Well, hello, Summit Church, and welcome to all of our campuses this morning. This is a fantastic weekend here at the Summit Church because before we get into the message, we get to celebrate what God has done through our multiply commitments, as well as kick off a two-year journey of growth with God as He multiplies faith and commitment deeper within us, as well as the ministry of the gospel wider through us. That really seems to be what the Holy Spirit has been doing in this church for the last couple of months.
Whenever I begin a sermon series, I always know the general direction that I think we're supposed to go, but it's always interesting to me the things that the Holy Spirit begins to bring up throughout the series. And what it was, at least to me, is just this idea that God does not come to us and call us to generosity because He is a God who needs something from us, as if He were a God that has financial needs. He does that because He wants something for us.
He ultimately, He's not interested in what we're going to give to Him. He's interested in the heart behind what we give to Him. And so what God does is He wants us to give Him our first and our best because He's multiplying love for Him, and He's multiplying faith in Him through this journey.
And so that's what it's been about. That's why we say it's not the amount that we give that matters to God, it's the heart that is revealed behind what we give that is the essential part. If you are a guest with us this weekend, you picked an awesome weekend to make for your very first weekend because you get to see us celebrate some extraordinary things that God has done in our church in the last several months, as well as getting a glimpse of where we believe God is about to take us. You see, two weekends ago, many of us committed by faith to live generously and give sacrificially for the next two years so that we could expand our mission of loving God, loving each other, and loving our world. By God's grace, we are not, nor will we ever be, a church that is content with being comfortable or complacent. We made a covenant with God 14 years ago as a church, and that covenant was that we were going to prioritize the mission of the gospel above our personal preferences for what we wanted a church to be and above what we thought was comfortable or preferable in a church.
We were going to prioritize the mission above that, and then secondly, that we were going to follow the Holy Spirit wherever He led us. That's what we've been doing for 14 years. It's what we did in Multiply because we want our lives on earth to matter. We know that we've got one shot. It's a short one, relatively speaking, and like Abraham, we want to see our lives multiplied to make an eternal difference in the world. That's what we've been doing. So are you ready, Summit Church, to hear some of the results of what God did in our Multiply commandments?
All right? It sounds to me like about half of you, the other half, are just going to have to sit and listen to this, all right? You might remember that our primary goal in our Multiply initiative was that 100 percent of the people who are involved in the Summit Church in a meaningful way would seek God for what He would have them do personally, and that 100 percent of us would make a commitment to giving God by faith our first and our best for the next two years. That was our primary goal, was that 100 percent of us, for the people that God has made this church, your church, would be engaged in this.
Well, to that end, I have some exciting numbers to share with you. The first number I want to share is the number of first-time givers to Multiply. Now, this is an incredible number because it represents the number of people who made a commitment to God through Multiply who have never given to the Summit Church before.
Many of them have never been financially involved in the kingdom of God before. So these are the first-time families that are getting engaged in this process with us. That number of families who, for the first time, are giving to the kingdom of God through the Summit Church is 881. 881 families that have joined.
That's an awesome thing to celebrate. The second number I want to share with you is the total number of Multiply faith commitments. Now, these are the ones just turned in by adults and students. It doesn't count the kids who turned in commitments. Kids' gifts are probably more significant than ours, but they're not reflected in this number.
But the total number of households that's committed to be a part of this Multiply faith initiative, 2,411, which represents somewhere around 6,000 people here at the Summit Church, which is a huge start to our primary goal of having 100% offering to God their first and their best over the next two years. Put your hands together to celebrate that as well. All right. All right.
So our financial goal was $50 million in gifts and projected giving over the next two years. Are you ready to find out how we did on that one? All right. Keep in mind that this is just the secondary goal.
I'm sincere about that. It's not the primary goal. This is just the secondary goal. That number, our goal was $50 million. That number is, well, first let me make sure you understand the backstory of how we got to that number. You see our financial consultants, our nerds who know things like this, told us that really our goal should be $45 million. That was what they said, put out there because that was extremely aggressive. They said it was a faith goal.
