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The Angels Of Bethlehem – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 26, 2023 1:00 am

The Angels Of Bethlehem – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 26, 2023 1:00 am

The angels of Bethlehem proclaimed Jesus’ arrival, exalting and glorifying God. Holy angels are a poignant example for us. In this message, Pastor Lutzer highlights two ways angels are a model to us of rejoicing and serving. We have every reason to join our voices with the angels at God’s great acts and attributes.

This month’s special offer is available for a donation of any amount. Get yours at or call us at 1-888-218-9337. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. When preachers ask their congregations for money, everyone gets nervous.

It's in our natures to hold on to what we have. For many, giving does not come easily. Today we begin a series that reveals the real reason why we must be generous, and that is the generosity of God.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, some may feel too poor to give, feeling that those better off should bear the burden. Well, Dave, that kind of an attitude, of course, is wrong because the issue is not so much how much you give. The real issue has to do with your heart and whether or not you would like to give more, even if you can't give as much as you would prefer to give.

I hope I made myself clear in emphasizing that. But it's after Christmas, and after Christmas, we're beginning to think about the brand new year. In fact, we've been thinking about the first of the year, even before Christmas, I'm sure. This is the last day we're making a special offer, and that is the devotional entitled God's Best for My Life, Daily Inspirations for a Deeper Walk with God. You're thinking about January, you're thinking about the new year, a new beginning. This book will help you to be oriented every single morning with some nuggets of truth that you can carry with you throughout the whole day. Here's what you can do.

Go to, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Here at the Ministry of Running to Win, we are concerned and we are burdened for getting the gospel of Jesus Christ to even more people. We hope that the Lord will lead you to help us, but in the meantime, let us remember the generosity of God and let us have his heart as we face the new year. Today I have the privilege of speaking on the topic of the generosity of God. And I'm going to be speaking about God's generosity, but I'm going to be speaking about giving and money and all those things. And I can imagine already what some of you are thinking.

I know you. You're thinking, I brought guests today. It's the first time at Moody Church and now he's going to speak about money. A couple told us recently that they went to another church where they were fundraising and the pastor spoke about money and they never went back again.

Just relax. I want us to think about the generosity of God and a motivation for freeing people. I want you at the end of this message to be totally free, free in your generosity.

That's what I've been praying for and I believe that that's what's going to happen. But why is it that we're so sensitive about the matter of money? First of all, because there are some people who live from paycheck to paycheck and they can barely make it and they say, and now you expect us to give and we can't afford it.

Let the rich people give. They've got the money. Or there are people who say we are in debt, debt to credit cards, huge slaves to have to make those monthly payments. And then there are some people who are just plain stingy. They may be rich, they may be poor.

Either way, they want to hoard all of their wealth and they want to keep it. Well, I hope that all of those and other categories today are going to experience a new freedom and joy in the gift of giving. Now take your Bibles and turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 8, 2 Corinthians chapter 8, and you need to see this in the text in order to believe it. You need to turn to it and if you're looking at your cell phone and I see you, I'm going to assume that it's because you have the New Testament on your cell phone. If you're looking at something else, I hope the person sitting next to you taps you on the shoulder and says, wake up and listen. I can't do that.

Well, I could try, but it's your responsibility to do that. Paul is trying to raise funds for the saints in Jerusalem who are going through a tough time because of famine and also because they were marginalized as a result of persecution. So they were out of jobs. They were poor, dirt poor, and he's trying to get an offering together. And in order to motivate the saints at Corinth, what he does is he uses the Macedonians, which is a territory in northern Greece, he uses them as an example of generosity. And look at what he says about them. He says in chapter 8 verse 2, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

What's going on? They didn't use poverty as an example or as a reason to not give. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means of their own free will. Paul says, I didn't have the nerve to even ask them whether or not they give because I knew they couldn't afford it. He says in verse 4, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints. Not this as we expected, for they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us, which really is the key to giving, but we can't comment on that exactly because I don't have time.

But I'm saying, what's with these people? Giving so joyfully, so generously in the midst of their extreme poverty. They didn't use it as an excuse to not give. Paul says, I'm using them to motivate you because you'll notice it says in verse 7, but as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, we could add if it relates to Moody Church in singing and ministry and in our love for you, see that you excel in this act of grace also.

You're good at everything else, make sure that you're good at giving. All right, that's the context. And now in the middle of this, the Apostle Paul gives us the motivation, which explains the Macedonians and should explain us as well. I know that in the Bible, everybody emphasizes John 3.16. John 3.16 as the key verse. And you see at baseball games and so forth, people holding a sign, John 3.16, as if that means anything to anybody. But I think that John 3.16 has some competition from 2 Corinthians chapter 8 verse 9.

Surely you know this one by memory. You'll notice it says these words, for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be made rich. Paul says, that's the reason that you give. All right, if that's the reason why you give, let's look at this verse very closely. First of all, you'll notice that the Apostle Paul is speaking here about the riches of Jesus.

