Crucified with Christ, live by the Spirit (Gal. 2:20) Vision Sunday

Today, we celebrate the 2018 year and look forward to the 2019 year. God used Bethel for a lot of ministry last year. But, we must also believe that God is going to use us for a lot of ministry this year as well. This year, 2019, our vision is to fulfill the Great Commission by being contagious Christians. How can we do this? We can do this because we no longer live and Christ lives in us.

I want to look at Galatians 2:19-20 and talk about living for Jesus. We must make Jesus number 1 and we can do so much for God’s glory when we partner with Jesus and let Him live through us. He must be number 1.

I read the following:

Toward the beginning of the second century, the Roman emperor decided that Christians had become so numerous that there was no use trying to stamp them out anymore, so he made peace. He even decided to put a statue of Jesus in the Pantheon, among the statues of the Greek gods. A symbol at the top of the Pantheon said, “Caesar, king of kings,” indicating his position as “first.”

The Christians could have been honored at how far they had come. Not long before, they were just a rag-tag group of fisherman in the backwoods of Israel, and now they’re in the Pantheon! But instead of being grateful, they sent a letter to the emperor telling him that if he didn’t take down the statue of Jesus, they certainly would. Jesus will never be among your gods, they said, because he is above all of them.[1]

The founder of the Salvation Army said to his fellow “soldiers”: “Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again—until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.”

Please read with me Galatians 2:19-20:

For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

  1. All believers have been crucified with Christ.
    1. To be a Christian means that I believe that Jesus died and rose again for me. I trust in Him for salvation, I confess my sins to Him and I commit to Him.
    2. If you are a Christian you have been crucified, wow! That is a strong picture. I believe that Paul used this word picture for dramatic effect. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is entirely true, but there is a reason that Paul used a dramatic picture here. In a metaphorical way we have been crucified with Christ. We no longer live, but Jesus lives within us.
    3. Let’s review Galatians. Paul writes to the churches of Galatia to counter these false apostles who have bewitched them (Gal. 3:1). The churches in Galatia have come to an error of works salvation. They have started believing that they had to live by the law. Paul is extremely assertive in this short New Testament letter.
    4. So, Paul is writing about law versus grace and, you know what? I think we need the same message. We have similar issues. No, we don’t have issues with the Jewish Law. But as Christians we go two different ways.
      1. We believe we have to earn our salvation.
        1. We know this is not true. Grace is unmerited favor. If you look at Gal. 2:21 Paul writes that if righteousness could come by the law, then Jesus died in vain. He died needlessly.
        2. But, when we add legalistic standards for Christians, we become a cult, and we make Jesus’ death on the cross in vain.
        3. We do this if we practice Christianity religiously. Most in our churches are not guilty of this at all.
      2. Or, we throw away any moral law. In this case the Christian’s life does not match his faith. This is a problem.
        1. We do this when we do not preach what Jesus preached and what this verse is saying. Jesus said in Luke 9:23: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
        2. If Jesus taught that why don’t we preach this?
        3. How can we preach this message without teaching/or showing that we work out our salvation? We were created for good works (Eph. 2:10).
        4. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit changes us. Think about the following:

About six years ago I read a book which someone at my church recommended.  The book tells the life of Louis Zamperini. Zamperini was in the 1936 Olympics held in Germany. He was famous for setting records for how fast he could run the mile.

Later he was planning to enter the next Olympic competition, but it was canceled because of WWII. Zamperini entered the war and served on a B 24. He was shot down and spent 47 days at sea and then around three years as a Japanese prisoner of war. He was badly mistreated in the POW camps. 

Following the war, he dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder. This caused him to plunge into alcoholism which brought on a host of other problems. He was married and had one child, but his marriage was being threatened with divorce. Every time he closed his eyes at night he was plagued with memories of his time as a POW. He was filled with hate and wanted to kill one particular guard

(Mutsuhiro Watanabe (nicknamed “The Bird”), who was later included in General Douglas MacArthur’s list of the 40 most wanted war criminals in Japan. Finally, in 1949 as the 31-year-old Billy Graham was preaching an evangelical crusade in Los Angeles, Louis’ wife gave her life to Christ at the crusade. She eventually convinced Louis to also attend. Louis attended once and was convicted but left in anger during Graham’s invitation. Louis’ wife Cynthia convinced him to attend again. He did and started to leave again during the invitation. But he was convicted and went forward giving his life to Christ.

Following the conversion his life changed dramatically. He went home that night, and at the time when he would usually drink alcohol to excess, he dumped his alcohol down the drain. His hate was changed to forgiveness. His marriage lasted until his wife’s death. He never had nightmares of his time as a POW again. He later went back to Japan and spoke to the guards who were accused and convicted of war crimes. He forgave them. But the one guard who was the worst to Louis, Mutsuhiro Watanabe (nicknamed “The Bird”), was thought dead and Louis never was able to talk to him. Later they found out he was alive and Louis was scheduled to meet with him. But he was not able to meet with him as Watanabe declined the invitation.

I believe, when we really know Jesus, we really know Him, when we are saved we commit to Him, and in time, our life will show it. This is because we are dead to the old self and Christ lives in us.

