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     Sunday sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by Pastor Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    Dec. 24, 2017 | Fourth Sunday in Advent

    God’s Faithfulness Gives Us Love
    John 3:16 • 1 John 3:16–18

     G IFTS ARE AN EXPRESSION of love. We want to show someone that we care about them. We want to give physical expression to that care and love. A gift is some “thing” that represents our love, they will enjoy. At our best, gift giving is a display of love.

    We find the perfect gift in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

    God gifts us with love. This gift of love is a generous love — free and unconstrained. That means God doesn’t make a list and check it twice to find out who’s naughty or nice. This gift is free and undeserved and unsolicited and unlooked for love.

     † † † 

    GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD that He gave. What did God give? His only Son! God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to participate in our humanity. Born of a virgin, laid in a manger; bearing the frailty, weakness, dependence, vulnerability of a baby. Bearing our weariness, our sorrow, our tiredness, our pain.

    God gave His Son to the cross. Dying in shame, rising in victory, now reigning in glory. That’s God’s great gift of love for you, for me, for all of creation.

     † † † 

    THERE ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE one or more gifts we buy out of obligation. You know the ones. They gave us something so we feel obligated to get them something in return. You’re exchanging gifts at the office or book club. The neighbor always brings something over so you have to give something in return. In those times we might grab something and wrap it without much thought or care.

    But the gift of Christ is not because God owes us, not because God’s in debt to us. Not because we’ve given something to God and he needs to reciprocate. Not because we are lovely, or lovable. Nothing compels God to love us. Yet, God does love us and God gives us the very best. God loves us enough to give His Son to Calvary. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

    Here is love. Here is how much you are loved. But the story of God’s faithful love does not end with God’s good and gracious gift of love to each of us. Now that we know what love is we live that love for others. We pass along that love to others — especially the least of our brothers and sisters.

     † † † 

    IF ANYONE HAS material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

    Let’s say you give me a Starbucks gift card for Christmas. If I buy Lisa a coffee with my gift card, my balance goes down. Or I can turn around and give that gift card to someone else — like that would ever happen — then it is completely gone. I no longer have a Starbucks gift card. That’s the way we often think about receiving gifts. If I share, then there’s less for me.

     † † † 

    BUT THAT’S NOT THE WAY with God’s love for us. The love of God for us is the gift that we give away. The gift you re-gift. We receive unsolicited, undeserved, unwarranted love as a gift from God above. A gift of his Son who loves us to death. A gift of his very self, because he is love. Now that we have that love, now that we have been overwhelmed with such extravagant and costly love we share that love with others. We give that love away.

    And giving away that love does not diminish the love we have from God. It’s not like giving away a Starbucks card. The more love we give, the more love we have to give. The more we share the more we want to share. And that love never runs out. We can’t give away God’s love to where there’s no more love left to give.

     † † † 

    GOD GIFTING US with his steadfast and abiding love allows us to offer God’s love — it’s not ours to keep/hoard — to others. God’s love lived in us by actions and in truth:

     By feeding the hungry.

     God’s love lived through us when we clothe the naked.

     God’s love re-gifted when we forgive the guilty.

     God’s love given to us, then given by us. We welcome the unwanted and care for the ill.

     God’s faithful love passed through us as love for our enemies.

     God’s love shown when we treat others the way we want to be treated.

     God’s love for us then God’s love given by us to our brothers and sisters in need.

     Expressions of God’s love for us evidenced in our active love for others.

     † † † 


    Keith Cardwell   

    John 3:16
    Holy Bible, New International Version

    16 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.

    1 John 3:16–18
    Holy Bible, New International Version

    16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

    — This is the Word of the LORD.        

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    Foley, AL 36535
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