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Love

Love

Sermon Series: Peace, Love, and Joy

Radiant Church’s lead pastor, Keith Welton, has a special Christmas series for the month of December. This week, he encourages us with the sermon titled “Love” from John 3:16-21. Below, you can watch our whole service, or listen to the sermon audio, and access the written transcript.

Missed last week’s sermon entitled “Peace”? You can listen to audio or watch the whole service here.

December 11, 2022 Worship Service

Sermon Audio

John 3:16-21

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Service Transcript:

Love

John 3:16-21

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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” 

Intro

One of the great parts of the Cchristmas season is all the great movies we watch only once a year. Many of these movies have characters that are “normal people” with significant flaws. And the main focus of the movie is how they are transformed. 

One of the greatest movies, stories, is A Christmas Carol, written in 1844 by Charles Dickens. It tells the story of an old grumpy miser named Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge is synonymous with being abe a grumpy, cheapskate, who doesn’t care about others, or helping the “surplus population.” Ba humbug. 

“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.” Narrator

-If I could have my way, every idiot who says merry Cchristmas will be boilded in his own pudding. 

-A year older and not an hour richer. 

We all know the story well. Scrooge is visited by theghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. He is allowed to view his life from a more objective vantage point. Not from within circumstances, but above and outside them. He sees his best and fondestness days, and also the neglect he felt in school by his parents, to his missed opportunities to marry. His fiancee realized she would always be second to him, money was first. He is also taken to the present where he sees Bob Cratchet enjoying Christmas, even with Tiny Tim who is sick and will not live long. He is also shown the future, in which his death will matter to nobody. Only a few businessmen attend, and that is mainly to get a free lunch. 

Through these experiences, Scrooge has a change of heart. He sees his folly and has a radical transformation. 

In the end he recognizes the great mistake he has made. He wants to change. Will honor Christmas in his heart. Why show me if there is not time to change. Wanting to expunge the writingwrigint on his stone,. hHumbled, he comes to his knees, and makes a change. Becomes a caring, compassionate, joyful, and giving person. The old forlorn face is now vibrant and vivacious. 

We all have an inner Scrooge that pulls us toward selfishness, and so this movie resonates with us. To see things with greater gratitude and to see the importance of being a blessing to others. To live for what really matters. Scrooge didn’t need more stuff, but rather he needed to rightly view what he already had. The greatest change we all need is not more stuff, but a softer heart. 

The deeper down a change goes into the heart, the more significant that change is. Scrooge has a deep change. But that is not the deepest change. The deepest change one can experience, is a change in their relationship to God. Of going from one who has no relationship to one who is most concerned with it that. And the key to that change is by perceiving the love of God. If we want to be people who truly capture the spirit of Christmas– love–, then we must turn our attention to God’s love and allow it to penetrate into our hearts and minds. Stinginess is a spiritual problem. 

Prop: The greatest personal transformation derives from the recognizing the love of God demonstrated in the sending of his Son to save us from our sins. 

The focus of Christmas is on the coming of Jesus. God brings the Savior of the world. We don’t need God to do something new, as in bring a new gift, or a better gifts., Wwe need him to give us eyes and hearts that recognize what we have in Jesus. Recognizing this leads to the greatest change a person can experience. In the Bible it is called being born again. It is a new birth. 

We are in a three parts series on Christmas, and are talking about Peace, Love, and Joy. Today we are talking about love. WeE are going to look at how Christ opens the way for us to know and experience love.

  1. God’s Love Displayed. 

All of us are out shopping right now. At times you will go by stores and they will have a display. Display is a way to show something off. You set it out. Maybe it is a bit ostentatious because you want to make sure people see it. They have a product they want to sell so they want to make sure you see it. 

Blackbird 4k drone. $99 so you can snoop on anybody you want in the neighborhood. 

Safe cam 360. See what is going on at your house any time of day in any direction.

These are big ticket items. Hot sellers. So you walk into a store and they have 200 of them stacked up making a bridge you walk under so you can’t miss it. They are not simply carrying it. They are putting it on display:. We have it. It’s there. And you can have it too. Make sure you see it!