  1. Paul says in this verse that he has died to the law. How? He died with Christ to the law.
  2. He has been crucified with Christ. I have to believe that people would have cringed when they heard him use the verb “crucified.” They would have known what crucifixion meant. Historians cannot tell us apart from the Bible much about crucifixion. People were afraid to write about it. Many times, we can find extra Biblical evidence for many things, but not crucifixion. Scholars get much of what we know about crucifixion from the Bible. We are told a few things though. The Romans would crucify people publicly and they would crucify people at set times of the year in order to make a statement. They wanted their enemies to see crucifixion and think, “Don’t mess with us.” The Romans did not invent crucifixion. They copied it from the Greeks and maybe even another country.
  3. People would have this image of crucifixion in their mind when Paul used that term.
  4. But the point is that we died with Christ when we became a Christian. We died to our old self. We died to sin.

What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? It means that when we became a Christian we died to our old self. We died to our sin nature. So, how do we live?

  1. All believers are to live by the faith in the indwelling Christ (2:20b–21).
    1. Paul says that he no longer lives, but Christ lives within him.
    2. Does Christ live in you?
    3. If you are a Christian the answer is yes. Yes, Yes, Amen.
    4. The Holy Spirit indwells us.
    5. How did Jesus do His miracles on earth? He laid aside His glory to become man. He had the Holy Spirit with Him. He was fully human and He is fully human, but the Holy Spirit was with Him. You know the Holy Spirit is with you as well. The Holy Spirit is in you. In 1 Corinthians 3:16 Paul wrote that we are the Temple of God. He used the same word which would describe the part of the Temple where God resides. God resides in us. We have the Holy of Holies in Us. Amen!!!
    6. So, as believers we do good works because Jesus dwells in us and He does those good works.
    7. How did Louis Zamperini change his life? He didn’t. Jesus changed him. When he became a Christian Jesus said, “I am not having any of that.” Jesus said, “I am taking over this house and I have some cleaning up to do.”

Now, I believe that as Christians we can sometimes push Jesus aside. He lives within us, but… We don’t want Him here. We do not make Him welcome. We just let our old self reign in us. So, my challenge for you today is that you let Jesus live within you. Make Him feel at home. Let your worldly self die and by faith let Jesus live. Jesus lives within you. The Holy of Holies is in you!

If I came to my wife and said, “Sweetheart, you’re first on my list of women,” my wife wouldn’t have it. She would tell me—in no uncertain terms—that she’s either going to be the only one on the list or she’s not going to be there at all.

If that’s true in my relationship with my wife, then how much more so with Jesus! He is why we exist. We were created by him and for him. That means he can never be merely an important commitment in our lives.[2]

Now, as we look at our 2019 vision, to fulfill the Great Commission by being contagious Christians, how can we fulfill it? We can fulfill it by being in Christ.

Our 2019 vision has specific goals:

There are 9 listed but some are more general, only 3 are specific to church ministry and resources (numbers 4, 5 and 6) and number 4 is already started.

This is how we will be contagious Christians.

  1. Asking God in prayer for 15 new believers to be added to our fellowship in 2019;
  2. Contagiously touching 1000 people in the next year with the love of Jesus;
  3. Through intentionally communicating the gospel with 150 people through acts of service, loving relationships and words;
  4. We will continue the dance ministry;
  5. We will research the effectiveness of certain sports ministries beginning a sports ministry by the end of the year OR deciding against it for specific reasons. Reasons could be: not the right time, not enough money, no volunteers, theological differences, etc; UPWARD SPORTS SHOULD BE LOOKED INTO.
  6. We will research Celebrate Recovery with a plan to begin this in 2020 or to decide against this or postpone this.
  7. We will pray about this vision in the worship service;
  8. We will train the congregation to respond to this vision by sharing it in worship every few weeks. Pastor shares: “We will be what?” and the congregation shares, “Contagious Christians.”

Let’s practice the last one:

We will be what?” and the congregation shares, “Contagious Christians.”

Lastly, The church has 5 major purposes: evangelism, discipleship, worship, ministry and fellowship. These are all important and they all fall under “disciples” in our mission. However, in 2019 Bethel needs to focus on outreach. We must focus on “’making disciples.” This is why the 2019 vision is focused on being contagious. People could comment that worship is left out and the Holy Spirit is left out and discipleship is left out and fellowship is left out. However, those are all implied by the noun “Christians” and they are all in the Mission. They are all in the core values.

We will be what?” and the congregation shares, “Contagious Christians.”

Do you know Jesus?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means being with Jesus Forever (Rev 22:5)

 

[1] https://jdgreear.com/blog/jesus-not-just-important-must-first/?utm_source=JD+Greear+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5d612a0d75-BLOG_DIGEST_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_009733a9e6-5d612a0d75-8711878

[2] https://jdgreear.com/blog/jesus-not-just-important-must-first/?utm_source=JD+Greear+Newsletter&utm_campaign=5d612a0d75-BLOG_DIGEST_DAILY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_009733a9e6-5d612a0d75-87118783

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Paul confronts Peter (Gal. 2:11-19)

Paul and Peter (Galatians 2:11-19)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, January 6, 2019

The difference between righteousness by works and righteousness by grace is illustrated by a ride on a commuter train.

A train rumbles into the station with warning bell clanging. The doors open, the uniformed conductor steps out, and you climb on board and find your way to a seat. When you look around the car, you see tickets clipped on the top of occupied seats, paid for with hard-earned money. Those tickets displayed at each seat are the special concern of the conductor, who walks through the car to punch tickets and confirm that you paid for the right to take this ride. If the conductor finds you without a ticket, you will either pay on the spot or be escorted off the train at the next stop. To ride this train, what matters is the paid ticket. This is righteousness by works.

