– Merry Christmas. I’m here today with my friend Chuck, our Oakley Community Pastor. – Merry Christmas. It’s good to be with you, Lena. – It’s so good. So, Chuck, you might remember the first time we met. – I actually do, yes. – We were around a lunch table at my parents’ house. You were not on staff yet? – No. – And there was a fart machine present? – Yes, there was. – Underneath your wife Maria’s chair. – Yes, there was. Yes, there was. Which that was her first time meeting your father. It wasn’t my first time. And what a perfect introduction to Brian Tome, it really was. – That’s right. And you stuck around and you’ve been on staff now for how long? – It worked. I’ve been around for 13 years now. – That’s awesome. And you make our church so much better. – Thank you. – So we’re so glad to have you. – Thank you. – Well, we’re in this Advent series right now. And Advent purely means awaiting the arrival of Jesus. And so we’ve been in the Advent of Hope, the Advent of Peace and the Advent of Joy. What has this season or this series meant to you? – You know, it’s brought back some freshness to Christmas. Christmas can feel like Groundhog Day oftentimes when you’re a pastor. But every day with Advent, the things I’ve been doing with my kids and personally as my own study with Advent has been happening,. I really am excited about Christmas and about the meaning of Christmas this year. – That’s great. Well, you did — We really enjoyed your week last week on Joy. You brought me lots of joy. – I’m glad to hear that. – Yeah. So this week we’re talking the Advent of Love. And then it’s Christmas Eve and we’re talking all about Jesus. – That’s exactly right, all Jesus all the time. – That’s right. So what’s happening at the Oakley’s site on Christmas Eve? Yeah, at Oakley we are going to have three services: 1:00, 3:00 and 5:00. And it is a family friendly experience, a great tradition, it always ends with a candle light moment. And honestly, for me, it’s one of those things that just tells me, hey, you know what? This is the end of the year and I love it. I’m just looking forward to it. We have family coming in town. They’ll be a part of it. I’m excited. – That’s great. Our Christmas Eve experiences across all of our sites and right here online are great for your whole family and your friends and your neighbors and your co-workers and anybody that you could get with you to experience church at Christmas time. Christmas Eve is the time for that. So 1:00, 3:00 and 5:00 here at Oakley, also 1:00, 3:00 and 5:00 live online. We’ll be broadcasting from our Oakley location. And you could check out all of the other service times at Crossroads.net and find out when there’s a service near you or join us right here online. So after Christmas Eve, we typically don’t have services in our physical locations that New Year’s weekend. – That’s right. And we’re doing that again this year. And so instead of having a physical service, we have a great online experience that everybody can be a part of. – Yeah. And why do we do that? – Well, we do it because this place runs because of amazing volunteers. When I say this place, whatever the physical location is and even online. There are a lot of people who make Crossroads what it is. And we just know, particularly at Christmas time, people are off and we want them to be able to maximize the time with their family. So we take off that we can give everybody a break and then we come back after it in the new year. – Great. So don’t head to a location near you on the weekend of December 28-29. But join us right here online. We have a special service that you’re going to be part of. – Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. – It’ll be you, Ali, Kyle, and BT. And it’s a reflection on 2019 and looking ahead to 2020. -Yeah, it really is. We’ll be looking back at some of the high points of this year, calling out things that were personal. We’ll talk about some things that happened in our community and then really get a sense of where are we headed for 2020? So I don’t want anybody to miss it and I’m excited to be part of it. – So join us online on Sunday, December 29 for an online only service. It goes On-Demand at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning on Crossroads.net. And you know, one of the great things about Christmas is there’s so many traditions around it. And one of the traditions that we celebrate as followers of Jesus is communion. And so we’re gonna be doing that later on in the service. So you’ll want to get a drink and something to eat ready for later in service to take communion if that’s a tradition that you want to partake