It was a God-sized goal. Consider this. They pointed out just five short years ago, in 2010, our annual giving at this church was only about $8 million a year. Then we went into the All In Initiative and by God's grace, our annual giving grew to about $16.5 million per year last year, which means that if we didn't do anything for the next couple of years, we just kind of coasted on where we are, we would expect to bring in about $33 million. So having a goal of $45 million would be almost a 33% increase. So they said that this is what you ought to go for. This is huge, 45.
That's where you should set your sights. But I don't see y'all after we prayed about it, we just felt like we needed $50 million to do what God was calling us to do. Now we don't dictate to God what we need and sometimes God has different expectations.
So we're not, he's not a genie in a bottle, but we just said, hey, why don't we just at least ask God, this is what we think we need to do, what we feel like we're called to do. And we're going to ask God for $50 million and just see what he does. So how did we do?
How did we do? Well, you know, for some churches, when they celebrate things like this, they stack up bricks on the stage to represent the buildings they're going to build. Someone will do the thermometer. Do you go up at a church like that with the thermometer?
We'd rather have people do that. And so they're going to represent this number. Would you put your hands together at all campuses and welcome this group here on stage. What we've got up here is someone from every campus that is represented on stage here. And they're going to introduce themselves to you, tell you what campus they're from, maybe give just a glimpse of how God has used the ministries of the Summit Church in their lives.
And then they are going to one by one reveal this multiply number of gifts and projected giving over the next two years. So David, we'll start here with you. Hi, my name is David Liu.
I go to the downtown Durham campus. I heard the name of Jesus and the gospel for the first time from members of the Summit Church. Now I'm part of this church, and I'm very excited to share his name with other people. And my number is eight.
How about that? Heard the gospel the first time. Now, just a quick reminder that eight is not his personal commitment, eight dollars over the next two years, but that just represents part of the number sequence. Good morning, Summit. My name is Susan. My husband and I attend the Blue Ridge campus, and I'm a broken woman loved by Jesus who's found great joy in being used as a glove on his hand and equipping and encouraging the next generation in the multiplication of the gospel of Christ.
Summit, it is fun doing life together, loving and being loved by you. And my number is three. Now, you're going to want to clap for every one of these because some of the testimonies are awesome, but just hang on to the very end and we'll do it all at once. So I know you're eager. I'm eager too, but just we'll just hang on.
All right. Hey guys, my name is Anthony Wilson. I've attended and served at the Cary campus now for about a year through the Summit church. God has really opened my eyes to his grace and he's radically transformed my entire life. And my number is zero.
See why I told you not to clap because I knew that'd be anticlimactic. Good morning. My name is Linda Lamoni. My husband, David, and I attend the North Durham campus. God has used our church family in amazing ways. God has healed and restored our marriage. And in doing that, God revealed to David and I, to David and I, that everything needs to come under his authority. Everything, every decision we make, including our finances.
So we are committed to that as a couple. And your number is? Number is, you knew there'd be one. Number nine.
Number nine. Good morning. My name is Aria from Chapel Hill campus.
I'm an international student stay in UNC and I'm from China. Two months ago, Christ found me and now I want him to lead my way. And my number is zero. Heard about Christ and God found her, she said, two months ago, Chapel Hill campus. Hi Summit, my name is David Boyd. My family and I attend the North Raleigh campus.
God has been using the Summit to prepare us to take the gospel to the nations by planning our lives overseas. My number is? Six. Good morning, my name is Angel Chavez. That is the last Spanish J.D.
knows, so I'm going to say the rest of this in English. The first time that I truly heard the gospel was here in Summit. I remember when J.D. said, in God there's not, I can do, I can do, and how do you say that? In Christ there's nothing I can do. Yeah, to make God love me more and there's nothing that I have done to make God love me less.