Righteousness by grace, on the other hand, works in a very different way. God’s train pulls into the station, warning bell clanging. The doors open and the conductor steps out. Masses of people crowd on board and find their seats, for most everyone wants to ride this train to the city where people never die. Eventually the conductor walks through the train to see if everyone belongs on board. But on this train the conductor is not looking for tickets clipped to the top of seats. In fact, anyone who tries to pay for the right to be on the train will be escorted promptly from the train at the very next stop. That’s right; no one can earn the right to be on this train. What the conductor looks for as he walks seat by seat through the car is the penniless people he knows by name, the people who are his friends and who completely lack the means to pay. These poverty stricken people climb on board with only one hope: they believe in the generosity of their conductor friend.

This is righteousness by grace. A ride on God’s train is a gift. By our standards, it’s unfair. It’s scandalous. But like it or not, it’s heaven’s way.[1]

That is a key point in Galatians. Paul is correcting them to a remembrance of righteousness from Jesus.

My theme today is:

Paul confronts Peter about hypocrisy to re-affirm salvation by grace

Let’s read Galatians 2:11-19:

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles;16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.

  1. Paul confronts Peter, what happened?
    1. Consider this passage. In the previous section Paul had been affirmed by the pillars of the Jerusalem church. In the previous section the pillars of the Jerusalem church affirmed salvation by grace.
    2. Now, Peter, who had been one of the pillars is being a hypocrite.
    3. Peter is called Cephas in Galatians.
    4. Right here in this passage he is acting different with different people.
    5. To be a hypocrite means to act and he is acting contrary to his beliefs.
    6. We may see part of this event in Acts 11:1-3. In that passage the Jewish believers took issue with Peter for eating with gentiles.
    7. The situation, or conflict, in Antioch with the circumcision party is parallel to the situation, or conflict, in Galatians with the teachers.
    8. Antioch was a major sending church during that time. Actually, in Acts 11 we find out that when the church in Jerusalem was persecuted the people went to Antioch and someone started that church.
    9. It seems that Antioch was Paul’s home base.
    10. This account is a very important account in the history of Christianity
    11. The Ebionites were a Jewish Christian heretical sect which Islam very likely impart grew out of. They were Jewish Christians that wanted to maintain adherence to the law. They used this very passage as an attack upon Paul.
    12. In verse 11 Paul says that Peter was already condemned by his actions.
    13. In the early church they regularly ate together (common meals). They were celebrations of joyous fellowship. This was not only in the church but in the world. It involved joy, fellowship, and intimacy. It involved experiencing and expressing joy, intimacy, and fellowship through table fellowship. These meals included the Lord’s Supper. They culminated with the Eucharist. This means that when Peter separated from Gentiles, he was saying that he wouldn’t eat the Lord’s supper with them.
    14. In the Jerusalem church, Jewish food laws were observed. In Antioch, food laws weren’t maintained. They didn’t force Jews to become Gentile. That practice implied that food laws weren’t significant.
    15. The problem that Jews had with eating with gentiles is the assumption that Gentiles ate unclean food. Where in the law does it say “not to eat with gentiles.” It is not in the law; however, it was assumed. The Gentiles ate unclean food: for example, ham sandwiches, food sacrificed to idols, etc.
    16. Verse 12: men sent from James: this implies a special delegation, they were sent for a reason. They were concerned with a Theological concern. The relationship between the covenants.
    17. There may have been a practical concern: what would it mean if this got out? What would it mean that Christians and Jews are eating together?
    18. The circumcision party didn’t only maintain circumcision but were called this party because they intensely wanted to maintain the law. They started with the issue of circumcision. Here it is not a circumcision issue but eating with gentiles. But, in this case Paul says that they are trying to ask for circumcision through the back door. Paul goes on to say that circumcision, dietary regulation, etc went hand in hand.
    19. Three things that make you a Jew
      1. Food laws
      2. Dietary laws
      3. Circumcision
    20. Peter drew back because he feared the circumcision party
    21. Special emphasis, why did Paul confront him publicly?
      1. If we look into the way to confront sin we can see in Matthew 18:15-17 that it starts publicly.
      2. Paul may have confronted Peter publicly, though it is not recorded.
      3. However, in 1 Tim. 5:20 we see that public sins must be confronted publicly and that is why at this point it is a public confrontation.
    22. As we look through this passage we see verse 16.

nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 

  1. Verse 16 is they key verse in Galatians.
  2. A man is not justified by works of the law.
  3. This is a verse of repetition: I also see a chaism in this verse. A Chaism is a literary device in which there is repetition. Notice this:
    1. A) A man is not justified by works of the law
    2. B) But through faith in Christ Jesus
  • B’) We believed in Christ Jesus and are justified by faith in Him.
  1. A’) Not by works of the law because no one is justified by the works of the law
  1. The chaism is drawing emphasis on the middle section which is” “we believed in Christ Jesus and are justified by faith in Him.”
  2. I talked about the train and the Gospel, watch this from Polar Express.
  3. Show the video clip of them taking tickets on polar express.
  • Fortunately, we do not earn our way to Heaven:

Theologian Alister McGrath outlines the following three stages of receiving what Christ did for us on the cross:

[First], I may believe that God is promising me forgiveness of sins; [second], I may trust that promise; but [third] unless I respond to that promise, I shall not obtain forgiveness. The first two stages of faith prepare the way for the third, without it they are incomplete.