in if you are a follower of Jesus. And without further ado, we’re gonna get started with the Advent of Love. The world bound by darkness and sin cries out for a Savior. God sent His Only Son Jesus to rescue us in what seems like the unlikeliest of circumstances. He chose a virgin named Mary to bring the Savior into the world. When the Angel Gabriel was sent to deliver the message to Mary, she was scared. “The Lord is with you,” he assured her. “His name is Emmanuel.” The God of love, He doesn’t stay distant and far away. He comes close. This is what the God of love says to us today. He lives here. He is with us. He wants a relationship with us. We are important to Him. Jesus, the unpredictable arrival of love. – I love Christmas. I love Christmas songs. I love the Christmas food. I love Christmas presents. I’m not ashamed to say that. I love presence. I love getting presents. I love giving presents. There’s something actually really special about gifts. I think that we’re wired to like gifts because God is wired to like gifts. He’s a giver himself. You know, as a kid, I loved making my parents homemade gifts. My parents’ Christmas tree is peppered with pictures of me at all ages and macaroni and sparkles. And, you know, the reason for that was because I wanted my parents to have something heartfelt. Well, another reason was probably because we made them in school. But let’s be honest, you know, I got so excited to give my parents this homemade, cheap little thing on Christmas morning. I was cheerful about it. My parents loved receiving whatever I had for them because I was so cheerful. God wants us to be cheerful givers. He is a good dad who sees our heartfelt gifts that we want to give Him. And when we can do that out of the joy of our hearts, and we can do that cheerfully, it gives Him joy and He’s excited about it. And so maybe this Christmas you want to be a cheerful giver. You want to give of what you have to God. You could do that by heading to Crossroads.net/give and consider giving God a gift of blessing His church this Christmas and do it out of a place of joy. We are heading into the last week of Advent right now, the Advent of Love. – Let me tell you what I love. I love this sweater. I do. I love this sweater. I love to Chipotle. I love black decaf coffee. I do. I love Yuengling beer. I love motorcycles. I love overlanding. I love my dog Peanut. I love my wife as well, Lib I love my kids. I love this great country that we’re in. God bless America. I love 50 degree days that have sunshine and are crisp. I also at the same time, I also love a fresh blanket of snow. I love happy greetings in stores where people are happy. I love cheeseburgers with bacon on it, well-done bacon. I love — all these things I love, yet some of them shouldn’t be necessarily in the same category with each other, should they? I mean, is my love of my wife. I love my wife, should that be the same word as I love Chipotle? I don’t think so. We have in our country a major love problem, a massive love problem. We don’t understand it, let alone do it. Christmas is the time to talk about things that aren’t traditionally talked about because it’s amazing to talk about Christmas. I like tradition. I love tradition in many ways. I’m wearing a tradition right now. I said, love this sweater. I’m wearing a tradition right here. This sweater, if you’ve been coming to Crossroads for about 17 years you’ve seen me in this sweater for at least 17 years. This was given to me by a friend of mine, Steve. He didn’t want it anymore, he gave it to me and I said, hey, that looks like a good Christmas sweater. So every Christmas series, normally at least Christmas Eve or the last weekend before Christmas, I’m wearing this sweater. It’s kind of like a tradition. I can’t believe it still works for me. It reminds me that Christmas isn’t about thinking of new concepts. It’s about going back to the old concepts that simply work. The concepts of the transcendent meaning of Christmas. That Christmas has arrived. As we’ve gone through hope and peace and joy, we come today to love. And we’re going to look at love through the lens of the story of the Magi or also known as the wisemen, or some people know them as We Three Kings of Orient Are. It comes the book of Matthew 2:7 and following. I’m going to read this and every verse or so I’m going to stop and I’m going to explain some things. So are we ready? Are you ready? Yes. Here we go. Let’s understand who we’ve got working in this story here. We’ve got Herod. Herod is maybe the slimiest person alive on the planet at that time. Herod was somebody the Jews hated. Herod actually himself was partially Jewish from his heritage. And he leverages his Jewishness, his awareness of all things Jewish, of the holidays, of the family connections to squeeze more out of the Jews. He was the governor for Rome. Rome said, “Here is this Jewish territory. You govern it. You take care of it. Here’s what we need to get in taxes. You just need to get us this much, keep the peace and all’s good.” So of course, Herod would give them what they need and he would exceed it for himself. He would abuse his power. The jews hated him as a result of this. Herod gets wind from these people known as the Magi. Magi, because the original word here is Magus, there’s multiple of them. It doesn’t say that they’re kings, but they’re people who are from probably Persia, who have had a spiritual apparition. And they’re following this spiritual apparition. They’re following this light. And Herod wants to know exactly what they’re doing and how he can get in on this. And it continues, it says:. Herod is a liar, amongst other things. He isn’t interested in worshiping this child, this child who’s supposed to be the king of the Jews, this child is supposed to be the great awaited one. He wants to find him so that he can kill him. So he’s basically got spies. He’s trying to commission these people who