Want to know the love of God? Don’t look for it in a Bblackbird 4k, 6k, 1200k. Look for it in hisms sending of his Son. 

Christmas, God puts his love on display. Jesus, the incarnate son of God, is born of a virgin in a lonely stable. His Son is coming to live a perfect life. And to die on the cross for the sins of the world. It is amazing to think about. It is unfathomable. Why would God do this? 

[“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

God sends a Savior into the world. To save us from all the problems we have. To give us security. He does this for a people whothat have rejected him!

It is his one and only son. It’s not that he sent a pack of paper towels to help us out. Got these on sale two for one. NoOt a new phone, not even an angel. He has one Son. The eternal Son of God. He has always been in fellowship with the Son. Amazing to think about. He sends this Son to redeem us, to save us from our sins. I have three sons. I would not give any of them up for anybody. 

God sends his Son. He has a plan of redemption. God sends his Son in Love. And iIn Love the Son willingly offers himself. 

Do you wonder if God loves you? Look to the hope Christmas points to. Do you wonder if you can get a Bblackbird 4k?. Look at the store. They are everywhere. All the hardship of life, does he love me, see me, give a hootdang about me. He sends his Son. 

We live in a fallen world. A world that has rebelled against God, and we feel it every day. Sin brought death into the world. Because of sin, work is hard and difficult, and we find food among thorns and thistles. People get mad at each other. It’s hard and difficult. We hurt people and are hurt by people. Does God care??? Yes!

He sends his Son to save the world. 

[“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

He comes to save us. When you are stranded on a skyscraper and Dr. Doom is flying around threatening you, and Iron man shows up, you cheer up. When you don’t know how to pay the bills and Elon Mmusk shows up and says I am here for you. You have been seen. Taken noticve of by one who has power to do something about it. When you live in a fallen world and in misery because of the hardship you face, discouraged and depressed, you look to the Son of God coming into the world for hope. God is doing something to change it. God knows our plight. He knows the difficulty of our circumstances. He takes notice. He is saving us from it. And it is all because of his love. 

John of Damascus. “For what greater thing is there, thant that God should become man?”

It is amazing news that Jesus comes. God didn’t just give us law. He gave us a son. 

The love that is shared and experienced at Christmas is an attempt to reflect the God who loves us. This is what Christmas is all about. God’s love. People often want the effect of love but don’t want to acknowledge itsthe source. Sonic boom without the airplane. Want the Christmas dinner, but not the preparation that goes with it. Want the wonderfully loving family but don’t bother me when I get home from work. 

Christmas is about the love of God. Won’t find it anywhere else. You only know it in Jesus. Don’t need moralism. Is that an emphasis in your family? 

People say it takes one generation to lose a culture. What one generation assumes, the next generation questions, and the next forgets entirely. Many people are questioning their faith. Most people are growing up in homes that know very little about Jesus. That was me. It changed my life to hear about Jesus and the love of God. Hhave you assumed or forgotten its importance? First hear it, second share it. If it is true, it deserves your everything. 

We learn what love is. God does not just give us stuff. He gives his very self. He cuts deep. Sacrificially. Painfully. 

**being a blessing and not just being blessed.**

  1. The Effect of God’s Love

If you want to talk about a great deal, then consider this. You get the Blackbird 4k for $99. Get 20% off. What a deal! Consider this. You have rebelled against God and because of that you deserve death. You walked away from God, turned your back on him, rejected his way. Walked away from the source of life and you died. But God pursues you like a fiance who keeps pursuing his love despite her rejection. 

Jesus lives a perfect life. Born into adversity but lives faithfully to God. He is the only completely righteous person to ever live. And rather than take his seat in glory by himself, he chose to lay it all down, and suffer the punishment reserved for you, so that you could be set free. 

[“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Give is a transfer. Gave himself over to sinful people to do what they wanted with him. They killed him. Crucifying is the worst possible way of death. 

But God would not allow a righteous man to perish. He raised him from the dead. The penalty of our rebellion was paid. And now if we believe in him we can be set free. That’s good news! 

Jesus takes our sin, punishment, and death. 

We get his righteousness, reward, and life. 

Eternal life. Death for eternal life!