And I have decided to follow Jesus with all of my heart. And my numero? My number is?
Cinco. Five. Now, this last one, Conca, is, represents, he's from our Alamance County campus, which is our most recent campus plan here. And we asked him to reveal the last number because he, as one of the leaders of this campus, represents where we're going in the future as God continues to multiply the gospel witness here in the triangle. So he's going to reveal that number now. Let me just remind you, I said $50 million was our goal. $45 million was what they told us was the faith goal that we should go for and we were going to be satisfied with whatever God gave us. But Conca, would you reveal our last number here? Yes, my name is Conca. I do represent the Alamance campus and God has transformed my life and the life of that campus.
And we have seen God move and our desire is to see God move and transform our community. So my number is? Five. $55 million.
$609,038. Amen. Stand to your feet. It's something to celebrate. All of our campuses, let's stand together. Amen. Summit Church, can you believe, can you believe that we get to be a part of this? Honestly, I mean, how many of us thought that we get a chance to see that God has such clear intentions of what he's doing in the triangle and that he would use us? I mean, it is amazing because we know that with this comes a promise. In fact, it's a promise we depend on that he's going to build his church through us.
And we haven't met a need of God. This is nothing that heaven is celebrating like, oh my goodness, now I've got resources to do what I need to do. This is a gift of God to us through you. But it's a gift of God to this church because he is going to with this also give us the ability to reach our neighbors, to reach our children. Grace like this comes with a promise of future grace.
Jesus is the one who builds his church. Can you believe that you and I get to be an active participant in that? As I say that, I realize that there are some of you that are still on the sidelines. And I want to tell you the greatest joy in your life you will ever find is to be a part of something that God is doing and to know that your life is having eternal significance. I want to see this occur in my family.
I want to see it occur to my neighbors. And so I'm invested heart and soul in this. And I am so overwhelmed at what God has obviously intended about the future of this church.
Our goal remains the same. We have said that we want to baptize 50,000 people in the Triangle area in our generation. 50,000. Can you imagine how different the Triangle is going to look when we have baptized 50,000 new believers here at the Summit Church? We say we want to plant 1,000 churches in our generation, both in the Triangle and around the world. We say that we want to see 100 community blessing organizations founded or started out of the Summit Church, which is going to minister to the homeless, the orphan, the prisoner, the unwed mother, the high school dropout, the businessman and the businesswoman, the international student, the college student. We want to see these things grow out of our church. We've asked God to let us send out 5,000 of our people to plant churches around the world.
This represents God saying, yes, you are asking and I will give you what you are asking. In just a minute, in just a minute, I'm going to have Rich from the Briar Creek campus here, since they weren't represented in this number, come up and he's going to lead us just in a prayer of consecration. But what we're also going to do, in fact, why don't you do this? Why don't you be seated, if you would, at all of our campuses.
Be seated. I'm going to, we're going to begin this journey. This morning, we've been talking about our Multiply First Big Give offering. First Big Give offering, which is, we're going to do that right now.
In fact, you should have sat on that envelope. It says Multiply First Big Give on it. If you're with your spouse, you guys grab that, hold that together. We are praying that this would be the single largest offering we've ever received in one weekend at the Summit Church that will allow us to get started on these multiply commandments. These multiply initiatives that we are beginning. There's a lot of things we feel like we want to do to begin to reach the triangle. And so this gives us a jumpstart.
If you're giving out of stored resources, this would be the time that you do that. Veronica and I, my wife and I are making a very significant gift today. In fact, I went ahead and divided it by five and wrote five different checks so I could give one in every service that I'm preaching in. And so I'll be doing that as well. I know that many of you, hopefully all of you, unless you're our guests here with us, are going to be participating in that. This is our regular offering. If you are a guest, we don't want you to feel compelled to give by us.
