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December 20, 2020 5:00 am
While if you believe in the power of God to change a life with you to say a man I met over campuses and homes around the triangle in the evening around to welcome all of you hear what amazing testimony to change. God brings into somebody's life and much more say to you what you're watching at home or there, sitting at one of our campuses that if you have never had the power of God change you like that. We want to give you an opportunity for you to experience that today that is not some kind of mystical sacred privilege for just a few people. That is something God wants to do in your life. He is present here this morning with the power to heal and to change. If you are open to receiving well Merry Christmas. I know this might be one of the most unusual Christmas is that we've all experienced but it's still Christmas right.
Typically these weeks are filled with parties, family parties and neighborhood parties and jerk parties or more parties another. We want to go to party but my wife is making me go to a party parties. In fact, I will go ahead and just disclose the secrets of some of your heart. Some of you have been secretly grateful for lockdown because it's given you an excuse to not go to a lot of the parties, you didn't really want to go to anyway I'm right and I'd love to come your Nutcracker Christmas themed costume party but you know pandemic. I don't know this is officially a thing, but I feel like some people have what I should call selective COBIT anxiety, so I am talking about people with legitimate concerns on talking about the guy who will play poker for several hours around the table with six of his buddies, but then is really concerned about getting together with his wife side of the family because of your COBIT concerns and so I'm talking about it I noticed it weirdly sick of you husbands and wives are there but so I had to say right. Christmas is a time of giftgiving typically and I assume by how many times that Amazon truck passes my house and how backed up the mail is that that is still the same, but how we give gifts this Christmas may be different. Some of you are having to rethink getting the getting your family together on Christmas morning or Christmas Eve, which by the way, just out of curiosity, how many of you are going to say I mean you are heretics, and open your presents on Christmas Eve.
Okay, go ahead, raise your hand and put it up right where are you working that you keep it up little car prayer team to come for the back to lay their hands on you and not just getting the CDC will not let us do that. But this is a great year for you change that I would just humbly say over your Christmas presents on Christmas morning when Jesus opened his.
At least that's how I read the story, of course during the season that we still able to watch our Christmas movies, which is nice but that hasn't changed that. Maybe we have even more time to do that. I knew you were expecting me to make fun here the obligatory sarcastic comment about Hallmark movies again but I'm not to do that. I know some of you love them.
I knew that because you have written me multiple voluminous emails over the past couple weeks to tell me that course we all know America's greatest Christmas film we can all agree on that right. Let's say it diehard. There you go guy are one of the things that we've had to alter here at the summit church is our Christmas services which is kind of sad because typically our Christmas Eve service is our best attended service of the year. In years past we done it at the Durham performing arts Center so it's sad for us have to scale back back this year, but what we are going to do instead is giving you a copy of a book that I just published called searching for Christmas.
It is a very simple, straightforward, short, mercifully short, humorous book, hopefully humorous book that attempts to expose the deep soul questions that Christmas prompts us to ask is the kind of book that I think would fit right inside a stocking or that you would just give as a gift, I hope it is a help to you. If you are at one of our campuses. You can pick up one for free as long as there are copies available how you can get that to a friend and also to talk with them about it, if you are joining us online.
We run out of copies and you can get a download a free copy on a website.
If you need extra copies.
You can always order them on Amazon and if you take one of these today and you don't like it well you get what you pay for. Okay I wore the questions I asked in the book is what your most memorable Christmas once so just think right now right now when you're at home or at one of our campuses. What Christmas stands out most in your memory good or bad. Maybe it was one from when you were a kid. Or maybe your first Christmas married her.
