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  • Writer's pictureAvondale Church

An Eternal Love Story



Yesterday was my first time addressing the entire congregation. I have had

the honor of leading small group discussions and bible studies, but this was

different in ways I can’t quite put into words.

The image is from the back of the shirt I wore and sort of tied in to my

message.

From Proverbs 8:1-4

Does not wisdom call out?

Does not understanding raise her voice?

At the highest point along the way,

where the paths meet, she takes her stand;

beside the gate leading into the city,

at the entrance, she cries aloud:

To you, O people, I call out;

I raise my voice to all mankind.

I would like to share with you a Love Story. For those of you that know me

some, you’re thinking this isn’t really in my wheelhouse. You are right, but

these are the words put into my heart from above.

Most great Love Stories have a romantic beginning. Mine is a bit different. I

met my wife while we were both stationed in Germany. She was newly

assigned to the unit and when she reported in I was the first one she met. I

asked her the typical questions: are you adjusting to the time change, do you

need anything for your room, are you finding everything ok.

Then I noticed some newly sewn on Sergeant patches and asked her when

she was promoted. She let me know that she earned her stripes during her

leave, on the way to Germany. I said congratulations. She smiled.

So I asked her when she would be eligible for her next promotion and she

said she didn’t know. I replied that every “good” soldier knows when they are

eligible for their next promotion. She stopped smiling.

But that really wasn’t the beginning of our Love Story. Each of Our Love

Stories began much earlier. There is a better description in Proverbs 8:22-31

so let’s take a look

“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,

before his deeds of old;

I was formed long ages ago,

at the very beginning, when the world came to be.

When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,

when there were no springs overflowing with water;

before the mountains were settled in place,

before the hills, I was given birth,

before he made the world or its fields

or any of the dust of the earth.

I was there when he set the heavens in place,

when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,

when he established the clouds above

and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,

when he gave the sea its boundary

so the waters would not overstep his command,

and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.

Then I was a little child at his side.

I was filled with delight day after day,

rejoicing always in his presence,

rejoicing in his whole world

and delighting in mankind.


====================================


These words to me ring epic and help show us where our Love Story truly

starts.

Love in this sense is timeless. It lasts forever and only has a beginning with

God.

So I suggest to everyone who has ever experienced love, that is loving

others or being loved, is in a sense a time traveler.

What does being a time traveler in an endless Love Story mean to us?

For starters, it means that every day is Christmas. God promised a Savior

and he delivered unto us Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!

It also means that every day is Good Friday. On that day, and today, Jesus

bore our sins and died on the cross. “Father forgive them for they know not

what they do.”

And every day is Easter. “He is not here. He is risen!”

Everything happens today and we know this because we are given the Holy

Spirit.

I heard someone recently ask, but how do you know? That’s a great question

for all of us.

How do we know?


====================================


Looking at Paul’s letter to the Romans in Ch 5:1-5 we read

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with

God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

2

through whom we have gained access

by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of

the glory of God.

3

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because

we know that suffering produces perseverance;

4

perseverance, character;

and character, hope.

5

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s

love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has

been given to us.

How does our Love Story play out on a daily basis?

By our acts.

Maybe it is sacrificing some bit of security and taking a pay cut; then taking

on more responsibilities in a different setting to make up for the loss.

Maybe it is bearing the burdens of a church budget that is not at all friendly

when bills come due or looming repairs have costs without a ready source to

fix things.

Maybe it is offering our personal testimony to a stranger when they ask us,

watching tears roll down their faces as they feel and connect with our

sufferings.

Maybe it is starting something new-driving the church van, leading a book

study, or forming/joining a new group.

Maybe it is a heartfelt confession, admitting to others sometimes those

things we don’t want to admit to ourselves.

All of these small acts on our part do not have to be perfect, but by starting

them, acting on them, we give God a chance to perfect them.

We are in a Love Story, together, yet we sometimes suffer.

Today is Father’s Day and I have a confession. I have not been a good dad to

my children. Growing up fatherless I didn’t have an everyday example on

what a father should do.