We're just grateful that you're here. But this is our regular offering from this point on. Everything that we do for the next two years will go into this multiply initiative that we're doing, whether you put it in an envelope or give it online as I usually give or not. So I'm going to ask Rich if he'll come out here, if he'll lead us in a prayer of consecration. And then our ushers will come and they'll begin to take our offering. Let me just, I'm going to put a verse up on the screen during the offering. It's 2 Corinthians chapter 9 verses 10 and 11. And it's going to say this, God will multiply our seed for sowing.
That's what he's done. And he's going to enrich us to be generous in every way. He enriches us in every way to be generous in every way, which through us, this is the good part, is going to produce thanksgiving to God. What you heard up here this morning was eight different stories of thanksgiving, at least three that I heard who said they heard the gospel, one of them the name of Jesus for the first time at the Summit Church. They are now giving thanks to God and bringing their friends to give thanks to God because of the faith and generosity of this church. Sacrifice has given up what you love for something you love even more.
And I'll be honest with you, my wife and I have learned to love stories like the eight that we heard this morning more than we love. A lot of the things that we can use to the toys to put it into our lives. And so I hope that your heart will be filled with thanksgiving as we rejoice in what God is going to produce through these things that we put before him. Rich, you lead us in prayer if we would, brother. Gracious and merciful Father, God great is your faithfulness for you alone have been bountiful and benevolent to us, Lord. God thank you for sending your son Jesus Christ to be pierced for our transgressions and to be crushed for our iniquities so that the punishment that was laid on him God would bring us peace.
Father it is because of that truth that many souls in this room today have been transformed. God and we get to rejoice and celebrate in the generosity that you have produced in us and the generosity that you have shown toward us. God but also know that it is your will to redeem a people from every tribe and nation for your glory, oh Lord. And beautiful are the feet of those that carry the good news to them. And so God I pray for the Summit Church. God I pray for your people. God that you would do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we can ask or even think, Lord. God as we preach and proclaim your gospel, God as we offer ourselves up as living sacrifices, enrich us in every way to be generous in every way so that our lost neighbor, so that our lost co-worker, so that our lost classmate, our lost city and our lost nation would come to know you Lord and worship you forever. God I pray this in the name of your majestic son. And all God's people said, amen. Amen. Our ushers are coming now.
You take a moment to reflect on 2 Corinthians 9 and just rejoice and be thankful to God for what's happening. This is our regular offering. There will not be another offering in the service. So for those of you that are going to come up to me after the service, I already know you're coming. When was the offering? This is it, okay. So our ushers are doing that at all campuses. You take a moment to rejoice and just to obey the Holy Spirit.
All right, one more time. If you believe that God is going to do something extraordinary in the next couple of years, put your hands together at all of our campuses. We thank God together. Well, Summit Church, it is officially the Christmas season.
Some of you, I know, are resisting that. You have not put up a tree yet because you are digging in your heels so that you can make a point to all those stores who had their Christmas items out before Halloween. But realize that seated right beside you are others of you who, well, you're the reason that those stores do that because you put up your Christmas tree right after September or right in September. All of your presents are already wrapped and underneath the tree and you melt out your Christmas cards the day after Thanksgiving. Congratulations. The rest of us hate you.
But you are who you are. You know, I'm not sure if it's just me, but Christmas seems to have gotten a little more contentious in the more recent years. Maybe it's just that social media has made us more aware of how crazy people are around us or maybe it's made your relatives aware of how crazy you are. But every year, dozens of people get trampled on Black Friday, as in literally run over by other human beings trying to get a larger TV. And thankfully, you can always count on some crazy Christian group finding something to be paranoid about in the war on Christmas. This year, we Christians set our sights strategically on Starbucks for not putting snowflakes on their coffee cups because you know those snowflakes really preach the gospel with such clarity to our culture. And we were so dependent on Starbucks to really educate our culture on what the gospel is all about.