are into spirituality to be their spy. And it continues: They’re following a star. There’s a lot of conjecture as to whether or not this is an actual star, bright star that they’re following. I tend to think that’s not what’s happening here. There’s actually a star like light in the sky I believe that God’s put there that they’re following that star like light to find Jesus where Bethlehem is. Now, let’s just all say, boy, Christmas is actually crazy, isn’t it? Well, what are we talking about here? First of all, we’re talking about virgin birth, a woman getting pregnant having never had vo-dee-o-dodo sex. Wow. Can’t really believe that. We’re talking about angels coming to shepherds and with swords and stuff. Whoa, wait, we’re talking about Magi, these spiritual people coming from Persia following a light? What? What are you talking..? I know, it’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? It is, it pretty awesome. Friends, if God were to come to the world and it was the defining moment in human history, we should expect unusual, crazy things. And if there’s not unusual, crazy things, God is probably not in it. We’ve got to check our rationalism at the door, because if all you want is what is rational, then all you have is right — what you have right now. All you’ll have is what you can get. There is something with Christmas, you can get things that only God gives you. And today, specifically love. Love. Verse 11: How many of us like Christmas decorations? Go ahead. Don’t be bashful. How many of us like ’em? Okay. How many of us are annoyed by people who put up too many Christmas decorations? Come on, let’s be honest. My wife just keeps this, be putting up more and more and more Christmas decorations. I’m not ready to say I’m annoyed at her by that. I am annoyed that they keep going up earlier and earlier in the year. I’m sorry, Christmas should not be going up before Thanksgiving. I think what I’m going to do is I when we come down for the tree on Christmas morning, I’ve already said I’m going to have a Valentine’s Day heart hanging from the tree, like no, no, no let’s celebrate Christmas. Let’s get ready for Valentine’s Day. No, no. Let’s separate the holidays. Right? It’s one of the back and forths that we have. But what’s great about Christmas is the decorations actually. One of them that you may have in your house, many people do, is a little manger scene where you’ve got Jesus placed in a manger and you’ve got maybe a little cow, little dog. Maybe you’ve got Bob Ross putting little birds up there. You’ve got some shepherds there, leaning on their staff. And you’ve got a little kitty cat maybe over in the corner. And you have Mary and Joseph. And then what else? You’ve got the Magi, the wise men are there. And that’s when the record should [ screeching sound ] What? Magi, wisemen. There’s a lot of things we don’t know about the Christmas story. One thing we know for sure is that when Jesus was placed in a manger, the Magi were not there. So if you got a little scene like that of figurines, just take the Magi and put them on another table. OK? If you want to be accurate, put them on another. If you don’t want to be accurate, you just want it to be cool looking, fine, keep the Magi there. But they weren’t there. Why do I say that? A bunch of reasons. A few of them right here in this verse. First of all, it says this: And going into the house. Jesus was placed in a manger. He was born in a cave likely where they kept the livestock. And now Magi are going into a house. Wait a minute, house, cave, livestock, manger? Well, yeah, because by the time I got there, Mary and Joseph had moved on. They weren’t in a manger anymore or putting their child in a manger anymore. That was not an ideal circumstance for them to place their child there. So as soon as they could, I don’t know if it was the next day, two days later, they were gone. So they find other lodging, they’re in a house. The Magi show up at a house and that says:. And they saw the child with Mary.Mary. Not the baby. They saw the child. Jesus here is a child. The Magi, yet another freaky thing that happens to them, they have a spiritual dream that Herod actually wants to kill this child. And so they leave another way and they don’t tell Herod about this. Herod then what he does is he wipes out — he wipes out all the children in the area who are under 2 years old. All of them. Now, by the way, just because it’s crazy to believe, does mean there aren’t things that point to this actually happening. I’ve been to Bethlehem a number of times. I’ve been to caves, burial vaults for the dead in Bethlehem. And there is crazy, crazy, a bunch of children’s skulls. That radioactive dating says this comes back to the first century,., Of kids, infants, 2 years and under. Like perfect amount of skull’s, perfect time period,. It’s probably where it happened right here in this, some of the evidence of it. This is real, you can see these things You can till go over the Middle East and see some of this stuff. You’re not going to see a star up in the sky. You’re not going to be able to find an angel talking to shepherds necessarily. But this stuff, there’s a big, big part of this history that you can see with your own eyes. Why does Herod kill everybody two years of age and under? It’s because that’s when the Magi left and didn’t let Herod in on the idea. The Magi got there when Jesus was probably just under 2 years old,. A year and a half old or something like that. It really gives us unique perspective on this story. Now throughout this entire thing, we’re going to see God’s love. We’re going to see that. Even though the word love isn’t here, we’re going to see God’s love throughout this entire thing. I believe that the reason why Christmas. Is the favorite holiday for most of us,., I believe the reason Christmas. Is the most commercially marketable holiday. I believe the reason why we as Americans. Watch more movies about Christmas than any other thing. Is because we are a very emotional people. We’re actually ruled and run by emotion. And I don’t mean this inherently negatively. I mean, it is very emotional. And Christmas is a warm, fuzzy, emotional
