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December 20, 2020 12:01 am
Welcome to this 2020 Christmas special with Carter, my relationship with my own father became very strange, very difficult. Our interactions were very very strained. The Scripture says honor your father and your mother and I looked at that missing God.
This is a commandment that you gave to me and eventually was able to win my father, Christ came because I didn't close the door of my heart, Christmas has always held a Special Pl. in Carter, it's hard and with the entire Conlin family and in this Times Square church Christmas special Carter truly believes that this Christmas God may want you to do something a little different than what you normally do to expand the borders of your family tent.
In many ways that you would considered before Carter will be reading the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2 will be joined by his daughter Kate as they explain how that first Christmas setting is very similar to ours today. Let's join them now with does your heart have a door wanted welcome you to the Christmas special does your heart have a door or I could cite easily this way as well. Does your door have a heart you understand where I'm going with this. In just a moment I'm in studio today with my daughter Kate and I Kate and I and Christmas go a long long way back to we did absolutely, there's a particular year. We went to a country store and we bought a list of things and remember the clerk and the people in line behind us all started to laugh because we bought a cow on the stick a bear in a tree all the necessities of Christmas there was a huge list member it was about 3 feet long, you know Christmas is always been a very, very special time for Kate and I in them past trees in our family and all of our kids and in-laws and grandkids and everybody were we get together as a family and really, really enjoy the season and I thank God that he's done that for us, but I'm going to be asking today for something in my own heart may be in your heart that maybe this year the Lord wants to do something just a little bit different in ways that you never considered he ever would like to start today by just reading the Christmas story like chapter 2 and beginning at verse one.
It came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered in the census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria so all went to be registered. Everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up fidelity out of the city of Nazareth, into Judeo to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife who was with child, and so it was while they were there are the days were accomplished for her to be delivered and she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the in. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night and hold an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. And the angel said to them, do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people for their was born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the scientific you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill toward men. So it was when the angels were gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said one to another, let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. They came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger. You notate their situation. In this particular time of the first Christmas was somewhat very very similar to ours. There was a dominant culture beginning to take over the people of God. They were being herded and corralled for the sake of just being counted so they could be taxed. I'm sure it was dangerous to travel the distance. A lot of these families had to go. You could say was I was like a covert time for them. People were isolated. They were afraid that they didn't know what the future was going to hold him and really in our time were facing something very similar in our quick yeah that sounds familiar, fresher, everyone scrambling to find comfort everyone looking for a sense of well-being and I guess that really describes our day.
You know, as we approach Christmas. We have visions in the sense of being at home.
The front of the fire and having a nice meal and laughing and talking one with another and feeling good. I think were desperate, don't you agree were desperate to feel good again is that as a culture as a people, yes? This is very difficult for so many people so many families just looking for a sense of well-being again and in this season of the first Christmas verse seven says there were a lot of people gathering together in and in and these are people profess to know God and their getting together for the same reason. This realistically is the first Christmas I mean they they don't call it that.
That's really what it is in their getting together and it sits cold. It says it's a certain season there just looking for comfort.
Everybody the religious people and that's what we can become in measure. We are to become so easy when we're focused on our own comfort to declare that there is no room for those who take from us and can give to us. I think about Mary and Joseph, for example, a chop at the door of this gathering at the end I have in my mind a picture is a fire there's food. Maybe somebody singing I know somebody might be reading the Scriptures that they're trying to kind of browse up a little bit festivity in their midst. At the current field with a better read bad, scary situation, and suddenly there's a knock at the door of where they are and there are three people now they're not married yet another betrothed, which is a type of marriage and the time but they're not officially married yet. She's obviously pregnant. They're having a child and and so here's a trio that kinda come to the door and they have nothing in the natural that you would see that would give to the situation.
