The Greatest Christmas Present

John 3:16

When it comes to this time of year it seems we most often overshoot the objective.

Many of us will spend more money than we have attempting to fill the void we leave in others’ lives. We have taught our children this is the time of year we break the bank. We make sure people know what we have bought our kids, spouse, whoever, because it is important that they/ we have the best.

THE BEST.

One of my favorite Christmas stories comes from the secular world. As with anything Holy. The world makes an effort to insert its thoughts on how it could be, should be.

The Little Drummer boy has always been dear to my heart. Though it is wrapped up in imagination the climax of the story is a poor little drummer boy gives the best of what he has, to offer to the child king. Who is none other than JESUS.

Like so much that has been passed down through the ages, we have gotten so far from the true meaning of best.

God in His tender loving grace and mercy has taught us what it is to give the best. Here in this well-known scripture we see what it looks like.

  • For God.
    • (Genesis 1:1) In the beginning God… (Hebrews 1:1)  God, who at sundry…
      • Nothing to support His existence, nothing afterward to explain where, how or what God is, just God!
    • The only explanation God gives for Himself is in His conversation with Moses.
      • Ex 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM:
    • Here Jesus is making a definitive statement. God!
      • Why? Because it is settled. Jesus knows God. He is God, He came from God and is going back to God.
    • The one thing we must have settled in our heart of hearts is that there is a God who created us for His design and interacts with His creation.
      • He has purposely brought you into this world. He has specific plans for you. He actively engages you through various means.
      • He loves you and wants you to love Him back. Not just like, not just honor but genuinely love Him which will be evident in how you live.
      • Listen to the words of our Lord Jesus:

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15
  • Anything less is a lie.
  • So loved.
    • If God just loved the world it would be enough, but this little word so is not put there as a filler. It carries significant meaning.
      • It is like saying God loved to such an amazing, over the top, indescribably, intense, degree.
    • Jesus came to this sin sick world so God’s creation would know how much He loved them.
      • He sent His best.
    • Paul a sold out servant of the Most High desired for believers to understand the love of God
      • So it would compel them to know and experience Him.

Paul prayed for the Ephesians

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; (17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;(19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19
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  • What is the breadth (width), length, depth, height of this SO!
      • Understand it is foolishness to even say we can measure the unfathomable love of God.
      • Here is an attempt to try and comprehend the very least of its magnitude by one who has experienced it.
  • The width. How wide is God’s love?
    • We used to sing a little song, He’s got the whole world in his hands…
      • God’s arms encompasses the whole world that all are included. There are none beyond His grasp. There are not any that escapes His eye.
      • Though its broad in reaching it is fine in application. It is personal. When it says He loved the world it means He loves each one in it.

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Ezekiel 33:11
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2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

2 peter 3:9

  • You’re here today, you have been selfish, mean spirited, proud, hateful, deceiving, consumed with your life and no time for others. God loves you. Waiting for you to repent to turn away from what is killing, destroying you and come to Him to receive life, fulfillment.
  • Length. How long is the love of God?
    • He gave.
      • Length by demonstration.
    •  True test of love. To what length will it go?
      • What length did God go? How much does he love you personally?
      • (Romans 5:6-8)  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
      • While we were yet sinners. While we were still enemies with God. He initiated. He pursued. He demonstrated His eternal love towards us.
    • For God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
      • The begotten one, which is His title. The only one.
      • The best He had. Something so precious, so endearing He gave for you.
      • He allowed Him to taste the pains of death to suffer at the hands of His own creation.
      • To feel the debt of sin. And He did it for you.
    • God gave. Something He had something of His own.
      •  Man had no claim on it. It was a free and unmerited gift.
  • Depth. What is the depth that God’s love will go?
    •  To the depths of hell.
      • We are hell doomed, hell deserving sinners.
      • We are not on trial waiting our sentence.
      • Judgement has already been passed.