I mean, the cup already has on it a mythical half naked mermaid. And we were concerned about the snowflakes because that's really where it went downhill. Well, in the spirit of Christmas today, we're going to start a series about Christmas carols. Now, I don't mean the goofy Christmas songs about winter weather, which always sound strange in North Carolina when it's 70 degrees for the first month that these things play. We're not going to explore anything by wham, I can assure you, or unpack any nonsensical lyrics about Christmas use. I am not going to say that grandma got run over by a reindeer is really symbolic of the defeat of Satan at the rapture of Jesus Christ. And you will not catch me saying that Jesus is the truer and better Frosty the snowman. No, I when I say Christmas carols, I'm talking about songs, ancient songs that most of us know, at least we know the tune, things like heart the herald angel sing or O come O come Emmanuel or joy to the world on songs that you recognize the tune of but but you may not know the meaning of. In fact, one of the reasons you probably don't know the meaning of them is because they're full of weird phrases like round yon virgin, or troll the ancient yuletide Carol, which I have a PhD in theology and I still don't know what that means. I remember as a kid singing the first Noel and thinking I don't even know what a Noel is much less why we're excited about the first one. Are there other Noel's?
Can we get presents on their days too? Tell me about this. A lot of us probably have this gap between what we sing and what we understand. So we're going to do a series on a few of those Christmas carols and the passages that are associated with them because they are incredibly rich gospel songs. Some of the richest gospel theology is in these songs and the tragedy is many of us sing them.
Our culture sings the gospel over itself and doesn't even realize it. These are, as we're going to call them in this series, sermons that you can sing. My hope is that doing this series will turn on what psychologists call your noetic system in your brain, which is just a fancy way of saying your brain's awareness. Your noetic system is when you become aware of how prevalent something is. It's kind of like they say you never knew how many people drove Honda Accords until you bought a Honda Accord.
Then you're like everybody's got a Honda Accord. Well that's what's going to happen is you're going to see how much theology, how much grace God has put in these songs that are all around us as it declares to us on the inexpressible measure of God's love to us. So I hope this is an incredible experience for you. Our worship team has put together an EP which just means a four-song album that has an original version of each of these songs. It is absolutely incredible. Some of the best work they've done and they've made that available to us.
Well they'll be doing this. They've got a version of it of each of those carols we're going to go through over the weeks to come. For our very first Christmas carol I asked Pastor Rod Dale Hernandez who is our resident Cuban on staff as well as one of our directional elders giving oversight to the church and the campus pastor of our Summit in Espanol campus. I asked him if he would come and do the first one because he is a man who deeply, deeply loves the gospel and he is especially gifted at ministering the gospel to people who are broken and in pain because of some of the experiences that God has led him through. He's a gift to the Hispanic community here but he's a gift also to our church and the community at large. So Summit at all of our campuses would you put your hands together and welcome back to our pulpit Pastor Rod Dale Hernandez.
Ya esfeliz, el peccador, esus perdón le da, esus perdón le da, esus, esus perdón le da. Joy to the world, the Lord has come, let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing, oh and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing. For he alone is worthy, for Christ alone is worthy, for he alone is worthy, oh Christ the Lord. Praise be to God, amen. I wanted to sing Feliz Navidad but Pastor JD wouldn't let me.