Then he illustrates these three stages with the following true story:

Consider a bottle of penicillin, the famous antibiotic identified by Alexander Fleming, and first produced for clinical use in [Great Britain]. The drug was responsible for saving the lives of countless individuals who would otherwise have died from various forms of blood poisoning. Think of the three stages of faith like this. I may accept that the bottle exists. I may trust in its ability to cure blood poisoning. But nothing will change unless I receive the drug which it contains. I must allow it to destroy the bacteria which are slowly killing me. Otherwise, I have not benefited from my faith in it.

It is the third element of faith which is of vital importance in making sense of the cross. Just as faith links a bottle of penicillin to the cure of blood poisoning, so faith forges a link between the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ and ourselves. Faith unites us with the risen Christ, and makes available to us everything he gained through his obedience and resurrection.[2]

  1. Verses 17-19 continue this theme of justification.
  • Justification means counted righteous or declared righteous.
  1. One writes: “Justification should not be confused with forgiveness, which is the fruit of justification, nor with atonement, which is the basis of justification. Rather it is the favorable verdict of God, the righteous Judge, that one who formerly stood condemned has now been granted a new status at the bar of divine justice.”[3]
  2. Further: “To be justified means to be declared righteous before God, that is, to enjoy a status or standing of being in a right relationship with God, of being accepted by him.”[4]
  • Now let’s apply:
  1. Application: no compromise
    1. We must not be hypocrites.
    2. We must never compromise on absolute truth and the Gospel.
    3. We must not compromise because of fear (verse 12).
      1. This means that even if people threaten us with our job, we must not compromise the gospel.
      2. This means that even if we face removal from a club we must not compromise the Gospel.
      3. This means that even if we lose friends, we must not compromise the Gospel.
      4. We must be prepared to be unpopular for the Gospel.
      5. Remember, doctrine matters and compromise comes in small ways.
        1. There are many liberal churches that were once strong.
        2. Remember that most of the ivy league colleges started out as strong Christian schools. Harvard, Yale, Princeton were strong Christian schools.
      6. This passage deals with compromise with what the Gospel is. However, we compromise on sin as well and that must never be.
        1. We treat gossip like it is not a sin.
        2. We treat disrespect like it is not a sin.
        3. We treat cliques like they are not sinful, though they are unloving.
        4. We don’t deal with our lustful ways.
        5. We neglect our envy and our affluence as sin, even though we are not prioritizing God above all things.
        6. Compromise is dangerous.
      7. We must not act different around different groups.
      8. We must apply this passage based on Gal 3:28 and Rev 7:9-11
      9. Based on verse 16, we must recognize, preach and teach the proper doctrine of soteriology that we are justified by faith in Christ Jesus.
      10. We must recognize the law just gives us knowledge of our sin (Romans 3:20; 7:7-9).

Close:

I get many different articles sent to me. Last week, I read one about de-conversion stories. These are stories of people who left Christianity. There are common denominators, but one is that they compromise the Gospel first. Before leaving Christianity altogether, they compromise. They compromise their beliefs. They take out the belief that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. They compromise the miracles in the Bible. They compromise the idea of sin.[5]

Don’t compromise, it is slippery slope.

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means being with Jesus Forever (Rev 22:5)

[1] Craig Brian Larson, editor of PreachingToday.com

[2] Alister E. McGrath, What Was God Doing on the Cross (Zondervan, 1992), pp. 99-100

[3] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ga 2:15.

[4] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ga 2:15.

[5] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/3-beliefs-progressive-christians-atheists-share/

Ponder: The Point of Christmas is We NEED a Savior (Luke 2:1-19)

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Oh

Mary did you know?

Listen as I read Luke 2:1-7 and verse 19:

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Verse 19:

But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 

Now, in this sermon I want to focus on verse 19, which says:  

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.[1]