holiday, more so than any other holiday,. more than Valentine’s Day, more than Halloween, more than St. Patrick’s Day. And it just keeps going and going, which is why we have so many songs around Christmas,. Because it makes us feel warm and emotional. We want this. It’s why we have so many movies about Christmas,. Romance movies or whatever they are, because we like to feel as Americans, Christmas makes us feel. And some of these classic Christmas movies might just make you feel right now. – The TV’s broke. What are we gonna do all night? – Celebrate the birth of Christ. – How are you doing? What can I get for you? – Does Santa really work in the North Pole? Oh, no, he don’t work. He lays on the couch and he drinks all day. It’s trying for me. I have to pay all the bills. Kind of like your mama, now bye. Next. – I’m up here, you morons. Come and get me. You guys give up, or are you thirsty for more? – No, I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle! – You’ll shoot your eye out, kid. Merry Christmas. Ho, ho, ho. [belches] Did you hear that? [chicken sounds] – Do you mind telling me what you do want to do? – Well, sir, someday I’d like to be a dentist. – A dentist? – They want you to say grace. The blessing. – I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands, One Nation, under God,. Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. – Amen. – Amen. – Amen. – I’m starting to get a bad feeling up here. – Merry Christmas. – If this is their idea of Christmas, I’ve gotta be here for New Year. – Hey, let’s just really clear, Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Okay? I don’t know if you know it or not. Die Hard is a Christmas movie. One of the best ones ever that’s out there. And if you want to hear more about that actually in the Crossroads app,. Which I use regularly, I’ve got an article on that. You can check that out in there, if you like. Now, there was clips there that make us feel. I believe Christmas is our favorite holiday, not because all of us in our country have spiritual roots and ties to Christmas, because it makes us feel. Here’s the crazy thing, three big ideas is this today. If we’re gonna talk about love, let’s just state the obvious. Culture says — our culture says that love is what you feel. God says love is what you do. Our culture’s understanding of love is all about feelings. Oh, I feel nostalgic, I love this sweater. Oh, I feel something when I have comfort food and chicken. I feel something. And so if I feel something for you, then I love you. That’s not love. It could indicate, it could indicate that you’re about to do some love. It could indicate that you’ve done something loving. But feelings are not love. It is what you do that is love. The Magi here are incredibly loving towards Jesus in this entire story,. And yet we don’t see the word love at all. They sacrifice their time. They are doing time. They’re spending two years seeking, in search of. This is love. They actually sacrifice and bring forth and do gifts. They’re generous bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh,. Which we’ll talk about in just a moment. They are incredibly loving because they are going to go the other direction. And they’re going to risk their own lives in not telling. The most powerful person that they’ve encountered, Herod, where Jesus is. They decide to disobey his plea. This is love. Love isn’t what we feel. Love is what we do it. And we feel in our culture, if I feel it’s love. Think about it this way, we say, well, I’m just not feeling it. I must not feel it. What do we say? I’m not feeling it. That’s always a reason for us not to love, for us not to do something. That’s why many of us have an outage with love. Is it is only feeling based. It’s only emotion based. One of the perks of my job, I have a number of perks. I’ll tell you what the great perk of my job is. It is that whenever I preach I get to live with that truth in a profound way. For a whole week leading up to it. It’s not just that I have the content and stuff to think about afterwards,. But when I come to a topic like this, which is love,. That whole week like my mind has been marinating in love. I’ve grown more this week in love because I’m thinking about it. I have to it. It’s a huge perk and benefit that I get to go do a deeper dive. On certain things because I’ve got to have enough to talk about. And I’ve got to own it. Right? So this week has been a week of love for me. It hasn’t been a week, by the way, where I’ve had a lot of feelings. I must admit, I cry much less than the average person. Now, as a male ages, he cries more and more. He gets more and more, you know, emotional. But I see some of you folks, like I’m jealous. I don’t know what that must feel — it must feel good. It looks like it feels