The Gift of Love

Love is a GiftOne of my greatest joys each year comes on Christmas day. My son runs into my room, jumps on top of me, and says, “Dad! Get up! It’s Christmas morning! Let’s open the presents!” He is so excited to play with his new toys without even knowing what they are.

After opening every present, he systematically begins to spend time experiencing the joys each gift provides. By the end of the day he has played with every toy and has begun to go back for a second round of fun. Would you believe that in ten years he has never left a present unwrapped under the tree? He opens every gift with great anticipation of all the enjoyment he will have for days, weeks, and months to come.

God’s love is a gift He offers each of us. When we receive His gift of love and begin to unwrap it, we will find within many other gifts which reveal something special about His great love for us.

In this week’s sermon, “Love is a Gift,” we will unwrap a few of the various gifts found within the love of God.

To listen to “Love is a Gift” follow this link: Listen online

Dearest

George Beatty of Cleveland, Ohio, had a wonderful jewelry store, remarkable for its window displays. Over the years, Mr. Beatty had bought a stock of small precious stones that he kept in pint cups. He had a cup of small rubies, a cup of topazes, and a cup of diamonds—all sparkling brilliance. Some of them were small stones and chips that were worth very little. Early in the morning, before the customers came, he made pictures by placing the stones on black velvet squares; a magnificent peacock with its tail spread out was on one. He put these portraits in stone in the window, and many people stopped to look.

A wealthy customer wrote Mr. Beatty that his dearest granddaughter was going to have a birthday; he wanted something distinctive of real beauty. Five times in the letter, the customer spoke of the granddaughter as “dearest.” The old man looked at me and said, “I prayed and asked the Lord to give me an idea. I noticed how many times ‘dearest’ appeared, so I underlined it. When I sent my customer the sketch and told him what I proposed to do, he was greatly pleased and thought my idea was wonderful.”

Mr. Beatty sent him a ring with baguettes so beautifully cut that the light scintillated from them. Across the top of the ring, the first stone was a diamond; the next, an emerald, then an amethyst, a ruby, a second emerald, a sapphire, and then a topaz. I looked at it and asked, “Buy why do you have two emeralds?” He smiled and said, “Because there are two e’s in ‘dearest.’ If you take the initials of those stones, it spells the word ‘dearest.'”

Before the Lord God Almighty created the sun, the moon and the stars, He chose us, and—as it were—He put us in a ring to be worn as a signet upon His hand. Spelled out in the heart of God, we are his dearest.

Source: “Timeless Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching” by Donald Grey Barnhouse.

Living In The Power Of Future Glory

In 2 Corinthians 4.7-10 we read, “7 But we have this treasure in  earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of  the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not  crushed;  perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not  forsaken;  struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that  the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (NASB).

Sometimes it is difficult to apply Scripture to our own lives. When I read the following story by Chuck Swindoll I immediately thought of 2 Corinthians 4.

Swindoll writes:

When Dan Richardson, an enthusiastic believer in Christ, lost his battle with cancer, the following piece was distributed at his memorial service.

Cancer is limited…

  • It cannot cripple love,
  • It cannot corrode faith,
  • It cannot eat away peace,
  • It cannot destroy confidence,
  • It cannot kill a friendship,
  • It cannot shut out memories,
  • It cannot silence courage,
  • It cannot invade the soul,
  • It cannot reduce eternal life,
  • It cannot quench the spirit,
  • It cannot lessen the power of the resurrection.

Source: “Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes” 140.

Just Stop and Think

Last night I came across this quote by Francis Chan, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” Warren Wiersbe once called these accomplishments “miserable success.” I can think of several times in my life I have focused on accomplishing things that really didn’t matter when looking at the bigger picture.

I wanted to find more about Francis Chan’s quote, so after a short search I came across a wonderful video titled, “Just Stop and Think.” It talks about what really matters in life. In fact, it talks about the most important thing we can do in this life.  Would you please give me fifteen minutes of your time and watch this video. It is a simple message that you won’t regret watching. If you watch it and are honest, it can help you focus on what really matters in this life. I hope you enjoy the film “Just Stop and Think” with Francis Chan.

To find our more, please visit Juststopandthink.com or Francis Chan.

Why Does God Allow Evil?

Why does God allow evil? That is a question believers, agnostics, and atheists have been asking for a long time. For some reason evil, suffering, pain, disappointment, and the like can cause some people to doubt God’s love. They ask, “If He really loves us, then why not eradicate all the evil in the world?”

Alex Murashko, while writing for the Christian Post addresses this issue in his article, “How to Answer ‘Why Would God Allow Evil?’ He summarizes Mark Mittelberg’s seven “points of light” from chapter five of his book, “The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask.”

Mittelberg writes:

First point of light: the world is as Jesus predicted
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble;” it’s good to know that we follow a Savior who really gets it – who sees this fallen world for what it is, and who (contrary to many other religious leaders) tells us the truth about it.

Second point of light: evil was not created or caused by God
The Bible is clear: God is not the author of evil. But he did create us as real human beings with the ability to love and follow him … or not. Unfortunately we chose the “not,” and brought sin and evil into the picture.

Third point of light: the cause behind most suffering is human
While it doesn’t remove the pain, it can be important to remind people who are tempted to shake their fists at God for the suffering in the world that the vast majority of human pain has been inflicted directly or indirectly by other humans.

Fourth point of light: we live in a fallen world
There is also suffering due to what some call “natural evil” – pain that results from events and disasters that are not caused by humans. The Bible shows, however, that these are the result of the curse we live under due to human sin – see Genesis 3 and Romans 8.

Fifth point of light: God will finally judge evil
Some people criticize God (or those who believe in him), saying, “A good God would eradicate evil.” My question for those folks is, “Okay, are you ready to be eradicated, since you – like me – are to some degree evil?” Seriously, I’m glad that, although God will judge and wipe out evil, he’s chosen not to yet, out of patience for us and for our friends (2 Pet. 3:9).

Sixth point of light: God suffered too
It’s easy to forget that the Holy God of the universe chose, out of love, to humble himself, become one of us, and ultimately to suffer in ways none of us every will (or ever could imagine) in order to purchase our redemption (Phil. 2). As a result, he can not only forgive our sins and freely give us salvation, but also sympathize with all we’re going through (Heb. 4:14-16).

Seventh point of light: God can bring good out of bad
Though this truth is often bantered about in ways that are insensitive to the person who is suffering, it is still true that while bad things happen to God’s people, he promises that he’ll bring good – sooner or later – out of everything we experience (Rom. 8:28).