Share This Episode
A New Beginning Greg Laurie Logo

Christmas, B.C. | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
December 11, 2022 3:00 am

Christmas, B.C. | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 2065 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.


December 11, 2022 3:00 am

Here’s something surprising: the story of Christmas relates to a time before Christ’s birth. Pastor Greg Laurie explains just how and leaves us with a stronger appreciation for the holiday. Listen in!

Notes

This story of redemption, the Christmas story,  started a long time ago in a garden—and it began with a tree. The tree of the Knowledge of God and Evil.

“The woman was convinced. The fruit looked so fresh and delicious, and it would make her so wise. So she ate some of the fruit.” —Genesis 3:6

The Lord gives the first Christmas verse, not Isaiah 9:6 or Micah 5:2 but Genesis 3:15 where God speaks directly to Satan.

God the Father was effectively saying, “Satan, there is coming One who will crush you.”

Jesus would be born to die so that we might live.

The shadow of the cross lay over the beauty of that first Christmas night.

  1. The Pharaoh tried to exterminate the Jews, starting with the Hebrew baby boys.
  2. The wicked Haman tried to have the Jews wiped off the face of the earth.
  3. King Herod, hearing that One was born “The King of the Jews,” tried to kill Jesus.

Nothing will stop Christ from coming again!

Jesus being God, pre-existed, and He, along with the Holy Spirit and the Father, are co-equal and co-eternal.

From our perspective on Earth: Unto us, a child is born.

From Heaven’s perspective: Unto us, a Son is given.

Jesus is in the Old Testament, concealed, and in the New Testament, revealed.

A Theophany is an appearance of God.

A Christophany is an appearance of Christ before Bethlehem.

Note: It was not an angel of the Lord but the angel of the Lord.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and staff they comfort me.” —Psalm 23:4

A shepherd has two tools: a rod and a staff.

Read: Genesis 32:24–30

Never be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God.

Something changed in the heart of Jacob. He went from wanting to win to worshipping, from fighting to surrendering, from wrestling to nestling.

Jesus has always been there, and He will always be there in the future.

Even when we sometimes forget about Him, He never for a moment forgets us.

Scripture Referenced

Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah 43:2

---

Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at harvest.org.

This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

Support the show: https://harvest.org/support

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Hey there, thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie, encouraging you. If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. All right, the title of my message is Christmas BC, and we're going to be in Genesis 22.

Actually, we'll be in a number of passages, but Genesis 22 is where we will start. Did you read that story about the scuba diver that was drowning and was saved by mermaids? I'm not making this up. Well, as it turns out, there's this guy diving off Catalina, and he blacked out, and someone near him cried out, help, and there was a group of full-time professional mermaids and a swim instructor nearby. Well, the professional mermaids, these are ladies that put on the costume of a mermaid and learn how to swim with it and do performances. Anyway, these mermaids so-called rescued this man, so he's blacked out, he wakes up, and he's getting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from a mermaid.

That's pretty amazing. Could have been worse, could have been a merman. Thankfully, it was a mermaid. But you know, you hear a story like that makes you laugh, because these are fairy tales, mermaids and fairies, et cetera, but it reminds you a little bit of the Christmas story, which is not a fairy tale at all.

It's a true story. It's marked in time historically, very clearly in Scripture, but in many ways, it can read like the best of the fairy tales. I mean, it has drama, pageantry and pathos, singing angels, a shining star, mysterious wise men, and the miraculous birth of the Savior. Listen, the real story of Christmas goes back really far. Before Mary and Joseph, before Bethlehem, before shepherds and wise men, before Caesar, Augustus, and Herod, or the innkeeper. In fact, the first mention of Christmas is B.C., which is before Christ.

But how is that possible? Because it goes back long ago to a garden, the Garden of Eden. And in that garden, there was a tree. We can call it the first Christmas tree, if you like.

It wasn't decorated with lights and ornaments. It was a mysterious tree called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. OK, so here's Adam and Eve. They're in a literal paradise, radiant beauty at every turn, exotic wildlife, the perfect temperature, and best of all, no sin or the guilt and shame that accompanies them. So God's just saying to them, here you are, enjoy all that I have created.