good. I don’t know. I don’t feel those things. I don’t. So somebody would think, well, you must not feel love. No, I do love under the godly understanding of doing — doing love. So I decided to get a flu vaccination this last week. How many of us get flu vaccination? Just curious. How many of us trust God and decide not to? [laughter] Well, I like getting a flu vaccine, so this week I was I was going to do it. And when you do this, you’ve got to plan it. Right? So I’m going to go to this pharmacy and I know how lines are,. So I’m going to go during the week day, it’s another perk of my job,. I have flexibility with my job. Right? So I’m going to go in the middle of a workday,. Not the middle, actually the middle of the afternoon workday. I’m going to go around two o’clock because that’ll be past the lunch rush, before people trying to get home. And there should be nobody there, no lines to get my flu shot. And sure, of course, that’s exactly what happens. I walk in. There’s like nobody there. I look behind the counter. There’s three people with blue jackets on. And I go and I say, hey. I would get like a flu shot. And then the woman says, OK, that’ll be about a half an hour. I looked around, like no one here, “Half an hour, what? Why half an hour?” “Well, the pharmacist is filling orders right now. It’ll be a half an hour before he can get to you.” So I guess there’s one pure pharmacist and two other people who are filling pill bottles or stuff. I don’t know how the whole infrastructure works out. So, I’m thinking to myself, “Um, OK. OK.” I look at my watch, thought I could do some work while I’m sitting there. So in fact, work on this message. Fine. So, I go over and I sit and I’m waiting and same thing. No one’s coming in. No one’s there. Maybe like two people in the next 15, 20, 25 minutes and time’s going. I’m thinking 15 minutes and I’m going, “Certainly they’re going to get me in. Because certainly they see I’m the only one here, a live person here. Here.” 15 minutes goes by, nothing. 20, nothing. 25, nothing. 30, nothing. 35, nothing. 40, nothing. 43 minutes I get up, I said — Well, here’s I wanted to say. I thought about this. Right? I thought about this. I wanted to say this, “Hey, I don’t understand how it is you have a real human being here, a customer, a real customer, that you don’t want to satisfy. You made me wait 30 minutes when nobody is here. And not only 30 minutes, you made me wait 43 minutes. I don’t understand how you can’t keep your word. And it’s a stupid policy that I have — I’ve been here a lot. I spent a lot of money in this store.” I wanted to say that, I really did. But I’m talking about love. Right? So I go up. I go, “Hey, I just need a refund of the whole insurance thing. Just cancel because I can’t wait. I have to leave.” And she starts apologizing, “Oh, I’m sorry. He just–” And there again it was like, “Well, you should have apologized. That’s good. You should. You should apologize. You should have done even more than that. You know? And I don’t know if you know it or not, I’m kind of a big deal.” You know? I want to I wanted to say all of these things, too. But no, I wanted to give love. And so, you know what it was, “No problem. It works that way sometimes. Hey, you have a great Christmas.” That was love. They they were ready for it. because they know that’s what customers do. Instead. I gave them love, but noticing it. Go out to eat someplace and the service is less than ideal. And I wanted to stiff the person and be rude to them. But love — love says maybe this person just lost a loved one yesterday and they’re not on their game. And the last thing they need is judgment from you. What you need to be is God to them and love them and tip them and be kind and encouraging to them when you leave,” which is what I did. I went to the Awaited opening night with our family. That was good. And it was love to buy those tickets for nine family members. It was an act of generosity to do that for all of them, to do that. And I sat there and I watched it. And I actually was overcome by emotion as I watched it. As a normal audience member in the first row of the top balcony at the Aronoff Center. And by the way, in case you’re not familiar with this backstory, let me let me tell you a little bit about the story. 1999 I came out of a play in Cincinnati called a Christmas Carol. And I’d watch it now two years in a row. And I noticed a lot of people were there who’d been there the year before. I thought, “Man, the city I live, Cincinnati, they love Cincinnati traditions around the arts. What would happen if we could create a show that actually told the story of Christmas and it could become a Cincinnati institution?” That was an act of love. And out of love for people hearing and understand that story, understanding God, we embarked a couple of years later on our first try, it was called Imagine and it was awful. You can’t imagine how bad it was. It was awful. But love compelled us to try to do anything possible to help people understand the love of God that comes in the form of Jesus placed in the manger. And then love compelled us to try a whole new rewrite and it was Awaited. And love caused us to keep innovating over the first few years when it was very, very mediocre. And love caused us to endure on and endure through even when someone died on an opening night one year. And love caused us to