Maybe the year that you got some gift that you always wanted to to get kids kids we got in the room is how many of you expect for this to be the best Christmas ever put your hand up right now. Look at your parents right now and saying mom and dad right. This is not on Santa. I disses on you. This part on yet a lot of pressure on them, but they can totally handle and I promise my most memorable Christmas occurred in 1997 was the first year that I served as a missionary on an island country in the South Pacific, lived there in a Muslim community and some of my Muslim friends who were so incredibly gracious to me knew that I was alone. Night night. My teammate had been medevac out because of some health concerns and so my Muslim friends decided to throw a small Christmas party for me. I was so sweet how they made a bunch of little desserts and little cakes and and then they brought me over and they said so why don't you explain to us here on December 25. Why don't you explain to us why Christmas is so important to you know, I sat there on before their little hut was about 90° and none of my friends. None of my family was around was really been able to communicate in English, had speak your language as best as I could and open my Bible Luke chapter 2 and a share with them the story that I'm about to share with you, and I remember thinking that perhaps know everything was different. That was perhaps the purest expression of Christmas I've ever been part of that.
Probably the greatest way to honor what Jesus had done was not two parties, and presidents, but to make sure everybody in the world knew why he had come.
Luke chapter 2 if you got a Bible and its accessible take it out, open it up, turn it on. This is a story that most everybody recognizes, but a story that has one profound point. But I find people often miss in all the cutesy mess of it, not one profound point is that Jesus came for the broken became for the brokenhearted, he came for the mournfully came for the devastated. He came for the outcast. Let me show you. Luke chapter 2 verse eight in the same region. Shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock that an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.
They were terrified.
The angel said to them, don't be afraid for what I proclaim to you good news, good news of great joy that will be for all the people who underline stuff in your Bible underline that word all today. Today in the city of David a Savior is born for you a Savior, who is the Messiah or some of your Bible say the Christ meant the promised team.
The Lord this is going be the sign for you to find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in the main suddenly suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest heaven peace on earth to the people that he favors another lots of people to whom this angelic choir could have chosen to appear that first Christmas Eve.
They could've appeared in the luxurious palace of Herod who was the acting King of Israel at the time, located just a few miles away. They could've chosen Rome, the capital of the world where all the money and power.
What I think could have chosen the high priest chambers located in the Temple in Jerusalem not that far away, but instead instead they chose to announce Jesus's birth to a group of unnamed illiterate shepherds in an unknowing name field and an unknown part of Israel. And don't miss exactly what they said, peace on earth to the people that he favors based solely on who they chose to appear to who is it that God favors shepherds who exactly are shepherds shepherds might seem quaint to you and me with their cute little robes and their iconic little book staff Cinda that that that there is a furry little sheep in tow. But they were anything but cute to the ancient Israelites shepherding was considered to be the lowest form of labor available. The ultimate expression of unskilled labor. It was a job often given to kids or migrant workers, if it is a Jewish adult you were still a shepherd that would bit of been considered a total life fail, but it was so low class that their testimony would not even be considered in court unless it was verified by somebody else. Of all the people in all the world, God chose to announce the birth of Jesus to them. What does that show you about those whom he favors before characteristics for groups of people this morning that he favors number one. The obvious he favors the poor, sending the Angels to the shepherds, God was declaring that he see and he cares about the poor. Poverty is not a sign that he has forsaken is not a sign that your second class that you have the value that you have no future. God wants to bless you. He wants to use your life for good.
And that starts with giving you something even better than money.
She Jesus taught that the abundant life was not first and foremost about houses or riches or or or cars or success. The abundant life. The essence of it was knowing God. Ironically, Jesus would say that those who were poor were usually the better situation to receive that abundant life because her hands were not so full of money your wealth or dreams that they had no yearning for God. You see God only fills empty hands.
The good news is that if you are poor this Christmas in whatever way down on your luck. Believe it or not, I can offer you something better than money I can save the prophet Isaiah come to the fountain where you can get food and drink.
That doesn't cost anything to you by the way with this church would want to know about your physical needs. We would love to help you, but even more importantly see we can offer you the assurance that your peace with God that have been in all of its riches or yours and that he will begin today working in your life are going to begin to use you as a blessing to others. God's plan for you goes beyond just coming to know Jesus but that's where it begins and that's what I can offer you right now. This morning he favors the poor number two. He favors those whose lives are messy shepherds were not a group of together. People didn't graduate top of their class is nobody look at them as exemplary. Nobody bragged on them.
