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It's a Wonderful Life, Part 1

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard
The Truth Network Radio
December 15, 2020 7:00 am

It's a Wonderful Life, Part 1

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard

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December 15, 2020 7:00 am

Practical lessons and insights drawn from Luke chapter 1.

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Living right matters to God. He's the one that calls us to a standard. And he is the one who wants us to live according to that standard so that he can bless our lives as he is ordained to bless them. And so we need to make it our aim to please God.

Yes! But it will be the most blessed and joyful life you could possibly have. Stay with us now, but remember, you can always swing by to hear any recent Destined for Victory message on demand. That's Now, here is Pastor Paul with today's Destined for Victory message, It's a Wonderful Life. Luke chapter 1 verse 5.

But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. So it was that while he was serving as priest before God, in the order of his division, according to the custom of priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he came into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.

We'll pause right there. The first point I want to make, and all I want to do is walk through this part of the Christmas story and make some points along the way here in Luke chapter 1. The first point is this. Living right is important, but it doesn't guarantee you an idyllic life.

Living right is important, but it doesn't guarantee you an idyllic life. Notice that this text tells us about a priest named Zacharias, his wife named Elizabeth. And it is interesting that Luke tells us that they were righteous people walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord in a blameless fashion. Now whenever you see blameless in the Bible, it doesn't mean perfect. It means good as far as you've gone. When the Bible says, for instance, talks about Job, I think King James uses the word he was perfect and upright, or some translation if not King James. One of them calls him perfect. Never think that words like that are saying here is a person who had nothing wrong with them at any point in their life.

That's not what's being conveyed in scripture. Blameless, perfect doesn't mean you have no sin, you never come short. It simply means you're getting A's, but you got more growing to do.

You know, if you're in school, you can get A's in this grade, wait till you get to the next one, you got some new test to take. See what I'm saying? That happens in what the Bible describes as a blameless journey, a perfect journey. It simply means they are walking uprightly before the Lord. Their life is not characterized by perpetual sin and disobedience. So that's the case for Zacharias and Elizabeth. We are told they're walking upright before the Lord.

The Lord is pleased with their living. And it is important for us to understand in today's world that sin is not being reimagined and redefined by our culture. Sin is coming short of God's standard for our lives and that doesn't change just cause the culture is changing. If something is not God's will for us, according to the word of God, there is no vote that anybody can ever take to make it okay.

We need to understand it cause right now the public opinion is what carries the day in so many circles and what people think, well, I think, well, nice that you've shared your thoughts. Now the question is what does God have to say about it? Because at the end of the day, we're all going to stand before him and he's not going to ask you what you thought. He is going to say, what did you do with my word for your life?

What did you do with my plan for your life? And so it's important for us to understand in today's world there is such a thing as righteousness and righteousness is defined by a righteous God. These people were living uprightly before the Lord. We're all called to walk uprightly before the Lord. 1 John 2 is an important verse. I think that verse needs to be memorized by believers every bit as much as John's Gospel 3 16. Everybody knows for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes it should not perish but have everlasting life.

That's good. Well, while you memorize and memorize 1 John 2 and find out that John says I write these things for what purpose that you sin not. God's plan is for us to sin not. God will never change that standard that you sin not. It does matter to God that we walk in obedience to his word and his will.

It does matter. It does matter that we seek to please God. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5, so we make it our aim to please God. If you want to live right, you got to make it something you aim at. There are some people, not you, but somebody on your role who doesn't even aim at living right.

Look down the road, see who it is. They're not even aiming at living right. Have you ever met folk? They plan to do wrong. They make wrong strategy plans. They seem to me that every now and then they have a little personal retreat and decide what kind of foolishness do I want to get into now. They don't even aim at living right. But living right matters to God. He's the one that calls us to a standard and he is the one who wants us to live according to that standard so that he can bless our lives as he is ordained to bless them.

And so we need to make it our aim to please God. Don't prepare to go into yet another year with the same old mess. Come on somebody. Don't prepare or just the end of the year. I love this season. Yeah, but don't love your foolishness in this season. Don't love your debauchery in this season. Don't love your sinful vices and hold on to them like they're friends because you'll never please God if you keep on making friends of those things God calls an enemy. I'm preaching good. You just don't know it. You'll figure it out after a while be driving home sitting. That was a good point. God wants us to live right to live right. You got to aim at it. How many know you are not going to live right on accident.

None of y'all have ever said you know what it just don't know me. I'm living right. Not in today's world. You can't look up on living right cause there are opportunities to get into foolishness all around us. Not only actions that are sinful but thoughts that are sinful. Impulses that are sinful. Reactions that are sinful. Sometimes the action wasn't bad but the reaction was horrible.

