Hey guys, before we do anything else here tonight, can we give it up for this awesome band and production teams and all of our volunteers?
Man, they're all backstage, but they can hear you guys. They've been working for months, and just so many people have poured out to make this night happen, and so we're excited that you guys are here, but man, we're super grateful for them. Hey, before I dive into our text for today, I got one more group of people that I want us to recognize, and that is that every year we get a chance to do something kind of special right around Christmas. One year we had a chance to pour into some prisoners that were in our community. One year we had a chance to make a special invitation to all of the social workers that work in the foster care system in our county. This year, man, we had a chance to personally invite all of the Greensboro City firefighters, over 600 of them, and some of the High Point firefighters and their families to come in for our Christmas service. Many of them are here. Mercy Hill, can we show some appreciation for what they do day in and day out?
Yes. So I can't, man, I can't totally see kind of who all is here, but I just want you to know if you're one of those that came in and you're part of that FIRE community, you really are an honored guest with us today. We are a church that just understands, we love all of our first responders, but when we think about you guys, man, we just think about people who are willing to run in when everybody else is running away.
And we just wanted to make a special opportunity to bless you guys here tonight, so I hope you are here with your family. We have a tiny gift for you that we want to give you in our guest services area right in the lobby. If you're one of those that have come in from the FIRE community, we have a small gift for you. It's actually a FIREhouse sub-gift card, okay?
You like what we did with that, all right? So you guys go there. Hey, also we have, man, some of our community leaders came together and they just did this. If you are one of the hero families that is a foster family, whether you are part of Mercy Hill, not part of Mercy Hill, never been to church before, whatever. If you are a foster family that is preparing to have children come in your home or already have children in your home or whatever, if that's who you are, we have a gift card for you as well. Just go to our guest services. We have a small gift for you.
It's not FIREhouse subs, though, but it is Chick-fil-A, Christian chicken, okay? So go and pick that up, and man, we're grateful for you guys as well. All right. Hey, if you guys have a copy of Scripture, turn with me to Matthew chapter 2. That's where we're going to spend our time together tonight.
Excited to get into this text with you. If you are newer with us, you wouldn't know this, but if you've been around a little bit, you know we have been in this series called The Carols, and what we've been doing is we have just been looking at the Scriptures that produce some of the great theological Christmas carols that we sing during this time of year. Now, we have not been super interested in all of the holly jolly Christmas stuff, all right? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it. It's just not about God or Jesus, okay?
So we haven't been doing a ton of that. White Christmas is not about Jesus washing your sin white as snow, okay? Run, run Rudolph is not about running away from the devil or something like that. These are just kind of cultural songs. We've been looking at, man, Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, these types of songs, and the Scripture that produced them.
And here's why. Because, man, if we can close the gap between what we understand about Christmas and what we sing about Christmas, we will be pushed to worship in greater ways. And so that's why we've been doing this, and that's what we're going to do here tonight. We're going to get into the song We Three Kings, okay? Now a lot of us remember that song, or you've sung it before. We're actually going to sing it even later in our service. But the song We Three Kings is deeply theological, and we're excited to get into it tonight. One of the reasons I love this song is because it finally puts the USA on the board, okay? It's one of the only songs that was actually written here, the ones that we all sing this time of year, and it was. It was written in the United States. I thought about breaking out into a USA chant.
Not sure if that's been done in the Tanger Center yet. Would have been pretty fun, okay? The problem, though, we can't quite break out in the USA chant because leave it up to us to write the one song that has all types of biblical and historical inaccuracies, okay? And it does, all right? We sing We Three Kings.
We're going to get into some of that. It has some problems, okay? But the major point of the song is so right on. Here's the point of the song. King forever ceasing never. And if that is true, and we begin to bridge the gap between what we sing about Christmas and what we understand about Christmas. See, if we understand that Jesus is the King forever ceasing never, then we will seek to give Him all of our worship. We will want to give our lives over to Him. You guys have already picked up on the theme for tonight. Man, everything is up here is a present, right? And it's a gift.
And the concept is that we would give ourselves over to God. Let me ask you a question. The year 22 is almost in the books, all right? John Lennon's Christmas song, you know, it's Christmas time.
Christmas is over. What have you done? When you look back over the last year, what did you give your life to? Man, what did you chase? What did you run after? What was that thing that was put in the center? Were your attention and your worship even, saying this is worthy of my life.
