Christmas 2019, Galatians 4:4-7, In the Fullness of Time, God became Man

Christmas 2019
Galatians 4:4-7
In the Fullness of Time, God Became MAn

Good Morning! If you would, please go ahead and grab your Bibles with me. We will visit several spots throughout scripture, but my intent is to park in Galatians chapter 4. If you do not have a Bible, there should be some under the seat you are in or the seats around you. If you do not own a Bible, please help yourself to one from the back table as our gift to you.
Let’s start with a question. Why are we all here this morning? Why do we celebrate Christmas? The answer is a simple one, even if not easy. We are here this morning; we celebrate Christmas to celebrate that Jesus was born. That answer leads to two more questions that I want to address this morning. First is simply, who was, or is Jesus? And Second, why is his birth worth celebrating?
Jesus is the true King of Kings. It says so in Revelation, chapter 19:16, the Disciple John writes about Jesus: On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Now, there are only a few events in History that can legitimately claim to have changed the world. Events that changed the status quo or changed the course of history. But none of those events can compare in influence, in scope or size, or importance to the one that took place that holy silent night 2000 years ago.
Most of the time, when we look at Christmas, when we look at the birth of Christ, we look at the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. And that’s where we see the stories that were recorded of his birth, life, death and resurrection. Charles Spurgeon once said, You only have to read the Gospels, and look with willing eyes, and you shall behold in Christ all that can possibly be seen of God. But today we see that there are other scriptures that speak to this as well.
God had spent all human history building to this point. Early in the Scriptures, in Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve fell from perfection and brought sin into the World. Man ruined their relationship with God, we ruined our relationship with God, but God promised a way to make it right. He had a plan.
God spends the whole rest of the Old Testament reiterating his promise and showing through prophecy how this plan would be fulfilled. We see the Gospel writers point out some of these prophecies when the tell the Gospel story. Matthew often writes in his Gospel something along the lines of, “This was to fulfill what the LORD had spoken by prophet…”
There were over 350 instances in the Old Testament of the writers and prophets pointing ahead towards the coming and arrival of gods rescue plan. Mathematically, the odds are so great of those prophecies being fulfilled as to be, in all practical senses, impossible.
And then we read, in our passage for this morning, what Paul writes in Galatians, chapter 4, verses 4-7:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
That starry, holy, silent night, Jesus Christ became God incarnate. He came down from heaven, as the Christ, the Messiah, Gods great rescue plan. An event that hadn’t ever happened before. An event that will never happen again. An event that changed the course of history and an event that changed the people who believed and experienced it.
Now, I know, if you are not a follower of Christ, if he has not already changed your life, that this sounds so completely fantastical. That God literally, physically came down from Heaven and was born as a baby human man. I know how that sounds. But if you will look at the proof, the evidence, that history with open eyes, you will see the truth.
God exists. If he exists, then to be God, he must be all powerful, all knowing, and all present in all times and all places. What would otherwise be impossible, with God is possible. Somethings that would normally be impossible; being both God and man, being born of a virgin, performing the miracles that he did, dying and rising from the dead, all things impossible if not for being both God and man.
God loves us. The Bible that you hold in your hands, the Bible that is under your chairs, is a 66-book love letter that he wrote to us. It says that even though we spit in his face, that we openly rebelled against him and his gift of perfection and relationship with him, despite all that, he loves us. He wants to restore that relationship. He wants to be able to forgive us from our sins. He loves us and wants that so much for us that he sent his Son,
He sent him quietly, as an innocent baby, to grow up and live a perfect life, to teach and to be an example, and most importantly, to give his life as a ransom for many. Most of the people of that day did not realize who He was. That he was God as a man. Most people in the world today don’t know who Jesus is, that he is, as he says in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus was born of a woman, under the law. He was born under the same requirements that we are all born under. He was born under the law. And he fulfilled the law. He did what we are unable to do. We can not keep a law. We have zero ability to keep the law. We are sinners and we are born sinners. This separated from God. But Jesus redeemed those if us from under the law, through his fulfillment of the law.
Jesus came silently, giving the world a chance to see who he is and to turn to him and embrace him have God repair that relationship between us and him. But he will come back and the next time, it won’t be silently. He will come back, but not as an innocent helpless baby, as he did here, but as the King of Kings and LORD of LORDs. He will come to separate those who will spend eternity with him and those who will spend eternity without him. What you think of Jesus, who you think he is, determines which of those groups you end up being in.
God became man to save sinners. He gave his son so that we might be called the sons of God. It is through Jesus Christ that we are redeemed to God and that we are saved from the consequences of our sins.