And so you've got to make up your mind to live right in today's world. We might as well be back in Jerusalem the first century when the church was born. The first century AD. All kind of foolishness in the cities that were evangelized through the apostles. I told you recently about Corinth. Corinth was such a city filled with debauchery that other cities use that as a descriptive word. Say we going to Corinthianize tonight. You know when folks say they going to Corinthianize, Corinth must have been a bad place. But we're back there now. We are in the same predicament that the early church was in. We got to win a world that doesn't honor God in the least. And so we've got to make up our minds.

We're going to live right. Having said that though, having noted that these people were righteous, doing well in terms of obeying God. Note this, but they had no child. She was barren and they both old. Well advanced in years is old.

They just made it sound cute. Living right doesn't mean that her womb is fruitful. Living right but doesn't mean he is producing... Yes, back. Yes, exactly.

Doesn't mean he's not shooting blanks. It simply means living right had its own benefit because they were pleasing God. If you ever want to be blessed, you don't want to ask a God to bless you whose word you've been totally disobeyed. That doesn't put you in a position to say, so I'm expecting God to come through for me. On what basis?

Of course, you've never done it. But there are some families who reward disobedient children with all kind of stuff at Christmas time. And since we're in that season, let me just mention it. Over the years, I stop and fuss at this time of year. I realize upfront that it's not going to change much.

But I just need to get it out. If you are a responsible parent, you have no business rewarding disobedience. It's a teaching time.

It's a time to say, I've been asking you to do certain things all year long. Now here you come with a list. And then you teach what grace and mercy is about. I'm going to give you one thing on this list just to show you that I serve a God who is full of grace and mercy. I'm going to be merciful towards you. You know the difference between grace and mercy? Grace is when I get what I don't deserve. Mercy is when I don't get what I do deserve.

And so it's a teaching time. See, baby boomers and the generations before us, we grew up in a world where, you know, our parents were cold. Just straight up, they were cold.

Boomers, don't y'all leave me by myself. They were just flat out cold. They were like, if you haven't been putting out the trash, your chore list every week, you will put out the trash or do the dishes or clean up this or do whatever. And they would, back in the day, they put it on the refrigerator. Especially for multiple kids and you knew what you were supposed to do. And sometimes you didn't hear about it throughout, they would fuss throughout the year, but when you come around Christmas time, here's the things that I want. That's when they take a fit on you. They'd be like, oh no, I've been asking you to put out the trash all year long and you did it every now and then when you felt like it and then you went to bed when you felt like it. And so I've been asking you to put out the trash, how about you put this list in the trash, how about that? Even if they end up giving you something, they were going to fuss first.

But now we just are in the pattern of rewarding disobedience. Don't do that until you've had chance to teach something. Remember, parents, you're supposed to put something in them. You're worried about putting something on them.

Put something in them. Tell them. So when you're gone, they still hear the lessons in their head that you were teaching. You want your kids to hear you when they don't want to hear you. You want to be out about to get into some fresh foolishness. And they say, Lord, I hear my mama right now. That's what you want.

You're supposed to cram it in there. Now, righteousness is important, but notice these people still had problems. And in this context, because of what's about to manifest in their lives, the writer Luke points out they had no children.

Baroness was considered a curse in their day. And you know, the one thing worse than you having a challenge is folk commenting on the challenge and pontificating on their thoughts about why you are challenged. So it's bad enough that you've got a problem of some sort.

You've got things going on, going backwards, and in the wrong direction in your life. Then alone come people who want to say, in the case of John chapter 9, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he's born blind? Folk don't have to make sense. Who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind? So they say, did this man sin before he got here?

Huh? But judgmental people don't have to make sense. What they're doing is showing you where their own hearts are. And so the fact of the matter is, there is no correlation between how you're living and your circumstances necessarily. Sometimes God will punish us in certain ways, but there is no one-to-one correlation. Every time you see a challenge, every time you see a sickness, every time you see a mishap, you're looking at the result of someone's specific sin.

That's not something you can correlate. Does everybody understand what I'm saying? And so the fact that these people are living right and yet they're barren, I need to point out because today we need to understand that people, that your measure of righteousness doesn't guarantee you an idyllic life. Your measure of faith doesn't guarantee you an idyllic life. I just lost a trooper of a member to death, but she's not lost in the ultimate sins because I know where she is. She is now with the Lord.

We're about to celebrate her home going. But if faith alone could keep you here and get you healed, she'd be here in this service right now. But your faith doesn't guarantee that you're going to get everything the way you want it. And your righteousness doesn't guarantee that.

Please understand that. I want the people I lead and pastor, not only here at Destiny, but through the radio ministry, a lot of folks say, I consider you my pastor. Technically, I can't be your pastor.

I haven't even met you yet. But I get it. I'm one of the main teachers and voices in their life and I praise God. I want you to know very clearly you cannot blame God. Now, Lord, I've been living right and I asked you to heal my sister and she died. You can't do that. Lord, I've done everything you told me to do and I asked you to give me that house and I lost it in foreclosure. You can't tie things like that.

