The theme of this last Sunday of advent is love. The love I write of is that which God has demonstrated toward us through His Son Christ Jesus. It’s a love that makes all the difference in a life. God’s love is to be experienced deeply on a personal level, and within the body of His Church.
For me the celebration of advent, and particularly the Sunday of love has become very important for a number of reasons. As a child and even as a young adult, I struggled with the idea and concept of love. I questioned the love of my parents as well as others because I rarely saw any signs or evidence of their love. I never heard the words “I love you” until I was sixteen years old, and only then did I hear them because I confronted my father with my love for him.
Christmas and other holidays were also a struggle simply because I grew up in a dysfunctional family, where holidays were always a bit strange. We had our traditions, but our traditions seemed forced and disingenuous. There was really nothing “Christian” about our family Christmas in those early years, prayers were never said or Scriptures read, nor can I ever remember attending any Christmas worship service. There was an unspoken expectation of putting on the proverbial mask, and acting as if all was well when in reality it wasn’t.
Some fifteen years ago or more a pastor friend of mine named Charlie Wilson, suggested that I begin some new Christmas traditions with my wife and children. One particular Christmas Teresa, the boys and I began advent readings and lighting the candles in our home each evening. (I need to mention here that the celebration of advent isn’t typical in most Baptist circles so this was all new to our family.) On Christmas Eve when we lit the Christ candle in the center of our advent wreath things began to click. It occurred to me, without Christ in the center of our lives there could be no hope, peace, joy, or love. That Christmas I decided no matter where I was pastoring, I wanted to always incorporate the celebration of advent into my ministry if possible.
Not only did the celebration of that first advent in my home help bring the true sense of Christmas into focus, but every year since it brings me a feeling of comfort. The candles, the readings, and the promises found in connection with Christ’s first advent are constant reminders of God’s love for me as I await His second advent. With that said I would like to share three evidences of God’s love for you.
1. God knew you before the creation of all things.
Note the first part of Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, …” God knew Jeremiah before he was ever conceived in his mother’s womb. The word “knew” is the Hebrew word “yāda” and means to personally know someone on the most intimate level. Before God ever created the universe, before He ever hung the earth in her orbit, He knew Jeremiah and all the intimate details of his life. This fact caused me to think, if God knew Jeremiah to such a degree then surely He knew me and the details of my live before I was ever born. The same can be said for you.
Reading the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:3 – 5 and Romans 8:29 – 30 leads us to the same conclusion. Here’s my point, the evidence of God’s love for you is found in His sovereignty, and for whatever reason or knowledge He possesses, God chose the believer before the foundation of the world. What blows me away is to think of the tremendous love that God had for me in eternity past. Think of it this way, I existed in eternity past in the mind of God before anything else was ever created and so did you.
2. God also made you for specific purpose long ago.
Note the full rendering of Jeremiah 1:5;
Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Not only did God know Jeremiah intimately before he was ever conceived, He also had a plan in place and a purpose for his life. The phrase “I consecrated you” literally means to set something or someone apart for specific purpose and use. God had reserved the life of Jeremiah for special task, and He literally set Jeremiah apart as a prophet for the purpose and glory of God.
Again this caused me to think if God had set Jeremiah apart for specific purpose, then hasn’t God done the same for all He calls. The apostle Paul makes an interesting statement in Ephesians 2:10 which applies to all Christians past, present, and future, note his words once again.
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
The word “workmanship” can also be translated as “masterpiece” revealing God as the ultimate craftsman. You are God’s masterpiece. He crafted you in the recesses of His mind long ago, knowing your every trait, strength, and weakness. He made you with a purpose and for a purpose. He created you to glorify Him in this life and to worship Him for all eternity.
I’m reminded of a story that was told long ago about a picture of a little boy wiping the tears from his eyes, and at the bottom of the picture the words were written as if the boy were speaking, “I know I’m somebody, cause God don’t make no junk.” Truer words cannot be spoken, because as the master craftsman God makes no mistakes. Early in my life I believed, because of the actions of others, I was a mistake, an accident of nature. But again there are no accidents or mistakes with God. Your parents may not have planned for you, but God did.
3. God planned and provided for you before the beginning of the world.
One of the greatest verses in all the Scriptures is found in Genesis 3:15, and is known as the protevangelium which means “the first Gospel.” This verse is prophetic and gives us a picture of the virgin birth and crucifixion of Christ. The “seed” doesn’t come through woman but through man. This reveals the supernatural intervention of God by providing the Messiah through the virgin birth. And the word “bruise” literally means to “crush,” which refers to the results of one being crucified upon the cross. As Christ would exert force to lift his body in order to breathe on the cross, it would cause severe bruising upon his heels, and in so doing He would literally crush the head of Satan. Again, what this suggests is that God in eternity past knew man would fail, and in His attempt to reestablish fellowship He would need to provide a way of redemption.
The Apostle Peter brings it all home for us with his statement in First Peter 1:18 – 20, take special note of his words.
18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you …
Through the “precious” holy blood of Jesus Christ God would redeem mankind. Think about this for a moment, in the mind of God He knew mankind would fail and would fail miserably. So He predestined His Son to be the atonement for man’s sin, a payment that only He could make. Yet, even knowing of man’s failure God chose to follow through with His creation, thus providing us with the evidence of His love for humanity.
May you never doubt the love God has for you. And may the evidences of His love daily renew your hope, and provide you a great sense of peace and joy for the remainder of your days.