Nobody came to them for advice. These are people whose lives had gone off the rails. Yet God get this favored them a point that out is made you feel like this this Christmas. Maybe this weekend you feel like everybody around you has it together but your life, your life is a mess your career, your your relationship should maybe your life right now is fraught with addictions and frankly you're embarrassed about.
And that makes you avoid close relationships or state hidden garden regarded in those relationships. By the way, maybe learn to perfect and Instagram presence whereby he looks at you and look at what you post anything you got it all together and they think that your admirable but you know that's not the real you. You know the real you is a mess. I got good news for you. Jesus favors you, not the face. Instagram you get someone a dive for the one he gave over the real you. Jesus is the Masaki MS is literally in his name.
If your life is a mess. The Messiah came for you on my favorite names God gave Jesus what the prophet Isaiah called and wonderful counselor counselor in Hebrew is the word.
Now let's and it means a reliable guide who leaves from a place of authority. This is not a counselor that just comes alongside you in a dark time and puts his hand on your back and patch on the head says they're there to be okay. This is somebody who can help with your problems because he has authority over all of those problems. He can guide you through problems because he knows the end from the beginning he can lead you to darkness because he is himself the light he can lead you to the Valley of death because he went into death for you in Concord and came back out, he is the wonderful counselor that way. See, he's like a shepherd, which made you by the Angels chose to reveal this to the shepherds because of all people they know it was like to be lost to meet somebody to guide you know I love that name wonderful counselor because it shows you the Jesus came for people with problems people problems didn't annoy him. They didn't weary you people are weird and will be literal as they had problems people without problems. They don't need a counselor. Nobody goes to a counselor says everything about life is awesome. I just thought it be good to give you an hour my time in $150 my money know what counselor is for people who feel lost and overwhelmed. That means if you got problems in here today, listen, Jesus favors you and here's most obvious statement you have heard in church after every miracle that Jesus ever did started with a problem. You'll find Jesus sauntering in the towns doing random little magic tricks and now on the son of God levitate 6 feet above the ground right guess your weight within half a pound know he cured blindness he called Storm's heat multiplied food for the hungry. He started with problems and he showed that he was the problem solver. The way maker.
The good news is that if you have a problem. That means you are a candidate for a miracle.
Bad news, yet the problems you maintain that Instagram version, you know, miracle for you. If you're one of those special people that you truly don't have any problems. Counsel sorry for you when you succumb about corporate prayer and we will ask God to give you some problems today so that you can experience Jesus as the wonderful counselor, but for those of you who have problems already take good news you're ready, just as you are. Jesus favors you right now missing some of you have tried to bear these burdens alone is time for you to lay them down at the feet of the wonderful counselor and let him bear them with.
Says, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I continue rest became for those whose lives are messy favors. People would probably favors number three. He favors those who feel forgotten shepherds felt forgotten by society. Even by their families. A lot of times you usually usually wouldn't catch a parent bragging about their shepherd son at a party. If the sun came up at all.
It was usually more with more about what went wrong. Can't attend politicians in court that shepherds approval for all practical purposes they were invisible to society. Yet God favored them to point that out because maybe some of you feel forgotten.
This Christmas overlooked. Maybe you're sitting right there right now watching this Christmas service online by yourself because your family has forgotten you. The good news is that of all the people to whom God could have said that angelic choir that evening he chose the forgotten and he said to them very loudly on that feel right outside of Bethlehem. I see nobody else sees you icing writer Psalm 139 you're not time a season when he felt forgotten.
He wrestled with the wonder of this listen, listen, someone 39 verse 10 Lord you have searched me and known me, you know when I sit down you know when I rise up even before word is on my tongue, behold, the Lord, you know it altogether frightens you can meet him behind me and before you lay your hand on me from your spirit working. I flee from your presence. If I ascend to heaven you're there, I made my bed in hell. There if I said surely the darkness shall cover me in the light about me is like night even the darkness is not only dark Knight is as bright as the day darkness is like light with you before my inward parts you need me to gather my mother's womb.