How easy it is to respond when people knock at the door of your heart and they're looking for comfort from you when you yourself are looking for comfort in your situation and you can see how easy it is to disclose an art is not, yeah, absolutely. I never thought of that before is a tendency to close the door to anyone who adds to our present or reminds us of our past hurt you know. So I think of families getting together and I heard Mark Lowery say from the Gaither vocal band. Once I know that every festive season. There's always that one person that nobody wants to invite to their home that one person that makes every gathering uncomfortable. It says the wrong thing at the wrong time. Even the right thing at the wrong time and they just seem to be like an irritant to the whole family and remember Mark saying if you can't think of anybody right now that's the most lavishly at first, I think of my own story having become a believer in Christ.
My relationship with my own father became very strange, very difficult. You didn't know, because you were just a baby and toddler at the time, you know, but it became very strange because I had become a believer in Christ, he felt that I was an occult and our interactions for quite a few years were just very very strained. It would've been easy to close it off. It would've been easy to take our family vacations and go somewhere else and do some other thing. When we go on vacation after bed.
The three I'd be saying tell your mom I can't take this anymore. I just I just can't take it that comments were always sarcastic or angry and there was there was never any easy conversation between us.
Except for the fact that I was reading the Bible. The Scripture says honor your father and your mother, which is the first commandment with a promise that it may go well with you and you may live long on the earth and I looked at that Messiah, God, this is a commandment that you gave to me. It's not something that I want to do right now there's other places I would rather be my life was as a police officer was tense, to say the least and the not rather be in place are not tense on a two week vacation and yet the command of God that was given in the was to honor my father and my mother and you know eventually was able to win both of them to Christ. My mom came to God. Probably 10 years before my dad but he was so adamantly against that that she was afraid to hurt the relationship so she became actually a secretive believer. She told me she believed that she didn't allow she didn't really want to talk to my dad about it because she was afraid because of his reaction towards me.
My dad actually really loved you and Jason, Jared, and he was a great grandpa.
The stream was between him and not because of my faith in Christ and he really loved Christmas.
Yes he did. Love Christmas, you know, here's my point to close the door to people that you should still be open to I'm talking to families today that are out there and you're tempted to close the door to your own family. Two brothers to sisters to cousins to aunts to uncles maybe made it painful and the pastor people you don't get along with but remember, this gospel of Jesus Christ is about eternity, the son of God. Let people in that were going to hurt him. He let Austin and it was our sin that was going to hurt him. He could have easily close the door to us and he would be justified as God and doing it when Mary and Joseph and Jesus came to the door of of a religious society. They close the door to him. When the shepherds came to the stable. There was no door. As far as I know there's nothing in Scripture that indicates a resorts as they rushed in.
They came and it wasn't necessarily convenient for Mary and Joseph and the baby at this time. You just had a baby.
Obviously it's colder trying to find comfort and yet these strangers who are kind of the right tags of society come rushing in.
Because an angel has appeared to them, and there's no door, and I love that about God.
There's no door, and he even let in.
The people who would hurt him. I love that thought, and it causes me to say am I willing to let people in.
That would hurt me in my willing to let people close that say the wrong thing, or maybe in take our actions of kindness and go away with an evil report of it.
I mean there's there's a kind of a self protectionism that is in all of us that wasn't in the heart of the son of God, and that's the contrast I'd really like to make this Christmas and why call that this does your heart have a door.
Is there a door that people have to knock on your heart to get close to you or to find something from you and other certain stipulations and conditions of, have to pass through before you will open the door.
It's really something is worth thinking about in first Corinthians chapter 12 verse 21 and 22. Now this is about the body of Christ.
But there is an application in it that I think that applies to every heart of everyone who believes in Christ where Paul says the eye cannot say to the hand. I have no need to view nor again the head to the feet. I have no need of you know, much rather those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. This is the actual heart of God.
I merely consider it.
I mean God is God right. He is self-evident.
He is the self-contained that many just as God is completing God because they didn't beat complete.
He's got but yet the heart of God caused him to say I need you on this amazing thing on me and I need the people are going crucify me I need the people that are living in a way that brings my name to disgrace. I need those who have walked away from me and they caused me heartache in a sense, even by their conversation, the behavior, whatever they do but yet I cannot say I have no need of them on this amazing when you think that was the heart of the son of God, which is why he said father forgive them. They don't know what they do see there was no door in his heart because he was the door he said I am the tour and it's by me that people come in and out and find pasture.