Christianity, the belief in, the worship of and the following of Jesus Christ is inclusive in that all who are born into this world, everybody will be welcome through the door to heaven, the door the Jesus walked through in this direction to be born here on earth. But there is only one door, only one way to get into that heaven. It is only by the way of Jesus Christ, God who became man, physically, literally born, physically, literally died, physically, literally rose from the dead, to pay the punishment for our sins, our rebellion. It is only the knowledge and faith in that that will restore our relationship with God and allow us to walk through that door. Will you be walking through that door? The door that was opened by the Holy Silent Night 2000 years ago, in a manger.
Timothy Keller has said, ““The world can’t save itself. That’s the message of Christmas.” We can’t save ourselves. The world can’t save ourselves. With sin in the world, we are without hope. Without a Messiah, without a savior, we are without hope. Without being the children, the descendants of Abraham, the line God chose to bless, we are without hope.
But then one-night 2000 years ago. To an unmarried teenage mother, far away from home, through the line of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of David, of Solomon, of all these men and women that Matthew lists in these first words of the New Testament. The adoptive, and therefore legal son of Joseph, hope was born into this world. A hope that we could believe in, a hope that we could trust in. A hope that had been promised for 4000 years was fulfilled that very night.
He was born a human baby boy, but he was so much more than that. He was God himself. Scriptures call him Immanuel, which means God with Us. God came down, became a man, and born into a world of sin, he remained sinless. He offered hope, not that we could remain sinless, but that God loved us enough to come down to us, to chase after us, to pursue us. He lived a perfect life so that when he was crucified, when his innocent blood was shed, it was not making an atonement for his own sins, but because he had no sin of his own, it was enough to cover our sins. He then rose from the dead to show that the result of the forgiveness of sins is eternal life with him.
So that we could be called sons of God. Paul writes, just a few lines earlier, Galatians 3:26: for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. And John writes at the beginning of his Gospel, John 1:12 & 13: But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
He promised a savior there in Genesis 3. And after so many failures, after so many years, after so many obstacles and adversity and persecution and exile. After years of darkness and wondering, “When LORD?”
Then, 2000 years ago, a baby was born. The bible says that it was “at the right time,” that Christ was born. Exactly when God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit planned it to happen. Not too early, not too late, but at just the right time, The Father sent him, the Messiah, the Christ.
Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, eternal God, 1/3 of the trinity, he lowered himself, came down from Heaven, and was born a human baby boy, still fully God, now fully human. He was the one all the Old Testament guys was pointing towards. And where they failed, where they sinned, he succeeded, he lived a perfect, righteous life.
And it was because he was sinless that he was able to bridge that gap between God and humanity. And He did. He paid the price for sin, nailed to the cross, dead. He took the punishment for sin. But not his sin, as he had none. So, he paid for ours.
And he says repent, turn from your sins, turn to Jesus as both our LORD and savior, believe in him, trust in him and accept the free gift of grace and forgiveness, and we will be forgiven. Christ will clothe us with his righteousness, his perfect righteousness, and allow our relationship with God to be restored to what it is supposed to be.
Look, there are only two choices, only two options. And they boil down to what you think of Jesus. Reject who he is, who the Bible says he is. Reject the love of God, the gift of grace, the forgiveness of sins. Reject the knowledge that we need saving and there is only one that can give us that salvation. Reject the fact of Jesus is God and man and was born a baby. Reject that and you receive eternity without God, eternity outside of Heaven. That relationship with God that we were created to dwell in was shattered and lost and we can’t do anything to change that.
He wants us to live forever with him, praising him, worshiping him, being in the relationship that we were originally created to be in. Look, if you have not come to know the historical, biblical saving King of Kings, LORD Jesus, today is a great day. The day we celebrate his birth, the day we celebrate the literal personification of his love and the day we celebrate that we came to save us.
Salvation belongs to the LORD and today is the day of Salvation. I ask you to turn your life over to Jesus today and not to wait.
For those of us that have come to know Jesus Christ, we celebrate this today. And in this day, we celebrate all that Christ accomplished throughout his earthly life and ministry. He died, rose again and he will be coming back to put a final cap on all the evil in this world. Christmas celebrates his first coming. WE also use it to remember and look forward to his second coming where all things will be made right and new again.
Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, the longest day of the year. I saw this quote last night and it struck me how appropriate it is for Christmas specifically, but for our faith in Christ in general and I want to leave you with that quote.
December 21st. Winter solstice. The darkest day of the year. Every day of the fall has been getting darker towards today. But tomorrow? It starts getting lighter. In tiny tiny increments. But light is coming. It doesn’t get any darker than today. Light is coming.

