Summary: Advent Sermon- Sunday Theme is Love.

My wife likes Hallmark Channel movies. I tease her because although they are enjoyable, there is nothing new about any of their movies- you can see every plot development coming a mile away. Especially the Christmas ones- a guy and girl meet, they dislike each other first, then they fall for each other, they have some crisis/argument, they reconcile in time for Christmas. Pretty much every Hallmark movie in a nutshell.

One thing I noticed is almost all claim to be about someone learning “the true meaning of Christmas” and not one of them is actually about it. See, the world's idea of the “true meaning of Christmas” is be nice to other people. It's not a bad message, it's just not the meaning of Christmas, it's not even close. But “be nice” is all the world has to offer. Be nice, help others, it's a great sentiment- but that is not the message of Christmas. As good as the message to treat others well is, God offers something so much more.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6-7

This is the meaning of Christmas. God saw man's need for a savior from the beginning of the world, in fact, even before the beginning of the world. Ephesians 1:4 states,

"he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love"

Before the world was created, God foreknew the failure of Adam and Eve and made plans for sending His son to save all who would believe in Him. The question is why? Why would God do that. The answer is simple and is the theme for this week in advent- love.

“For God so loved the word, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

This verse is so familiar, if we are not careful, we can miss it's significance. He gave His son, because He love us that much. He was willing to pour out His justice on His innocent son. It sounds almost cruel- punishing His innocent offspring for our sins. Imagine a neighbor kid breaks a window so you punish your child or grandchild for what the neighbor did. That seems strange, even unfair. Why would God punish Christ for what we are and what we do? Because the Father and Son agreed that the son would come to earth and perfectly fulfill the law and righteousness of God, in essence, He would be just and perfect for us who have broken God's law. The death sentence of the cross was our sentence, the death penalty the prescription for our sins. But Jesus came, was born in that stable on Christmas morning and grew up to die for our sins, and rise from the grave, forever defeating sin, death, and Hell.

“God demonstrated His love in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

God did not wait for us to have something to offer. He loved us when we had nothing to give. He loved us, not because of who we are, but because of who He is. God is love. He doesn't just love, He is love. God has showed his love in this amazing fashion by His willingness to submit to giving up the life of His son for the benefit of others. While we were yet sinners, and of course His enemies, God elected to show us mercy because who He is. In this, God's love surpasses any profession of love ever made by any man ever. God's love made the ultimate sacrifice for you and I.

Sometimes we forget, the Bible says that before we came to Christ, we were enemies of God. That is the classification of mankind apart from Christ, according to the Word of God- they are enemies of God. The doesn't say we were poor babes lost in the woods, it says we were enemies of God before we came to Christ? Why? Sin separates us from a holy God. It creates a chasm between us and God and that chasm can only be bridged by the cross of Jesus Christ.

Christ died for us while we were enemies. Think about that. Would you die to save a Mid-Eastern terrorist? Would you be willing to give up your life to save one of them? Think I”m being too extreme? God says we were once enemies and alienated from Him. The analogy is a fair comparison to make. Christ died for us, when we were on the opposing side; that's how much and how deeply God loves. He sent His own son to earth, knowing He would be beaten and killed. Why? Because He loved us that much. Now we have a high priest, a savior who is our-

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