Week 34: December 18 - 24
Fourth Week of Advent: Love
In the past three weeks we have explored the themes of Hope, Peace, and Joy. This final week of Advent we will focus on the theme of Love.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
The Old Testament prophet Zephaniah delivered the Lord’s word to the tiny kingdom of Judah about 600 years before the birth of Christ. These words still bring hope and comfort to us today. How reassuring that God is with us and is the “mighty one who will save!”
God’s Love For Us
Hundreds of years later John would write in what is probably the most well-known verse in all of Scripture, For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. This simple verse contains the summary of the Gospel in just one sentence. Until this time, Jewish writings had spoken of God’s love for Israel. Here God revealed his love for “the world”, making it known that anyone who believes in Christ can spend eternity with Him.
Our attention cannot remain in the manger, even at Christmas. Yes, God sent his Son as a baby in stable, but that baby was sent to earth to die --- paying the penalty for our sin that separates us from a holy and righteous God. We cannot earn the favor of God, we can only accept the perfect sacrifice He provided through Jesus.
John 15:13 says, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. David Jeremiah’s words sum up the theme of the verse, “Saving us is the greatest and most concrete demonstration of God’s love, the definitive display of His grace throughout time and eternity.”
God’s Love In Us
For those who have been saved, Paul says the love of God has been “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). What does that look like practically? Galatians 5:23-23 lists the attributes of a life that has been changed by the presence of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. A loving heart is evidence of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives
God’s Love Through Us
1 John 4:7 says, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. This doesn’t cancel our need to confess Christ, but it does mean that God’s love is the source of our love for others.
In Hebrews 13:2-3 believers are instructed, Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. We do not perform compassionate work for others because of our own goodness. Apart from Christ we are selfish and unloving. It is only through the work of Jesus transforming our “hearts of stone” into a trophy of his grace that we are able to demonstrate God’s love with pure motives.
There are dozens of ways that we can show compassion to others, especially at this time of year. Many ministries at our church are in need of volunteers to serve: Harvest Loves, International Friendship Center, Hearts at Hand, and Compassion to name a few. Are you serving the body of Christ in the local church? Do you take the opportunity to serve in outreach ministries with the church?
- Pray for gospel opportunities during the Advent season, where we can share the true meaning of Christmas
- Pray for opportunities to help others focus on the love of God expressed by sending Jesus to die for the sins of the world, that we might live eternally.
- Pray about where Christ would have you serve in the local church and get involved.
Bible Passages for Daily Reading
Sunday – Isaiah 7:10-13
Monday – Luke 1:26-35
Tuesday – Isaiah 9:2-7
Wednesday – Matthew 1:18-25
Thursday – Luke 2:1-20
Friday – Matthew 2:1-2
Saturday – Luke 2:21-35