Lets Pray

What happens after Christmas? Matthew 1 & 2, Luke 1 & 2.

Post Christmas Manuscript

What happens after Christmas?

Hope everyone had a great Christmas here. Let me ask you a question. How many of us were able to sit back for a moment, or more, and really reflect on what we just celebrated? Like really reflected what Christmas is. I want to take a quick look back at the Christmas story and see what that means for us all going forward into the new year and into the rest of our lives. Go ahead and grab your Bibles. If you do not own a Bible, please take one from the back table as our gift to you. We are going to be spending most of our time in Mathew and Luke, in the Christmas stories.  

Now, we have all heard the Christmas story, many times. And I’m willing to bet we all have our favorite people in the story. We heard the kids talk about theirs last week.

For some of us it is Mary. Mary was a young lady, possibly as young as 13 or 14, we don’t know for sure. She was a virgin and betrothed to be married. She was an everyday, average, normal jewish girl. Except that God chose her. She was visited by an angel, named Gabriel, who told her that she was going to bear Gods son.

Some of us, our favorite is Joseph. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about Joseph. However, in the christmas story, Matthew tells us that “Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” The angel told Joseph that Mary was not cheating on him, but was conceived of the Holy Spirit and he decided not to divorce her, and to raise the child. Not to be overlooked is that Joseph was also called to be the one that named the boy, the name that we call the son of God, Jesus.

Some of us, we like the Shepard’s. These men were out in the fields on the night Jesus was born and angels appeared to them, and they quickly, hurriedly & purposefully went to Bethlehem and saw the baby Jesus.

And others of us, love the story of the magi. These men, saw a star in the sky, realized something big was happening and travelled a great distance, and presented gifts to a young Jesus, who was likely close to 2 years old by this time.

We all have our favorites, our people that we relate to the most, that speak to us. They are all different, different lives, different experiences, different encounters with God. But they all have something in common.

Each of these people risked a lot to respond to God and follow what they were told. None of them stayed with the status quo, instead they acted. They took risks to follow God. Lets look at some of those risks.

Mary risked being forever labeled and shunned. She was unmarried and pregnant. Luke 1:26-27 tell us, “ In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[b] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.”

The text, as we saw a moment ago shows that Joseph was a just man and unwilling to shame her so he would divorce her quietly. Mary couldn’t have known how Joseph would react. We can read into this and see that a quiet divorce was not a guarantee. We see that Joseph is the exception and not the rule and that most men in that day in his position would have made as big a deal as possible of putting her as far away from him as possible. Mary was risking her marriage, her social standing, and maybe even her life. Her life?

Lets look at the passage in John chapter 8, verses 3-11.

3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]]

In this passage, the scribes and Pharisees brought Jesus a woman who was caught in adultery. They point out that the Law commands them to stone the woman. Now Mary was not caught in the act of Adultery. In fact, she did not commit adultery at all. But those who were not tuned into the Holy Spirit, who were not in tune with God, would point to her pregnancy as proof positive evidence that she had. Mary risked everything to do what she did. The comments behind her back or too her face, the ridicule her kids must have gotten, The disbelief of her explanation…and she held her head high.

Joseph also risked everything. Joseph was a just man and was ready to do what he was supposed to do. What he thought he was supposed to do, what he thought the right thing to do was to divorce Mary quietly, trying to allow her to keep as much dignity as possible. He would have been ridiculed in one of two ways. In the people’s minds there were only two options. Either his fiance cheated on him, or he broke the marriage contract and slept with Mary before they were married.

The other way Joseph risked all was in providing for his family. We see this today. Often times we choose to support or not support a business because what we know or hear about that business practices they use, or the owners personal actions. Joseph was a carpenter. He had to work to feed his family. And in that day, in that culture, your reputation was everything.

We see Jesus point this out time and time again with the Pharisees. He showed that their reputation was more important to them than their heart and then God to them. Josephs reputation would have been….. questioned…. to say the least. It is entirely plausible that some people would have chosen not to use Joseph as their carpenter.

Joseph was not the only one that risked his livelihood to listen to God that first Christmas. We look at the Shepard’s, how they saw the angels announce the arrival of the Messiah, and they hurriedly and purposely went straight to Bethlehem. Luke 2:15-20 shows us:

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

They left their flock, they walked out on their career, leaving the sheep to do what it is that sheep do. They left them their without protection from wolves, bears, other predators or shepherds who would take them as their own. They didn’t walk away from visiting the baby Jesus with anything tangible in their hands either. They went there to see and to worship and because that’s what God was telling them to do. These men were not just risking a smaller paycheck or skipping a paycheck, the flocks they were keeping were responsible for their entire years wages.

