First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ December 19, 2021)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Behold God’s Indescribable Love!”
Zephaniah 3:14-17;1 John 3:1-3
Love is one of the greatest motivators in the world. When someone loves you, it gives you hope and strength. And the opposite is true. When you feel unloved or rejected by someone you love, it can be devastating. Humans, being created in the image of God, are designed to give love and to receive it.
Although human love is wonderful and essential, God’s love is far greater. It is the most life-changing force in the universe. That’s why the apostle Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus “to be rooted and grounded in love,” Ephesians 3:17. God’s love is a compelling force for our transformation. I think the late fourth-century early firth-century North African theologian, Augustine of Hippo (354-430), got it right when he said, “Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.” When we are rooted and grounded in the love of Chris, our lives will certainly reflect that.
LOVE is the theme for this Fourth Sunday of Advent. It’s this unfathomable love of God in Christ. It’s this indescribable love of God to the extent that God takes a human form, comes down from heaven to earth, to redeem the broken humanity and give life to the lifeless.
Our Scripture reading from 1 John chapter 3 this morning begins with a command: “Ἴδετε” ~ “Behold.” The Greek verb translated “Behold” literally means “to know factually”, “to see”, “to ponder”, “to inspect”, and “to wonder.” The Apostle John calls us to stare in awesome wonder at the greatness and manner of God’s love for us! “Behold, what great love the Father has lavished on us.”
The King James Version renders 1 John 3:1 this way, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.” The phrase “what manner of” in the original Greek literally means “from what country” or “of what country.” Angelicin theologian John Stott writes: “It is as if the Father’s love is so unearthly, so foreign to this world, that the apostle John wonders what country it may come.” It’s out of this world! God has not merely shown us this love; He has lavished it upon us! He has given it to us generously; beyond any measure.
So as we approach the end of our Advent journey this week and as we get ready to celebrate the tangible love of God in Christ, I want to underscore one quick observation for us this morning and it has to do with the security we find in God’s love.
First: There is Security in God’s Love
There is so much comfort in God’s love. There is security knowing that God loves us no matter what. As we stare in awesome wonder at the greatness and manner of God’s love for us we find our true refuge.
When we know there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love and there is nothing we could possibly do that might make us lose it, there is a sense of security that settles into our souls, a confidence that no one can take away. Advent is an invitation to behold, to ponder anew the love of God reveled to us in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
I believe there is a deeper level of truth to ponder here. “Behold, what love the Father has given us.” One day the British preacher Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) was walking through the English countryside with a friend. As they strolled along, Spurgeon noticed a barn with a weathervane on its roof. At the top of the vane were these words: GOD IS LOVE. Spurgeon remarked to his friend that he thought this was a rather inappropriate place for such a message. “Weathervanes are changeable,” he said, “but God’s love is constant.” “I don’t agree with you about those words, Charles,” replied his friend. “I think you misunderstood the meaning. That sign is indicating a truth: Regardless of which way the wind blows, God is love.”
Friends, “Regardless of which way the wind blows, God is love.” So whether everything is perfect in my life right now or it’s a mess, I know I am loved by my Lord and savior. If I have too much or too little, in Christ we are assured of God’s love. Whether I am healthy or sick, I am still the subject of God’s love.
It doesn’t really matter what the world calls us or thinks of us; I want you to know today that you are a child of God! God is your Heavenly Father and He loves you! And because He loves us, He makes us share in His divine nature! That is who we are! What an awesome privilege and what a great responsibility as well! This is unusual, indescribable love. It’s through His love, as the Prophet Zephaniah said, that we will find our peace and hope. “With His love, He will calm all your fears,” says Zephaniah 3:17. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” 1 John 4:18. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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