He was the way into the heart of God. He was the way into the comfort he was the way into that place where God dwells in those days in the net cultures you can get a job, you became a shepherd. You were kinda like the guy at the bottom of the scale in your more or less working your way up here like a dishwasher in a restaurant you're hoping one day you going to be the manager writer you got the broom, uniting the dishwasher yet that's what a shepherd wants and I love the fact that the angel of God appeared to these people who have absolutely nothing to offer him doesn't say they brought blankets of bread to her that nothing think that one through.
In the angel so this is good news of great joy for all people in the beauty of it as I see it is that there's a place where God is. Where there is no door. You can come if you want to. I think of Jesus in John seven when he stood up at the last day the feast and he said if any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink and he believes in me, out of his belly or his inward parts shall flow rivers of living water, and it was an open invitation.
It was an open door.
There were no pre-terms.
No preconditions just come just come as you are. And so the question in my heart is how much are we, like Christ, there's a popular saying that I grew up hearing it says don't cross an ocean for someone who wouldn't cross a puddle for you and it seems like you're saying the opposite of that because Christ crossed not just the ocean crust eternity for accent that something that we can never repay. We could never meet them halfway that we need to be able to cross oceans for people who can't do anything back for us and you did that for your dad and looking return the blessing that God has had on your life all your kids want to spend every weekend with you.
We argue about who's house you going to next.
You know I think that's really profound that you have lived this out in your life while you're very kind. I was really thinking about this morning as I was reading this passage at home and thinking God is there on of those moments is that I think I know, but I don't want to say is this somebody comes to mind is rather not have it today. It's not but I think you know this that I was I was exempt from this expectation.
But I'm not. I was wondering how much is my heart like Christ's heart.
Are there certain people that I just won't let close me because I'm not comfortable with them is my demo come for their lifestyle or their views on certain things, but this is not the heart of God. It was a whosoever will may come in and not everybody received him. There's nothing the Bible says all the shepherds became born-again. It's it's not necessary that but they were welcome.
It was the religious around comfortable with him and it seems that the sinner wasn't the center became uncomfortable in his or her sin, but they were never uncomfortable with the Savior. They felt love. They felt like they belonged in his presence and that is something that as the body of Christ.
We need to rediscover again in our time. All of us need to rediscover what it is to let people in, and close to us that we may be kept at a distance for a long time. We need to be able to do that. The first people in our shepherds. The first people that they compiling in.
They live in the field they're not necessarily clean, may not have had a bath there, not the upper strata of society. They have nothing in a sense to offer the son of God, but their welcomed.
I just love that I'm asking God for a larger heart this year may be more so than I've ever had before.
I know that is Shirley's.
I'm sitting here someone will appear. That is nowhere to go this Christmas in the natural you just rather keep the door closed is not convenient but I know that God will help us as a family you know some families are somebody that just needs to be loved and it was at Christmas time after 26 years of praying after 26 years of holidaying.
What I didn't want to go after 26 years of of a hard conversation.
I went to the hospital when my dad got a very serious cancer and I member coming down the hallway and walking in the door and it's kinda significant because there was a door and the door was open. My dad were sitting in the chair beside the door and that the time I had seen before that I had talked to him again about Christ about Christianity, about salvation and for one of the first times ever.
He actually listen to me because he knew he was going to be facing eternity soon. I didn't say hello. I just walked in and I looked at was that had you been praying. I hadn't seen for maybe two or three weeks and he said to me. I've been praying all night and I said would you like to pray with me now, and he said if you would like that.
I would like to do that and so I let them in the sinners prayer for quite a long time.
Actually, you know, I want to be sure on the sinner.
I can't save myself. I need you as my Savior and I led him in that prayer slowly and he repeated every word. My brother was there. My brother said you know dad never would've prayed that if he didn't mean it wouldn't do stuff like that.