I'm giving myself to this thing. What was it? Was it God or was it something else? Was it a relationship? Was it financial gain? Was it growing in a company and status among your peers? Was it something of your family?
Maybe it was a child coming into the family or thinking about family and marriage or something like that. All these things are great, but they're not the thing that is worthy of us giving all of our life away to. They're tools that help us give our life away and give our worship to God, but they are not worthy of our entire life being given over.
That spot is reserved for the King forever ceasing never, okay? Now, let me give you a quick illustration of this. I do this illustration every other year at Christmas, so if you've been with us, you've seen this one before, okay?
But you've got to know, there's a great illustration. My buddy Spence, who's a pastor in Charlotte. We actually helped plant this church, Mercy Church, in Charlotte. When his son was three years old, he walks in one day and he sees their nativity scene, and this is what he sees, okay? And this is just a normal nativity, all right?
You guys have nativity like this at home. You've got the animals, right? And you've got, you know, you've got somewhere back there is Mary and Joseph and Jesus, I'm sure. But of course, and you guys are already seeing it, you also have Doc Hudson from the movie Cars, okay?
And Doc Hudson has made his way now to the party, and he's sort of, you know, he's gotten his way in where he's getting a chance to look in and all that. Now this is, of course, a child three or four years old. Many times, we're just growing up versions of them, and what they can't really hide, we just, you know, what they don't really hide, we do the same thing. We get better at it, maybe hiding it or whatever.
But this is what happened, okay? So Doc Hudson has made his way to the party, and then he just replaces Jesus, okay? And so now Doc Hudson is what is at the very center of all of the nativity is this thing that this child really loves, you know? And this is a good example for us, because some of us have given our lives away in 2022 to things we have looked in, we have worshipped, we have chased with our life. We have put something at the center of our life that actually wasn't maybe God or Jesus, it wasn't the King forever. And I don't know what it was, but what we want to do here tonight is say this, there is a King forever ceasing never that is worthy of us giving our whole life over to. And if we see him rightly and see a glimpse of him today, then I think maybe we will want to give our lives away to him in greater ways, or maybe even for some of us for the very first time, okay?
Now, we're not going to exegete the song, all right, I'm relying on a little bit of cultural knowledge, I hope you know the song or have some knowledge of it. But we are going to dive into the scripture that produced the song, and that is Matthew chapter 2, here it goes. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, where is he who was born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled and all Jerusalem was with him, and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They told him, in Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet, and you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. Now, this song we know is We Three Kings, right, and here's the big idea, this is how I want to frame all of this here with you tonight, if you have taken notes or whatever. Here's the big idea, the king is worthy of our best gifts.
The king that was born into this manger that we're talking about here, he is worthy of our best gifts being brought to him, our very heart, our very lives. But this story is one that we've heard a thousand times, right, and what is it, okay, we sing the song We Three Kings of Orientar and it comes out of Matthew chapter 2. Now, there's some issues with this song, it was funny, We Three Kings of Orientar, one of our staff members actually was in our office this week and they said, you know, I've always wondered, where is the country, Orientar?
Okay, that was bad, what was worse was when another staff member chimed in and they said, I think that's where they just played the World Cup. No, it's not, okay, all right, you know, it says We Three Kings of Orientar. Now, what it's talking about is wise men that have come from Persia, okay, that's what it means, wise men that have come from Persia, from Babylon, this is where they've come from. First of all, they're not kings, okay, they're magi, they're the wise men. I want you to think, you say, what is a wise man? I want you to think of a magician.
I don't want you to think David Blaine or David Copperfield. I want you to think of a professor pre-scientific revolution, these are people that are into astrology, these are people that are into divination, they're into the arts, okay, and that's kind of, they're learned men. There's probably also, I know I'm crushing your nativity here, there's actually probably not three of them, all right, we have extrapolated that there were three wise men because there were three gifts, newsflash, I could give my wife three gifts, that doesn't mean there's three of me, okay. So, you know, that's maybe not the best way to think about it, actually, there's probably a bunch of them. They've traveled 800 miles over 40 or 50 days, three dudes don't just do that, okay, this is probably a massive caravan.
I don't, and what did it say in the description that I read? They didn't just trouble Israel, they didn't just trouble Herod, they troubled all of Israel, why? Because it was probably this massive, wealthy party of wise men that have come in, you know, we think of this little humble type of thing.
