God Gave Himself At Christmas

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By Rev. Talitotu Tuala Ofo, Senior Pastor, Samoan Church of the Nazarene, Campbelltown, New South Wales, Australia.

Text:    John 3: 16

“Aua ua faapea lava ona alofa mai ole Atua ile lalolagi, ua aumai ai lona Atalii e toatasi, ina ia le fano se tasi e faatuatua ia te Ia, a ia maua e ia ole ola e favavau”
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only beloved Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but to have eternal LIFE.” .”

From that very young age, John 3 verse 16 was well known as memorized by heart, and I will be making that verse my text to share with you.  I totally believe and joyful this to be the greatest verse in all the Bible. It is surely the best loved and best known verse.

John chapter 3 verse 16:  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only beloved Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but to have eternal LIFE.”

We often see signs on the street and banners at sporting events that say “John 3:16.” More sadness, John 3:16 is often written as graffiti on anything, everywhere in public place.  Some entertaining people have thrown in a twist and replaced John 3:16 as something else more meaningless.   So, why is this one bible verse so important to us as redeemed people?

Christmas is a wonderful time to celebrate. And as we look about us, many people do not really know the reason of Christmas, like myself before in my young age and new believer; they do not really put Christ in Christmas. But we must be glad as believers that Jesus is the only reason for the season. John 3:16 tells us of God’s LOVE that He has given Himself as a gift to all of us and to the world.

John 3:16 tells me of the love God has for me and the extent of that love—so great that He sacrificed His only Son on my behalf. John 3:16 teaches me that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, will be saved. John 3:16 gives me the glorious hope of eternal life in heaven through the love of God by sending Jesus on earth to be my Saviour.  I know that there is no more powerful way to deliver this message than to let John 3:16 speak for itself.
After I became a Christian I was still struggling with this verse, how did it really speak to me personally?  I did not fully understand John 3:16 although many Christians summarize the relationship of God with humanity and the way of salvation.  Others consider this same passage as the theme verse for the entire Bible. But I have learned to appreciate the greatness of God’s love for me as I slowly grow up trusting the Lord through hardship and problems of my life. I allowed myself then and still do, to listen to every word of the whole verse as speaks directly to my heart and then take JESUS CHRIST alone as the full meaning of my salvation.

Isaiah 12:2 – Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD Himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”  This is the great news to celebrate at Christmas!!   
God loves me so much that He sent Jesus with a message of love.  I know as a believer, Christmas is a yearly reminder that God loves me. The Bible says God is love. It doesn’t say God has love; it says God is love. Love is His nature; God is love.  When I knew this,  I recommitted and surrender all of my life to love Him even more in return of His love.  God loves me so and gave Himself for me.

God created the entire universe. He created this planet; he created the human race; then, he created you because he loves us all.
It could be said the reason you are alive, it is because God created you as an object of His love. God made you so He could love you and so that you could love Him. God’s love for you is the reason your heart is beating right now; it’s the reason you are breathing.

The good news of God is that He loves you on your good days as much as he loves you on your bad days. He loves you when you can feel his love, and He loves you when you can’t seem to feel his love. He loves you regardless of whether or not you think you deserve his love.

There is nothing you can do that will make God stop loving you. You could try, but you simply can’t do it – because his love for you is based upon his character and not on anything you do or say or feel.
Jesus was the baby of Christmas, and when He grew into manhood, He stretched his arms on the cross, saying, “I love you this much!. I love you so much I die for you so that I won’t have to live without you.”

The love of God surpasses all human knowledge, and it is difficult for any of us to grasp the width and length and height and depth of God’s love for each one of us (Ephesians 3:17-19).  How would your life change if you deeply believed God loved you? Ask God to help you in your unbelief.

God even named the child who was to be conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The name of the Child declared to the world that God had provided a Savior saying: “You shall call his name Jesus; for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

For thousands of years mankind had been held captive in sin. They were under the wrath of God who must judge all sin. Yet God continued to promise, through His prophets, the coming of Whom who would take on Himself all the anger of God against sin; the One who could give us His righteousness in exchange for our wickedness.

