Summary: Understanding the Love that God has for us at Christmas

The story of the candy cane

• A Candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that could be used as a witnessing tool, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane.

• He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus.

• He began with stick of pure white, hard candy.

• White to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus,

• And hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the Church and firmness of the promises of God.

• He made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior.

• The shape at the same time represented the staff of the "Good Shepherd" with which He reaches down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who have gone astray.

• Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the Candy maker stained it with red stripes.

• He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the beating Jesus received by which we are healed.

• The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have eternal life.

• Unfortunately, the candy became known as a Candy Cane - a meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time.

• But the meaning is still there for those who "have eyes to see and ears to hear".

• The Wonder of Jesus and His Great Love that came down at Christmas and remains the ultimate force in the universe today.

On this third week of advent, that’s exactly what I want us to look at today is love.

Read 1 John 4:7-10.

1Jn 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1Jn 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1Jn 4:9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

1Jn 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

In this passage, the simplest & yet most profound statement of all is, "God is love."

• That sounds beautiful, but what does it mean?

• We use the word "love" a lot,

• And I’m afraid that our use of it can be rather confusing.

So What is love to you?

• Now I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to tell you that I love my wife.

• She is my companion, my encourager, and my counselor,

• She is faithful & loving & I am not ashamed at all to tell you that I love her.

• I love this town.

• I love the fact that I can walk up the middle of Main Street and feel I belong here.

• I love the way neighbors and friends wave at each other and care about each other.

• I love our church & the people here.

Now even though I used the same word "love"

• To both describe my feelings toward my wife & towards this town,

• I hope you realize that I don’t love them in quite the same way.

The problem is that Our English language is limited.

• We use this one word as a catch-all for many different feelings.

• "I love my wife. I love Franklin. I love our dogs. I love a sunny day. And I love my home.

Since we use the same word to express all those different emotions,

• We depend on the person who hears us, to put our words through the filter of understanding, & then to arrive at the correct conclusion.

• When I say, "I love my wife," I trust you to take those words & filter them & reach the conclusion that "He loves his wife the way that a man ought to love his wife."

• When I tell you that I love Franklin, I trust you to understand that I am not weird, & therefore I don’t love a place in the same way that I love my wife.

• I trust you to put those words through the filter & reach the conclusion that I love a place in the way that a man ought to love a place.

To confuse things further,

• The word "love" is also used in many different expressions.

• Love is something that we “fall into.”

• Love brings stars to our eyes,

• Love causes our hearts to go pitter pat.

• And yes "Love makes the world go ’round."

With all these definitions of love

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