I'm actually thinking more about the scene in the real life version of Aladdin with Will Smith as the genie and Prince Ali, okay. That's a little more probably what's going on, that these guys have come in, they've created a massive stir, and if your nativity is already busted, let me give you one more, okay. Jesus is not there as a baby and they're probably not sitting in a manger, you know, he's not sitting in a manger, they're not in a stable, why? Actually, when the wise men get there, it says that they come to a house that is in Bethlehem. There's some issues here, okay, but I think that we really don't need to just scrap the song. Because while there could be some issues, there is some really, really good stuff in the song, and the really, really good stuff comes out when you begin to consider what these wise men came to do, and that is to fall down before the king and to worship the one whom they have found.
And that's something that we need to jump into as well, exceedingly glad and extravagant gifts, and that's something that we need to learn from and I think that we can. Now, why do they even come to Jerusalem? Well, there's a prophecy in the Old Testament, okay, and I know we've got a lot of people here that are brand new, you're brand new to the Bible, and I don't want to overwhelm you on the first take. This story from the Old Testament that comes from, that this prophecy comes from is crazy, okay. Talking donkeys and prophecy and the whole deal, there's a guy named Balaam, okay, and Numbers chapter 24 tells us kind of a bit of a prophecy that these men probably knew. And that prophecy is this, a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel. Now these men were looking maybe for this star, or when they saw a star they remembered somewhere back, they interpreted it this way, how did they even know any of the scripture? Well, maybe some of you guys have heard about the story of a guy named Daniel before.
Daniel, you know, he's famous for the lion's den and famous for the, you know, some of the things that happened in his life, but Daniel was one of these wise men. Now he did it with a God lens, okay, I'm not talking about astrology and divination and all that, but he had been carried away in captivity and 500 years before these guys are going to look for Jesus in Jerusalem. Daniel had probably been interpreting some of the scriptures to them, maybe as one explanation for how they even knew to be looking, but in any event, they see the star and they begin to move towards Jerusalem. But here's the deal, look, when they get there, they're not the only one, they're excited, but other people aren't, they're troubled. When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him, and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
Now this is not the main point that I want to get at tonight, but I don't want to miss it. The star led them to Jerusalem, but what did the scribes do when they actually wanted to find out where Jesus is? They broke open the scripture, and look what it says.
They told him, in Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet, that prophet was a guy named Micah, and you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. Now, again, this is not the point of the whole thing, but I want to talk about this sequence for just a moment here, because here's the deal. I don't know how it is that you came to be at the Tanger Center this weekend. I don't know if you're interested in the things of the Bible. I don't know if God's maybe moving in your life some kind of way, and has got you in a place where you're thinking about this stuff or what. But if you are, that is very, very normal for people who end up becoming however you want to call it.
All right, we say all these different things in the South. Christian, believer, okay, follower of Christ, however you want to say it. For people that end up following Christ or becoming a true believer, a true Christian, many times what draws them is something of a sign. Or maybe it's a shake up in life. Maybe it's something of a miracle like happened here with a star in the sky. Or maybe it's just that you've met a new friend and their life is puzzling to you. You're intrigued by them. Or maybe God has shaken you up. Maybe this year you lost someone, and that's been really hard for you, and you're kind of searching for answers.
Or maybe it's not something negative. Listen, we have a lot of young professionals that find their way to Mercy Hill Church, and maybe there's many of you here tonight. And you know what happens to some young professionals?
They get their late 20s, maybe just hit 30, and they realize they've crushed all the goals that they set out to do over the last 10 years. And they're crushing life, and they're crushing work, but it just doesn't feel like they thought it was going to feel. And maybe that's what's got you thinking about these things.
And maybe you're shaking, I don't know what it is. But one of the things that we can see from this sequence is this. They see a star, they come to Jerusalem. They break open the Scripture, they get all the way to Bethlehem. Sometimes what the Scripture, sometimes what nature sort of begins, you need the Scripture to complete.
You could say it like this, and I would hope that some of you that are maybe just interested today would really take me up on this. Y'all, the sign leads to the Scripture, but the Scripture is what leads to the sign. Sometimes what we begin to see in terms of a sign, we get the full effect of when we actually begin to break open the Word of God. And to see this book that God has given us to reveal himself and his love for us. So here's my challenge for you, then I'll move on. Okay, here's my challenge for you. Man, when we come back on January 5th and 8th, we do church on Thursday and Sunday, okay? It's the same service, but when we come back that weekend, January 5th and 8th, man, if you're newer, we would love for you to come.