You know, These shepherds pre-filled one of Jesus parables when they left their 99 and went after the One. They found the only one that matters. They found the Good Shepard who left heaven to bring himself down to come after us.

The Magi also did not leave their visit with Jesus with tangible items in their hand. In fact, they did the opposite. We don’t know where they came from exactly, only that it was from the east. In fact we know very little about them. We know they weren’t Jewish. They saw a star in the sky, not much brighter than the other stars and they knew that something much bigger than them was occurring, something that no one had ever seen before. That star had not been there before, and for a star to appear out of nowhere was an uncommon occurrence and a very big deal. They travelled for a long time to Bethlehem, leaving their home, risking their families and their well-being for a promise in a scroll that was from a culture not their own. They brought expensive, rare gifts for a baby….. a baby. , We wonder how they communicated with Mary and Joseph. No commentator I’ve read has seen any possibility that they spoke the same language. Herod, who was an absolute paranoid, violent ruler, wanted to use the Magi to find this new threat to him and then kill the Magi. They were risking their lives.

All of these characters risked their world. Why? Why would they do that? Why would they risk everything they knew for a baby? Because they encountered the living God. Mary, Joseph and the Shepard’s all encountered angels that told them what God wanted them to do. They all encountered that at different times, being given different messages and in different circumstances. The magi saw a star. They saw a star. Let me say that again. They saw a star.

But that’s what happens when we come, figuratively, face to face with God. None of these characters were allowed to stay where they were. None of them were allowed to encounter God, and then sit back and wait. Each of these characters physically got up and went. Now we have no idea where the shepherds were, but they went to the manger in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph left Nazareth and went to Bethlehem. And the Magi came from somewhere in the East, some speculate it could have been as far as from China. We just don’t know.

Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. A reminder that we could not raise ourselves up to be with God, that he had to humble himself down to our level for us to have any hope of being reconciled with Him. Thats what Christmas is. Usually we celebrate this with family. This could be blood relations, it could friends whom we consider family or it could be our church family. All of us here.

God doesn’t let us stay in our comfort zone. We are called to risk. There is a change in us when we encounter him and when we turn to him. We are called to turn away from the things that we used to turn to and instead turn to God. We are called to give things up. Like Mary and Joseph, some of us might be called to risk our friends and our family to follow what God has told us to do. Like the Shepard’s, some of us might be called to risk our jobs to follow what God has told us to do. Like the Magi, some of us might be called to risk our homes move far away to follow what God has told us to do. Gods call to risk the things in our life is not always the same for everyone. Not all of us will be called to risk our friends. Not all of us will be called to risk our jobs, or our homes. But some will be.

And we will all be called to risk pieces of our lives and turn away from things that we have held dear. I would argue that the tighter we have held onto something, the more likely it is that that is what God is going to call us to turn away from.

With risk comes fear. Fear causes us to stay still. Fear causes us to not act. It freezes us into inaction. Fear kept the Israelites out of the promised land for 40 years. It is one of the most human reactions to have. We are supposed to have fear. Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, Proverbs says. But too often our fear is not of the LORD, instead, our fear is of what our friends and family will think. Our fear is what will happen when, in our minds, God fails to live up to his word. Our fear is what will happen when he sends us to do a task but wont help us accomplish it.

When we come face to face with this fear, and with our other issues, we need to go back and ask what the Bible says. The Bible is Gods word to us. It is the inerrant message that God wants to tell us. Lets look for a moment at one verse where God address fear to follow his commands. Joshua 1:9 reads in the NIV, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

There is a lot packed in to that verse. God speaks his commands, and the expectation on his end is that when he says go, we go. This also implies the expectation that when he tells us to go, he enables us and equips us to go. He will make us able to go. Then he says, Be strong and courageous, Do not fear; do not be discouraged. God tells us numerous times to not be afraid. I have often tried to count the times he says this in the bible and have lost track each and every time I’ve tried. I know that in the NIV, the Bible has this phrasing, Do not be afraid, over 70 times. He also uses variations and additions often. I’m just gonna run through a few real quick.

