Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Anticipating the Love of Christ’
© December 18, 2016 by Steve Mickelson
Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, where over the last four Sundays, including today, we lit four Advent Candles to honor four of the virtues brought to this world by the birth of Jesus, as son of Mary and son of God. The four virtues: hope, peace, joy, and love. As we light the Advent Candle, representing the Lord’s love, we have a Scripture passage which includes His four virtues:
Lighting Fourth Advent Candle (Love) – Romans 5:1-8 (ESV):
5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #632: God’s Redeeming Love (John 3, 1 John 4); Prayer
Opening Hymn #137: What Wondrous Love Is This?; Christmas Hymns
Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Scriptures: Isaiah 54:10, Psalm 107:1-3, 1 Corinthians 2:9, John 15:13, 1 John 3:1, John 3:16
Let us pray…
The title of today’s lesson is ‘Anticipating the Love of Christ’. The Bible says that we are created in God’s image and those good characteristics reflect those good virtues of God.
So how important is the virtue of Love, represented by the fourth candle of Advent? For an answer, let us look at the Scripture passage 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (ESV), found on the back of today’s Bulletin, entitled:
The Way of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Today’s featured Scriptures give us a better idea of the greatest virtue, love, beginning with Isaiah 54:10 (ESV):
10 For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
While the virtues of hope, peace and joy may grow and diminish, for believers the virtue of love endures, as we read in our next Scripture, Psalm 107:1-3 (ESV), entitled:
Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So
107 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble[a]
3 and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.
Footnotes: a. Psalm 107:2 Or from the hand of the foe
And if love is the greatest virtue, the greatest example of love by the sacrificial love that the Lord demonstrated when he gave up his life on Calvary’s Cross, in order to pay for the sins of humanity, John 15:13 (ESV):
13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Our faith in Christ’s love and sacrifice not only separates us from the world, which does not understand His love or our faith, 1 John 3:1 (ESV):
3 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
But why did God have His son come as a child, who is both son of man and Son of God. We find the plan and the purpose of Jesus’ birth in John 3:16 (ESV), which has the title:
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.
Footnotes: a. John 3:16 Or For this is how God loved the world
And remembering the Lord’s commandments to love God and love our neighbors, we find God has prepared more than we have seen, heave heard of, or even imagined as a reward, 1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV):
9 But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”
The greatest virtue, the Lord’s Love, transcends or surpasses all obstacles that could separate us from His love and His presence, Romans 8:38-39 (ESV);
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #120: Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come
Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.