And here's why. We're going to break open the book of Hebrews, six chapters over 12 weeks. We can only get halfway through in 12 weeks. It's that good, okay?
We'll do the next half the next year maybe. Alright, but here's what I want you to hear. The book of Hebrews is a crash course in Christianity.
If there is a sign or a shakeup that is bringing you close, I pray that you would commit and jump in and allow the Scripture actually to bring you all the way into a knowledge and a full knowledge of God and his Son. Well, let's move on with the story and actually finish the story. Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared and he sent them to Bethlehem saying, go and search diligently for the child and when you have found him, bring me word that I too may come and worship him.
This is a different story, but he was lying, okay? It wasn't about worship. Actually, he wanted to kill Jesus so that he could remain the king and he didn't quite understand the theology of it all and all that. After listening to the king, they went their way and behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the very place that the child was. God led them exactly to the exact house. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.
Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Now here's what I want to do with the rest of my time, okay? I want us to see a little bit of a, man, they did this, what should we be doing?
That's what I want to try to explore for a few minutes, okay? Because what we have to understand is that what the wise men did in bringing their exceeding gladness and extravagant gifts is a great model for us. But if they were willing to do it based off of what they knew, then what we know about this Christ, born, yes, in a manger, but destined for a cross to save us from our sins. Y'all, what type of gladness should be in our heart? What type of extravagant gifts should we bring? See, the magi met Jesus with exceeding gladness and extravagant gifts, but they saw through a glass very dimly that we, on our side of the cross, can see with much greater clarity.
So we should be jumping in in greater ways. Now, it does beg the question, what exactly did the magi or the wise men or the kings or however you want to say them, what exactly did they know? Why were they so glad? Why did they want to bring these treasures? The honest truth is, I'm not sure exactly what they knew of Christ. You know, maybe through Daniel, like I mentioned, they even understood something of the prophecies through Abraham and what God was going to do and being a light to all nations and all that, maybe. I'm not sure.
But here's what I know. If a king was born and that was enough to bring exceeding gladness and extravagant gifts, then what happens when we realize that that king was not only born as a king, but then he died as a savior for you and I to be brought back into relationship with God once again? To have a life that is filled with future and hope and purpose and a heaven that awaits us.
What should happen in our life? See, for us, exceeding gladness and extravagant gifts are really two pretty good paradigms. The first one is gladness. Are you glad? Is there joy in your heart over what Christ has done? And if not, is it because maybe you don't quite understand it fully or maybe no one's ever really told you exactly what it is?
Well, let me try to do that for just a minute here. Sure, this Christ child was born in a manger, but he was destined for a cross to die for the sin of the world. How could he do that? Well, because he was mothered by Mary, but he was conceived of the Holy Spirit. He was the God-man, 100% God and 100% man being born in one person. This wasn't God and man thrown in a blender some kind of way and ended up becoming neither.
Nor was he two persons. Oh, sometimes he's God, sometimes he's man. 100% God, 100% man born into one person and he came into this world to live the life that we could not live. And he could live it because he wasn't just a man, he was a man, but he was more than a man. He was the God-man and therefore he could live the life that none of us live.
What is the life that none of us live? It's sinless. It's a sinless life. That at the end of his life the God-man had never sinned one time and therefore was worthy to be the lamb that would be sacrificed for the sin of the world.
Jesus would stand in our place and die for our sin and then in his resurrection he would offer us a chance to walk in the newness of life exceedingly glad. You know sometimes we're not exceedingly glad because we have this sort of thing where we think, I don't really understand why Jesus had to die. Like why couldn't God just like forgive sin? I mean why couldn't he just, oh you sin, well you be forgiven. Well, let me give you a quick illustration of this. Maybe it can help you to understand what Jesus has come to do and why we're so excited about it.
Why we're willing to rent out the Tanger Center and sing songs to God and all of that. Well, think of this analogy with me. If I let you borrow my truck, and I love my truck. If I let you borrow it and you went out and let's just say, man you wrecked it. And you came back and you said, man I wrecked your truck. And I'd say, man that's a bummer, you know, but hey that's fine.