Deuteronomy 20:3 says Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified

Isaiah 7:4 says keep calm and don’t be afraid

And the Psalmist says in Psalm 118:6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid

This message is usually delivered by God, through a prophet, or through an Angel, as is the case numerous times in the Christmas story or through Jesus directly. We look again at Mary. Mary shows that we can receive the most impossible mission from God, and still respond in a godly way, full of worship. We see in Luke 1: 28-38:

28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[c] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[d]

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[e] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant[f] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Mary knew that this was impossible for her to do. She knew it was not going to be easy and she knew that if this were to happen, that it was all God. Again, she knew it wouldn’t be easy. God never tells us that us following him is going to be easy. The Bible tells us exactly the opposite. Jesus tells his followers in John 15: 18-19, ““If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. “

Paul suffered greatly after he turned his back on persecuting the early church and following the call Jesus had on his life. He tells us a little bit about that in 2 Corinthians 11, saying,

24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food,[b] in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

Those are likely not the same hardships we are going to face in 2019, in the United States of America. But are we willing to deal with the hardships that come today with following Jesus. We are not called by God to come here once a week and sit in the pews and go home after the service. He has more than that for us. I was not called to stay at my warehouse job and just continue on with life. I was not called to have a steady 9 to 5 job that provided benefits and security to my family. Thats what I wanted and that’s what I had. God had more for me, once I was willing to listen and once I told him, as Mary did, “Behold, I am the servant[f] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

I’m not saying that he is calling all of you to quit your jobs and go into ministry. He doesn’t have the same calling for all of us. Remember Pauls analogy of the church body. We are not all arms, or all heads, instead some of us are the feet, some are the hands, some are the eyes, others the ears. He has a different call for each of us.

One thing he does have for each of us is a call to be active in our faith and in our spiritual growth. What are we being called to do? To grow in him, to learn to depend on him more and more each day. We are called to turn away from the things that keep us distracted from him and keep us from diving deeper into his word. Most often, those are the mundane things of everyday life. There usually are not big obvious things that come between us and God.

But are you willing to recognize those mundane, everyday life things. Recognize them and step out of your comfort zone? Are you willing to give up some of your time during the week to attend the prayer meeting, or Bible Study and contenders Discipleship Initiative when we start those up? I promise you that it will only improve your walk with God and often, God will reveal the path he wants us on through these. Are you willing to give up a little bit of time during the week to help clean the church or take care of the grounds? Are you willing to volunteer to teach the kids during the service in children’s church? It would require missing part of the service when you do, but we do have ways to supplement that.

A couple of those ways are that I print the manuscript of my sermons and have them here for those who would like a copy. I have also started printing of the scripture references and verses to put in the bulletin so it is easier to follow along. We record the sermon here and I post it, along with the manuscript online. It is available either on the Bangor Community Church Facebook page, or at CaseyHolencik.com. The sermon audio is also available as a podcast on iTunes. There is no excuse not be under the teaching and in the Word from Sunday Mornings.

Are you willing to come to events early to help set up? Or stay late to help clean up? Often times God will use us where we feel gifted. But other times, he needs you to step out of your gifting and do the job that needs to be done. Many of you have heard me talk about how all this up here, it’s not me. Its God, It’s the Holy Spirit using the areas where I am not gifted on my own, where I am weak, and God is using me here, the last thing I would have ever picked based on what I was good at.

The question I had to ask myself when I was searching for Gods calling for me, and that we all have to ask ourselves, what are my priorities? Is God, and walking with him, following him, living for him, is that my priority? Or is it something else? For me, it was stability and structure for me and my family. For you, is it your job? Is it your kids activities? Is it your house, your bank account? Youth, is it your grades, or your sports? Or is it God? What is your priority?

Every person in the Bible that had an experience with God, acted because of it. Even Jonah acted, by running away. At least he acknowledged what God was wanting him to do. He didn’t want to do it, but acknowledging who God was and that it was God who was doing the commanding, he ended up doing it anyway. He made God the priority. He stepped out of his comfort zone and did what he knew he was supposed to instead of what he wanted to. Abraham became the Father of the Jewish nation. Paul became what many consider the greatest evangelist. Peter walked on water. Moses parted the Red Sea. Mary gave birth to a son. Sheppard’s left their flock. Joseph manned up. His wife gave birth to a child that he did not conceive. Was Jesus Josephs step son? Technically, sure. You read what the scriptures say about Joseph and I’m willing to pretty close to guarantee you that Jesus was as much his boy as any other of Mary and Josephs kids. God gave us his son, Jesus. John tells us in his Gospel that “He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:11-13) and when we believe in him, when we turn away from this world and turn to Jesus Christ, we are adopted into Gods family and we are just as much his children as Jesus is his son.