There's one restriction, only one. Stay away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, scene two. Adam and Eve at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Why are they there? God says, don't go there. Oh, right, right, here we are. The other day, my wife and I were with some of our grandkids, and they went home ahead of us. And Kathy says, don't look in my office. Stay out of my office. I said, Kathy, now they're going to go look in there.

Because she had some presents there for them. You tell someone, don't do that. And the first thing we want to do is do the thing we were told not to do, right? Because we think our parents are keeping us from something. Or the reason they say you can't do it is because it's really cool.

That's what they thought. But listen, if God tells you to not do something, it's for your own good. When are we going to learn that? The Bible says, no good thing will he withhold from those that walk uprightly. If God says no, then that's a bad thing. He's keeping you away from him.

If it's a good thing, he'll give it to you. But anyway, they went to that tree. You know the rest of the story. They enter into a conversation with the devil, which is never a good idea. The Bible says, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. But no, Adam and Eve are conversing with the devil. And he tells him, go ahead and eat of this fruit, because in the day you eat thereof, you will be as a god, knowing good and evil. And Genesis 3 says, the woman was convinced the fruit looked so fresh and delicious, and it would make her so wise, so she ate some of the fruit and gave some to her husband, and he ate it too, and their eyes were opened.

Yeah, their eyes were open all right, but they did not become gods. They realized they had been fools. The moment they took that bite, they knew they did the wrong thing. Have you ever bitten into anything and regretted it immediately?

Let me restate the question. Have you ever tasted fruitcake? Why does fruitcake even exist? It's never good.

Even if it's fresh in quotes, it's still not good. It's filled with all kinds of weird things. Or there are times I'll go through a box of seized candy, and I pick out the little nuts and chews, things like that.

I don't like those mysterious creamy ones, you know? You bite into it like, what is this? So you bite into something, you realize you've made a mistake.

They realize it immediately. And they lost that sweet fellowship with God. That's the worst thing about sin. When your fellowship with God is stopped, not your relationship with God. See, if you have a child that's disobedient, they're still your child, but that communication has a breakdown. In the same way, if we sin against God, we're still a child of God, but now our communication has a breakdown. Every day the Lord would show up in the garden when the sun was setting, and he and his friend Adam would talk about what Adam had seen in the garden that day.

What a great opportunity. But now, communication is severed. You know, one of the worst things about having your fellowship with God broken down is you lose that joy. That's why David said in Psalm 51, after he had sinned, restore unto me the joy of my salvation. Have you lost that joy?

Is your fellowship with God broken down in some way, shape, or form? And so the Lord comes for his daily appointment with Adam, calling out, Adam, where are you? And Adam says, well, we heard your voice and we're naked and we're hiding. And then the Lord says, who told you you were naked? Question. Did God know where Adam was?

Of course, God is omniscient, which means all knowing. This is like when I used to play hide and seek with my grandkids when they were really small. They would go and hide behind the curtain, but I could see their feet below it, because it didn't go all the way to the floor, and I could hear them giggling behind the curtain. But I would act as though I did not know where they were. And then I would say, I found you, and then they would go and hide again in the same place. That's us hiding from God.

It will always be a failure. He knows where we are. Why did God say, Adam, where are you?

Have you eaten of this tree? Because God wanted confession. The only way to get rid of your sin is to confess it to God. Don't make excuses for it.

Don't try to cover it up. Just own it, admit it, confess it, and be forgiven of it. First John 1 says that we will confess our sin.

He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So God demands an explanation. Adam said, Lord, it's the woman you gave me.

First excuse of all time. The woman you gave me. Now how did he say that? Did he say, Lord, it's the woman you gave me. It's her fault. Lord, I lay down to take a nap, I wake up, a rib is missing, and she's here. Or did he say, it's the woman you gave me, placing the blame on God.