Let's get the insurances going and all that kind of stuff. And what if you said, well here's the thing. I actually, man maybe you're a college student, maybe you're just on hard times. I don't have any money, I don't have any insurance, this is going to bankrupt me. I don't have the means to be able to pay for the damage of the truck. Now, what if, in my generosity, what if I said back to you, listen, man I see you're on hard times and we've all been through.
Hey, just don't worry about it, I forgive you. Now just a side note here, I don't think I would actually do that. I want to say I would, but I'm not sure about that. But let's just say I did. Okay, let's say I did.
Now here's the question. This might help it pop in your mind, especially if you're hearing the gospel for the very first time today. If I said, hey I forgive you, you would say, oh that's great, you know that's good, forgiveness, maybe we can walk back. Did anything about me forgiving you actually fix my truck?
No, right? If I say I forgive you, you know what that's saying? That's saying I will take on the penalty.
I will actually pay what you owe. Me forgiving you isn't going to fix the truck, it's a promise that I'm going to fix what you broke. And that's what Jesus did for us when he went to the cross. See the relationship was broken between you and I and God.
It was a damage that had to be put back together. Sure, oh you're forgiven, well what about this whole damage and brokenness? What about the penalty of sin?
The Bible tells us that we deserve death and separation. This had to be repaired and this is what Jesus has done when he went to the cross. When he died for us he became a substitute for us and in his resurrection we have the opportunity to join him in the newness of life. And if this is the first time that you're hearing the gospel message, man in just a minute I'm going to give you an opportunity to pray and receive and respond, alright?
So you can just kind of hold on to that for one second. Alright, but here's the deal, what's the second thing that I said? Number one, exceeding gladness, but number two is extravagant gifts, right? That we would give ourselves away. I don't know about you guys, I grew up in the old school church, okay? And that means at Christmas time we did not rent out the Tanger Center, we just had a full nativity scene that was like a play with little kids, okay?
Maybe some of you guys were, had the joy of doing that or were subjected to make, somebody made you do it, okay, however you view that. But anyway, you got the kids and all that stuff and you got, you know, the wise men are always there. I heard one time, you know, you got the three little kids, wise men, one says, I've come to bring gold. The other one says, I've come to bring myrrh.
The other one says, I have no idea what this is, but a guy named Frank sent this, okay? So, you know, but the gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, I think sometimes we're just like, we read right over that. What is the deal with gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
Yes, gold is fitting for a king, got it. What about frankincense? What about myrrh? Frankincense is used in ritual sacrifice, you understand. Myrrh is used, actually, this isn't the only time Jesus Christ was given myrrh. You know, he was given wine mixed with myrrh when he was on the cross. And when he was taken off the cross, a guy named Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea bathed his body in myrrh. Here's my point. The point is that these gifts that are being given are not just fit for a king, they are foreshadowing a savior. So remember the theme that I'm on, all right? If these guys were exceedingly glad over what they knew, but they didn't see the cross and the gospel and God bringing us back in a relationship with him, how glad should we be?
Well, extend it. If these guys brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh, okay, not understanding what Christ would do, but we see them as the foreshadowing that they are. That one day this king would be sacrificed, and one day his body would be bathed in myrrh. This wouldn't be the last time he's given these gifts. What type of gifts then should we be bringing? What type of gladness should be in our heart this Christmas?
What type of gifts should we be bringing? And of course the gift I'm talking about tonight is the gift of our heart. Of our full selves that we would bring. So let me apply this and we'll be done, all right?
And we'll jump back into some music here. Let me apply this to all of us today. Bring your best gifts in response to God's best gift. Bring your gift in response to what God has given you. Give him your heart.
Give him all of your life. Because what he has given you is nothing short of that and giving you Christ and the gospel. John 3 16 is a verse that many of us would know even if you're not one who follows Christ. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. That is the gift that God has given to us. God has given us his son, king forever, ceasing never. He has given us his son. Now in response to that, would we give God all of our life? Let me talk to you if you're not quite a believer, you're not quite a Christ follower. You're not sure if you're a Christian. This is the person I want to talk to here for just a minute.
Let me ask you this question. In response to Jesus giving himself to you, would you today give yourself over to him? God loves you. He has a plan for you. He would not have you in this place, in this moment to hear this message if there wasn't some purpose in it.
There is no coincidence with our God. He is chasing you. He is wooing you. Would you allow him to win you over?
Would you see the love that he has given you and respond with your life because of what he has done for you? I know many of us, listen man, I know many of us, here's what we think. We're like, man, you're being a little pointed here. I'm a believer. Like I believe in God, you know. I'm a Christian.
