His Gift | Sermon Notes Week One
As I was going to lunch the other day, I driving the back roads of San Marcos (trying to get to Rogelios) and needed to take a right. I drove up to the road I needed to turn on and found this sign.
When I saw that it was one way and in the opposite direction that I wanted to go in, I was disappointed and then I looked closer and saw that the street was named Love Street and that it was a one way street.
I was shocked. Love is not supposed to be a one way street! In an act of rebellion, I turned right on the street and drove one block in violation of the traffic laws. I need to confess today. Glad I got that off my chest!
Love should be a two way street meaning that both parties participate in the relationship. Both people give and invest in the relationship. Both people selflessly give and then both graciously receive.
Growing up, I was really a chicken when it came to asking girls out on dates. In fact, I told the story a few weeks ago about Erica asking me out the first time. So I wasn’t dumped a whole lot. I do remember it happening a couple of times. I was broken up with twice. Once it was done when a girl called me from the payphone at school. I think she had just found a new boyfriend at the basketball game. So sad. Looking back on it, it is so funny. At the time, I thought it was the end of the world.)
When love is a one way street, people are drained. When only one person in a relationship is offering anything, they get burned out. The other person is negligent in the relationship.
The person that is checked out is bored, full of apathy, selfish.
The situation turns worse when the other person is not only disengaged, but pursuing other lovers.
So painful. There is rejection and abandonment. There is relationship bankruptcy.
Some of my most difficult moments of pastoring is when a couple sits in my office for counseling. Tears begin to flow down cheeks. Sometimes they deny it. Other times they hold back all the details. After a while, the truth comes out and one of them admits to being unfaithful to their spouse. “I broke my vow. I fell to temptation. I messed up.”
When the relationship began it seemed as though nothing could get in the way. The sky was the limit. There was so much emotional bliss in the air that what could possibly make this thing so south? Then, time wears on. Life gets tough.
What went wrong? What was it that made this thing break down?
What temptation did I fall to? What lie did I believe about the grass being greener on the other side?
When love is a one way street, it ends in a pit. There is a depth of loneliness and despair that captivates the brightest of minds and personalities. The carnage of relationship destruction can go on for years.
This place of separation and darkness is where creation found itself before the first Christmas.
Love hasn’t always been a two way street when you look at the track record between God and humans. God designed us to be in relationship with Him, yet with the choice to love or reject him. Freewill. Throughout history, we have gone back and forth. We will serve God when things are tough and we need assistance. Then, we forget God when things are going well.
Love hasn’t always been a two way street when you look at the track record between God and humans.
There was a man, 760 years before Jesus was born, named Hosea. He married a beautiful young lady. They had a son. Things were going well. Then, she became a bit distant. None the less, she got pregnant again and bore them a daughter and then a son. All the while she would leave the home for long periods of time and become despondent and detached from the things at the house. Hosea began to wonder, “What is going on with my wife? Why is she leaving for so long? Why am I having to take care of everything?
Then, it was revealed that the two younger kids had different dads. Hosea’s wife had actually become a prostitute and pursued many other men. In fact,
Hosea 2:5 Their mother is a shameless prostitute and became pregnant in a shameful way. She said, “I’ll run after other lovers and sell myself to them for food and water, for clothing of wool and linen, and for olive oil and drinks.”
Wait a minute! Hosea was already providing all those things in a committed relationship! Hosea says in verse 8
Hosea 2:8 She doesn’t realize it was I who gave her everything she has- the grain, the new wine, the olive oil, I even gave her silver and gold. But she gave all my gifts to Baal.”
Love has been a one way street. Hosea has been faithful. His wife has left him, pursuing other lovers to the point she is now basically owned by pimps and controlled by other men.
Hosea has a choice. He could leave her in that lifestyle. After all, this was a choice she made. He had been faithful. He had provided and lead the family well. She was prostituting herself out to other lovers. Such a brutal place to be. How devastated and lonely Hosea must have felt.
He was in the pit of rejection and despair.
Then, in an act of complete generosity and forgiveness, Hosea demonstrates the love of God.
Hosea 3:1 Then the lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” 2 So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine.
WE have been negligent in the relationship. WE became bored and impatient with God. We are full of apathy. We are selfish. The situation gets worse when we not only disengaged from God, but we pursue other lovers like our career, our education, family.
We have rejected and abandoned God. The one who first loved us. We broke our vow. We fell to temptation. We messed up. What went wrong? What was it that made this thing break down? What temptation did we fall to? What lie did we believe?
There is relationship bankruptcy.
It is in the middle of this dark relationship bankruptcy that God responds in the most unique way. He responds with generosity. He responds with a gift.
Christmas was the epitome of God’s generosity. Only God could respond to complete betrayal with Love.
Our natural response to rejection and loss is to be fearful, controlling, stingy, miserly, after getting burned, we protect at all costs, we do whatever we can to eliminate risk.
God’s response to our rejection is the opposite. Instead of responding with pompous ego and flaunting self righteousness, God responds with humility. The incarnation. (spirit becomes man), Immanuel (God with us), God responds with more vulnerability. He directly and personally gets into our world and relates to us with all of his attention.
The Advent of Jesus is the new beginning. The Messiah has come. The dawn on the horizon.
This is Christmas. The celebration of His Gift to us!
Over the next 2 ½ weeks we are going to spend a lot of time and energy celebrating with parties and food and lights and vacation………the coming of the messiah!
Most of all we are going to give gifts to each other as a symbol of the generosity that God first extended to us when he came to earth. His Gift of salvation and reconciliation with him!
Today, we remember what God has done for us. We remember who Jesus is to us.
If you are here today and are not in a personal relationship with God, maybe you are simply struggling with life and this Christmas season, wondering how you are going to make it,
Luke 2:10 “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
Let’s not waste this opportunity today to thank God for his Gift! Let’s pray this morning and thank Him for coming to us.