God is then our Father. Our father has plans for us, better than anything we can imagine. But he also has some chores to do around his house, so that we, as he says in Romans 8:29, to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. God wants us to be like Jesus. And we only get to be like Jesus by doing the things Jesus did. Risking everything to do what God tells us, to follow the path that he has laid out for us, and to bear good fruit, being salt and light. Most of all, we can’t do any of that until we turn and follow Jesus Christ and are then given the right to be called a child of God.

It’s not easy, and Jesus does not pretend that it is. If someone tells you that become a Christian will make all your problems go away, or that if we have enough faith or pray hard enough then we wont have troubles or struggles, they either don’t know their Bible or they are lying.

But Jesus tells us that the reward is worth it. The promise that we can trust is that in this instance, the ends justify the means. That’s one way we can’t emulate God, our ends will never justify the means. But God can do that. That’s one of the benefits of being God.

Our reward and our treasure is in Heaven. Nothing this side of heaven will do. Nothing this side of heaven will give us an identity. Jesus sees you, and until that is enough, nothing else will be.

Jesus needs to be enough. He is enough. We have to treat him like he is enough. Because if he is not number 1 in our heart, mind, body and soul, then our rewards are here on earth and that is all we will see. Prioritize, take your thoughts captive. Do not Be conform to this world, but be renewed by the transforming of your mind. Put Jesus where he belongs, on the throne in your heart and follow him, no matter what that looks like, no matter what sacrifice that means, and no matter what he is calling you to do.

Lets pray.

Christmas 2018

Christmas 2018

Good Morning and Merry Christmas!

Charles Spurgeon once said, You only have to read the Gospels, and look with willing eyes, and you shall behold in Christ all that can possibly be seen of God. One of the great things about Christmas and the Christmas season is that the main focus in the scriptures tends to be in the Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These are, for lack of a better word, biographies of Jesus Christ.

If anyone has ever encouraged you to read the Bible, more regularly, every day, or at all, it is likely that they told you to start in one of the four Gospels. And that is a great place to start. We see the birth, the life, the teachings, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Gospels.

But there tends to be two things that we either miss, or we skip over all together. The first, is where we are going to start this morning and that’s in Jesus Genealogy. Go ahead and open up your Bibles to Matthew Chapter 1. When you open up to the New Testament, to the Gospels, Matthew is the first book. And the very first thing Matthew does is list Jesus’ ancestors, his genealogy. Along with his genealogy comes the 2nd part. We often skip right over the Old Testament or look at it as purely a history book.

But Jesus, who he is, where he comes from, is so much more important than skipping over those things. We are going to see why we are celebrating his birth and what it means to our future.

So let’s go ahead and read out text for this morning. Matthew Chapter 1. verses 1-17. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version. Matthew stats by writing:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,[a] 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,[b] 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,[c] and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,[d] and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

At first glance, this is simply a list of names. Something we should read, but really just gloss over when we read. But when we truly look at this, this is a history of Israel and their complete looking towards the coming savior. Now, the first thing question that comes up is, “Why do they need to look forward towards a savior?” Good Question, I’m glad you asked.

For that we need to go all the way back to the beginning. Before Israel. Before any nations, any people groups. Before sin. We have Adam and Eve. They were sinless. They walked with perfect communion with God. They had it made. God showed his power, his omnipotence, by creating the universe, creating the heavens and the earth, creating the animals and finally, creating man, Adam and Eve. God showed his love, by creating them in his own image, his own likeness, and giving them open access to himself.

Then, they trip up. They ruin perfection. They break the one rule that God laid out and they brought sin into the world. And now, each one if us born in this world is born into sin. Can I make an assumption? I have not talked to one person that disagrees with this statement. There is something wrong, something broken in this world. This world, as we look out the windows, as we look at the News, as we look at our families and our selves, this is not what the world is supposed to be like.

It’s because of sin. We will come back to that in a moment. But first, lets look at this list. It starts with Abraham. Abraham was the first Hebrew. In Genesis 12, God promised to bless him, and through him, to bless the world. This promise would play out in a couple of ways, but ultimately, what God was promising, was the Messiah, the Savior.

And he choose Abraham, as the beginning of the line. God made many promises, many prophecies about how this Messiah, this Savior would be. And one of the first is that he would be a descendant of Abraham. We are going through Genesis here Sunday mornings and we see this promised getting passed down through the generations we see listed here in Matthews genealogy. From Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to Judah and to Perez. This all takes place in Genesis and we get to see all sorts of fantastic stories where God supernaturally, miraculously keeps this promised line in place.

And its interesting that this line is not kept in place with the perfect, not kept in place with royalty, with the upper echelon. Often, the dregs or the controversial would be picked by God to be a part of this lineage, to be Abrahams descendants. Again, Genesis, looking at Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and Perez, shows that these men have lived lives that are full of sin, full of doubt, full of faithlessness and they do not deserve, through their own doings the right to be a part of this line.