Or whatever it was, he wasn't taking responsibility. The other night I was watching television with my wife, Kathy, and she walks out of the room and I hear this little munchy sound. Kathy, what are you doing? She was eating these pretzels with peanut butter in them. Have you ever tried those pretzels? Oh, they're so good. I just can't stop eating.

I just keep eating one after the other. And then she gave me one. I said, you're just like Eve giving the forbidden fruit to Adam.

Nothing has really changed. And then the woman, she doesn't take responsibility either. She says, well, the serpent tricked me. It's the devil's fault. And now God gives the first Christmas verse. It's not Isaiah 9-6, which says unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.

His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father. Nor is it Micah 5-2 that says, You Bethlehem, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth one whose origins have been from everlasting. No, it's neither one of those verses. The first Christmas verse is Genesis 3-15, where God now says to Satan, There is coming one who will bruise your head, but you will bruise his heel.

Satan was unnoticed. God was saying, Devil, I'm going to send the Messiah. He's going to crush your head.

You'll bruise his heel, but he'll crush you. So the devil knew. Game on. The battle lines had been drawn. And Satan knew specifically that the Messiah was going to come to the Jewish people. Anti-Semitism was born. What is anti-Semitism? It's the hatred of the Jewish people who are God's chosen people. And the devil declares war on what God loves.

And he tries to stop the Jewish race and specifically stop the Messiah from coming. And that really is what Christmas is all about. He's saying, This is not a very Christmassy message, Greg. Well, we'll hear some messages a little bit later on.

That might be a little more to your liking. But I'm trying to pull the camera back and give you the big picture. Jesus was born to die that we might live.

Listen to this. The shadow of the cross lay over the beauty of the first Christmas night. Jesus was coming to bridge the gap between God and humanity.

And he was going to restore what was lost in the garden. And Satan did not want there to be a first Christmas. You've heard about the Grinch that stole Christmas, right? And some people know that story better than the biblical story of the birth of Christ.

Well, this is the devil who tried to stop Christmas from happening. It goes clear back to the first books of the Bible, like in the book of Exodus. Here we have the Pharaoh giving order, saying, I don't want any of those Jewish baby boys to live.

Put them all to death. And the Hebrew midwives refused, of course. And Moses was spared and ultimately became the one who would deliver Israel in the great Exodus. Fast forward to the book of Esther. You have a plot hatched by a wicked man named Haman to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. This plan was thwarted by Queen Esther, who was Jewish. And Haman ended up hanging on the very gallows he had erected for others.

So all attempts to stop Christmas were failing. But now fast forward to the New Testament. And we're in the Gospel of Matthew.

And we have King Herod sitting on the throne. And these mysterious visitors come looking for he that had been born known as the king of the Jews. There's not a worse thing you could have said to a guy like Herod than, we're looking for the king of the Jews.

Why? That was his title. They're basically saying, you're not the king of the Jews. We're looking for the king of the Jews.

We've seen his star in the east, and we have come to worship him. So Herod gave the decree, kill all those baby boys born in Bethlehem. He was trying to stop Christmas. But listen to this. That was never going to happen. You can't stop Messiah from coming.

And listen to this. Nothing will stop Christ from coming again. He's going to come again. Because God will always have the last word. And right on time, the Messiah came, born in the manger in Bethlehem. Galatians says, when the time was just right, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those that are under the law, that we might receive the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father.

But listen. Jesus did not begin his existence in Bethlehem. Jesus is God. He has always existed. He has neither beginning nor end. He, like the Father and the Holy Spirit, is co-equal, co-eternal. He himself said, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. So the real Christmas story does not begin in Bethlehem, or even on planet earth.

It begins in heaven, where a decision was made that Christ would come to our world. So is there a Christ before Christmas? Is there a Jesus before Bethlehem?

The answer is yes. And that's what we're talking about. Because really, the story of Christmas is both about an arrival and a departure. We celebrate his birth at Christmas, but heaven was sending the Messiah.

Isaiah 9-6 sums it up. Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. Our perspective, a child was born. God's perspective, a son was given. And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father. That was deity in diapers. That was the Almighty God coming to us as a helpless little baby born in that manger of Bethlehem. So now let's look at some Christophanies.