For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let's talk about the wealth of Jesus, that though he was rich. Think of how rich Jesus was before he came to earth. He was rich in ownership. He owned everything. It says in Colossians 4, by him were all things created both visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, all things created by him and for him. He owned everything, everything he owned.

Not only rich in ownership, but rich also in honor. You remember Jesus in John 17, as he was anticipating the cross, he said, Father, glorify thou me with the glory that I had with thee before the world was. Listen to me, we can only begin to use our imaginations to know what that glory was like.

It was brilliance. It was filled with honor and worship. And of course, we see a little bit of it in the sixth chapter of the book of Isaiah, where Isaiah is falling before the Lord, who is there in a blaze of glory. And that, by the way, was Jesus, the Bible says. So we see that he was rich in honor. He was rich in authority, all created creatures. And of course, at first it was just angels, but then demonic spirits who fell. All of them are subject to him and have to give an account to him. Everyone ultimately accountable to Jesus Christ.

And he was also rich in relationships. You know, sometimes the impression is given that God was kind of lonely and then he decided to create us so that we also might be able to have fellowship with him. And in this fellowship, God finally has some companionship. The Bible says in Acts 17, God had need of nothing.

Why? Because of the Trinity. We can't explore this today because it would take time, but the Trinity has an inter-Trinitarian relationship, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It was one of love. It was a relationship of mutual respect. It was a relationship that was fulfilling to God, and he had need of nothing. He decided to create us simply because of the overflow of what he intended to accomplish, but God existed in complete satisfaction and happiness, and that was Jesus in his riches. Try to grasp it. We can't, but we can try. Well, you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, how that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor.

I'm saying to myself, I can't believe this. I've known many rich people who were generous, and by the way, I thank God for rich people. Rich people are oftentimes some of the most generous people. They fund all kinds of ministries, and so I'm thankful for them, but I personally do not know a rich person who gave himself so much away that he became poor because he gave so much.

Now there are a few, and I'm sure that somebody can text me and tell me about an autobiography that's been written about some, quote, saint in the past who's done it, but I don't know of anybody, and I don't expect them to give that way. But here is Jesus who gave himself away and became poor in such a way that he actually had to become poor so that we might become rich. Do you notice that little phrase?

You're looking at the text, I hope. For your sakes. For our sakes, he assumed poverty, not just giving away out of his riches.

Oh, no, no. He gave until he was poor. Now many people think, well, he became poor economically. This past week I listened to a message by John MacArthur, and he pointed out quite correctly, I might say, that Jesus was actually born into a middle-class home. He was not dirt poor. Being a carpenter there in Nazareth, probably his family, and when the Bible says foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, well, Jesus, of course, as an itinerant evangelist, had to sleep in various homes.

But it isn't economic poverty that might be part of it. I think that Jesus became poor in the sense of dishonor. He was no longer honored on earth. In heaven, everyone knew who he was. On earth, he got shouted at, he got spat upon, he was viciously attacked, falsely accused. That's the way he was being treated here on earth.

It was the incarnation. And not only the fact that he became poor in the sense of giving up his position. You know, the Bible says in Philippians chapter 2 that he did not believe that being equal with God had to be something he had to hang on to. He still retained God's attributes.

When he was here on earth, he was God in the flesh, but he gave up the use of his attributes and depended totally on the Father. That's why he spent so much time in prayer. It would be as if I were a millionaire but lived and worked with the poorest people in Chicago.

At any time I could write out a check, I could live in a beautiful home, but I choose not to because I'm identifying with them. That helps us understand a little bit about the incarnation and the tremendous price that Jesus gave. He did not consider himself that he had to hang on to his position, but he humbled himself and became a servant.

Now think about that for a moment. Today if you ask somebody who has a position to step down, we hang on to our positions until our knuckles turn white. We will not step down. We will not humble ourselves.

Just try it, try it in business, try it in relationship, try it in your home. And yet here's Jesus who gives it all up. And the thing that he gave up the most was his relationship with his Father, especially when he was dying on the cross and he says, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And the fellowship with the Father was broken. That was the severest test and the most humiliation that Jesus went through. And to be nailed on a cross with everybody gawking at him as he died.

Talk about not dying with honor. My dear friend today, will you remember that nobody has ever been that high who has stooped that low and who has been willing to give it up, that we through that poverty might be made rich. Give Jesus a hand, would you please? And then notice the riches, the riches that we inherit, the generosity of God. Oh, try to grasp this.

I'm searching for words today. I can't get my mind around this, but hey, it's in the Bible. You know, here at the Moody Church, we have this naive belief that if it's in the Bible, it's true. Any of you agree with that?

And it's not naive because it is true, by the way. But you'll notice that the text says that we through his poverty might be made rich. Well, how rich do we become? We become as rich as Jesus is.