(Joh 3:17-18) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:17-18

  • Those that refuse to believe on the name of the only begotten Son of God, are guilty of the grossest insult to the Divine majesty.
      • In neglecting, slighting, and despising the salvation which the infinite mercy of God had provided for them.
    • Therefore will receive just compensation for their choice.
      •  An eternity absent from anything, lovely, peaceful, beautiful, Godly. Suffering torments of fire, thirst, darkness that you can feel.
    • (Joh 3:17-18) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned:
      • God’s love is saying He already suffered this hell for you. Trust Him.
  • Height. Everlasting life.
    • The height in infinite. I’m going to heaven. A place we can only imagine. There is nothing we have seen are heard can compare to the glory we get to share.
      • The biblical writers did their best to describe what was revealed but our words fall so short.
    • You know why I am going to heaven? Because I preach? Because I said a prayer? I was baptized? I was good part of the time?
      •  None of this would matter. I have gained entrance to heaven because God saved me. God pursued, God called, God saved.
    • God gave His best.
      • I gave nothing. I have nothing to offer. He gave everything.
    • Heaven is icing on the cake.
      • Everlasting life. Jesus is my life.
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  • Imagine.
    • Giving you children, grandchildren, your loved ones a special gift.
      • And like a child they would rather play with the box.
    • In this scripture Jesus reveals the gift He has for us.
      • The very best.
      • It doesn’t take batteries, it never wears out.
      • Its value only increases.
      • It cannot be lost, stolen, or threw away.
      • And it comes with a guarantee!
    • Sadly, many would rather play with the box
  • imagine
    • I reckon the most heart breaking thing for God is to have to watch as day in day out His creation rejects his Best.
      • This supreme, sacrificial love.
      • And chose to play with the box.
      • Squander their life here and spend eternity apart from Him.
    • I suppose the second most heartbreaking thing is to watch His people those who call Him Lord and have surrendered their life to him.
      • Fail to experience all He has instore for them. To live life.
      • And chose to play with the box, simply because not willing to invest and grow in their relationship with Him.
    • God loves you and wants you to love Him back. Not just like, not just honor but genuinely love Him which will be evident in how you live.
      • The world needs to see His best. He has chosen you to reveal it in.
      • To your children, grandchildren, friends, loved ones. This crazy, confused, lost world.

Sunday School 4/12/2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

April 12

Thought I would start off with a funny story.

The Reverend Billy Graham told a story about a time early in his ministry when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. He wanted to mail a letter first so he asked a young boy where the post office was. After the boy had told him, Dr. Graham thanked him and said, “If you’ll come to the Church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to Heaven.” “I don’t think I’ll be there,” the boy said. “You don’t even know your way to the post office.”

Luke 15:1-10

  • Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
  • And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
  • And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
  • What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
  • And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
  • And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
  • I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
  • Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
  • And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
  • Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

God loves each of us like there was only one of us!

One little lost lamb!

Lost and Found!

God’s Relentless Love!

I once was lost but now I am found!

God Pursues!

Search and Rescue!

Joy, Joy, unspeakable Joy!

As I was sitting here reading the scripture, all the above sermon titles, sayings, song lyrics, came into my mind.  

God loves each of us like there was only one of us!  That is so hard for me to fathomYet I know it is trueI am so thankful that “He loves us, O how He loves us”! There is no way to describe this love.  We love our spouse, we love our children, we love our grandchildren, we love our family (most of them – some of them we have a hard time liking but we do love them!).  But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  (this is one of our VBS verses this year – look on our facebook page, there is a song to help you memorize it).

One Little Lost Lamb!  In reading the scripture it says that the Shepherd leaves the 99 sheep and goes to look for the one little lost lamb.  I remember studying the 23rd psalm years ago.  In that study it painted a picture of a lamb that was constantly wandering away (like us) from the flock and the Shepherd would have to go out looking for him.  The story goes, that the Shepherd finally took the little lamb in his arms and as gently (if it is possible to do this gently) as he could, broke his leg.  He then carefully wrapped the leg.  He then would carry the lamb until he was able to walk again on his own. The little lamb would not be wandering away anytime soon and hopefully learned his lesson.  The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not wantHe maketh me to lie down in green pastures.   Sometimes the Lord has to “break our leg” (so to speak) so that we will stop wandering away from Him.  Hmmm, this “social distancing” and “stay at home” stuff could be his way of reminding us we need to lie down in green pastures, safe in His Arms for awhile.  Now I’m not saying that the Lord caused this stuff, but I know he can use it to bring back some of the “little lost lambs” to Him.  Bro. Charlie shared a post on facebook that said “So, Corona has us homeschooling, praying, spending time with the family, praying for others, and being sober minded.  Sounds like God is in control.  This isn’t a plague, it is an awakening.”

Here I am, here I am!  I’m the one the Shepherd left the fold and found.  There were ninety and nine, but He left the fold to find, One little lost lamb, and here I am.

Lost and Found!  Ever lose something.  You search “high and low”, in “every nook and cranny”, “inside and out”, “upstairs and downstairs” (for those of you who have upstairs!), “everywhere I know to look”.  And then you find it!  Hallelujah!  You put it on facebook, you do your happy dance or whatever you do when you are excited about something.   Our scripture says “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” and “joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over the ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance”.

During Monday night prayer last week, “one little lost lamb” was found.  Robbie Walker is now in the fold.  The angels were rejoicing.  Were you?  I’m afraid we just casually say “Praise the Lord”, but we should be rejoicing! Doing our happy dance!  Another soul has been saved!  (this was an ouch for me).  God really hammered me as I was typing this.

God’s relentless love! 

Relentless.  : showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace : unrelenting

Synonyms:  determined, unflinching, unrelenting, unyielding

So thankful for this.  Where would we be without it?