Would have been perfect, I know that in Spanish. Joy to the world is a hymn that was written nearly 300 years ago, 296 years ago to be exact. Isaac Watts wrote the hymn based on the second part of Psalm 98 and little did he know that joy to the world would become the most popular Christmas carol of the 20th century and of course he didn't know that it was going to be translated in so so many languages including Spanish which is the first time that I heard it and that's actually the only language that I knew it in that's why I had to put the lyrics in the back for me in English. So what did Isaac Watts see in Psalms 98 that inspired this powerful carol that shouts joy to the world he saw a beautiful and natural crescendo in Psalm 98. In Psalm 98 seas roar rivers clap their hands and hills sing but why Psalms 98 verse 4 make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth break forth into joyous song and sing praises verse 7 let the sea roar and all that fills it the world and those who dwell in it let the rivers clap their hands let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord for he comes together to judge the earth he will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity. Now I know that this Christmas carol and even perhaps to you Psalms 98 sounds a bit naive perhaps to you when we were kids we would sing Christmas carols filled with joy and we'll be all jolly about it but we've grown up haven't we and now we get to see the world for what it really is we think to ourselves is it still possible to sing joy to the world today how can we make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth why break forth into joyous song and praise says verse 4 of Psalm 98 and verse 1 of the carol why make a joyful noise before the king the Lord verses 5 and 6 how should the sea roar in gladness and all that fills it why should the world and those who dwell in it roar as well verse 7 because Christmas is that God became man everything else at Christmas time is an add-on Jesus is the deity of God living in humanity he that made men became men joy to the world we call that incarnation for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily Jesus wasn't just another baby the Christmas baby the Christmas baby is God made man for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell you know it was it was clear it was evident that Jesus' birth wasn't just another birth he wasn't just another baby when Christ was born wise men crossed the border just to come see and worship Jesus now you like that I said that they crossed the border don't you you like that because they did I don't know if they had a green card I don't know if they had visas but they crossed the border to worship Jesus which is exactly what I did by the way I think if Donald Trump would have been the president back in this day the Bible would say and wise men crossed giant walls to worship Jesus because you know he wants to build that giant wall all right let me get back to preaching I'm sorry why do y'all do this to me the point is that Jesus' birth wasn't just another birth when Christ was born real angels came down from heaven to announce of his birth can you imagine the sound of that when Christ was born the biggest star in heaven lined up his way and not only that but the Bible says that the star actually rested over the place where Jesus was born Jesus' birth wasn't just another birth when Christ was born shepherds literally hurried to see him and after they saw him they couldn't stop repeating glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he's pleased and the amazing thing is that all who heard the shepherds marveled at what the shepherds told them about Jesus this wasn't just a new baby in town this was God in the manger God went from God the spirit to God the men from God in heaven to God with us Emmanuel no wonder Psalm 98 says that it says that the earth roared of course you roared earth your maker is with you again of course the earth sings and so should we joy to the world the Lord has come let earth receive her king let every heart prepare him room and heaven and nature sing by the way no other religion no other religion has God humbling himself you always have in religion a God with little g who's always requiring mankind to be better and do more in order for men to be accepted but in Christianity in Christ you have God humbling and coming to us to take away our sins so that those who believe and trust our lives to him may worship him and enjoy him forever let every heart prepare him room joy to the world what else can we see was in the minds of Isaac Watts as he read Psalms 98 and started writing this carol he writes he comes to make his blessing flow far as the curse is found far as the curse is found far as far as the curse is found you see Isaac Watts knew it ain't so easy to sing joy to the world in a broken world he wasn't naive he just acknowledged three times that there is a curse in the world that is real Isaac himself was played by disease his physical illness got to the point where he couldn't pastor anymore he had to quit the pastorate because of his great disease he knew pain he was also rejected when he proposed marriage to his bride-to-be and nothing as embarrassing and disheartening as when you say would you marry me darling and you get a big heck no he also faced constant opposition about his work from those both inside the church and outside the church this is the guy that wrote wondrous cross this is the guy that wrote joy to the world and he was often called a heretic by those in the church here's a guy that knows where you're coming from he's not naive so how in the world he writes joy to the world it was the way of preaching the hope of the gospel to himself it was his fight for the