You know the next hour we had the most wonderful conversation we had never had. Ever he told me he loved me.
That was not something he could say easily. We talked about eternity. We talked about what is going to like to get to heaven. We talked about forgiveness and at the end of our conversation that afternoon. I said that it would be so great when I get to heaven to have you waiting at the gate for me and he said to me I'll be there. That was the last three words he said to me on this earth after I went home and went home to see my mom and I was going to have dinner with her and he slipped into a coma. We didn't anticipate that was going to happen, but he slipped into a coma right after see Christ and went home to be with the Lord shortly after that and so those are the last words my father said to me as I'll be there.
It came I believe in measure because I didn't close the door of my heart and so I'm speaking to people today that maybe been hurt by family. Maybe you're the only believer in your family and maybe you been wounded by the words cited lied about you. They said things about you that really did hurt you, and you'd rather not have them around, especially at Christmas time and even if they came knocking at the door. You'd rather pretend you're not home that open the door to them and they're the last people you probably everyone invite for Christmas but remember this one thing eternity is a very very long time and your family don't get to go there.
Those that are not saved, unless you become in great measure the instrument that God can use to show them his kindness you become that person without a door in your heart that person that lets the men even if they're going to hurt you in the majority part of their life on earth, and every technology within ever thank you.as the heart of God is being formed in you. Just as Jesus did you see to it that there's no door on the manger. Anybody and everybody can come in they can find the heart of God.
Kate, we can't do this on her own wheat we need the presence and power of God's Holy Spirit. We need the strength of God. I can't do it. You can't do it. None of us can do it will have limitations to our patients and our kindness. But God doesn't. And so I'm asking him to do something this year in my life that only he can do that I can be kind even if somebody else is not I can speak good words with their words and not good to me and maybe just maybe there's somebody out there that just needs a friend.
I remember my dad told the story when he was fighting in World War II. He was in England, an older couple noticed him on the streets at Christmas time and invited him home and he was sitting at the table and the made a beautiful dinner forum. He said what are you doing this for me and they said while our son was about your age is fighting in Europe right now. Often some other field and we're hoping that somebody would do for him what were doing for you tonight but wonder if those people were Christians. I just can't help but wonder to know that with the believers in Christ that they see a lonely soldier on the street by himself at Christmas time, longing to be home. You know, in the their hearts just went out and in its risk but they they open the door and they let a man and then ultimately God opened his door at the end and let my dad in his well my mom so I just thank God for that with all my heart.
If you choose anything, Kate. This Christmas, let's just choose to stay kind.
Kate has a minister giving oranges to kids if they have the athletic ethics of the kids that are hungry, that may be maybe just don't have enough apples and home in on and that you've always been very kind and I really appreciate that.
Would you pray for the folks that are listening today as we close out today and and would you just ask God to help all of us to be just a little more kind. This year that we have hearts that are open to God and thank you so much for thinking that you sent your son Terrace as a baby Thank you that you came into this quote for us and for our benefit, can't think you that even when you knew that we couldn't meet you halfway kind, you still came in. You gave yourself for us, Lord, I just pray that this Christmas season kind that we would give ourselves for others to say that a woman see the one who is hurting her lonely or sad God.
Or maybe the one who doesn't get invited to Christmas events or into our homes like that you would help us God. However, we can to be kind to people like to reach out to people God to meet them where they are, even if it means we'll necessarily get anything in return, Lord, but that we would just have your heart can't make us kindly to season cut painting you would make us a blessing to other people. God I think you so much that you will be with us, Lord, we love you in Jesus name Amen everybody out there. I wrote a song about my dad's conversion culvert Christmas never and season all the way new memory 712 where we store them will turn to greeted so as all times and in an and in June we never and got most, thank you so much for joining with us today. It's been a pleasure Merry Christmas.
This is been a 2020 Christmas special with Carter, from the historic Times Square Church in New York City from all of us here at Times Square Church Ave., Mary Christ filled Christmas