That is a gift. That ought to have an effect on us. That ought to change us from stingy misers to generous givers. 

I have never seen someone receive a gift that they absolutely loved, and then be indifferent to the person who gave it. Kids get a great gift and they run over and hug grandma and grandpa. 

God gives the gift of his son. It is available for all the world. But many refuse it. Many are disinterested in him and his gift. Estranged from their heavenly father because they don’t want to come back, they refuse him and his gift.

In the first verse of John 3 Jesus spoke about being born again, not just of flesh, but of the spirit of God. We come alive to God. When we see the gift he has given to us, the love and the light, it leads you to live by it and for it. 

We have to make a decision. Scrooge saw all he did wrong. Would he be indifferent or would he change?

[“This, then, is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)

Love of God Leads to Light. Living in the Light. Many love their wickedness. Don’t want to give it up. No desire to change. 

[But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” (John 3:21)

Scrooge saw his life in a new light. Things that were hidden got exposed and he was saddened and embarrassed by it. When  you are doing something wrong you try to keep it in the dark. When you are wrong you stay in the dark. 

When we see this it leads to repentance and faith. We stop taking God’s grace for granted. We stop pushing him away. We humble ourselves and say. “I was wrong.” Get on our knees. Act of submission. Conversion. We were in love with the wrong things. Now we love God. 

*When we love the wrong things we do the wrong things.*

We begin to love as God has loved us. We begin to reflect our heavenly father. We see the goodness of giving to others. 

Love is belief. What is your response? To believe in something is to follow. Allegiance. Devotion. Believe in him. God did not hold back. That demonstrates how great his love is. Love is demonstrated in devotion against all odds. Demonstrated in sacrifice of all other things. Love my wife. I haven’t talked to her in a while because I have worked all day and then golfed when I was not working. I love my wife, I gave it all up for her. 

Willing to love. To sacrifice for others. To be disappointed. 

**being a blessing and not just being blessed.**

Jesus said his disciples would be known by the love they have for one another. Who here has experienced your love and care? 

Are you glad to give to others? To show them love? 

Dad,s do you give everything to work and leave nothing in the tank for your family? Kids don’t want your stuff; they want you. God gave himself. Teaches us how to love. 

Kids don’t need more stuff. They need to know the love of God. The gift of eternal life. Tell them how important that is. 

Giving presents. God has loved me and given me the greatest gift. This is a small thing, to then show my love to you. We spend the morning around the Christmas tree talking about giving gifts because God gave us the greatest gift

**I don’t want that message lost, confused, or clouded. They most need to know God’s love, not superstitious and misleading myths. This is the reason for the season, but it gets lost in all the wrapping paper and mess. 

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35 ESV)

Such a me-centered society. “Doing church online”. That’s not church. No one knows you. You are not willing to get off the couch and drive to a meeting. *That’s not emulating Jesus. That is gratifying self.* The church can be difficult to love, and that is why you need it. It gives you a chance to love as God loved. It gives you practice for others. If you just walk in and walk out, trying to avoid people, you are a scrooge. 

Does anyone in the church know you love them? Individualistic, stay at home and watch the service because it’s easy, does anyone know you love them. Part of showing up on Sunday and Wednesday night for small group is because you love others. Dying to self. I’m there for you. I want to know you. 

Work hard to love others. 

  1. Don’t assume you know their needs. Ask, “how am I doing at loving you? What could I do to better show my love?” I have realized I love my kids far more than I am able to communicate. And as a dad I have to get on to them. Tell them to do certain things. Make sure things get done.
  2. Do what they need. 
  3. Confess your shortcomings. Sherri K. I’m sorry I was impatient with you and the kids saw that. Will you forgive me?

What you most need this Christmas, is not another gift. What you most need is to have a greater, deeper, wider grasp of the love of God to us through Christ Jesus. Take time to know what it means that God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Make room in your hearts for this by making room in your schedule. Read it. Talk about it. Dwell on it. Share it. 

Discussion Questions

  1. How does this passage show us the love of God?
  2. How does being “born again” relate to God’s love?
  3. How are you living in the light or living in the dark?
  4. How can you grow in knowing God’s love? How can you show his love to those around you?

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