But being a dad, or a mom, is a daily challenge; compounded with each child

in your home.

I struggle finding balance between work and home life. I am emotionally

stunted, so my kids experienced only four emotions from me: glad, sad, mad,

and scared. Mostly I am really good at mad.

Even with all my limitations, I love each of my children. They are part of the

epic Love Story.

But my biggest failure to my children is my lack of prayer for them. I resolved

to change that this year and have had mixed results.

Many of you know that my daughter has her own struggles. She is battling

addiction. But in our newly formed Recovery Group, I confessed that my

prayers for her have been shallow and feeble rather than bold.

Since my confession I began what I should’ve always done. I prayed. But it

had the added effect of having others pray with me. Within a week of

confessing that out loud, my daughter called and said she is ready to start

over. She made her own confessions seeking out a program right for her. I

am proud to say today, she has successfully completed the detox phase of

her program and is entering the next phase.

By our actions we are known, please pray for her and each other.

====================================

How do we know?

God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

Today marks a special time in the church calendar. Today is Trinity Sunday.

We recognize a unified God in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works . . .”

For many this is difficult to fathom. But as we are time travellers in the most

epic Love Story, it is easier for us to understand. Yet, we sometimes feel lost

in our individual parts of this Love Story.

Perhaps it is comforting to know that the grace we have all received by our

faith is summed up in our acceptance. In the Serenity Prayer we say;

God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

So we accept the mystery of the Trinity and celebrate with joy the Father,

Son, and Holy Spirit.

Time for another confession. I have been a lazy, immature Christian. This

didn’t dawn on me out of the blue, but through some quiet reflection and

prayer.

If any of you have felt lazy or immature in your faith; I would offer another

suggestion as we live out our shared, epic Love Story.

Do so with urgency. The urgency that comes when you’re under enemy fire.

The urgency that comes when the tornado sirens wail. The urgency that

comes when you need a response from 9-1-1.

We heard Josh mention that we are in the last days and have been for more

than 2000 years. I sense that the last days are nearer and require urgent

actions.


====================================


How do we know?

So as we have a beginning to our Love Story, we also have an end. During

the Last Supper, Jesus knows his fate is upon him. So in all ways he tries to

let the apostles know what to expect.

Clearly his good-bye message to them is: there is more yet to come, but

you’re not quite ready for it.

Jesus said in John 15:12-15

12

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.

13

But

when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He

will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell

you what is yet to come.

14

He will glorify me because it is from me that he

will receive what he will make known to you.

15

All that belongs to the

Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will

make known to you.”

And like the apostles we move forward in our Love Story.

By using your life experiences and armed with the Bible, what sort of story

will you tell.

We are living in Biblical times, the last days, so our stories should include the

Bible in our narratives. Including the Bible in your story might be easier than

you think. It is possible many of you have similar stories; whether it’s a Love

Story, Fairy Tale or Science Fiction epic.

Is there a person in the Bible that you share something in common with?

Have you done something similar described in one of the stories?

Are you impetuous? Peter was impetuous.

Are you a warrior? Joshua was.

Are you righteous? Job was.

Have you ever been disobedient? Jonah was willing to run away from God.

Have you ever felt unseen, unheard or unloved? There are many people in

the Gospels that were too, until Jesus encountered them.

Have you ever felt in some way like a prodigal son or daughter? These make

some of the best testimonials, because in the end there is always rejoicing.


====================================

How do we know?


Because God’s love is never wasted. God’s love for us transcends time. And

in our times of suffering, when our hearts break-that is when His love, His

perfect love steps in to redeem us all.

Then I was a little child at his side.

I was filled with delight day after day,

rejoicing always in his presence,

rejoicing in his whole world

and delighting in mankind.

Yes indeed, everyday is Christmas, everyday is Good Friday, everyday is

Easter and everyday His Spirit is with us. And we hope and pray for the

ultimate promise He gave us-that of eternal Life.


====================================


I said earlier about growing up fatherless, but we all know that we have had

a better father all along. Stand and join me as we say:

Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the

kingdom, and the power and the glory, for ever. Amen.

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