  1. When we look at verse 19 and we notice that Mary is pondering these things in her heart we must notice that Mary’s life has changed a lot. Have you ever gone through a dramatic life change?
    1. Mary’s life was dramatically changed in order to be the mother of Jesus.
    2. I believe the changes from the previous year are exactly what Mary was pondering; now Notice how all of these events are part of the true meaning of Christmas. All of these life changes were in order to bring Jesus into the world. She must have been pondering who Jesus is and what is the significance of this Jesus? As I speak about these life changes, I ask you to ponder who Jesus is to you.
  2. Though it is not actually recorded in the Bible, we know that at some point Mary was engaged to Joseph and this happened before anything else in our Christmas story. A Jewish engagement would last about a year and was legally binding. It would take a written divorce to break off an engagement and if a woman was found pregnant during an engagement, by a man who was not her fiancé, this was considered adultery.
  • While engaged to be married to Joseph, Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel and told that she will give birth to God’s son.
    1. Mary was told she will be the mother of the son of God. She is to be the parent of the future and eternal king of Israel.
    2. Now as Jesus is born, Mary must be pondering those words.
    3. Just like Mary pondered those words, I ask you to do the same, who is Jesus to you? Is this baby born king of your life? We’ll come back to that.
  1. In the events leading up to Jesus’ birth, Mary’s cousin gives birth in her old age.
    1. This is recorded in the first two chapters in Luke and we will not read the whole story now. But here is a man and woman with no children and passed childbearing years, yet God communicates to them they will have a son, and this is fulfilled prior to Jesus’ birth.
    2. Mary must have been pondering the events surrounding her nephew’s birth.
    3. As Mary pondered these miracles, I ask you to ponder, what does the Christmas story mean to you? What do you think of these miracles leading up to the birth of Jesus?
  2. After Mary was found to be pregnant, she had to tell her fiancé, Joseph, what was going on. So, she tells him that she is pregnant, and the father is God, for she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
    1. We don’t know the exact verbiage she used to tell Joseph, but we do know that Matthew’s Gospel (1:19) records that Joseph was going to divorce her.
    2. We really can’t blame Joseph for this, I mean; being pregnant by the Holy Spirit is not an everyday occurrence. Actually, this is the only time it has ever happened. Still, an angel appears to Joseph and this verifies Mary’s words.
      1. As Mary looked at her new baby, she must have pondered the events keeping her engagement intact.
      2. So, we see more events which happened in Mary’s life leading up to the birth of Christ; I ask again, ponder these events, what do they mean to you? What is the significance of Christ that all of these events came together for His birth?
    3. In the weeks or days before Jesus was born Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because of a census. We can see this recorded in the first few verses of today’s Scripture passage. Perhaps Mary knew the prophesy that Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem and pondered how God made sure this would happen.[2] How significant is Jesus that even the place He was to be born was prophesied about and fulfilled?
  • Now, Mary is about to give birth to the Son of God, yet they are in Bethlehem looking for a place to stay. But with the census going on there are surely plenty of people traveling and there is no place to stay.
    1. Verse 7 of Luke 2 says there was no room for them in the Inn. The inn was probably a place for travelers to stay, maybe a house with extra rooms or something like that.
    2. So, Mary gives birth in a barn. Luke doesn’t mention any animals, though they could’ve been present since she gives birth in a place that housed animals. Mary lays baby Jesus in a manger or feeding trough.
    3. Mary must have pondered the location she was at, given Who she gave birth to. If you were to ponder this same thing, what do you think, isn’t it amazing that Jesus came identifying with those in poverty?
  • But there was still more to ponder. There is more if you read Luke 2:8-20.

We have a lot to ponder too, don’t we? Ponder this: All of these events came together and this is what Christmas is all about.

God became man to save us!

One raw winter night a man heard an irregular thumping sound against the kitchen storm door. He went to a window and watched as tiny, shivering sparrows, attracted to the evident warmth inside, beat in vain against the glass.

Touched, the farmer bundled up and trudged through fresh snow to open the barn for the struggling birds. He turned on the lights, tossed some hay in a corner, and sprinkled a trail of saltine crackers to direct them to the barn. But the sparrows, which had scattered in all directions when he emerged from the house, still hid in the darkness, afraid of him.

He tried various tactics: circling behind the birds to drive them toward the barn, tossing cracker crumbs in the air toward them, retreating to his house to see if they’d flutter into the barn on their own. Nothing worked. He, a huge alien creature, had terrified them; the birds could not understand that he actually desired to help.

He withdrew to his house and watched the doomed sparrows through a window. As he stared, a thought hit him like lightning from a clear blue sky: If only I could become a bird—one of them—just for a moment. Then I wouldn’t frighten them so. I could show them the way to warmth and safety. At the same moment, another thought dawned on him. He had grasped the whole principle of the Incarnation.

A man’s becoming a bird is nothing compared to God’s becoming a man. The concept of a sovereign being as big as the universe He created, confining Himself to a human body was—and is—too much for some people to believe.

—Paul Harvey[3]

The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2 Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1 Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.

One of the most exciting things that you can do while celebrating Jesus’ birthday is to make it your spiritual birthday as well. You can accept Jesus’ free gift of salvation right now.

Watch this:

Video from youtube or maybe the end of The Nativity Story: (Below connects with the death and resurrection)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7blH2wZ69bE

 

 

 

[1] The New International Version. 2011 (Lk 2:19). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Micah 5:2

[3] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 294–295.

Cantata Sunday, meditations in between choir anthems

 

First Anthem:

Glory to God (Luke 2:14):

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace on earth,
goodwill towards men.

Pastor’s words:

That particular choir anthem comes from Luke 2:14.

Luke 2:14 comes from Luke 2:8-14 which reads:

 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

  1. Jesus has been born.
    1. This passage follows the birth of Jesus according to Luke.
    2. Jesus has been born and lain in a feeding trough. Mary and Joseph are the new parents. They are young and most likely scared.
    3. They must be very nervous.
    4. Now, we come to verses 8-14.
  2. Verses 8-14: in verses 8-14 we read about the angels visiting the shepherds.
    1. Shepherds, you know that shepherds were the lowest class? They were disrespected. They were looked down upon. They did the dirty work. They missed out on certain religious events. Yet, the angel comes to shepherds.
    2. Verse 9 says that an angel of the Lord appeared to them. Now, the text actually reads “suddenly” an angel of the Lord came upon them.
      1. Imagine yourself in the middle of a vast opened field and all of a sudden an angel is in front of you.
      2. By the way, this angel was not one of those girly angels you see in paintings or in stores. Angels are not like that. Angels are warriors. Verse 9 says they were terrified.
  • The angel says do not be afraid. I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all people.
  1. Jesus entering the world was good news and great joy. This was good news for all people. This was and is good news for all people. This is news for the shepherds and the Caesars. This was news for the poor and the rich, the privileged and those who are not privileged.
  1. The angels finish their message and then there was a company of angels and they were worshipping God.
  2. Notice that? Notice their response to what is happening. They worship God. They said, “Glory to God in the highest.” You know, I bet they said more than that. I think these shepherds were so overwhelmed that that is all they could understand. These angels worshipped the birth of Christ.
  3. Now, the shepherds, they don’t waste time, they head to Bethlehem.
  4. As these shepherds came to Bethlehem to worship Jesus, I bet that encouraged Joseph and Mary.