I because I am fearfully and wonderfully made him design your eyes saw my unformed substance when I was some doctors call a fetus you knew me as a person you call my name and in your book were written every single one of them.
The days that were formed for me laid out for me with a beautiful plant before that was a single one of them you saw me in the womb for my mom even knew she was pregnant and there you fashion me according to a specific design civic purpose denotes specific people to accomplish specific things you made me in your image and then you ordained all my days you laid them out and he watched over me in good times and bad. What felt like darkness to me was like the full light of day to you precious to me.
Thoughts of God how fast the some of them if I can to help them they would be they would be more than the sand of the sea thought that his bodily this kids the sand on zero. I was at the cup of sin brings us, and you think are in this cup McGrane see anything that it 2 million for the better part of the weekend confirming that just get a look on the Internet but how many of you had 2 million thoughts about anybody thought. 2 million times about any of sand and the psalmist says not to cup all the sand on all the seashores in all the world how many thoughts. That's how often he thinks about me.
The psalmist says little he could escape your love. If I wanted to make my bed in hell you wouldn't leave me there you would come after me, but a way that was even more true than the psalmist realized when he wrote it because after we did make our bed in hell he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities became and he absorbed hell in our place so that he could take us to hell and bring us back to him.
No wonder the psalmist concludes how fast, how vast are the thoughts you have about me there more than to save the seat. I awake to wake up this is like a drink and can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior's blood died he for me who caused his pain for me to him to death pursued why what I feel discouraged, why do the shadows come.
Why does my heart feel lonely long for heaven and all because Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is heat up his eyes on the sparrow well I know he watches me pay you ache to be special to somebody this Christmas you ache to be special to somebody. My goodness you're special to him.
You yearn to matter you matter to him and all the pursuits that you ever been on whether you knew it or not, that ache in your heart that unsatisfied gravy wasn't ache for him.
The arms that you sought in romance were actually his arms.
The acceptance that you crave from your friends is actually found in hearing him say you are my beloved son or daughter and you I am well pleased favors the poor.
He favors the messy favors the forgotten give you one more he favors the guilty shepherds were considered dirty, dishonest Jesus favored now. In actuality, were they more guilty than other people. Of course, the difference was that shepherds were actually aware of, so it's no coincidence that the angels chose to make the announcement to the group of people that everybody else considered to be dishonest and shameful and guilty and who consider themselves to be dishonest and stable guilty because Jesus came for those who knew they needed a Savior that's me favors the truth be told all of us in God's eyes like shepherds were in Israel's eyes Bible says in Romans 323 that all of us of sin in all of us. Also, the God that means is that even for the best of us when our hearts are held up to the light of God's glory were to see that they are consumed with selfishness and self-will and dishonesty and corrupted desires and idolatry when our hearts are exposed to the light of God's glory will see what Isaiah said that all the righteousness of her to scrub like a needle vehicle, hypodermic needle that you would use to give a shot look at it looks so perfect it looks like perfectly formed steel in sterile and clean, but if you magnify see that it's just full of all all kinds Wilcoxon imperfections. Your I just can't see what Isaiah is saying from a distance it may look like that person has it together but God sees their heart and the righteousness is like a filthy rag. Jesus came for those who recognize that Jesus came for those that need a Savior like I said you the other day the scandal.
The gospel is not that Jesus also loves bad people.
The scandal of the gospel is that he only loves bad people because that's the only kind of people. There are, and if you recognize that you need him. That means he came for you.
Jesus favors the poor. He favors the messy favors the forgotten he favors the guilty and unseen. You hunted that group. He says unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, not a not a teacher, not a guru, not a life coach, not a model but Savior Savior, who is Christ the Lord is liking.
Usually Jesus's main ministry was not. Jesus was not primarily a religious Guru dispensed advice on the best way to live. The essence of Jesus life a substitution Jesus live the life we were supposed to live because we could limit many died the death that we've been condemned to die in our place. That's why we call him the Savior. That's why we say around the summa church of the gospel is not good advice. The gospel is good news is not good advice about how you need to live. It's the good news that when you didn't live that way Jesus came as a substitute for safe to pay for your sin and now through his resurrection.
