we can generate within ourselves but a love that has its foundation in how Jesus showed love.
1 John 1:9–10 NIV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
The word for atoning sacrifice in some translations is propitiation. These are old words that we don’t hear very often anymore but lets take a stab at them.. They are powerful words that have a lot to them.
9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
The word for atoning sacrifice in some translations is propitiation. Maybe neither of those words make any sense to you but lets take a stab at brining some clarity to them. They are powerful words that have a lot to them.
But basically it is saying the Jesus bore God’s wrath in our place for our sin, so we do not need to dread knowing God.
Some folks and even followers of Jesus think that God looks down on us with a constant scowl.
Our sin enrages God because we cannot tolerate it so he sent Christ to take the punishment for our sin. Christ was our substitute. He died in the place that we should have so that we could experience God’s love.
We have a hard time understanding this until we come to grips with our own propensity to sin and live independently of God.
The only condition that God put on his love for you is that Jesus should die in your place.
We don’t fully understand this because we don’t normally think this way.
Have you realized that Christ took the punishment that was meant for you?
When we start to realize this it will lead to a response in our life.

God wants to show his love through you

1 John 4:11–15 NIV
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
Is the starting point for your love found in your confession of Christ?
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
Is the starting point for your love found in your confession of Christ?
God wants you to mature in his love
1 John 4:16–21 NIV
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
1
16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
God is love. Take anyone's name and substitute it in the place of God. Does it work? Mom is Love. Dad is Love. My brother is love.
We would never make those statements about anyone. We might say they are loving or have shown love, but we would not use that simple blanket statement as an identifier for them. But there is is. God’s is Love.
Story: Rebecca

Where do I need to mature in God’s love?

Family, friend, coworker, boss?
What LOVE is NOT:
It isn't minimizing the seriousness of the offense. Real forgiveness is not minimizing the seriousness of the offense. It's not saying, "It's no big deal. It really didn't hurt. Don't worry about it. Merely a flesh wound,” but blood is shooting everywhere. The truth is, if it's worth forgiving, it did hurt you. It did cause pain and you don't need to minimize it because that's not a part of forgiveness. Forgiveness is saying, "Yes, it did hurt. Yes, it did cause pain in my life. But I'm going give it to God. I'm not going to hold it against you."
It is not resuming a relationship without change. Forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation. They're two different issues. Forgiveness is not the same thing as rebuilding or restoring a relationship. Forgiveness is instant, but trust has to be rebuilt over time. There's a big difference between forgiving a person and trusting a person.
Forgiveness simply takes care of the damage, it's letting the person off the hook. But it does not guarantee that the future relationship is going to be right. Those are other issues. It takes more than forgiveness for reconciliation. If you want to have a restored relationship with someone, first comes repentance then comes forgiveness -- that's your part if you've been hurt. But on their part it takes four things:

repentance, demonstrating genuine repentance (Their Part)

Forgiveness-releasing the offence (Your Part)

Forgiveness-releasing the offence (Your Part)

Restitution where and when possible (Their part)

Rebuilding trust. Rebuilding trust takes time. (You and Them)

Rebuilding trust. Rebuilding trust takes time. (You and Them)

These boundaries are helpful tools that lead to health. God’s love is able to do the miraculous when this process is honored!
LOVE Heals when you:
Start with how God Forgives.
Remembering how much I've already been forgiven, how much grace I've received from Christ.
Ephesians 4:32 NIV
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.
Acts 3:19 NIV
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
1 John 1:9 NIV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
ephesians
You're not forgiven because you earned it. You're not forgiven because you deserved it. You're not forgiven because you've promised never to sin again. You're forgiven because you've put your faith in Christ.
CS Lewis: How could I hate what a man did, and not hate the man?
“… it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”
Begin with God’s forgiveness: I’ve already been forgiven more than I’ll ever have to forgive. Begin with God for the foundation of Healing love:
Understand Getting Even is God’s Job
That's the heart of genuine forgiveness -- releasing my right to get even.
Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God for He has said that He will repay those who deserve it.
Romans 12:9 NIV
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Notice He says don't try to get even, don't try to retaliate, don't seek revenge. Leave that up to God.
Notice He says don't try to get even, don't try to retaliate, don't seek revenge. Leave that up to God.
You say, "If I forgive them that means I give up all my right to get even." That's exactly what forgiveness is. You give up your right to get even. You absorb the pain yourself without having to retaliate. "But that's unfair!" Who said forgiveness is fair? There's a word for fairness. It's called justice. Justice is fair. Forgiveness is grace. You don't deserve forgiveness. You deserve justice. Aren't you glad God doesn't give you everything you deserve? None of us would be here if that were true. We always want justice in everybody else's life. But we don't want it in our own. God is gracious to us and He wants us to be gracious to others. So you say you give up your right to get even. Why?
Life is not fair but one day God's going to settle the score. One day God is going to close the books. He's going to balance the ledger. He's going to even the odds. Heal the harms. Trust.
And to truly begin to see this love we need to remind ourselves of the truth that God is love. His expression of love is complete and full.
Begin with God’s forgiveness, understand getting even is God’s job.
So I want us to stand and to close the service do this responsive reading together. I’ll read the first part and we’ll all read the bolded part together.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good  for His steadfast love endures forever

Give thanks to the God of gods  for His steadfast love endures forever

M: Love must be sincere. 
C: It is not self seeking

Give thanks to the Lord of lords for His steadfast love endures forever

M: Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 

to Him who alone does great wonders for His steadfast love endures forever

C: Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

to Him who by understanding made the heavens, for His steadfast love endures forever

to Him who spread out the earth above the waters for His steadfast love endures forever

M: Be devoted to one another in love. 
C: Love always trusts

to Him who made the great lights for His steadfast love endures forever

the sun to rule over the day for His steadfast love endures forever

M: Honor one another above yourselves. 
C: Love does not dishonor others.

the moon and stars to rule over the night for His steadfast love endures forever

It is He who remembered us in our low estate for His steadfast love endures forever

M: Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 

and rescued us from our foes for His steadfast love endures forever

C: Love always perseveres
M: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 

He who gives food to all flesh for His steadfast love endures forever

C: Love is patient

Give thanks to the God of heaven for His steadfast love endures forever!

M: Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. 
C: Love is kind.
M: Practice hospitality. 
C: Love always hopes.
M: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 
C: Love is not easily angered
M: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 
C: Love rejoices with the truth
M: Live in harmony with one another. 
C: Love always trusts
M: Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. 
C: Love is not proud
M: Do not be conceited. 
C: Love is not self-seeking
M: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. 
C Love keeps no record of wrongs
M: If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 
C: Love never fails.
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