That's how rich we become. We are heirs of God. We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We share in his inheritance. The Bible says he who is faithful will inherit all things. So in ownership, we become as wealthy as Jesus. And in honor, to some extent, we become like Jesus. Nobody's ever going to worship us, but the Bible says this. He who overcomes, to him I shall grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I overcame and sat with my father on his throne. And in terms of relationship, imagine how rich we are going to be because we shall reign with him forever and ever. His name shall be on our foreheads, and we shall see him face to face forever without any sin ever coming in between.

What a glorious prospect. And that's what the text is saying. And it all happened because he was willing to be made poor. So the Apostle Paul is saying, hey, you know, when it comes to giving, he goes on to talk about giving. And he says, when it comes to giving, he says, don't you know that that's our motivation? Don't you realize what Jesus did for you?

I'd like to make three very important points that I hope we never, never forget. First of all, remember this, that giving is a matter of appreciation. It's not a matter of duty.

It's not a matter of duty. Maybe you were brought up in a church where everybody was told you should give a certain amount. You know, we just came from Europe recently, so that's on my mind. In Europe, in some of the countries, you support the church through your income tax. I think it's 6%. And so many, many Europeans are very angry about that because they don't go to church.

I have to tell you a little secret just between us. Most Europeans go to church when they hatch, match, and dispatch. That's about it. And you know, one of the reasons they do that is because they are so sick and tired of having to support the church, whether they attend or not, whether they're born again or not, they have to give to the church. One day on a previous tour, I was in a hotel with… I was sitting with a German who was drinking his beer, and I ordered Coke.

I might explain, I mean Coca-Cola. I thought I'd just throw that in. And he told me that he signed off on the fact that he would not give that percentage to the church. Therefore, he's not allowed to even attend the church since he doesn't give it in his income tax. And he said that he's going to give his money to animal shelters, the 6% he'd give to the church. Now, I'm all for animal shelters.

Don't write me any letters about it. But I really thought, you know, that's really interesting. I won't support the church, but I will support an animal shelter. Now, maybe you were brought up in a church here in America, but the expectation was there everybody should be tithing. Now, I'm in favor of tithing. I think it's a good benchmark, but that was an Old Testament teaching which also was something like a tax. And so what I'm saying to you is you should give a percentage, and I'll clarify this in the next message on the generosity of God. You should certainly give a percentage. When Rebecca and I were first married, we didn't give a full 10%. I think we are developing our understanding of giving, but as God prospered us, we have been able to go beyond that, and we seek going beyond that, because it isn't a matter of saying, now you owe the church this.

No. Because what you are interested in is making sure that your heart is right and you become as generous as you possibly can be, whether you are rich or whether you are poor, no matter your background, no matter how hard you work for your money, because even then it belongs to God. You'll notice it says very clearly that the Macedonians, they bless them. They gave out of extreme poverty. Poverty did not stop them from giving. There's a second lesson, and that is this, that giving is proof of salvation.

And I'm not contradicting myself. It's proof of salvation. Look, your Bibles are open, it says in verse 8, I say this not as a command, in other words, I'm not laying a duty on you, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. Jesus said to none other than the man by the name of Zacchaeus, he said, I'm going to your house. And Zacchaeus, the Bible says, was rich. I read the passage this morning in Luke 19. The Bible says he was rich because he was fraudulent.

And as a tax collector, they did all kinds of cheating. And then Jesus has lunch with him, and he says, look, half of my goods I'm going to give to the poor, and if I wronged anybody, I'm going to repay them fourfold. And Jesus said, salvation has come to this house. You find somebody whose heart has been changed by the gospel, and I'll tell you, salvation has come to his house.

You know, you can say whatever you like, but the fact is that Jesus often connected money with the state of a person's heart. And he emphasized the fact that since he has been so generous with us, we should be generous with others. And I want to emphasize that we're living at a time when there are many ministries, many ministries that are doing a good work in helping reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But as you think about the year end, I hope that you will consider the possibility of supporting the ministry of running to win. Many of you, of course, are already doing that. Some of you have perhaps never prayed about that possibility. We hope that you will.

And we have a very special gift for you, and this is the last day we are making it available. It's a daily devotional entitled God's Best for My Life, Daily Inspirations for a Deeper Walk with God by Lloyd John Ogilvy. We hope that as you anticipate the new year, you will recognize the importance of indeed beginning every day with God. I personally begin my day with God even before I get out of bed.

But having gotten out of bed, I read the scripture, I read a devotion, and I find that my heart is ready for the brand new day. Here's what you do. Go to That's, or if you prefer, call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now, because this is the last day we're making this resource available, I'm going to be giving you that contact info again. Hope that you have a pen or pencil handy, because here's what you do. You go to

Of course, rtwoffer is all one word. Or pick up the phone right now and call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. We're learning that giving is a matter of appreciation, and according to 2 Corinthians chapter 8, giving is proof of our salvation. Next time, why the first step to real generosity is to receive the free gift of salvation. Make plans to join us. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-26 02:20:20 / 2023-12-26 02:29:19 / 9

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