The gift of God was the gift of all gifts! The Savior! The Redeemer! The Deliverer!  Without this gift we had no hope. We were doomed to die in our sin, forever separated from God. Now, we can approach Him boldly, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus the Savior. Let us gratefully and humbly receive this Eternal gift from God. We can shout in praises and thanksgiving daily: “For you have delivered my soul from death” (Psalm 56:13). The Savior has been given freely to the World.

We know from reading the Scripture that throughout the Old Testament, God could not show His glory to man, for man in his sinful state would die if exposed to God’s presence. “And he said, ‘You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live’” (Exodus 33:20).  In anticipation of the first Christmas, God promised, “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed” (Isaiah 40:5). And indeed, (Jesus is) – “He is the radiance of the glory of God, and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is EMMANUEL—God with us: God incarnate—God in the flesh.

At Christmas, we celebrate the Almighty, Glorious God became a man, taking on the limitations of time and space, that we might behold and receive His glory. Gaze at – with rejoicing that divine step out of eternity onto this world of sinful men. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth . . . And from his fullness we have all we received, and grace upon grace”(John 1:14, 16). It is Jesus, the glory of God, that we are recreated and transformed into His likeness, and become partakers of His glory. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory which comes from the Lord . . .” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The world we live is extremely full of evil battles and how desperately our world was in need of peace. Men, because of their sin, were at hostility with themselves, with each other, and with God. Many sought for peace in human wisdom, philosophy, in spiritual works, and in human leaders. But none could bridge the infinite gap between God and man. Once again, God had promised to send the Man of Peace. “From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel.” (Micah 5:2). The night Jesus was born, the angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14). 

Paul had personally experienced the great truth revealed to him by the Holy Spirit: “But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:13,14). With the birth of the baby Jesus, came also the promise that someday Jesus would return to earth as King, to establish forever His kingdom of peace. The peace of God has been given. In this world we have troubles, grieves and conflicts, but those of us who have received the Prince of Peace, may experience the daily sweet, victorious peace of God.

If you remembered the words of Abraham as he and his son Isaac began to climb up Mt Moriah three day journey, at where Abraham was to sacrifice to God the most precious thing in his life—his only son.  Abraham told his servants, saying: “Stay here … I and the boy will go over there to worship and come again to you” (Genesis 22:5).

Many many years later, God and His only Son, Jesus, climbed another mountain together.  Bethlehem marked only the beginning of a journey that was to lead to Calvary and end at the empty tomb. Between the manger and the empty tomb, a great sacrifice had to be made. When God gave Jesus on that first Christmas, He knew that the complete sacrifice of His only begotten Son would be required. Yet He gave Him up willingly.

And the Son willingly and freely gave Himself up for the world. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). This is true giving! How selfish our giving seems to be by comparison.

We need to learn to give as He gave—sacrificially, to the point of poverty, that others might be made divinely and spiritually rich.

As previously declared – Every Christmas is a reminder of God’s Eternal Love – for me, for you, and for the whole world.  Christmas provides a wonderful opportunity for us to join with God in giving to the world. The most precious gifts we can give to our family, our children, our friends, each other and even those whom we do not know, our enemies, are those gifts that let others share in God’s Gift – His Savior, His Glory, His Peace, HIS BELOVED SON – so that whosoever believes shall not perish, but to have eternal LIFE

Prayer –
Our dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the spirit of the first Christmas.  I thank you for your love as richly revealed in John 3:16.  The love I did not earn or deserve it, but thank you Lord God. Until the day I see you face to face to express my appreciation, my worship and praises, please know my heartfelt gratitude and my deep and abiding joy because of your plan, your Son, and your salvation. I thank you in the Name of Jesus.
A M E N !!!

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