Let me pray and then we will hear from the choir again.

Anthem:

And the Glory of the Lord from the Messiah (Isaiah 40:5)

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it
Together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it
.

Pastor’s words:

There is a term at the end of 1 Corinthians, in 1 Corinthians 16:22 and that is Maranatha! Maranatha means: “Our Lord Come.”

I was listening to a cancer survivor and she said “Darn, or, curse, the fall, come Lord Jesus.” 

The previous choir anthem comes from Isaiah 40:5, allow me to place that in context. Let’s read Isaiah 40:1-5:

“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.
“Speak kindly to Jerusalem;
And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,
That her iniquity has been removed,
That she has received of the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”

A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
“Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah chapter 40 is a chapter of transition. In the previous chapter Isaiah had given prophesies against Israel. Isaiah had said that Babylon was going to take the sons of King Hezekiah as captive. Starting in Isaiah 40 God is encouraging the people.

In verse 3 God talks about A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.

In Mark chapter 1 he applies this passage to John the baptizer.  John the baptizer was a voice of one crying in the wilderness preparing the way for the Messiah. John prepared the way for Jesus.

In verse 5 Isaiah is likely talking about the millennial reign. Isaiah was thinking of the millennial kingdom when the Lord will be revealed in His glory, that is, when His unique splendor will be evident everywhere. [1]

How awesome this will be when the glory of the Lord will be revealed! How magnificent! How wondrous!

This will be a joyous occasion.

Actually, Joy to the World was written about a time when Christ was born but also when Christ returns and reigns over the whole earth.

Let’s apply before we move on:

  1. What is most important about this season?
  2. Do we look forward to the coming of Jesus?
    1. Jesus came as a baby, lived, was crucified, rose again, He ascended and He will come again.
    2. Can we say with Paul in 1 Cor. 16:22, Maranatha?
  3. May we have joy because of Jesus.
  4. May we look forward to the glory of the Lord being revealed.

Let’s pray

Anthem:

O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion

Isaiah 40:9

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain;

O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength;

Lift it up, be not afraid;

Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God![2]

Pastor’s words:

The verse in the previous choir anthem seems to be looking forward to the return of the Jewish exiles and the millennial reign.

Do we have reasons to rejoice? The world appears to be falling apart, but as Christians we have reasons to rejoice. We can also say, “Behold your God”!

I want to reference another hymn, it is called “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Do you know the background to that hymn? Listen as I read it:

In 1864, one of America’s great poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote the poem which became the well-known carol, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. When I first heard this song, I wondered, “Why does he suddenly shift from joy at hearing the Christmas bells into such deep despair?” It starts with:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Then he says:
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!”

The question is clearly answered when we see two verses of the original that are not included in our hymn. In these verses Longfellow speaks of the horrors of the American Civil War that was tearing the country apart. In fact, his son had been seriously wounded in that conflict not long before he wrote the song. (The death of Longfellow’s wife two years earlier may have contributed to his mood too.) Listen to what they say:
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearthstones of a continent
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Little wonder he is tempted to despair. And yet he concludes with the resounding affirmation, “God is not dead, nor does he sleep!” Through the Savior whose birth the angels celebrated, God will accomplish what he has promised.

Do we believe that? God has and He WILL accomplish what He promised.

Let’s pray

Choir anthem:

Hallelujah

Benedictions

[1] John A. Martin, “Isaiah,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1092.

[2] The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Is 40:9.

The Story of Christmas, Jesus will be Born and He Saves

Sunday, December 16, 2018: The Story of Christmas (Matt 1:18-25)

I am looking forward to the children’s Christmas play in a few moments. After all, Jesus did come as a baby. God became one of us, not as an adult, but as a baby. But there are lessons here for adults as well. I want to talk for a few minutes about the Christmas story.

Christmas is coming and is almost here. How are you doing? Are you ready?

A lady had a circle of friends for whom she really wanted to buy Christmas presents. Time slipped away and it was so busy at work for her she just wasn’t able to get to the store to purchase those gifts. Time was running out. So not too many days before Christmas she decided to give up on the gift idea and just buy everybody the same beautiful Christmas card. She went to the local gift store and hurriedly went through the now picked over stack of cards and found a box of fifty, just exactly what she wanted. She didn’t take time to read the message, she just noticed a beautiful cover on it and there was gold around it and a floral appearance on the front of the card and she thought, That’s perfect. So she signed all of them, “With all my love.”

As New Year’s came and she had time to go back to two or three cards she didn’t send from that stack, she was shocked to read the message inside. It said, in a little rhyme, “This Christmas card is just to say, a little gift is on its way.”[1]

I hope you have not faced that type of experience. Regardless of how ready you are in purchasing gifts and sending out cards, I assure you that you can be ready by knowing Jesus, the true meaning of Christmas.

Let’s read Matthew 1:18-25:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Watch this clip

Nativity Story: Angel coming to Joseph

My theme today is: Jesus our hope will be born, He saves us and He is with us.