I don't know what you're talking about. Well, theologians have a couple of terms. One is a theophany, which means an appearance of God.

Another is a Christophany. And I suggest to you Christ appeared many times in the Old Testament. Listen, Jesus is in the Old Testament concealed, and he's in the New Testament revealed.

So we read a lot about Jesus in the New Testament, but he was around in the Old Testament a lot as well. For example, one day Jesus was being grilled by the religious leaders, and they asked him if he was greater than Abraham in John chapter eight. Jesus said, your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and he was glad. They said to him, you're not even 50 years old, and you've seen Abraham? Jesus says, hey, before Abraham was, I am. He could have said, give me a break, Abraham. I knew him. He's a cool guy.

Listen, I've been around forever. And this is really illustrated in one of my favorite stories from the Bible, Jesus and the two discouraged disciples on the Emmaus row. This was after his crucifixion. And these two guys are leaving Jerusalem, and they're just so downhearted. And Jesus joins them, but they don't know it's Jesus because he's incognito. And he says, hey, guys, how's it going? And they go, well, you know, have you heard about the things that happened in Jerusalem?

And he said, no, what things? And they end up telling Jesus about Jesus. And they didn't do a very good job because they said, well, concerning Christ, you know, he came, and we were hoping he would be the Messiah.

We were hoping he would redeem Israel. And he was put to death, and it's been three days since this happened. Jesus is thinking, oy vey, come on, guys. How many times did Jesus spell it out? I'm going to be crucified, and three days later, I'll rise again from the dead.

These guys even said it's been three days. And then Jesus says to them, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in the Old Testament scriptures concerning himself. Oh, wow. I wish I heard that conversation. When I get to heaven, I'd like to say, Lord, could you go over that one more time? I want to find out what I missed, all those Old Testament scriptures that concerned him.

So I want to identify three Christophanies for you in the Old Testament, okay? So number one, the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. Now, we know that Jesus and Abraham met each other and communicated. Jesus said that.

When did this happen? Now we're guessing, but I think this is a pretty educated guess. Genesis 22 is the story of Abraham and his son, Isaac. As you'll recall, Isaac was born in the later years of Abraham and his wife, Sarah. God had promised them that they would have a son, and from their son would come the Jewish race.

But they were getting on in years, and Sarah was not pregnant. Now she's well past the time when a woman should normally get pregnant, and she all of a sudden is pregnant with Isaac, and the child is born. And by the way, the name Isaac means laughter, because he filled their home with joy.

He was the light of their life. Imagine how hard it must have been when God asked the incomprehensible of Abraham and said, take that son of yours and offer him to me as a sacrifice. Genesis 22, one, God tested Abraham's faith in obedience. Abraham, God called.

Yes, he replied, here I am. Take your son, your only son, yes, Isaac, whom you love so much and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him. There is a burnt offering. Isaac cast his father, where's the lamb for the sacrifice? Now Abraham prophetically says in Genesis 22, eight, my son God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, and the two of them went together.

Now sometimes in religious art you'll see this depicted as an older man with a very young boy. But that's really not the way it was. Isaac was probably a young adult at this point, full grown and strong. He knew what was coming down. He wasn't stupid, okay? He knew that he was going to be sacrificed potentially, and he could have said, Dad, you're an old dude, why don't we sacrifice you instead of me?

Because I have a whole life ahead of me, and most of your life is behind you, right? No, but he didn't do that. Isaac went along with this, which makes it so amazing. And is this not a picture of what happened at the cross?

I love how Genesis 22, eight says the two of them went together. And this is exactly what happened when Jesus died on the cross for us, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit working toward this goal of the redemption of mankind, the Father making the ultimate sacrifice in giving his Son, again back to Isaiah 9, six, unto us a Son is given, the Son making the ultimate sacrifice in laying his life down. Jesus said, no one takes my life from me.

I lay it down of my own accord. Greater love is no man than this, our Lord says. Then he laid down his life for his friends. Even what God said to Abraham is reminiscent of what Jesus did. Genesis 22, take your son, your only son whom you love so much. That gives you a glimpse of what happened at the cross from the perspective of the Father.

