Faithlife Sermons

A Stocking Full of Love

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Many of our Christmas traditions are rooted in church history, and if we know their origins we’ll appreciate them more. The hanging of stockings by the fireplace is just about the first and oldest of our traditions. For most of human history, most people didn’t have extensive wardrobes. Socks in particular had to be washed out at night and hung by the fire to dry for the next day. Centuries ago, a teenager named Nicholas from the city of Patara on the Mediterranean coast in ancient Turkey entered the ministry. He became a popular and beloved bishop in the city of Myra. In one of his ministry trips, Pastor Nicholas was in a particular city. While there he heard of a widower trying to raise three daughters. They were on the verge of starvation, and this man was unable to provide a dowry for his girls. As a result they were unable to get married. Even worse, they were in danger of being sold into slavery. Burdened for this family, Nicholas went to the home by night. The eldest daughter’s stockings were hanging by the fireplace, and Nicholas reached through the window and tossed a coin into the stocking. He reportedly later did the same for the other girls. Thus it became a tradition on St. Nicholas’ Day for children to hang their stockings by the fireplace where, during the night, a treat would be place in them. The Christmas stocking is appropriate to Christmas because it symbolizes the truth of the gospel. Like that poor family, we’re grief-stricken, and impoverished in heart, enslaved by sin, and unable to save ourselves. But on Christmas Day, God put something into our stockings, so to speak. What He put there was better than gold—the feet of His own dear Son, feet that were to be nail-pierced for our sin. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1 niv). (From Rob J. Morgan’s Preacher’s Sourcebook, 2008, 368-369.)
1 John 3:1–3 NKJV
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Look at God’s Love

Look at Jesus

1 John 3:16 NKJV
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Look at Others

1 John 4:7–19 NKJV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
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