The steadfast love of God

Scriptures: Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26; Luke 1:26-38; Romans 16:25-27

As we enter this fourth Sunday in Advent, we look at the steadfast love of God. I want to remind you, a few months ago we had a sermon series on the attributes of God, and one of those weeks I preached on the chesed of God, the love of God, and it was a special kind of love that went way beyond what we understand as love.

It was deeper than we can understand it, and it had an element of loyalty to it. Loyalty to the covenants that He had made with His people. Loyalty to the people He had chosen. Loyalty to those to whom He pledged His love.

Now, some Christians seem to have this idea about God in which they liken to how humans often respond to each other. But God isn’t like us, and God doesn’t act as we do. He’s reminding the people in the psalm about His covenant with David, and His promise which will ultimately be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

He’s telling the people how He’s going to support David and make his kingdom last forever. You see the same thing mentioned by the angel in his speech to Mary afterward. It’s all about the covenant, and the promise of God, and God’s love in a way which we don’t understand.

You know, when we make covenants, when we make agreements, even amongst Christians, when one of us wrongs another, frequently it seems like they get wronged right back. It is not how we should act, but sometimes we act that way toward others. But God never acts that way toward us.

Even if we don’t act that way toward others, we think it in our hearts. I was speaking with someone recently, and he was telling me some of his troubles, sharing, and he mentioned how a couple of people in the past who had wronged him had “got theirs” a short time afterward.

You know, karma. We have those sayings about karma, and what goes around comes around. And we take, if not pleasure, a satisfaction in seeing the turnaround on those that wrong us.

We enter into an agreement with one another. If things go badly, we want to get out of our agreement, and we go to great lengths to get out of our agreement. And the other often fights back. Sometimes we end up going to court, and sometimes they both mutually agree to terminate the agreement. And we call that a friendly separation, or something like that.

But God is not like that. God doesn’t act like we think He does, nor does He think like we think He should. God is loyal. God is faithful. God remains true. God doesn’t go back on His word. When God promises, He always fulfills His promise.

He says, in verses 3-4:

You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
‘I will establish your offspring forever,
and build your throne for all generations.’”

In verses 19-26 He speaks of anointing David with holy oil, and promises that His hand shall always remain with him and His arm shall strengthen him.

It’s a view of David from God’s perspective, through the eyes of the covenant. We know that David loved the Lord. He was called a man after God’s own heart. God loved him and made him a king over Israel. But let’s face it: David was not a perfect man.

He was guilty of lust, with Bathsheba. He was guilty of greed, of deception, of lying to the people. He was even guilty of murder, as he ordered the death of Uriah the Hittite in battle, in a very sneaky way.

And yet, of David God said “Wicked people will not defeat him. My loyalty and love will be with him. My love will watch over him forever.” God’s love for David was continual, even though David sinned.

God’s love for Moses, earlier, was always there, even though Moses sinned. And later on, God’s love for Peter was always true, even when Peter denied Jesus three times. Somehow, we frequently think that if we turn away from God, that God turns away from us.

But you see, it’s not about our faithfulness, or our obedience, or our works, or our faith. It’s about God’s. God’s love. God’s faithfulness. God’s mighty works in our lives through Jesus Christ, in bringing about our salvation. And God’s gift of faith to us, through the Holy Spirit.

We’re frequently guilty of saying two things. First, that it’s all by and because of Jesus, and we proclaim that Jesus did it all for us. And then, we say, or act like, “but I must continue to the end or God will cast me out.”

While we do have a responsibility to fulfill the call God has put in our lives, we need to recognize something in this Christmas season: Christ did it all for us. Our faith could be called a work if you wish to call it that, but faith is gift, given to us by our Creator.

Jesus came to earth, in Bethlehem, for us. The coming of Christ was the fulfillment of all the promises God had made through the covenant, first to Abraham, and then to David. We have the new covenant in Jesus Christ, that we celebrate with the Lord’s Supper, but that doesn’t mean that the old one has gone away, because God is faithful to His covenant forever. Why? Because God is steadfast in His love for His people.

Always we must remember, not only who God is but whose we are. You see, He chose each one of you. He has called each one of you, to be His people. His love for you, as for David, endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.

Sometimes it seems like we try to ourselves and what we do as the main point. But Jesus is and should be the main point. He is the one who obtained salvation for us. He finished His work. He fulfilled the law for us. All we need to do is believe all that He has done for us.

He came for the cross, on that Christmas morn. Even as we celebrate Advent and we look to the future coming of the King, we also remember the King who came, and what He has done.

We entered into an agreement with God when we accepted Christ as our Savior and our Lord. The promise is when you believe it becomes yours, and God promises that nothing will ever separate us from Him.

Yet sometimes it seems like we think that we have the power to turn away and lose it. But God has promised that He will never leave us. What He has started in us, Paul says, He will bring to completion. Because God is faithful to His chosen people. Because He loves us with a steadfast love. We have the Holy Spirit inside us, making it a reality, and assuring us that we will see victory in the end.

Now it seems like we doubt. We doubt God’s presence. We doubt God’s work in our lives. And Satan wants to keep us doubting. He wants us to wonder and to question. He knows that we’ll have no power, no effectiveness, as long as we doubt God or doubt who we are.

But God wants us to know who we are, to know that He will never leave us, to know that we’re saved, we’re His children, and that we can do great things through Him.

You know, if we have that assurance of God’s love, if we understand God’s faithfulness to the covenant, then it really becomes an easier thing to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Because we know that we are not alone.

Probably the hardest thing for humans to do is to do things on their own without support. Whether it be a solo, or a new business endeavor, or anything of the like where we’re breaking new ground. It helps so much to know that you have support behind you.

Christmas should be a time of reminding us of that support. It should be a time that breathes excitement to share the good news of God’s steadfast love with others.

So I would encourage you, during this time of Advent, this last week before Christmas, that you remember who you are, and how much God loves you; that you experience the joy and peace and power that God has promised through the Holy Spirit; that you begin to recognize the steadfast love of God seen in the birth of the baby Jesus, Yeshua, which means Savior.

And then may you begin to give God praise and glory in all that you do, in all of your lives, so that others too can come to know the great news of Christmas.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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