  1. Jesus will be born.
    1. They were waiting for a Savior and He was to be born.
    2. This is an amazing prophesy to Joseph. Here he has just received the news that his fiancé is pregnant and not by him, but now he finds out this baby is the Messiah. Wow!
    3. Joseph went from gloom to hope.
      1. What Does Hope Do For Mankind?
        1. Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
        2. Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
        3. Hope energizes when the body is tired.
        4. Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
        5. Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
        6. Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
        7. Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
        8. Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
        9. Hope endures hardship when no one is caring.
        10. Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
        11. Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
        12. Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
        13. Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
        14. Hope brings the victory when no one is winning. (John Maxwell from Think on These Things)
  1. Joseph had hope and so do we. Jesus is our hope.
  2. Jesus will save us from our sins.
    1. What brings salvation?
    2. What are you trusting in?
    3. Sometimes we think we don’t even need a Savior. Realize that when we mess with salvation we are trifling with the holiness of God. We need salvation because we sinned against a holy, righteous God.
    4. We need a Savior because of God’s holiness and when we say things such as “Everyone goes to Heaven with or without Jesus, or we say, “there is no hell.” This means that we are messing with the cross, yes, but we are also messing with the holiness of God. We are changing all of Scripture, we are changing the whole Old Testament. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2 Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1 Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
    5. Jesus saves.
  • Jesus will be Immanuel, which means God with us.
    1. Do you ever feel alone? I remember being in 6th grade I played football. I was dropped off at a game and my parents drove away and then I thought I needed something and it was too late, my parents were gone. I felt all alone. I can go back a few years earlier. I must have watched children cry when my mom dropped my older brother off at preschool. I thought I wouldn’t do that. I always saw the children get dropped off at preschool and they cried and cried and cried. I remember that fear when my mom dropped me off and I cried as well. Fast forward some 15 years. My parents dropped me off at college in Georgia and drove away and I think we all cried. What is it like being alone? We are not alone. We have God with us.
    2. Think of how amazing it is that God is with us as Christians.
    3. You and I, we are not alone.

Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Are you committed to Him?

What do you do with the Christmas message?

I’m sure that some of you are visitors and this is your first time here. I am sure that some of you used to attend regularly and you have lost the habit.

Whether you are part of the church or not, my question for you is: Do you Know Jesus as Lord and Savior and are you committed to him?

The Bible uses four verbs to describe the Christian life, they are: Believe, confess, commit and trust. Let me explain:

  1. The Bible teaches that we must believe in Jesus. We must believe that He is who the Bible says He is. The Bible teaches that He was born of a virgin; He lived a sinless life and died on the cross for our sins and He rose triumphantly over the grave (John 3:16; 14:6; 1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 5:17 and 21).
  2. The Bible teaches that we must confess that we are in need of forgiveness. This means that we must confess that we are a sinner in need of a Savior. In other words, we have done wrong things and we need forgiven (Romans 3:23; 6:23 10:9-10). We tell God this.
  3. The Bible teaches that we must commit to Jesus as Lord and Savior. This means we are not simply fans of Jesus, but instead we are followers of Jesus. Fans stay on the sidelines, but Jesus calls us to be on the field with Him. Jesus told them to count the cost before committing to Him (Luke 14:27-33).
  4. The Bible teaches that we must trust The belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior is not a casual belief, but a firm trust (1 Timothy 1:15; John 3:16).

 

Prayer

Invite the children up

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 81.

Keep Christ in Christmas (Matthew 2:1-12)

Keep Christ in Christmas, part 2 (Matthew 2:1-12)

Pastor Steve Rhodes

Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, December 9, 2018

Is it possible to go through the Christmas season and miss Christmas?

A lady had taken her five-year-old son shopping at a large department store during the Christmas season. She knew it would be fun for him to see all the decorations and window displays and toys and Santa Claus. As she dragged him by the hand, twice as fast as his little legs could move, he began to fuss and cry, clinging to his mother’s coat. “Good heavens, what on earth is the matter with you?” She scolded, impatiently. “I brought you with me to get in the Christmas spirit. Santa doesn’t bring toys to little crybabies!”

His fussing continued as she tried to find some bargains during the last minute rush on December 23. “I’m not going to take you shopping with me, ever again, if you don’t stop that whimpering! Oh well, maybe it’s because your shoes are untied and you are tripping over your own laces,” she said, kneeling down in the aisle to tie his shoes.

And as she knelt down beside him, she happened to look around. For the first time, she viewed the department store through the eyes of her five-year-old. From that position there were no baubles, no bangles, beads, presents, gaily decorated display tables, or animated toys. All that could be seen was a maze of corridors too high to see above, full of giant stovepipe legs and huge posteriors. These mountainous strangers, with feet as big as skateboards, were pushing and shoving and bumping and thumping and rushing and crushing. Rather than fun, the scene looked absolutely terrifying! She elected to take her child home and vowed to herself never to impose her version of a good time on him again. On the way out of the store, the mother noticed Santa Claus seated in a pavilion decorated like the North Pole. She knew that letting her little boy meet Santa Claus in person would go a long way toward his remembering the Christmas shopping disaster as a pleasant, rather than unpleasant, experience.

“Honey, go stand in line with the other children, and then sit up on Santa’s lap,” she continued.” Tell him what you want for Christmas, and smile while you’re talking so we can take your picture for the family album.”

Even though a Santa Claus was standing outside the store entrance ringing a bell, and although they had seen another Santa at the previous shopping center, the little five-year-old was pushed forward to enjoy a personal chat with the “real Santa.”