His only son. What did Jesus say in John 3, 16? For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, and whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. So Abraham's preparing now to plunge the knife into his son. And by the way, he believed that if Isaac died, God would raise him again from the dead.

That's interesting considering that no one had been raised from the dead at this point, historically. But still, Abraham believed that. And right before the knife comes down, Genesis 22, 11, at that moment, the angel of the Lord shouted to him from heaven, Abraham, Abraham, yes, he said, the Lord said, lay down the knife. Don't hurt the boy in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God and you've not withheld your beloved son from me. Notice that it says the angel of the Lord. Not an angel, the angel.

And to the point. Who told God to offer his son Isaac? Was it an angel or was it God himself? It was God. So it's worth noting here that the angel, so called, says you did not withhold your beloved son from me.

I believe that this so-called angel was none other than Christ himself. I believe this is a Christophany and Jesus stepped into this situation. And it reminds us that God is with us in our times of testing.

Are you going through a time of testing right now? The bottom has dropped out. Something unexpected has happened. You're facing a time of crisis. You feel as though God has abandoned you or forgotten about you.

Nothing can be further from the truth. I love what the Lord says over in Isaiah 43 2. God speaking, when you go through deep waters, I'll be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulties, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up.

The flames will not consume you. God's saying, I'm there with you and God is with you right now. Whatever you're going through. I love the words of David when he said, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Beautiful psalm.

We all know it for the most part. But David is comparing himself to a shepherd. And he's saying the Lord is like his shepherd. In fact, it starts out, the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. But now he's saying, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. A shepherd of this time would have two primary instruments to use with the sheep. A staff, which is that crook instrument to pull in the wayward lamb or sheep. And the rod, which is basically a club to use in case of emergency. Sometimes it discipline the sheep. Sometimes it drive off a predator. And I find it interesting that David says you use your rod and your staff.

In our lives, sometimes the Lord will use his staff. Now, don't do that. No, don't do that. No, don't do that. Are you listening to me? Don't do that. Whack! What was that?

It's called a rod, baby. You're not listening. And I don't want you to kill yourself. Sheep are incredibly stupid animals. Did you know that? Of all the animals God could have compared us to, he picked sheep. He doesn't say, my dolphins hear my voice. It would be cool if we were compared to dolphins. Or orcas, right?

Killer whales as they're sometimes called. Even a dog. Even a cat's better. My cats hear my voice and they walk away.

But no. It says my sheep hear my voice. We're like sheep.

Why? Because the Bible says all we like sheep have gone astray. We've turned everyone to his own way. Did you read that news story actually happened in China? About 300 sheep that walked around in a circle for 12 days. They had film of it. It was on the news. Why are the sheep walking around in a circle for 12 days? Simple answer.

Because they're stupid. And all it needed was one sheep to say, I'm going to walk around in a circle. And if you want to follow, come on.

I don't think it's that bad. Let's go. The other sheep are, let's go. 12 days we're going to walk in circles.

Sounds good to us. Stupid sheep. Thy rod and thy staff, they come for me.

So listen to this. If you're disciplined of the Lord, that is done because he loves you. Okay, so let's go to Christophany number two.

The wrestling match between Jacob and the angel. You remember the story of the woman at the well in John 4. She went in the heat of the day to draw water because most likely she was ostracized by the other women because of her immoral life.

She had been married and divorced five times and was living with some guy. So as she's approaching the well, as she often did, she was shocked to see a man sitting there. And not just a man, but a Jewish man. Because Jews didn't go into Samaria for the most part. So as she gets closer, that Jewish man who was Jesus says, would you give me a drink of water? She said, why would you, a Jew, ask for a drink of water from me, a Samaritan?

Don't you know Jews have no dealings with Samaritans? Jesus says, if you knew who was talking to you, you would ask him and he would give you living water. Oh really, she says, living water, huh? Well, are you greater than Jacob, our ancestor who built this well? Imagine what Jesus could have said. Am I greater than Jacob? I wrestled with him and I beat him. He had to cry uncle or should I say savior? Are you greater?