My aunt Sally taught Sunday school for crying out loud. Okay, like I'm a Christian. And that's where many of us are, especially in the south. It's a very religious environment. I know Europe is very post-Christian. There are post-Christian places in the United States and all that. I struggle to believe that we're quite there here. I mean I still see enough cultural Christianity and the trappings of it where everybody kind of believes that maybe they're sort of already a Christian in some sense.
I want to try to draw a line for you, and I don't mean to be too pointed, but it wouldn't be love not to try to make sure we see where we are, right? And so here's the question. I'm not going to ask you tonight if you are a Christian or if you are a believer or if you follow Christ or if you do any of the other names that we say it.
This is the question that I'm going to ask you. Have you been crucified with Christ? Because this is what the Bible says, Galatians 2-20. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
Here's the question. Has there come a moment in your life where you gave your life all the way over to him? Many has given his life for you.
Have you given your life all the way over to him? There's a bunch of Christians in this room right now, and if I said to them, Have you been, are you crucified with Christ, meaning I am dead to my old life and I've given him the keys, they would gladly say yes. That's what it means to be a believer. It means to be a Christian.
It means to be a Christ follower. And I want to ask you that same question. What have you given your life to, and have you given it all the way over to him?
Go back to Doc Hudson's illustration, okay? There's something in the middle. There's something that we're pursuing. Every one of us are worshiping in some way where we are saying, This is worthy of my life. Is it God?
Is it Jesus Christ? You know, you probably came here tonight knowing you feel like you're supposed to do something in this world, you're supposed to make an impact in this world, that some greater power has something for you here. You're really right about that. You're really right about that. Man, he's calling you to give him your life and live no longer for yourself, but live for his glory.
I'm going to give you an opportunity to do that in just a minute, as I said. But hey, here's the deal. Christian, let me say this, alright? How do we apply this?
Bringing your best gifts. You know, many of us in here are believers. You've been a believer for a long time. You've been a Christian for a long time.
Maybe it's been a few months, or maybe it's been years and years and years. And you stepped over that line, and I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live and all of that, right? And that's where you are. But as we look back on this year, can I just ask you this? Man, did you leave it all on the field for his glory and his kingdom this year? Because we're going to be, I know you guys know this, okay? We're going to go like this, and we're going to be right back in the same place a year from now, alright? I mean, we're going to be, it's going to be another year gone, and we're going to be looking back. And my question is, this year, did you leave it all the way on the field for him? And if not, would we make a commitment to say, I want to use my practical giftings.
Remember the theme of the night, the presents and all that. Man, we give God our heart, we give him our life, but we practically step into his service. You know, Romans 12, 6, Christian, this is a beautiful verse for us. Having gifts that differ, what grace of God is it that we have gifts? That we come together as a body, that God has gifted us in spiritual ways. According to the grace given to us, let us use them. If you are a believer, God has gifted you in some unbelievably spiritual, supernatural ways.
Are you using those things and putting them into his service? Maybe this is the year, and you just make the decision right now. Maybe this is the year, and I know not everybody here is from Mercy Hill. If you're not from our church, you know, take this and apply it to the local church that you're in, okay?
If that's what you need to do. But maybe some of us that are believers, you would say, hey, this is the year where I no longer come to receive in a service without giving. Meaning, if we're going to come, we're going to come for two services, not one. And we're going to put our spiritual gifts into practice, and we're going to jump on a serve team. Or maybe we're going to jump into leading a group or hosting a group in our home because we're hospitable, we have that gifting. I don't know how God's gifted you, but are you using it?
Are you leaving it on the field? Maybe there's something that God is opening a door that has nothing to do with being inside the walls of the church, it's on the outside. I mean, God is doing something at a local high school through an FCA group, or He's doing something with the pregnancy network, or He's giving you an inroad with the international community or the refugee community through some different partners that we have. Is there a door standing open that this year you just didn't walk through? And you just assumed that door's going to be open again. Man, if it's still open, what would we think about giving back to God?
Everything He's given us in our life. Maybe you would be on a mission trip next year. You know, you come to Mercy Hill, some of you guys may come, you come through a weekender process, you start thinking about being a part of Mercy Hill. One of the first things we're going to do is hand you a passport application, okay? Because we're going to tell you, man, we're mobilizing to the nations.
