If someone were to ask you "What is the greatest story of love you've ever heard?", how would you answer? Would you immediately think of one of the great classics of love by Wm Shakespeare such as "Romeo and Juliet", probably the most famous? Or would you first consider the tragic love story of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere, the best-known story of Arthurian Legend? If you are an American history buff, you might suggest the legendary story of Pocahontas and John Smith. Some might even consider a more modern story from literature, such as the fictionalized Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Also, did you know that it is said that the love between the married couple of science, Marie and Pierre Curie, was inspirational? In reality, a service member who does some extra-ordinary act that costs his life but saves his comrades is an act of love. While I am not an expert on love stories, whether factual or fictionalized, I do admit to knowing about some of these and of some acts of love that occurred in combat. However, I say with certainty that none of these is truly the greatest story of love!
As for me, and hopefully for my brethren, as well, the greatest love story ever told is found within God's scriptures. "Which one?" you ask. Is it the immense love that Abraham had for God that he was willing to offer his only son as a sacrifice to "prove" his love (Gen. 22)? No doubt, some would say the great love that Jacob had for Rachel is truly inspiring (Gen. 29). What a great love Ruth had for Naomi, the mother of her deceased husband (Ruth 1-4). Joseph had to feel great love for Mary, the mother of Jesus, to act to preclude her being scorned by society (Matt. 1&2). Perhaps the most thought of Bible love story would be that recorded in the "Song of Solomon" or "Song of Songs", so entitled because of its lyrical literary form. None of these, however, can match the ultimate love story written within the pages of God's word!
I believe we can all agree that the greatest love story ever told is that of the great love that God the Father and God the Son have for man! The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record for us the events of, and the reasons for, God permitting Himself to become flesh, to walk on this earth as an obedient Son - Jesus the Christ - and, then unselfishly, God the Son sacrificed Himself, redeeming man from the consequences of sin. "For God so loved the world…"(John 3:16) tells us why God did what He did. "Greater love has no one…" (John 15:13) speaks to the ultimate act of love - which Jesus performed! Jesus prayed that all believers would have "…the love with which You love Me may be in them…" (John 17:25). He also said "…as I have loved you, that you also love one another." (John 13:34). "Nor is there salvation in any other…" (Acts 4:12). As Matt so eloquently said in last week's sermon, let's all be of the same mind that we can't help but tell all with whom we come in contact of the great love of Jesus, without considering the command to do so (Matt.2818-20&Mark16:15-16). Yes, for sure,
THE GREATEST STORY OF LOVE EVER TOLD IS THE STORY OF JESUS!
“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3–4).
Because we love the souls of men and want them to go to heaven, we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul knew this burden and said, “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:14–16).
Because we love the souls of men, we are not afraid to speak out against sin. We know that passions of the flesh “wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
Because we love the souls of men, we preach the need to follow Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Because we love the souls of men, we point people to what is best. The Lord Jesus came to bring us an abundant life (John 10:10). His yoke is easy, and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He is “our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). We can do no better than to preach Jesus and Him crucified to every soul in every place who will hear. — Phil Sanders
There is nothing I know of on this earth that does not need water to survive. We often take it for granted nowadays, since they invented indoor plumbing. Without the rain that God gives us to replenish the earth nothing would survive. We use water for so much more than just a drink when thirsty. We use it for cleaning almost everything, ourselves, our clothing and occasionally we clean our car. Dishwashers, toilets, water heaters, sprinklers, swimming pools. We use much water in our day to day life. Farmers must have water for their crops to grow for our food. As I said everything needs water to survive. Matt and Tracy recently found out how inconvenient it is to not have water when the well at the house stopped working. Not just no indoor plumbing but no water on the property. We are spoiled in this country that's for sure, God has blessed us greatly.
Let's take a deeper look at the need for water to live. Galatians 3:27 (For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.) Water cleanses us not only on the outside but cleanses us of our sins by bringing us in contact with the sacrificed blood of Christ that was shed for us on the cross. Romans 6:3-5 (Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,)
God often shows us water is life and uses it to save us. 1st Peter 3:18-21 (For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you,)
Revelation 22:1-2 (Then he showed me a river of the waters of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the tree of life,)
Come to the saving waters before it’s too late and give yourself to Jesus as He gave all for you.
In Him, Chuck
It's a new year again and we have a great new beginning to look forward to. We have our new minister starting soon. We have loan approval to start our new building. We have a great loving church family here to gather with and start this new journey together. It's a wonderful opportunity for us all to enjoy and find our own way to serve in it. Even though God has blessed us so richly this year and we have so much excitement and opportunity ahead, I want you to think even further beyond remembering that which is to come and strive to see, the greatest new beginning which is ever to be known.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, " Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold I am making all things new." And He said, "Write these things for they are faithful and true." Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son." (Revelation 21:1-7)
What a glorious beginning we have to look forward to for eternity. Until that day when God Himself dwells with us there, let us take what He has given us here to do His will. And be hard working, loyal and true to Him, Who has given all to us. We have much to look forward to and it's going to be a great year for a new beginning. In Him, Chuck
13397 West Ripon Road, Ripon CA 95366