Yeah, he's a little greater. And of course that brings us to the story of when I think Jacob and Jesus actually met. It's in Genesis 32. Jacob had made a mess of his life. He had offended his brother Esau.

He had been a conniver, fell out with his father-in-law Laban, was facing the consequences of all of his bad decisions. In effect, he was rebelling against God. In Genesis 32, 24 it says that Jacob was alone in the camp and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break.

When the man saw he could not or would not win the match, he touched Jacob's hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, let me go, the dawn is breaking. Jacob said, I'll not let you go until you bless me. What is your name, the man says. Your name will no longer be called Jacob because Jacob said what his name was.

From now on you'll be called Israel. And Jacob called that place Peniel which means face of God for he said, I've seen God face to face. I don't think Jacob was wrestling with an angel. I think he was wrestling with God. And specifically he was having a wrestling match with Jesus. That's never going to end well.

Don't laugh too quickly, you've wrestled with him before. Have you ever known the will of God and refused to do it? Or resisted it? Maybe the Lord nudged you, why don't you go share the gospel with that person over there?

Why don't you go apologize to your spouse for what you just said? Why don't you do this or that and we say no, I don't want to. Or the Lord shows his will to us and we refuse to go in that direction. And so here's what God is saying, Jacob when are you going to discover that my plan for you is better than your plan for yourself? Let me ask you this question. Do you feel like you're carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders right now? Trying to figure out how to resolve problems that you have created? It's time to surrender to God.

Don't be alarmed by that thought, it's the best thing you can do. Reminds me of my friend Jonathan Rumi. Jonathan was a struggling actor. He was not getting any parts, he had no money.

In fact I think he had around $20 to his name. But he decided one night he needed to completely surrender his will to the will of God. So Jonathan says, I got down on my knees and I prayed and I said, God I surrender my will to yours. And then he spent his last $20 on breakfast.

Because he said it's not my problem anymore, it's God's problem. He got home and he looked in his mailbox. Much to his surprise there was an envelope. He opened it, there was a check. He didn't even know why the check had come. It was a pretty good sized check. He opened a second envelope, even a larger check.

He opened a third envelope, even a larger one. Then a couple of weeks later he got a call from his friend Dallas Jenkins. Who said, are you ready to put the sandals back on again? Well as it turns out Jonathan had played the role of Jesus in a little film that he and Dallas had done earlier. And Dallas says, I have this idea for a TV series called The Chosen. Would you like to play the role of Jesus?

Jonathan says, yes please. And now that series is going all around the world. And some 300 million people have seen The Chosen. So think about that. I'm not saying if you surrender your will to God you're going to have a TV show that will be seen by 300 million people. What I'm saying is when you surrender your will to God you will discover God's plan is better than your plan. I know you think you have it all figured out.

I know you think you're so smart you aren't. God's smarter. He knows what he's doing. He has a special plan just for you.

You need to say, Lord I surrender to your plan. Not long ago I was with some of my grandkids and we went into a toy store. And my grandson Christopher had this little figure. I think it was a Star Wars figure that he wanted to get. So I went to the man who ran the toy store and he said, do you have this little figure in a Lego box?

It's a Lego character. Or in Lego form. So the guy said, yeah we have it in two boxes. A little tiny box with just the character. And a big giant box with the spacecraft. So I walked over with the two boxes. One big box with the little guy in a spacecraft. A tiny little box with just the guy. I said, Christopher I'll get you either one. Which one do you want?

He says, I'll take the little box papa. Really? Why? Well I don't want you to have to spend too much money on me.

Guess what I did? I got them both boxes. Why? Because I'm a grandparent and that's how we roll.

Don't be a cheap grandparent. That was not a sacrifice for me. I was happy to do that. And by the way I love that he chose the little one. So we're afraid to say, Lord choose for me. Why? He'll do abundantly above and beyond.