When the strange-looking man with the beard, glasses, and red suit stuffed with pillows hoisted the little boy onto his lap, he laughed loudly and tickled the little boy in the ribs.

“And what would you like for Christmas, son?” Santa boomed jovially.       

“I’d like to get down,” was the little boy’s response.[1]

If you watch television, in Christmas is not about Christ. Watch this:

Elf: Santa’s an imposter:

https://youtu.be/9tIcnydrwFY

We can watch many classic movies and see what Christmas may be about. Think about them:

It’s A Wonderful Life: nothing about Jesus

A Christmas Story: nothing about Jesus

A Christmas Carol: nothing about Jesus

What about television? Little House on the Prairie hardly has Christ in Christmas.

We could go on and on.

As we see these we can realize why the Puritans outlawed Christmas. Christmas was no longer about Jesus. We, as Christians, must make sure our view of Christmas is from the Bible and we keep Christ in Christmas.

Once again, I want to talk to you about keeping Christ in Christmas.

My theme today is keep Christ in Christmas

I want to look at Matthew 2 and show you people who missed Christmas. Don’t be like them. Don’t miss Christmas.

Let’s read Matthew 2:1-12:

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

  1. Herod missed Jesus (Matthew 2:1ff).
    1. Herod was afraid of another king. Herod was the local king of Jerusalem. Herod was not even Jewish as he was an Edomite which means he was a descendant of Esau. Jewish kings were to be descendants of David.
    2. Herod not only missed Christmas, Matt 2:16 tells us that Herod killed children 2 and under. Herod was so afraid of another king that he slaughtered the children of that age range.
    3. Now, what about you? Have you missed Christmas? I know you might be able to say, “I am here.” But have you really made Jesus Lord? There are many people who want Jesus as a resource or a nice spiritual friend, or even someone to keep us out of hell. But these same people do not want to make Jesus King and call Him Lord.
    4. It is not too late. We should worship Jesus as Lord every day of the year. We should celebrate His birth, life and resurrection every day of the year.
    5. Some of us may have the Herod problem, we do not want another King. We want to be King of our own life. If that is the case we miss Christmas, just like Herod. We will not bow to King Jesus.
  2. The teachers of the law and priests missed Christmas. In Matthew 2:3-4 Herod called them together and asked them where the Messiah was to be born and they responded, “In Bethlehem of Judea…”
    1. They knew this. They had to have known why Herod asked. Why did they not go and look for the Messiah?
    2. I think they were obviously indifferent. They were happy as religious scholars.
    3. Please don’t be indifferent. Acknowledge Christmas. Don’t let the busyness of this time of year rob you of the joy of this time of year.
    4. I think this is an important example of what we face. Many of us become indifferent to Jesus.
    5. So, what happens? Instead of making Jesus the center of Christmas we let culture dictate what Christmas is all about. Our family pays the price. We make Christmas about materialism and NOT about Jesus. We make Christmas about family, which is good, but we neglect Jesus, and that is not good.
    6. It is not too late. Change now, keep Christ in Christmas. Don’t be indifferent to Christ. We do not want Christ to be indifferent to us, do we?
  • I bet that is not all. It appears from Scripture that the people living in the immediate vicinity of the birth of Jesus missed Christmas. He was born in a stable.
    1. Certainly, we know that Mary and Joseph could not find a room. Everyone just went on with their normal life. They were arguing in the streets about the census and missed Christmas. They were arguing about who’s donkey hit who’s donkey and who was at fault and they missed Christmas. They did not notice. They were oblivious that the Savior was being born. They missed Christmas.
    2. I know, I know, they didn’t know any better. No one knew the importance of this baby. They were mostly not accountable, but you are.
    3. You now know. You know the importance of Christmas. Keep Christ in Christmas.
  1. We miss Christmas too. Respond like the magi in verses 10-11.
    1. We need to worship Jesus. These magi came from the east. They had a long journey and they did not miss Christmas. They likely traveled for over a year. They sacrificed. Let’s think of some ideas to keep Christ in Christmas.
    2. Here is an idea, The Nativity Story is a movie that keeps Christ in Christmas. Watch that as a family this year.
    3. Institute family devotions during this Christmas season.
    4. Start praying as a family this Christmas season.
    5. Serve at the Rescue Mission, Heartreach Ministries or the Pregnancy Help Center. Don’t just send money, help in-person. I once heard someone say that his family would serve at a Homeless Shelter on the holidays. It is hard for them to get volunteers on holidays.
    6. Keep Christ in Christmas.

Jesus’ birth changed the world. Don’t miss Jesus. Keep Christ in Christmas.

Please don’t allow the busyness of life, the Christmas shopping, the family get-togethers and everything else keep you from the importance of Christmas.

This dog didn’t miss Christmas:

[1] Swindoll, Charles R. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Page 83. Exerted from Denis Waitley, Seeds of Greatness.

Jesus’ birth changed the world. Don’t miss Jesus. Keep Christ in Christmas.

Please don’t allow the busyness of life, the Christmas shopping, the family get-togethers and everything else to keep you from the importance of Christmas.

John 3:16 for God so loved you that He sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

Do you believe that? It is something amazing!

Pray

Do you know Christ?

Luke 9:23

 

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means being with Jesus forever. (Rev. 22:5)

 

[1] Swindoll, Charles R. Read in Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN 1998. Page 83. Exerted from Denis Waitley, Seeds of Greatness.