I once was lost but now I’m found!  I hope this describes you.  We need to be vigilant in our prayers in this crazy time that we are living in.  There is so much at stake.  We need to take every opportunity to make sure our family and friends know what it is to be found!  If this doesn’t describe you, then please do something about it before it is too late.  (I am available to talk and pray with you – just call).

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see!

God Pursues!

Synonyms for pursue:  Bird-dog, chase, follow, hound, run, shadow, tag, tail, trace, track, trail.

Just as the Shepherd in our scripture “goes after” the one which is lost, God pursues us.  Ever feel like every sermon the preacher preaches is directed solely at you?  You think, how did he know that?  Has he been following me around?  No, he hasn’t but God has!  He is on a Search and Rescue mission.   As the song goes, “There’s no shadow You won’t light up, Mountain You won’t climb up, Coming after me.  There’s no wall You won’t kick down, Lie You won’t tear down, Coming after me.”

Joy, Joy, Unspeakable Joy!

Joy, joy, unspeakable joy, Hope like never before, You came for us, You are our freedom.

Our scripture talks about the Joy in heaven and it also talks about the rejoicing of the Shepherd when he found the one lost sheep and the woman saying “rejoice with me”. 

Even in these trying times, we can have the Joy of the Lord. 

Nehemiah 8:10  The Joy of the Lord is our Strength

Romans 12:12   Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Joy is a deep and enduring state of our soul that no circumstance, event, or human can steal away from us.  It’s delighting in God and choosing to rejoice in all things.  Because our circumstances don’t rule us, our mood swings are nonexistent.  This doesn’t mean we are always in a “good mood” but we can remain in an unexplainable place of contentment.  Joyful people don’t allow misery, sorrow, sadness, or despair to rule their thoughts or actions. (from Fruit of the Spirit devotional).

MacArthur says this….God’s joy is the source of believers joy; it is a component of the kingdom of God dispensed by the Holy Spirit to the redeemed.  While Christians are blessed with a rich measure of joy in this life, the full joy of eternal perfection awaits them in heaven when as faithful slaves they “enter into the joy of their master”.  Believers’ highest joy in this life does not come from the trivial, insignificant, temporal things of this world, but in the spiritual life and fellowship of lost sinners found, restored, and united in Christ’s true church.  Believers’ joy, as God’s joy, is the result of the greatness and glory of God’s saving work.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

(I can hear Hannah Poole singing this…such a beautiful voice and such a beautiful song – miss them!)

This song really says it! 

Ok.  So, back to the scripture. 

In today’s scripture Jesus was accused of receiving sinners and eating with them. The rest of Chapter 15 is Jesus’ response to this accusation.  The Pharisees and Scribes just didn’t get the fact that God loves EVERYONE and wants EVERYONE to be saved. I’m sure the parables about a Shepherd (on the lower end of society) and a Women (Oh my goodness, not a woman!) were not what they were wanting to hear.

MacArthur says:  The Scribes and Pharisees did not find joy in Jesus’ mission of saving sinners.  They claimed to know God, but in truth were ignorant of the heart of God toward the lost.  They were just another generation like those whom Isaiah described as hypocrites who “draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me.” (Isa. 29:13).   

“Joy” in seeing sinners being saved.  

Are we really “joyful” when a sinner comes to Jesus?  Oh sure, we say the proper things but are we really “joyful” or are we thinking in our hearts something different?  “I hope he’s serious”…”I hope this lasts”…”I hope she understands what she is doing”….Does our hearts feel differently depending on who it is? OUCH!  I am more like the Scribes and Pharisees than I want to admit.   Please forgive me Lord!  Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O, Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Vs 7 says I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth…

Vs 10 says Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

We all are a “WHOSOEVER” no matter WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY.  Jesus makes the difference!

Joy, Joy, Unspeakable Joy! 

Let’s share the Joy.

Remember, God loves each of us like there was only one of us! We were once one little lost lamb, lost and then found because of God’s Relentless Love.  God pursued me, sent out a search and rescue, and now I can have Joy, Joy, Unspeakable Joy.  Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God!

P.S.  As I am writing this, it is more than a week until you will read it, in fact, it will be Easter Morning.  I know that this will be a different Easter than usual.  No “breakfast on the ground” at church after the Sunrise Service (which will be a “drive in”). No Easter Play at church on Sunday morning (I’m hoping this will still happen at a later date – who says you can’t have an Easter Play any Sunday of the year?  Every Sunday should be Easter!  No gathering with family to eat, visit and hunt eggs. Of course, I’m sure parents will get creative with their egg hunting this year.  But maybe, just maybe, this will be a special Easter to remember.  The year that we really took the time to discover what Easter really means. (No excuses this year, you can’t go anywhere). My prayer for you this Easter morning is that you will read God’s Word, Meditate on it, Pray, and discover the Victorious Story of Jesus and how He died for each one of us like we were the only one.  But, the Story doesn’t end there.  Up From the Grave he AROSE!  Hallelujah, Christ AROSE!