We see Rahab, a gentile woman, gentile being another word for non-Jewish, non-Hebrew, and she was very likely a prostitute. When the Israelites are coming to attack her city, she placed her faith in the God of Israel, she helped the Israeli army and was brought into the fold as a member of Gods family.

We see David, who committed adultery with a here unnamed Bethsheba, married to Uriah. When David got her pregnant, he essentially ordered Uriah to the front of the battle lines to ensure his death. From that union came Solomon, and the line of Christ was continued in a most unexpected way.

David, by the way, whose grandmother was Ruth. Ruth was a Moabite, which means that she was descended from a line that was cursed, and yet, she was redeemed by Boaz, and married into the line of Christ, by faith, through faith. These women and the children of these were brought into the family of God, they became, in Gods eyes, descendants of Abraham.

Why was the genealogical record kept so immaculately? Especially when the Jews got displaced, conquered and sent into exile? Why did it matter where Jesus came from? Israel was looking forward to this messiah, this savior.

Going back for a moment to Adam and Eve, once they sinned, things had to change. Sin entered and perfection left. Death entered. Adam and Eve died because sin came into the world. We will die because of sin. We all know some one, most of us, had someone very close to us, me, just a few months ago, and they died because sin is in this world.

God made a promise in Genesis 3, that the serpent, the devil, the one who tempted Adam and Eve, would get what was coming to him. Sin and death are here, thanks to Adam and Eve tempted by the serpent, but God would send a savior, someone to take away sin and death. He was promising hope, and he would fulfill that promise.

Timothy Keller has said, ““The world can’t save itself. That’s the message of Christmas.” We can’t save our selves. The worlds cant save our selves. With sin in the world, we are without hope. With out a Messiah, without a savior, we are without hope. Without being the children, the descendants of Abraham, the line God chose to bless, we are without hope.

And then, one night 2000 years ago. To an unmarried teenage mother, far away from home, through the line of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob, of David, of Solomon, of all these men and women that Matthew lists in these first words of the New Testament. The adoptive, and therefore legal son of Joseph, hope was born into this world. A hope that we could believe in, a hope that we could trust in. A hope that had been promised for 4000 years was fulfilled that very night.

Kids and songs

Why are we all here this morning? Why do we celebrate Christmas? The answer is a simple one, even if not easy. We are here this morning, we celebrate Christmas to celebrate that Jesus was born. That answer in itself leads to more question that I want to address this morning. First is simply, Who was, or is Jesus? And Second, why is his birth worth celebrating?

The kids just gave some answer to that first question, Who is Jesus? As they showed and as they told the teacher at the end of their program, Jesus is the true King of Kings. It says so in Revelation, chapter 19:16, the Disciple John writes about Jesus: On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

He is the true King, the ultimate King. We see in the Old Testament a bunch of what we call types. Adam, Samson, David, Solomon, even John the Baptist. All of the, were a shadow, were a partial vision of what was to come and what was being looked forward to. They were setting the stage, whetting the appetite, if you will for the one that the world was waiting for, the coming savior, the long-awaited Messiah and the eternal Christ.

All these men were looked at as leaders of Israel. And all these men were greatly flawed. The people we see in the Old Testament, the men we looked at here this morning and all the rest we see, they were all flawed. They were broken, sinful, fallen people. And they were sometimes faithful, God-loving people. They were just like us. Fallen, broken, sinful, sometimes faithful people.

And God used them, gave them a very specific purpose. John the Baptist knew what his purpose was. He told everyone around him. He was there to point towards Jesus.. All the men that we hold up in the Old Testament as Heroes of the faith could say the same thing. They were there to point ahead to Jesus.

Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus who was born in Bethlehem all those 200 years ago, he is the fulfillment of all that they were looking forward to. In each instance, where they failed, he was perfect and sinless.

We go back to Adam, at the very Beginning, the very first, and we will see why this was all necessary. Genesis 3, to be specific. Adam and Eve were created in Eden, in perfect paradise, but the serpent was craftier than any other animal and tempted Eve and caused Adam to sin. This caused Dam and eve to be separated from God, their perfect relationship, their perfect walk with God was now shattered, and now sin and death are a part of our world. See, God is Holy and cannot be with sin. And, as Romans 5:12 tells us, just as sin came into the world through one man, (That’s Adam) and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

And so, to restore our relationship with God, to have our sins covered and washed away, to move out of death and into eternal life, we need something that we cannot do on our own. And there in Genesis 3, v 15 specifically. God tells the serpent, and Adam And Eve and all of us that there will be one who comes that will defeat the serpent, and will defeat death, will conquer sin, will restore everything back to its original intent and purpose.