We want you to get on a trip, we want you to be among the unreached. Maybe God's been calling you to that. And this is the year that you step into it.
We're going to be in the same boat one year from now. And if the answer to that question, Christian, let me talk to you. If the answer to that question is, man, I was chasing a lot of things this year.
If that's the answer, then why don't we fix it and purpose it in our heart? What is the Spirit putting His finger on in your heart about what He is calling you to give over to Him in terms of practical giftings and service? Man, would you step into that tonight? And if you are not quite there, you would say, I don't know how to say it, I've stepped over that line. Like, man, I would have called myself a Christian, but then you asked me if I've been crucified.
Man, I'm not really sure. If that's where you are, then let me say this, all right? You can come to Him tonight. You can pray to receive Christ tonight. And if He's calling you to that, man, don't assume that He's going to call you to that next week or next year or whenever it is. Blaise Pascal said it like this, every human is like this, man, we don't think about death, we don't think about what's coming next. We're all like a bunch of people at a party that every once in a while a huge monster kicks down the door, runs in, grabs us, carries one of us out, shuts the door, and we look around for about one second and we strike up the band so that we can stop thinking about it. I know you don't want to think about it, but the deal is, if the door is open right now, if God's calling you right now, you have no guarantee of being here.
Your life is a vapor next year. Man, settle this in your heart here tonight. Exceedingly glad, extravagant gifts. Man, is the gospel popping? Are you seeing what God has done for you? One of our sent ones lives in a very tough place. They're in South Asia, they're sharing the gospel there.
And there's a lot of different customs, different places, different things. Man, he goes into a police station there. I don't know what he's doing, paying a fine or something, or maybe just checking in or whatever, very routine. Actually had his son with him, thought nothing about it, three-year-old son, brings him in, and they get in, they sit down, and he begins to hear the brutal beating of a guy happening right next to him. And he can look over and he can see the guy's getting beaten with a pipe. And he's like, man, what did he do? And he's like, well, he stole something.
And where we live in this country, in this province, this is what happens if you steal. And he did what all of us would do, the guy did what all of us would do, every single one of us, okay? We would grab the kid, grab our son, we would bury them in our chest, we would cover their ears.
Man, I don't want you to see this, I don't want you to hear this, which is totally right. I mean, what a tough thing to see as a kid. But in that moment, as he's holding his son, trying to keep his distance and not see or hear what's going on, the Spirit of God spoke into his life and said, Zach, can't you see what I've done for you? You're shielding your son. Actually, it's like this, I sort of gave my son. It would be like Zach saying, hey, you guys take my son so that this sinner can go free. That's what God has done for you. What kind of love is that?
It's a love that we can't quite conceive, isn't it? Man, he loved us that much to send his son to take the penalty that we deserved because of our sin, because of our greed, because of our pride, because of our sexual sin, because of our isolation, because of the things that we didn't do right and the things that we failed in doing right. We didn't step in when we should have. All of that, it creates separation from us and God. But Jesus stepped in on our behalf.
He lived the life you didn't live and died the death that you deserve, that in his resurrection you might walk in the newness of life. I'm going to ask everybody to bow their head and close their eyes for just one minute here, and I'm going to be done. Nobody get nervous. We're not doing an altar call, okay?
I'm not going to put the screws to you like that tonight, okay? But I do want to give you an opportunity because if God's moving in this room, he's calling you right now. You can get saved right now where you are in your seat. If you know that God is calling you to salvation today, then you pray this prayer with me.
All you're going to do, it's ABC. You're going to admit that you're a sinner. You're going to believe that Jesus has done everything necessary to save you, and you're going to confess him as the Lord of your life. You pray this prayer with me. Father, I know I'm a sinner. You pray in your heart. I know I'm a sinner.
I know I'm separated from you. But I believe that Jesus did everything necessary to save me through his life, through his death, as a substitute for me, and in his resurrection. And I will follow you as the Lord of my life. Father, I pray for those right now that have come to you that have prayed that prayer. Lord, I pray you give them the courage to make it known, to let us know. Somebody invited them to be here tonight. God, I pray that would prompt the conversation. Lord, I pray we would see them jump in to the normal rhythms of local church in January and follow through with baptism and begin to live this great adventure. God, thank you for this time that we've had together tonight. In Christ's name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-24 16:18:35 / 2022-12-24 16:36:22 / 18