Many of us will have a favourite film, colour, book, author, favourite song and perhaps a favourite verse from God's word, found in the Bible.
If asked for my favourite verse, I couldn't choose just one because there are many that are special to me; verses that have been very meaningful in various circumstances. There are two verses however that I have come to pay more attention to in recent years and they are truly amazing. They are found in the 7th chapter of Deuteronomy and are verses 7 and 8:
“The LORD did not set his heart on you [the nation of Israel] and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that the LORD loves you..."
Wow! There was nothing about the nation of Israel that warranted God's love, nevertheless, He loved them.
To put these verses into context, many years ago, because God loved the people of Israel and would honour an oath He had made to their ancestors, He intervened and rescued the nation from slavery in Egypt.
Whether we realise it or not we too have become slaves but to a power far greater than Egypt! The Bible explains that from the very first day that mankind rebelled against God and disobeyed the one simple rule He had given, we have ALL been born with a sinful nature. This means we are not only subject to the power of sin in our lives but also the penalty associated with it.
Sin is not a word we particularly like to hear about, but the fact is, sin makes having a right relationship with God impossible. God is Holy. We are sinful. However, here's the really great news! The power of God's love today has reached much farther than to just one nation. You see, just as God performed many miracles in delivering the nation of Israel from their situation, He performed the greatest miracles of all in providing us with the solution to our problem of sin.
God had shown particularly in many parts of the Old Testament that sin needed to be atoned for before the people could experience a relationship with Him. But no amount of animal sacrifices could ever answer the problem of mankind's sin, once and for all; it would take a very special and unique sacrifice for that, and this is why the story of Bethlehem becomes so much more important than many people realise.
In the town of Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago and after some 400 years of silence, God intervened once again. God took on the form of mankind; His very Son becoming a perfect, sinless baby named Jesus, and at that exact moment God's rescue plan came into action, not this time for the nation of Israel, but for the whole of humanity!
Move forward around 33 years to the events that took place in Jerusalem where many people witnessed Jesus' death and perceived this as a good man being crucified because He claimed to be the Son of God. But no! This again was God's rescue plan in action. Remember that a unique and special sacrifice was required to atone for sin, and what happened that day in Jerusalem was God offering His one and only perfect and sinless Son as that sacrifice for our sin.
Why should God demonstrate that kind of love towards us? Well let's come back to the two verses we started out with. It is certainly not that we are a great nation, not even as individuals that we are great or worthy of such love in any way, it is simply that the LORD loves us!
So, the rescue plan has been effected, God in His grace and mercy has provided us with the escape route from the power and penalty of sin, and He has opened up the way for us to have a relationship with Him. But here's the thing, just as God created mankind with a free will and the ability to make choices, He also leaves this important choice to each one of us. We either reject or ignore all that God has done for us and accept the consequences of that, or we choose to accept Jesus' sacrifice as the Way to having a new and right relationship with God.
It is our hope at TCF that as we approach another Christmas we will all fully appreciate the true meaning, we will appreciate how truly loved we are, and we will choose to respond to that love in a way that will give glory and honour to God.