February 14, 2021
THE GREATEST LOVE STORY!
Today is Valentine’s Day! Husbands and boyfriends out there, I hope you did not forget. We are going to take a Sunday off from Romans and we will pick it up again next Sunday.
We are going to take a little time this morning to talk about the greatest love story of all time. The verses we read this morning help us to understand what true love is. We have all read these verses many times and have heard them discussed just as often. Especially verse 16. Four thousand years after God had created man, God recognized there was a big problem with his creation and the meaningful relationship he wanted to have. In spite of everything God had done for his people, there seemed to be something missing. God gave into the demands his people made, which included a desire to have rules spelled out that if the people obeyed would make them right with God. This was never what God wanted from his people, but he gave in during the time of Moses by giving a whole lot of rules, including the Ten Commandments.
God has always wanted to have a relationship with his people like he had in the very beginning with Adam and Eve. God has always wanted his people to share all their hopes and dreams, as well as questions and sorrows but that got shattered when Adam and Eve chose to listen to Satan rather than the God who had created them.
All throughout the Old Testament there were glimpses of what God wanted to do with the men and women he had created, but there was never the consistent relationship with a large number of people on an ongoing basis. The relationship became so broken between God and man he knew he had to do something different. So, the love story God always wanted to have with anyone who recognized just who he was and what he wanted took a new turn and went a direction that had never occurred before.
In John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” This new chapter in God’s love story with the people he created has now taken an unusual and unexpected turn. God became a man and came to Earth for two basic reasons.
(1) To help everyone understand what is available and how to live a life that not only is pleasing to God but also brings each person the most abundant life possible.
(2) And even more important, God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, came to once and for all to get us, God’s people, back in a right relationship with God.
Who was it that God was pouring out his love on? Was it a special group of people? No, we read “for God so loved the world.” God was making the same opportunity available to everyone. We see in the 17th verse what God’s goal was. “God did not send Jesus to earth to condemn it, but to save all who would believe.”
I would like us to look at what Paul is saying to the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 5, verses 1 and 2. In these verses, we are encouraged to “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” The example of sacrificial love God showed through Jesus should cause us to share that love not only with God but also those we come into contact with.
Paul is inspired by God to give another example of love and how it should work with us. Staying in Ephesians Chapter 5, verses 25-27, we read “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her to make her holy. Cleansing her by washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” What an incredible example of what God’s love can do for us. Because of God’s sacrifice out of love for us, his goal is for us to be holy and blameless. In these verses we also see God does not want us to believe this is only a love story between God and us, as individual believers. No, God expects us to share that love with our husbands and wives, our children, as well as other people God brings our way.
God has given us everything he can, even to the point of dying for our sins. In return, God wants us to make his love story for us a love story for all of his creation. God did not have to do what he has done for all of us. Sometimes showing love is hard. There are those who are not so lovable in the world, but that did not stop God. If we want others to understand what a great love story God has shared with us, we must share that same kind of selfless love God first showed us.
This Valentine’s Day God wants us to not only share his love with our families, but God also wants us to share his love story wherever and whenever we have the chance to. Happy Valentine’s Day and always remember—God loves you and no matter what, he will never stop loving you. Remember for God so loved the world. In other words, for God so loved you that he gave his only begotten son. The love story continues and always will. Have a blessed week!
Every Tuesday 9:30 Bible Study. All are invited to attend. Cancellations happen sometimes because of the weather. Check with Nancy Born-Martin for more information.
Lenten Devotionals are available in the back of the sanctuary.
Remember to pick up Upper Room and Daily Bread issues, if you don’t have yours.
February 17 Ash Wednesday
New directories are in your mailbox.
Copies of the February newsletter are in the back of the sanctuary.
February 28 is a Q&A Session with Annual Conference Moderator Paul Mundey. The Illinois & Wisconsin District is excited to announce an upcoming Zoom Q&A Session with Paul Mundey on Sunday, February 28, from 2:30pm-4pm. This Zoom session will focus on the ‘state of the church.’ Both laity and clergy are urged to participate. The Zoom session will use a Q+A format; ‘any and all’ questions are invited. Joining Paul Mundey will be the other Annual Conference Officers: Dave Sollenberger, Moderator Elect, and Jim Beckwith, Annual Conference Secretary. A zoom link will be provided later. If you are interested, let Carol know and she will forward the zoom link to you. The last one we had was interesting and informative.
March 16 – 20 is the District Potluck via Zoom. There is worship and there are workshops. A description of workshops is on the bulletin board. More information will come soon.
Remember to check your mailboxes if you are at church.
Donation Box: Utilities
First Sundays: food donations for food banks
Holly Flenner; Carl and Wilma Cable; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery (Michelle Wright’s brother); Sherry Wright; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Mike and Carol Seidenstricker; Sonna Hall; Brittany Wright; Evelyn Eads; Mike Gentry; Anna Gentry Thompson; Marlene & Arnold Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 450,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; those who are ill from the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; wildfire and hurricane victims; District of IL/WI search committee; nursing home residents; the Nigerian church; our nation’s government
Military and Other Services and their families
Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers
Praise: A number of the girls abducted from the school in Chibok, Nigeria, escaped from their captors. Most of these girls belong to EYN, the CoB of Nigeria. However, at least 100 girls remain in captivity.