All those types, all those Old Testament guys that we look at, that the Bible tells us about, that God sent, they failed. They were imperfect and they sinned and so they could not bridge that gap between humanity and God. But they were a continual reminder of Gods love and Gods grace.

He promised a savior there in Genesis 3. And after so many failures, after so many years, after so many obstacles and adversity and persecution and exile. After years of darkness and wondering, “When LORD?”

Then on that night, 200 years ago, a baby was born. The bible says that it was “at the right time,” that Christ was born. Exactly when God the Father, God the Son, Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit planned it to happen. Not to early, not too late, but at just the right time, The Father sent him, the Messiah, the Christ.

Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, eternal God, 1/3 of the trinity, he lowered himself, came down from Heaven, and was born a human baby boy, still fully God, now fully human. He was the one all the Old Testament guys was pointing towards. And where they failed, where they sinned, he succeeded, he lived a perfect, righteous life.

And it was because he was sinless that he was able to bridge that gap between God and humanity. And He did. He paid the price for sin, nailed to the cross, dead. He took the punishment for sin. But not his sin, as he had none. So he paid for ours.

And he says repent, turn from your sins, turn to Jesus as both our LORD and savior, believe in him, trust in him and accept the free gift of grace and forgiveness, and we will be forgiven. Christ will clothe us with his righteousness, his perfect righteousness, and allow our relationship with God to be restored to what it is supposed to be.

Look, there are only two choices, only two options. And they boil down to what you think of Jesus. Reject who he is, who the Bible says he is. Reject the love of God, the gift of grace, the forgiveness of sins. Reject the knowledge that we need saving and there is only one that can give us that salvation. Reject the fact of Jesus is God and man and was born a baby. Reject that and you receive eternity without God, eternity outside of Heaven. That relationship with God that we were created to dwell in was shattered and lost and we can’t do anything to change that.

We cannot do anything to earn salvation. We cannot do good enough to restore that relationship. We cannot be sinless, cannot be perfect and so cannot have our own perfect righteousness to enter into perfect heaven with God the Father for all eternity. And when we trust in ourselves, when we reject what Jesus did and who Jesus was, we instead receive eternal rejection, and eternal torment.

But Gods love for us doesn’t want that for us. He wants for us to live forever with him, praising him, worshiping him, being in the relationship that we were originally created to be in. Look, if you have not come to know the historical, biblical saving King of Kings, LORD Jesus, today is a great day. The day we celebrate his birth, the day we celebrate the literal personification of his love and the day we celebrate that we came to save us.

Salvation belongs to the LORD and today is the day of Salvation. I ask you to turn your life over to Jesus today and not to wait.

For those of us that have come to know Jesus Christ, we celebrate this today. And we have a job to do.

We point to him just as the Old Testament did, and we celebrate today, the fulfillment of those promises that God made all those years ago, and we look forward to the day when the rest of the promises are fulfilled. See, Jesus also says that he will come again and that is when the earth will be restored and sin will be removed and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is LORD. Right now, Jesus has given us the opportunity for the forgiveness of sins. But we still live in a sinful world. We will still slip in sin. We look to the promise of Heaven, and we look around this dark world, and we ask, “When, LORD?” Just like they did then, we do know, that is our job.

Our job as imperfect, fallen, broken, saved, redeemed people is the same purpose that all the men in the Old Testament that we looked at earlier had. Our job is to point to Jesus. We are to point to him and his saving work. We are to point to him and his loving sacrifice. We are to point to him and our need for him. We are to point to him and his commands. We are to point to him and his works and his righteousness. Matthews Gospel tells us in chapter 6, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Lets finish with one of the most well know, most hopeful and one of my favorite Old Testament passages looking forward to Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords, Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

On the day that we remember the birth of Jesus Christ our savior, its all the more important to also remember Christ’s death for us, that act on the cross, that act of pure love, grace and goodness. That perfect act of mercy. God holding out his hands to us, disobedient and contrary people.

We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.

We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. But especially today, in celebration of his birth, we celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.

Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.

Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.

I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.

Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:

 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.

Then, the other will pray for the juice, which symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the forgiveness of sins. They will pass them out and again, we will take it together as a church family.

Looking back and forward…

This is my last sermon at Pleasant View Community Church. A message looking back at Christmas and looking ahead to both the new year, and new beginnings.

 

 

I would love any and all feedback. Love you all!

Casey

Romans 8:18-29