keep spending money and spending resources because we felt this message of God’s love needed to be understood to an artistic mind and we kept doing it. And finally, for a bunch of reasons we’ve talked about before, we had to end on its run at Crossroads and it went into the theater. And I sat there having paid for a ticket, watching a very moving show and seeing love on display. Seeing people sing their hearts out just like performers had sung their hearts out onstage. And I was moved by what would happen — what could possibly happen if that story of love was done on stages in metropolitan areas all across our city? And I was moved because I was seeing the act of love. It was love that was being done, not me feeling love. It was love being done. And our culture says that love is about feelings. It’s not friends, it’s about doings. And the reason why there’s not a real love in our culture is because we don’t feel there’s many people who deserve that kind of love. But the second point: culture says love is for those who deserve it. God says love us for the unworthy. See if someone is making me feel bad, making me feel bad emotions, then I certainly can’t do any love to them, I can’t give them any love, I can’t do anything nice for them because I’m not feeling it. We only give love to people who deserve it, but God gives love to those of us who don’t deserve it. Now I’m going to blow some of our minds. You’re not going to like what I’m saying right now, but it’s so true. I’m as sure of it as I am of gravity. When we are opposed to God and when we are not on His plan in right relationship with Him, He does not have good emotional feelings towards us. There’s a lot of people here right now, hear my voice, I want to tell you, God does not feel good about you at all. At all. And He still loves you, because He still does things for you, even when we don’t deserve it. This is the gift of love. Jesus comes to the Earth, not because we deserve His love, because we need His love. We need Him to do something because our rebelliousness has put a wall between us and God. And God is not feeling it for us. He’s actually doing it for us. And He sends His Son to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. He dies for us. Those little pink hands that the Magi saw, those little beautiful pink feet with no calluses on them at all were going to have become adult full-grown hands and feet and there were going be nails put through them. That back that was so perfectly pure, maybe didn’t have a freckle on it, was going to be whipped and scourged and was going to scrape up and down on a wooden Cross, catching splinters as Jesus push Himself up and release in order to inhale and exhale as He was hanging on a Cross. That was love. Book of Romans describes how crazy this kind of love is when it says: What is it like when you’re not on the page with God? You’re not God, you’re un-God. Whatever God is, UN is you, is me, was me, ungodly. Every once in while someone will put themselves in front of a train for a child that they love. That seems to be pure. Though, perhaps for a good person. One would even dare to die. But God shows his love for us, and that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He shows us His love. Now, while we were sinners, while we were unlike God, while we were getting bad emotional vibes for God, while God was not feeling anything for us. I mean if you think that God is feeling happy, happy, joy, joy about people who aren’t about Him, gosh, not true. Not true. But if you think you’ve got to earn God’s love, not true either. That’s the amazing good news of Christmas: God gives love. He blesses. He comes and He lays His life down for us when we don’t deserve it. That is crazy. amazing, beautiful. We’re gonna celebrate communion a little bit. And this is why communion is so powerful and profound. We’re celebrating the love that Jesus gave us. Not the love that Jesus felt for us, not the love the God fell for us, the love He gave us. He broke His body for us on a Cross. He spilled out His blood for us. That is what His love is. Tim Keller says this: Grace means God doing something for you that you and I don’t deserve. Psychology Today every once in a while gets it right. Sometimes our modern mindsets, we accidentally stumble on the truth and there’s something deeper right underneath that. Here’s what Psychology Today says: Don’t give expecting somebody to deserve it, love, do something loving expecting nothing in return and not waiting for somebody else to deserve it. See culture says that love is earned. God says that love is given. Now, I want to show you, I just want — I’m doing everything I can to crucify this idea that feelings is love. If you’re feeling something, it’s love. It’s not. It’s not. It’s a feeling. It’s a good feeling. Your feeling might be going along with love, but our feeling is not love. Check this out in Luke 6:35. You’ve heard this many, many times before. Even if it’s your first time ever hearing anything in a church, you know it: love your enemies, love your enemies and do good to all. And it goes on and on, this is about love your enemies. Can I just — what does it mean to love your enemies? I’ll tell you what it does not mean. It does not mean feel good emotions about your enemies. It does not. That is utterly impossible. If love is good, positive emotions, then this verse makes