ultimate joy that he may really feel in the flesh the ultimate joy the incarnated God with us his name is Jesus I wonder if you're feeling it's a curse of humanity's rejection to God today how is this world broken for you today what are you plagued with this Christmas maybe this past year you've lost a child or maybe you're carrying the weight of a deep dark secret that is basically unconfessed sin or perhaps this year was a year of a relationship that didn't work out similar to what happened to Isaac Watts and that stuff hurts that stuff really hurts you see I'm not naive either I'm not standing here preaching to you and singing to you joy to the world because I don't know pain and I can't even get into what I'm saying to all the pain I've been through in my life but I've lost not one but two children I've had a loved one diagnosed with cancer 3 going on for stage 3 going on for cancer at Christmas time I've moved 40 times in my life I'm not even 40 yet I know what it is to really live poor wondering what am I going to able to eat next I'm not talking about being broke with a cell phone in your pocket I'm not talking about not having money to pay a bill and a pantry full of food I'm talking about not even knowing what in the world am I going to eat next and that's why it may sound silly to you but when I wake up and I open up the pantry and see more than one box of cereal in there I weep because of God's abundance and providence but I know pain too how can I then how can Isaac Watts how can you sing joy to the world then precisely because Christmas is the revelation that in Christ pain and sin will never have the last word in Christ pain and sin will never have the last word and yes there is a curse but there is one savior that took it all and took it all so far so far so far so far the hymn the carol says that because of him because of Jesus you and I won't ever see that curse again in eternity joy to the world listen in Christ your life has the crescendo of psalm 98 and sure yeah this body of flesh may fail and wither but the inner being grows each day stronger in the Lord who is making all things new in the world words of Paul second Corinthians 4 16 though our outer self is wasting away our inner self is being renewed day by day and instead of the believer's life going downhill and ending six feet on the ground in Christ all of life goes uphill until we embrace the savior's arms in the paradise that we have lost but we will get back in Jesus joy to the world and I know eternity boggles our minds it's a long time I mean I mean it's literally it's forever I mean you're thinking better be good if it's gonna be forever but in Christ eternity is like a great great book where each chapter is way better than the one before did you know that when this carol was written Isaac Watts was actually thinking of the second coming of Christ and not just of the first that's the beauty of Advent of Christmas that it doesn't just give you a savior that came and that said it gives you a savior that came lived the life you couldn't live defeated death ascended and will come again because the king of heaven came down and will return again the hope of heaven is true for you and for me and for all who believe can I tell you a little bit about that heaven just a little bit I mean come on we we turn the news on nowadays and it's just depressing let me tell you a little bit about that heaven revelation 21 says and I saw the holy city new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband you know what that means it means that heaven is beautiful do you realize how long it takes a bride to put her makeup on for her wedding day but you cannot deny that they're beautiful all brides are beautiful they are prepared adorned now imagine a place prepared by God himself it will reflect the stunning beauty of our maker verse 3 of revelation 21 says and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying behold the dwelling place of God is with men he will draw with them and they will be his people and God himself will be with them as their God he will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore for the former things have passed away no more racism no more hatred no more strife no more jealousy no more fits of anger no more rivalries no more dissensions no more divisions no more deeds of the flesh no more sickness no more death no more deaths no more natural disasters no more wars no more hospitals no more funerals no more graveyards no more mass shootings no more sickness and no more pain because Christ came to the world all because the savior came glory to God in the highest joy to the world heaven is beautiful it's perfect it is also a real place if you read revelations 21 later at home the angel could actually measure the place verse says 15 and 16 in heaven it's also a secure place it talks about walls made out of precious jewels not that it needs it it's just a symbolism that it is a secure place verses 17 to 21 absolutely nothing to fear anymore joy to the world and even so even so the beauty of heaven does not compare to the God of heaven and that's exactly what Jesus came to give you at Christmas time not something from God but a restored relationship with God himself heaven is for you so fear not and surrender to Christ that you too even in the midst of suffering right now can also this Christmas sing joy to the world precisely because the Lord has come he has taken our curse the fact that Christ came and became men tells you he knows your pain he's been there and then some this too shall pass in Christ you get a new heaven and a new earth he is the one who makes all things new Jesus became like us so that we could be like him the son of God became like us that he would make us sons and daughters of God the cute