Enter Job. Bible says he's perfect and upright. A shoeing evil.

That's an old English word. Avoiding the evil. Living right. Getting A's as far as he's gone. He's a straight A student so far in God's school. Yet unbeknownst to him, there's a dialogue in the heavenlies about him. And the devil says the only reason he's blessed is because you won't let me get to him. And God said, tell you what, I'm going to show you that this man doesn't serve me because everything's perfect in his life. And when the enemy had access, he quickly brought that man from very wealthy. As I see it, Job would have been a multi billionaire in today's world. He went from that to poverty and he went from well to sick, afflicted and he went from having 10 big, strong, wonderful children to being childless. All 10 of them died. Now imagine a man who on the one hand is upright on the other hand has lost everything precious to him. In one moment of time.

What does Job do? We find him saying the Lord gives and the Lord has taken away. All my faith giant friends say, no, no, see that? That's not what the Bible said. The Bible shows us that the devil took it away.

Okay. But he had to get permission. If he saw that he got permission, which means it wouldn't happen unless the Lord had allowed it to happen. And God never lets his children go through something that he doesn't first fortify them with grace to be able to handle what they have to go through. Anybody here ever missed getting what you wanted? Anybody here ever had things go from good to bad? Anybody here ever had things go from bad to worse? Anybody here ever had things go from worse to wusser?

I know that's not in the dictionary, but I bet you some of us have experienced it. Thanks so much for being here for today's Destined for Victory message. It's a wonderful life. Now before we send you off, Pastor Paul has joined me from his studio in California. Pastor, I think all of us feel at some level that Christmas and the Christmas season has become much more than just a celebration of the Savior's birth.

So many distractions. As a way of encouraging our listeners, maybe you could share how you and your family keep the focus of Christmas on Christ. Well, I think, Wayne, I can truthfully say that keeping focused on Christ has never been a challenge, and here's why. Because I grew up in a home, and so did my wife, where Christ was the reason for the season. Yes, there was gift giving. Yes, there were good times to be had and enjoyed. But Christ was always at the center. Now when we had our two children, as they were growing up, we enjoyed sharing with them the fairy tales, you know, "'Twas a Night Before Christmas," and the reindeer and the elves, and of course Santa.

But we made sure that our kids, like we as children, always knew that this season is about Jesus, and we kept Him front and center. And even now, in our 60s, my wife and I are seasoned citizens. I don't want to use that word senior yet. Hey, I like that.

I'm going to stay away from it as long as I possibly can. But we're seasoned citizens in our 60s, and these days, we don't give gifts to each other. We give each other cards and all of that. But we decided sometime back, what we'd rather do is give what we would spend on each other. We want to take that money and invest it in the lives of families in need or individuals in our sphere of influence.

We do that every year, and we bless a few folks, and they're always just amazed by that. But we find it just as fulfilling as receiving. In fact, in a lot of ways, it's more. It's kind of what Jesus said. It's more blessed to give than to receive. You can't imagine that when you're a kid, but once you get my age, you realize that it really is true. We do.

We really do. I find that it's not so much keeping our focus on Christ that's a challenge. It's all the activities that get in the way, all the things to do, and you know as a pastor, all the responsibilities you have. So that's a difficulty to overcome, too.

Yeah, it is. And we just have to make sure that our schedules line up with our priorities. And so if our priority is to worship and if our priority is to spend quality time with family and with the saints of God, then we just have to make that happen.

You know, time is one of those things that if you don't control it, it will manage itself in ways that you don't want it to. So we make sure to keep our priorities firmly in focus, and we don't let the busyness drive us crazy. I don't like to see people lose all their sanity and their dignity because they're trying to enjoy the holidays. Take your time, pace your life, enjoy what's important, and let God be glorified because Jesus really is the reason for the season. Pastor, thank you so much for those encouraging words focusing on the real meaning of Christmas. You mentioned to me that God is really impressed on your heart the need to keep our focus on Him, particularly during these challenging times. And friends, that's why we're so pleased to offer you a DVD from Pastor Paul called Refocus.

It's a message I know will help you put the past year in its proper perspective so that you can move ahead in faith into 2021. Request your copy when you make your best gift to Destined for Victory in December. Call us at 855-339-5500 to give over the phone. That's 855-339-5500. Or visit to make a safe and secure donation online.

You can also mail your gift to Destined for Victory, Post Office Box 1767, Fremont, CA 94538. And so you need to understand when you say to somebody, if you walk in enough faith, you won't have trouble. That's not biblical. In fact, faith is built for tough times. I don't need faith if everything is going right. I don't need faith if I'm having no problems. I need faith because I got to get through some tough times. That's next time in Pastor Paul Shepherd's message, It's a Wonderful Life. Until then remember, He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. In Christ, you are destined for victory. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-15 00:18:38 / 2024-01-15 00:27:15 / 9

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