no sense because enemies means we have negative, nasty emotions. If we could have good positive emotions about someone, they wouldn’t be our enemy. What’s it saying here? It’s not saying have good emotions, because you can’t just change your emotions. Just, “Oh, God says they have good emotions about the people who’ve abused me. Oh, okay, I’ll do that.” “Oh, God tells me to feel good and feel love to people who stole from me. Oh, oh, Now I do and feel good.” No, it does work that way. Loving your enemies means you do something that’s loving. It means you send them an encouraging text. It means you give them a good reference if someone calls you because they’re trying to hire them maybe. That means that you buy a gift for them maybe. I don’t know what it is, but that’s love. You can do those things and hopefully and maybe the emotions will follow. But the emotions, the things we feel or our intentions, even our intentions, that is not love. And I’ll tell you, our culture will be a lot better if we would understand this, because then if we could get off this emotional thing, maybe we’d actually start loving each other and we would actually feel something from each other. Maybe our culture would start to turn the tide. 1 John 3:16 says this:. How do we know love? He laid down His life and we ought to do the same. We’re gonna do our normal exercise here of taking this card that we’ve done every week. You got when you came in or a piece of paper wherever you are at your coffee shop or your home, wherever you are. And I want us to think about that first. What would happen as we reflect on this and we wrote down things we were going to do that was love? What would happen in our neighborhoods, in our cities? I’m telling you right now, if we have a high percentage of us that actually started doing love, oh, my goodness, things would change. So let’s take a minute right now and see if God prompts us with something we to write on this card that we’re actually going to do out of love. I tell you what, if these things on here get done, get ready for wherever you are to be different. Because when love crashes in, things change. When Jesus crashed into our world, when the Advent of Love came, when Jesus came, this world changed. When the Magi saw love, saw Jesus, they gave Him gold, which is what a king would get. They gave Him frankincense, which is what a priest would have, a high priest, a smelling aroma. They gave him myrrh, which is a really sick gift to give because it’s embalming fluid. This is a child who is destined to die, who lays down His life. When they blessed Him and they did love to Him, the world started to change and yours can too. Do what you put on that card. Let’s pray. God, as we get ready for lighting our candle and for communion, we just want to very soberly say, God, we don’t understand your kind of love. It’s a brand of love, it’s a depth of love that’s beyond our comprehension. But we want to act on whatever we know because we want to be more like you. And God, I also think to myself right now and as we do communion in just a little bit, I think there’s some of us in here right now who are going to receive you for the first time, -where this can be their first communion, who we can receive Your love and give our life to you. We pray that You would do that and hear these prayers today. In Your name I pray, Amen. – We’re actually going to take communion together. And so if you’ve received Jesus as your Lord and Savior,. This time is for you. And so I want you to grab some coffee or juice. Or something to eat or drink near you. So that we can do this together as a
church from anywhere that you are right now. Because, you know, the ultimate form of God’s love was Jesus. When God sent Jesus to die for us so that you and I could have life,., So that you and I could spend eternity with our Father,. The God of the universe, who knows you and loves you. It’s worthy of remembering. And so we’re going to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made. And the way that He’s loved us by taking communion,. The way that followers of Jesus have been remembering Him. And celebrating His love for generations and generations since He was on the earth with them. And so grab your muffin and your coffee, whatever you have. I, right now, have a piece of bread and a little bit of coffee. And we’re going to take communion together. First, grab that food that you have in front of you. This is Jesus’s body that was broken for you. Eat it and remember His love for you. Grab your coffee, your juice, your water, whatever you might have right now. This is Jesus as blood shed for you. Drink it and remember how much He loves you. We’re going to light the final candle of Advent, this candle of love,. To remember the way that God loves us and to remember the way. That in Jesus breaking into the world, it was the ultimate form of love for you today and for me today. Well, hey, I hope you have a great week. And that you experience the love of Jesus this week. And we’ll see you back for Christmas Eve at 1:00, 3:00, and 5:00. Right here online or at a location near you. Have you have a great week. – Whoever said loserliness is next to godliness? A loser, that’s who. You want to win this year? I want to win this year. God Almighty wants you and I both to win this year. Are you ready to win? I sure am. Let’s win, win this year. WIN!