That what you could ask or think. That's what the Bible says. So now here's old Jacob. Of course he's fighting. Fighting with the Lord. And then toward the end he's hanging on to him. The Lord's like, I got to go. You're not going anywhere till you bless me. Okay.

I like that though. You see he went from resisting to resting. He went from cunning to clinging. He went from wrestling to nestling. Now he's hanging on to God. He had learned his lesson.

And he had surrendered his will to God. Can you do the same? Is this boring? Too bad. I'm still going. Okay. I have one more because like eight people know. The other is like, I need to go.

I got to go Christmas shopping. Alright. One more Christophany for you. The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.

You know their story. It's in the book of Daniel. These three young godly men who would not bow before the false image of Nebuchadnezzar. So the people of Israel were taken captive by the Babylonians.

Why? Because they kept turning to false gods. God warned them again and again. Stop worshipping these false gods. Stop turning to these idols. Turn to me.

Yeah whatever. They went back to the false gods again and again. The Lord says, okay you want false gods? You want idols?

I'm sending you to idol central. Babylon. And they were taken captive. And as they were being taken to this distant land, Nebuchadnezzar noticed these four young men. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Those are not their Jewish names. These are the names he gave to them later.

And we know them best by those names. And Daniel says, I want you in my court. I want to school you at the Babylonian university and teach you the ways of Babylon.

So that's a pretty sweet deal. If they played their cards right, they would live in the lap of luxury and affluence and influence. But one day Nebuchadnezzar erects a giant image covered in gold and commands everyone in the kingdom to worship it. And as soon as the band cranked up the Babylonian idol theme song, everyone bowed down before the idol. Except three men who stuck out like sore thumbs.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were wearing black leather motorcycle jackets. Wearing sunglasses, had their wallet on a chain. Because if you ride a motorcycle, you have to have a chain to your wallet, and I'm not sure why.

Who's going to take a wallet from a biker? I don't know. But that, of course, they made that up. No, we won't bow. They send word to the king, those guys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They serve in your palace, they won't bow. They just misunderstood. Give them another chance.

Come on, guys. Bow before the image. They said, we're not bowing.

We refuse. He was so angry. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter. And he told his men to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace.

The flames were so hot, it killed the king's servants as they came to the edge of the abyss. And in went these three young men, and here's what we read in Daniel 3.23. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell down into the roaring flames. But suddenly, as he was watching, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisors, Wait, didn't we throw three men into the furnace? Yes, your majesty, three men. Luke Nebuchadnezzar said, I see four men walking around in the fire.

They're not hurt by the flames. And the fourth one looks like the Son of God, a Christophany. Who was walking around with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace? Jesus. Hey, guys, need some sunscreen?

How's it going? And God is walking around with you in your fiery furnace. Again, you are not alone. He comes to us, and he says, I'll never leave you or forsake you.

And if you were to translate that more literally, it would go as follows. Jesus speaking, I will never, no never, no never leave you or forsake you. That's the essential message of Christmas.

We're not alone in the world. Jesus came to Abraham, Jacob, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in pre-incarnate appearances. Well, one day God will come again to this planet. But he was born in that manger, and he died on the cross, and he rose again. He's always been there, and he will always be there. Jesus says, I am with you to the end of the age. So yes, Jesus appeared B.C. You know, he came to me B.C.

too, before Christ. You know, I lived a crazy childhood. My mom was married and divorced seven times. She had two more marriages than the woman at the well.

So nanny, nanny, nanny. She had a bunch of boyfriends in between, so I lived all over the place. And we're always moving, moving, moving, moving, crashing here for the night, going over there, living with my grandparents, going to military school. Always being uprooted, so I was always the new kid.

Never get settled down, develop friendships, et cetera. And I was pretty alone, but I had this hope inside of me that I believe God put there. A hope that one day things were going to get better. And when I was a real little boy, I had an imaginary character I would talk to.

I understand it's very little, okay? I'd pull the covers over my head, and I called him Mr. Nobody. Mr. Nobody, I'd tell him all of my troubles.

