Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ
– Fourth Advent Sunday 2018: Love’
© December 23, 2018, by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on December 20, 2015
Call to Worship; Prayer
Lighting Fourth Advent Candle (Love) – Luke 2:10-11, John 3:16-21, and Luke 2:10-11 (ESV):
10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
John 3:16-21 (ESV): For God So Loved the World
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.”
Footnotes: a. John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world
Hymn #113: Angels We Have Heard on High; Christmas Hymns
Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Responsive Reading #627: (The Saviors Advent – Luke 2)
Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ – Fourth Advent Sunday 2018: Love’
Let us pray…
Welcome to BLCF Church, for our Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Over the last several weeks, we have observed the Advent or coming of the birth of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, by lighting on each of the four Sunday’s a candle, part of the Advent wreath.
The candles represent the aspects of God’s plan to bring to humanity: hope, peace, love, and joy, through our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Today’s candle called the ‘Candle of Love’, also known as the ‘Angel’s Candle’.
The significance of the ‘Peace Candle’ is how important love is to the faith walk of the Christian believer. We may get an understanding of love from the first of today’s Scripture Verses found inside today’s Bulletin.
Jesus indicated that love is a key aspect of the ‘great commandment’ in the Law given to us from the Lord, Matthew 22:35-39 (ESV):
35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Love is not only a key aspect of our relationship with the Lord and our neighbor, but it is also the most important gift given to us by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV):
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
We see the importance of love as both a Commandment and Gift of the Spirit. What is meant by love? For an answer, let us see what we may find in our Wikibits Sources:
“How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?” — Albert Einstein
Love is difficult to define. How do you avoid confusing it with infatuation or lust? Philosophers and psychologists both have attempted to define love, or at least its difference from infatuation and lust. If you are looking to find love, the following observations may be helpful.
Love is much more than a risk but is a risk that one can take and grasp and fall into a dark abyss or dig oneself a hole and only crawl back when you overcome your emotions.
How can one truly define what love is? Not even an experienced person can truly grasp or explain love to its truest and deepest meaning. Its concepts are just a never-ending story of an open book of experiences. But love does lie in one’s heart, where memories are but shadows lingering in your soul.
Look at how the ancient Greeks broke down love into four categories. Think of which category of love you feel for the people you are close to.
- Agape is unconditional love. It is love by “choice” even if you are not pleased. A good example is “God loves us with our faults”.
- Philia is charity or brotherly love, guided by our likes or our healthy or unhealthy needs and desires. This is why Philadelphia is called the “City of Brotherly Love”.
- Storge is the word for family love and the physical show of “affection”, the need for physical touch. Sometimes it’s the love between exceptional friends (the movie Grumpy Old Men for example).
- Eros is the physical “sexual” desire, intercourse. It is the root word of erotic, and eroticism.
The Bible adds to our understanding of love, by telling us that love is not only an expression of true Christian faith but describes a characteristic of God, God is love in1 John 4:7-21 (ESV):
God Is Love
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Footnotes: a. 1 John 4:20 Some manuscripts how can he
We see in this passage, that God is love; that God loves us; and through Jesus, God’s love becomes perfected in us. If we abide in God, we receive His Holy Spirit so that God abides in us.
If you look at the back of today’s Bulletin, at the bottom of the page, you see a clarification of what is stated in 1 John 4:10, that because God first loved us, Jesus provided an atoning sacrifice to appease or turn away God’s wrath against sinners.
We see that Jesus came because God loved us, not to remove or God’s Law, but to remove the judgment for our sin, which is the punishment for violating the Law.
When we accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sin, and confess that sin, we receive salvation from God’s judgement, as well as the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit: kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, which are bound together in perfect harmony through love, Colossians 3:12-15 (ESV):
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
This Christmas, let us upon the love through Christ. God is love and Jesus came because of His love. To the faithful, the Holy Spirit comes to us bringing to each believer the love of God. Let us be thankful that through the Resurrected Christ, the love from God binds us together in His grace as a single unified body of believers, so that we may bear witness of His love to a dark and sinful world.
Let us pray…
Lighting of the Christ Candle: Hymn #115: Go, Tell It on the Mountain
Closing Hymn #103: O Come, All Ye Faithful
Benediction – (Ephesians 6:24): Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.