Our Heavenly Father - The Preparation of Love

Steve Viars December 23, 2006 John 17:23-24

- When you think about days in the average year for which you prepare, it is likely that Christmas is very high on that list...
- you’ve probably planned some meals...
- you’ve probably done some decorating around your house...
- you probably set up your Christmas tree...
- you’ve probably purchased some gifts...[if not, I think the drug store down the street may still be open---they may still have a few Chia pets left...]
- but we all know that a lot of preparation goes into Christmas by the average American, probably more than any other day of the year...
- at our church this year, we’ve been focusing much of our attention on gearing up, on preparing, on getting ready because of several ministry initiatives we hope to launch next year...
- so when it came to Christmastime, we decided to explore that theme...of how the key participants in the Christmas story were only able to function the way they did...in the fullness of time...at the perfect time – they were only able to function the way they did because they were prepared...
- so far we have studied Mary – The Preparation of Purity
Joseph – The Preparation of Faith
Jesus – The Preparation of Submission
- and the point we have been trying to make through this series has been...God uses people who are prepared.
- had Mary not been a person of purity, God could not have used her the way He did...
- Had Joseph not prepared Himself with faith, with a lifestyle of taking the Lord at His Word, God could not have used Him the way He did...
- Jesus could only be willing to empty Himself in fulfillment of the Father’s plan because, though He was fully God, He was at the same time joyfully submissive to the Father...
- God uses people who are prepared...and the question we have been asking all along is...are you prepared in similar ways so that God can use you...this Christmas, and in the days ahead?...
- see, the Christmas story has not fully been written because God is still fulfilling His plan using people like you and me...if we’re...prepared...
- tonight, we would like to think about Christmas from the perspective of God the Father – [emphasizing] The Preparation of Love

- If you’ve studied the Bible you know that just prior to going to cross, Scripture records an intimate conversation between God the Father and God the Son...
- we refer to it as the High Priestly Prayer...and at one point Jesus is praying about the way He wants His followers to have unity among one another...and then He explains the purpose...
- John 17:23-24 - ...that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
- this evening, please think with me about...Three ways God the Father’s preparation for Christmas was characterized by love.
- and just as it has been in our previous studies, the question tonight will be...are you prepared in this way as well?


I. God Prepared for Christmas by Loving His Son.


- Jesus said in verse 23...and remember, this is just prior to going to the cross...
- verse 23 – “as you have loved me...”
- think about...
A. The beauty and perfection of God’s love for His Son.
- imagine the depth of a relationship between two persons that was completely unstained by sin...
- wouldn’t that be something?...
- relationships are interesting things, aren’t they?...
- we are thankful for the people that God has placed around us, but if we are honest we would admit that in many cases, we wish those relationships were better...
- we long to be able to communicate at deeper levels...to understand and be understood...
- the presence of sin impacts how we relate to people in all sorts of ways...

- someone has said that the best thing about the holidays is that you get to spend it with your family...
- and the worst thing about the holidays is...that you get to spend it with your family...

- but please picture the kind of love that must have existed between God the Father and God the Son when sin was not present in way, shape, or form...
- even as humans, we can begin to understand that even we think about our love for our own children...
- God has blessed Kris and me with three children...two daughters and a son...
- our son Andrew has some special needs including blindness and some other issues...but its great to be able to spend time with your son...
- our family likes to go bike riding and Drew has always enjoyed that...he started in a bike seat on the back of that until he completely outgrew it...
- then a family in the church lent us their bike trailer that you pull behind the bike and we used that for several summers until Drew could barely fit in it any more...
- then we tried a kind of tandem bike arrangement but the seat was too high in the air and it was too unstable so we figured our bike riding days were over...
- then we came across a recumbent bike which sits low to the ground that could be made into a tandem...[show pic]...
- some funds were made available and we were able to buy this and we have had a great time riding together...
- sometimes I have to remind Drew that he has to pedal too...one time I said to him this summer---Son, do your best...
- he yelled back...Dad, I don’t want to do my best, I just want to do my worst...so it’s been fun...

- then a family gave our church 100 acres of property that has a stocked fishing pond on it...I can’t tell you how many hours Drew and I logged at Bethany Farms fishing this summer---but it has been a perfect things for us to do together...[show the pic of his fish]...there were several times when we would be coming home from the pond and he would kind of feel over until he would find my hand and say...I love you dad...thanks for taking me fishing...you talk about melting a father’s heart...
- just last weekend we were able to be shepherds together in the Living Nativity...[show pic]... and a lot of you too were able to serve with your children...there’s something special about the bond of love between parents and children...
- Drew’s developing quite a sense of humor...I have no idea where he gets that...but you’re supposed to play along in the Living Nativity...so the tape said...an angel of the Lord appeared...so I said, look Drew, an angel...to which he responded...Dad, I’m blind...
- another time he yells out...angels are so overrated...