He put his spirit into you, so that he can make you new. Jesus didn't come to make you a better person be a better person became to use it became so that he could be a better person for you and then be a better person through to see maybe, just maybe, maybe it might make more sense now why the angel shows the first analysis, the poor, the messy, the forgotten the guilty their posture to receive how they respond. How they respond. Verse 15 when the angels left and returned to having the shepherds said to one another.
Let's go straight to Bethlehem and see what happened was little of the Lord is made known to us in a hurried off in the town with Mary and Joseph AB was lying in a manger after seeing them.
They reported the message that they have been told about this child and all who heard it were amazed shepherds said to be a man shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they have seen and heard just as they had been told by the angels. We seem to hear two things that I would say don't you then generally appropriate in one worship, they glorified and praised one of my favorite depictions of the scene of the manger is by Rembrandt called the adoration of the shepherds in Rembrandt's painting's white. We always doing should always have the light whenever Jesus fixable. I was always soup from him from the sun, not from a torch always from Jesus so that the shadows would always pull away from what this particular picture unfortunately can't see the lighting is not great but you look at picture you see that as the light exudes from baby Jesus what the shepherds has his hand stretched out and it causes the shadow behind him on the ceiling to form a cross. It was Rembrandt's way of saying that Jesus is glory revealed to the shepherds was not and what he taught to them. It was in the truth that he would die for them on a cross so that he could restore them to God that we didn't. They had made their bed in hell he was coming after the only posture to take before that kind of act.
Rembrandt will save his words is what we do is say what else could you do begin. The gospel is not good advice is good news. Advice about what you should do but good news about what God has done good news that you only need to believe and receive salvation. You see, salvation is a gift. Justin, by the way and that way it's like any other gift to Christmas you choose to receive it. You got open kids deliver present like this wraps it underneath the tree. Usually the mayors.
It is easy, is it ever going to be yours. Now you take it and open it when you see if your name is on it. You gotta take it and unwrap it to try to show you how to show you today is that your name is on this gift, the gift of salvation you can have that gift. If you surrender your life to him and ask him which leads me to the second way that they responded what they do.
I told everybody how can they not they understand it and not tell everybody Summit which understand something, my life mission is not complex. My life mission is driven by one truth, one truth, Jesus died as a substitute for sinners and everybody everywhere in villages in the South Pacific and people right here in the Triangle everybody need to know about that. The theologian Karl.
I think Henry said the gospel is only good news for somebody to get them in time they have to secure it for it to be good news for them to the good news I give to you is this unto you is born this day in the city of David, to you who are poor, messy, and forgotten in guilty on to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior is Christ the Lord and he received are you telling others because he came we go because he came we going to be joined with the Angels join with the shepherds, we start to sing the words that they begin the form that night. Hark the Herald Angels Sing glory to the newborn King's on earth and her smile taught in sinners been reconciled hell to heaven born Prince of peace. Hell, the son of right light and life to all the Marines risen to gift you get a receipt.
Once you by your head, what are campuses doing this there in your home by your hands.
As I've explained your way to respond is to fall your knees and surrender and amazement and belief and stay in that posture of wonder for the rest of your life begins starts with just receiving the gift you ever received Jesus persevere taken that gift for yourself. If not, or you're not sure than right now. You could say Lord Jesus, I'm ready.
I'm ready. I receive I receive you as my Savior and I surrender to you if you prayed that prayer with me just now got questions about prayed that prayer right now you got questions about what you take your phone out don't you check the word ready text the word ready Re: 81 33933 screen CSS text ready 33933. If you're sitting at home right now anytime of the day anywhere in the world to ready 33933 hey maybe your kid here when you have like I'm ready to tell your parents or whoever brought him out of the service, the pastor one worship teams tell them I'm ready love to show you how you can know that you receive that gift.
Tell you what's next brothers of us. You committed to tell who is God's putting on your heart to tell me you could grab a book for the strongest conversation. Think who they are and what you just pray pray for them again if you prayed to receive Christ community right now