He Really Loves You!
Those of us who preach regularly know what it's like to visit another church, hear a sermon, and think to yourself, "That's a great illustration - why didn't I think of that!?" Pride alone often prevents us from using those illustrations in our own preaching at a later date, because we feel pressure from somewhere to continually create new material. Lately I've relaxed those 'rules' and concluded that if a good illustration impacted me, it will likely also impact my people. Besides, if it moves our people closer and deeper in their walk with the Lord, who cares if it's our own original material or not?
All that is to justify my sharing an illustration that impacted me from yesterday's service at Te Awamutu Baptist Church. I'm in town for Christmas with my parents and took my family to worship in the church of an old friend, Ps. Simon Alexander.
Simon shared that when he was young, the way to know for sure if a girl loved him, was to take a daisy and pluck off the petals, saying, "She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not." If the last petal was, "She loves me" he was in luck! (If not, he'd go find another daisy and carry on until it worked!) The only difficulty was convincing the girl that the daisy had spoken and they were destined to be together!
As funny as that sounds to read as an adult, how many of us approach God's love for us in the same way? We've all preached about the love of God, but even we (if we're honest) are tempted to base our acceptance of God's love on the circumstances of our lives.
If we have a great day... "He loves me!" If we've had a rotten day... "He loves me not!"
If He answers a prayer the way we wanted... "He loves me!" If not... "He loves me not!"
If we resist temptation... "He loves me!" If we falter and stumble... "He loves me not!"
Christmas gives us another opportunity to put this issue to rest. He really loves us! He loves you... and He loves me.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son... - John 3:16
It's a simple illustration, but I realise how often I allow the circumstances of a particular day to impact how readily I receive God's love for me. In reality, we know that He loves us as much today as He did on the day Jesus came as a baby to that humble Bethlehem setting. He loves us with as much passion today (and tomorrow, come what may) as He did on the day Jesus died as a man in that brutal Golgotha setting.
God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8
This Christmas, as fundamental and simple as it sounds, I feel led to ponder once again the depth and height and breadth of God's unquenchable love for me.
May you too know this love of God for you... not just intellectually and theoretically, but affectionately, intimately, and deeply.
Merry Christmas to you all, and may God lead you with joy and expectation into all the great adventures He has in store in 2019 for you, your church, and your city or town.
Grace and peace