- that’s love that, in Drew’s case, has been going on for 14 years...but what else did Jesus say about His Father’s love for Him?...
B. The timing of God’s love.
- John 17:24 - You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
- many of us would say that our spouses, and our children, and our family members are our greatest treasures...
- even though those relationships are tainted by sin...
- and even though by God’s standards, they haven’t existed very long...
- think about God the Father’s perfect love for His Son...and then factor that into Christmas night...
- we know what the angels were saying and doing...
- we know about the shepherds, about Mary and Joseph...
- but what was the heavenly Father thinking on Christmas night, when He sent His only begotten Son...knowing the kind of reception, and the kind of treatment His Son would eventually endure?...

- we don’t know that for sure...but you have to wonder if it included the resignation of a father who knew He was doing the right thing...but that didn’t make it any easier...God loved His Son...
- so then why did He do it?...you can probably guess what the next point is going to be...

II. God Prepared for Christmas by Loving the World.
- that is why Jesus said in this prayer...
- verse 23 – so that the world may know that You sent me, and that you loved them...

- one of the best known verses in all the Bible says that exact same thing... John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
- if you are here tonight and you do not know much about God or His Word...here-s the message He has been trying to deliver to you through the message of Christmas...that he sent His Son, and that He loves you...

- and you might say --- that’s amazing...bit does He know about?...yea, He knows about everything, OK...[could develop in counseling how sometimes people act like they don’t want to tell about certain things in the pastor’s office – God is here...]
- He knows about all of it...and a) He still loves you...and b) That is why He sent His Son...
- you might say...how long has He been loving me in that way?...
- at least since the creation of the world...
- because the moment God decided that human beings would have a free will...in the sense that we could make choices about whether we would do right or wrong...
- He also knew that human beings would choose to sin...
- and way back then, as soon as mankind sinned...God looked at Satan and said this...
Genesis 3:15 - I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
- a newer paraphrase of the Bible renders that verse like this --- Genesis 3:15 - I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.

- of course we know that God was talking about sending His own Son...who would be bruised...
- He would not just be born in manger but He would die on a cross...
- but even though it was to be a horrible death...because it was God’s Son Himself...it wouldn’t be permanent...it would be like a wound on the heel...
- and three days later, Christ would be risen from the dead...proving that the price He paid on the cross was accepted by the Father as a just payment for our sin...
- in rising, the power of sin, and the power of death, and the power of our adversary would be crushed...like a wound on Satan’s head...

- that kind of plan, and that kind of love...has existed in the heart of God for you for a long, long, time...
- Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

- so there’s no question about the fact that God the Father was prepared...
- He was prepared for Christmas in the way He loved His Son...
- and He was prepared for Christmas in the way He loved the world...

- lastly...
III. God Prepared for Christmas by Offering the Same Path for You.
- friend, can I ask you tonight, do you love God’s Son?...
- as you think back over this past year, would there evidence that that is the case?
- would those who know you best say that you clearly love Christ and have organized your life, and your goals, and your priorities are Him?...

- the story is told of a wealthy bachelor who kept much of his wealth in art...
- so there were beautiful and expensive paintings all around his mansion but there was something missing...
- finally the man met a woman and fell in love and soon he was married...
- not long after that they were expecting a baby and the man’s life couldn’t be happier...
- but during childbirth his wife died...but his baby survived...a son...
- and this man just poured his life into his son and he loved his son...

- one day the boy was out playing and there was an accident...and the son was killed and the man was overcome with grief...and he died shortly after...

- the estate had to be sold and everyone was interested in purchasing one of the man’s great paintings and the mansion was filled with people when the auction came...
- and at the request of the man’s will, they didn’t start with all of the well known works...they started with a painting of the man’s son...it had just been done by a local artist...it wasn’t worth much unless you had known the boy...
- so the auctioneer started the bidding and nobody bid...no one wanted the picture of the man’s son...
- there was period of awkward silence and then one of the man’s servants stepped up...
- she had cared for the little boy and loved him...and thought, she couldn’t afford much but she would like to have the painting...

- so he made her bid, and won...and then the auctioneer announced...at the direction of the deceased will...whoever purchases the picture of the son will receive all the other pieces of art...
- because whoever loves the son loves the father...

- I don’t know if that actually happened, but I do know this...that is certainly the case with God the Father...
- if you say you love Him, you will certainly love the Father...

- where does that begin?...it begins by trusting Christ as savior [develop]...
- it continues by cultivating a loving relationship with Him...
1 John 4:19 - We love Him because He first loved us.
- has there been evidence this past year where loving God has been a priority for you?...
- I don’t know what opportunities and what challenges God has for you this coming year...but I know this...you’ll handle them best if you’ve prepared yourself with a heart that loves your God...

- and what was the second part of the father’s preparation?...
- 1 John 4:21 - And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video