And then one day I discovered Mr. Nobody had a name. It was Jesus. In my simple way as a child, I was calling out to God. I didn't know who God was. I didn't know how to communicate with God. But I knew there was someone out there for me that would help me. And he was with me, B.C.

if you will. And then at the age of 17, I heard the gospel in a way I understood. And Mr. Nobody became my Lord and my Savior, you see?

So God will more than meet us halfway in life. Think of those wise men again. The word wise man comes from the root word magi.

We get the English word magician from it. These guys were into the stars. They were into both astronomy and astrology. And what did God do? Did he dismiss them, you're a bunch of pagans.

I want nothing to do with you. No, he says, oh, you guys into stars? I got a star for you. Better than any star you've ever seen. Follow that star. And where did that star bring them?

Right to the child Jesus. And I think if a person really wants to know God, God will make himself known to them. And I wonder if there's somebody here right now listening to me or watching me or hearing me, wherever you are, and you've been searching for God, and he's here, and he's ready to come into your life. You know, the holidays can be a hard time for a lot of people. It can be a lonely time. It can be a depressing time. Maybe they don't have family, or maybe the holidays mark the departure of a loved one that was with them last year that is not with them this year, so there's a sadness attached. So while everyone else is having a great time, it's the most wonderful time of the year. They're not feeling that way.

It's a depressing time for them. But don't miss the essential message of Christmas. Christ was not born in a manger so we could go shopping and spend half our life looking for a parking place at a mall. Christ was not born so we could go to parties. Christ was born so we'd realize we don't have to be alone in life.

The message of Christmas is you're not alone. Emmanuel, God is with us, and God can be more than with you. He can be in you.

A relationship with him. Jesus, who was born in the manger of Bethlehem and died on the cross of Calvary, rose again from the dead three days later, and now he stands at the door of your life, and he knocks, and he says if you'll hear his voice and open the door, he'll come in. So I want to close right now with a prayer and an opportunity. An opportunity for anyone here who does not have this relationship with God we've been talking about.

Everything can change for you. Christ will come and live in your heart. You'll never be alone in life. He's just a prayer away. So if you need Jesus in your life right now, respond to this invitation. So we pray together. Let's all bow our heads and everyone praying. Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die on that cross. Lord Jesus, thank you for coming and laying your life down for us. Now we pray that your Holy Spirit will speak to the heart of any person here or watching or listening wherever they may be that does not yet know you.

Help them to see their need for you. Help them to come to you, we pray. Now all our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed and we're praying. Maybe there's somebody here that would say, I need Jesus. I want my sin forgiven. I want this relationship with God.

I know this is who I've been looking for. So pray for me. So listen, if you want your sin forgiven, if you want Jesus to come into your life, if you want to know that when you die you will go to heaven, if you want to find the meaning and purpose of life, if you're ready to say yes to Jesus, I want you to lift your hand up and I'm going to pray for you. Raise your hand up where I can see it saying, I need Jesus today. Pray for me.

Wherever you are, I'll pray for you. God bless you. Raise your hand up higher where I can see it saying, I need Christ today. I want his forgiveness. God bless you. Maybe you've fallen away from the Lord and you want to return to him today.

You can do that too. Just raise your hand up saying, I need Jesus. God bless you. God bless you.

Some of you folks are watching on a screen there at Harvest Riverside or one of our overflow areas here at Harvest OC. You can raise your hand too. Anybody else, you want Christ to come into your life, raise your hand up and let me pray for you today. God bless you. And I want you to pray this prayer out loud after me. In fact, I'm going to ask everybody to pray this prayer out loud with me to encourage them. So as I pray, let's all pray this out loud right now.

Pray these words. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the Savior who was born in the manger of Bethlehem, who died on the cross, who rose from the dead. Jesus, come into my life. I turn from my sin. I choose to follow you from this moment forward as my Savior and Lord, as my God and friend. Thank you for hearing this prayer and answering this prayer. In Jesus' name I pray.

Amen. Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this podcast. To learn more about Harvest Ministries, follow this show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org. And to find out how to know God personally, go to harvest.org and click on Know God.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-11 08:49:15 / 2022-12-11 09:06:57 / 18

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime