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Summary: This message looks at the incredible love Jesus showed to us by leaving heaven to come to earth to die in our place.

AM Sermon preached at Central Christian Church December 2, 2012

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Message #1 Jesus: He came from infinity and beyond!

Philippians 2:5-8, John 1:1-14

Okay, it may sound kind of weird and out of place for a guy just over fifty to say it, but there are times I wish had the stuffed Snoopy dog I had when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish I had him today for the same reasons he became my favorite childhood toy back then. No, when these days I occasionally wish I had that old stuffed dog it’s for entirely different reasons. Back when I was a kid and I had some bedtime fears about monsters living under my bed, ghosts living in my closet or that the shadows on my wall were being cast by the Boogie Man, I rested a lot easier with Snoopy lying next to me---for just as I imagined the monsters were out to get me, I imagined Snoopy would defend me from harm. Even in thunderstorms I found comfort with him by my side. When I went out, Snoopy went with me. Sometimes he was right in the middle of my play, other times he was merely a witness to it acting as my own private cheering section. He sat with me when I watched TV. I told him my secrets, my jokes, my fears. I hugged him, kissed him, dressed him up, sneezed and coughed on him. I loved him to pieces, if you know what I mean.

Now I know some of you can relate. How about we take a quick poll? Raise your hand if you had a childhood toy that you loved on like that. How about a few of you call out the name or the type of toy that meant so much to you... Okay, now let me tell you two reasons why I wish I had that old dog now---I’m not wishing I had him to tell my secrets to or to have him protect me from bedtime monsters---I mean after all I’ve got Lori for that---seriously one reason I wish I had that old dog now is because I think it would act as a physical link to my past memories, memories that I find as I get older have been fading, and yet they are memories I don’t want to forget. Another reason I wish I had that old dog, especially today, is because he would illustrate perfectly a point I had driven home to me as I was preparing for this morning’s message. A point I want to share with you---the point was this---it is the nature of someone’s love for a thing that makes it valuable. You see if I still had that old dog and I brought him up here on the stage with me and I projected a picture of him on the screen---you’d look at him and think that dog’s ready for the trash. You’d see how his once white fur was now a dingy grey brown spotted here and there with unidentifiable stains. You’d see how his stuffings were leaking out of a couple of tears. You might notice how one of his ears was barely attached. You might notice the glue spot on his nose where there had once been a bumblebee. To you he’d appear to have no value. You’d never bid on him at an auction, never pick him up at a yard sale. You wouldn’t give a dime to own him. But never mind that because if it really was my old Snoopy dog, I wouldn’t put in an auction or a yard sale. In fact it would be very hard to get me to even consider selling him, and you can bet if I did agree to sell him, I’d ask a pretty hefty price. I really don’t know what happened to that old Snoopy dog. I’m guessing he eventually went the way of most old worn out toys.

Now friends, what got me on that “I wish I had my old Snoopy dog” to show you bit is a story John Ortberg tells about his sister’s childhood ragdoll named Pandy. John’s sister loved her rag doll the way I loved my Snoopy. But Pandy’s story has a happier ending. When it came time for Pandy to be tossed out, John said his mom couldn’t bring herself to do it. Instead, she wrapped Pandy up in tissue paper and stored her away in a box in the attic. Thirty years later, Pandy was retrieved and taken to a doll hospital where she was restored to her former beauty. Then Pandy was passed on to John’s sister’s little girl named Courtney who wanted a doll.

After telling the story of Pandy the ragdoll, John then went on to write this---Listen closely so you don’t miss the impact of his words--- John wrote: “There are two truths about human beings that matter deeply. We are all of us rag dolls....flawed and wounded, broken and bent....Like a splash of ink in a glass of water this raggedness permeates our whole being. Our words and thoughts are never entirely free of it. We are rag dolls, all right... But we are God’s rag dolls. He knows all about our raggedness, and he loves us anyhow....There is a wonder about you. Raggedness is not your identity. Raggedness is not your destiny, nor is it mine. We may be unlovely, yet we are not unloved.” A few paragraphs later he adds, “There is...a love that creates value in what is loved. There is a love that turns rag dolls into priceless treasures. There is a love that fastens itself onto ragged little creatures, for reasons that no one could quite ever figure out, and makes them precious and valued beyond calculation. This is a love beyond reason. This is the love of God. This is the love with which God loves you and me.”

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