Summary: How do we really know that God loves us? What are the indications of His love for us?
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 19, 2004
“Indications of His Love for Us”
INTRODUCTION: How many have your Christmas shopping all done? How about all wrapped? This morning I want you to think about your Christmas shopping list. Think about the people on your list that you really enjoyed buying for. Think about the people you didn’t enjoy buying for. Think about someone you had on your list but you felt they just didn’t deserve a gift from you. Maybe you felt they never appreciated what you got them last year and besides that never even said “Thank You.” Maybe they came right out and said, “I don’t like this gift”--don’t like the color, it’s ugly, and tossed it aside or exchanged it. Did you ever have that happen to you?
In today’s scripture Isaiah is talking about people who were like that. He enumerated all of the many kindnesses that the Lord had lavished on his covenant people, the Israelites, throughout the years--God had shown his love and compassion for them on all kinds of occasions. He said, “Surely these are my people who will not be false to me.” But in verse 10 it says, “Yet they rebelled.” God was disappointed in how they received His gifts. They certainly did not appreciate or deserve them. In spite of their unworthiness, He did not write them off. Neither does he write us off today.
1. Compassion Lavished, in Spite of Our Unworthiness: How many times do we take God’s love for granted or even outright reject it? Scripture sums it up this way in Isaiah 53:6. “We’re all like sheep who have wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong on him”. In spite of their unworthiness scripture says He became their savior. He wants to be OUR Savior as well.
2. In All Our Troubles, He is Troubled Too: When Jesus came to earth He made it His business to know what we were struggling with. Isaiah says in verse 9, “In all their distress, he too was distressed.” He took their pain personally. Isaiah tells us in 53:4 “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows...he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities (willful deliberate sins). He knows our current needs and knows what to do about them even when things look impossible.
Story: A North Dakota blizzard was howling outside Dr. Thompson’s office one night. About 9:00 the phone rang. A man said, “Doc can you come out to my place? My boy is running a high fever and is unconscious. It’s impossible for us to get in to see you. Do you think you could make it out to us?”
The doctor said, “Tony, I’ll do my best but I never saw a storm this bad where I came from and it sure scares me.”
On his way out of town he stopped at the local bar and asked three men if they would go with him to help shovel. About halfway the men became exhausted because the snow drifts were getting so deep. The doctor left his car with the men and got a farmer to saddle a horse for the rest of the trip out to Tony’s. The boy was so sick that the doctor knew that if he didn’t get him to a hospital in intensive care soon that he wouldn’t make it. He thought of Ed the County Commissioner. He called him but the commissioner said, “Don’t think I can do anything, but I’ll try.”
At sunrise the doctor got his patient down to the main road, and to his surprise, he found his car running and waiting for him and to learn that the road all the way to town had been cleared.
The doctor called the county commissioner to thank him.
“Don’t thank me. I had nothing to do with it.”
Surprized the doctor said, “Who did then?”
The commissioner said, “Well, you’ve got to know the people around here to understand what happened. When they heard you call me on the party line, they knew something must be wrong. They all listened in and every able-bodied man and boy along that road went to work shoveling and plowing snow. We live out here in God’s wide-open country where the coyotes howl and the wind blows free. When anybody’s in trouble, we all pitch in to help. We call it “putting love on the line.”
I think that we can say that Jesus put “love on the line” for us.
Paul said in Romans 5:6,8, “Just at the right time when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.