little baby Jesus in the manger is the glory of the invisible God Hebrews puts it this way he is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature and he upholds the uniform by the word of his power after making purification for sins he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs guys the birth of Jesus is more than a supernatural display of God's power becoming men the birth had a clear purpose that Jesus will lead us to God the carol says he comes to make his blessing flow and was the greatest blessing in life and death God himself listen the greatest blessing is not the absence of trials this Christmas your greatest blessing is the presence of God with you Emmanuel joy to the world the purpose of the baby in the manger is saving grace for humanity and the all satisfying glory of God glory to God at Christmas Jesus became the human that understands your pain and at the same time the one who came to take away your biggest sorrow this sin that keeps you separated from joy because joy is not something it's someone it's God finally the Lord Jesus Christ came to reveal God to us and there is only two things you can do about that revelation of God in Christ one you can repent humble yourself and believe and trust Jesus or two you can rebel and continue to pretend you can somehow save yourself through good deeds or ministry or devotion or doing great things for good causes I have three atheist friends whom I love dearly they're three knuckleheads that I love so much and something that never ceases to strike me during this time for them it's all the Christmas carols that get played everywhere and they're full of Jesus and their lyrics of course and I called one of them I won't say his name I called one of them up the other day and I said man you must be living right now you must be hating all this Christmas carols with people singing about Jesus and his response was actually I like Christmas carols I sing along and I was like broken you stop to consider what you're singing I was also at a celebration this past week it was not a Christian celebration by any means there was about a thousand people there mostly non-christians and this was a holiday party and it struck me again that at the end of the party everybody started singing Christ the savior was born Christ the savior was born and I couldn't help to think do we not see the irony there and I started praying with with all of me inside of me Lord would you please open their eyes to see that that is your only hope that Christ the savior was born psalm 98 which birth the Christmas carol joy to the world ends with this let the rivers clap let their hand let their let the rivers clap their hands let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord and watch now watch now for he comes to judge the earth he will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity Christ first coming and Christ's return is great news for those who believe but it's not great news for those who reject him and can I beg you this Christmas can I plead with you to at least consider that the son of God is the only way to God I know there is a movement out there around the phrase only God can judge me and I've seen that phrase lately t-shirts and bumper stickers tattoos and it's true I'm not saying it's not true and there's only one judge right God only one and yes only God can judge us but you are forgetting one vital truth in that phrase he will he will judge us as the end of psalm 98 says so don't just make room for Jesus that is the only one thing I don't like about the carol itself personally don't just make room for Jesus give him your whole life give it over to him because if you're founding him you have nothing to worry about he bore our sin and he bore our shame and he bore the judgment due to us on that cross joy to the world do you believe it today do you believe that God came and became man for you this Christmas for you and believer don't forget that the carol also encourages us in verse three no more let sins and sorrows grow nor thorns infest the ground he comes to make his blessing flow far as the curse is found yes Jesus came to take our curse but one sure way to throw away the joy of the work of Christ is have virtual non-repentant sin in our lives would you surrender all that you are to Christ that the joy of salvation may be restored to you this Christmas and forever that you may to sing despite our trials joy to the world and talking about Christmas carols and singing and playing instruments and all the beautiful music we hear yes it is true it is true that the greatest news in the world you can find them in an eight note scale for example if you play the note the scale of c backwards and you were just to pause in the first second fourth sixth seventh and last note you will hear there the greatest news ever for this is what you'll get joy to the world the savior has come and that is the greatest news for humanity ever let us pray father thank you for becoming men for pursuing us with your amazing love even after we rejected you our maker father you are making all things new and jesus in you pain and sorrow will not have the last word and lord i pray that you would not just rule the earth but that you will rule our hearts that your joy may be restored unto us that despite of pain and a broken world we will be able to sing this christmas joy to the world as we dwell on your forgiveness your pardon your welcome that you gave us to you and god i pray that you will restore that joy to us this christmas you are that joy joy to the world because the lord jesus you came thank you so very much i pray these things in your name jesus for your glory and for our good amen
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-04 21:02:59 / 2023-09-04 21:20:39 / 18