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December 24, 2021 9:00 am
Today on some Atlanta pastor Judy Greer talks about the presence of God. Many of you want your circumstances change this Christmas. What if there were something greater changed circumstances. What if it was to know that God was really with no God again is your everlasting father you have, please, the mighty God, to walk with the wonderful counselor to know intimately the Prince of peace Smith and welcome back to some Atlanta pastor Judy Greer. As always, I'm your host Molly benefits. Thank you for spending part of your holiday. With that, we pray that our teaching this week has prepared your heart for a wonderful celebration this weekend with family and friends know Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and peace. But the reality is that for most of that December is just as hard as the rest of the year if not more. In fact, this last week of preparation can feel stressful and way too busy, so does the Christmas message actually change anything that's are subject today on Summit life with JD Greer as we wrap up a short series called God with us.
If you missed any part of the setting. You can find a whole series. Judy Greer.com right now. Let's join Pastor JD for an important message that he titled Emmanuelle dwelling in darkness have seen a great light for those dwelling in the shadow of them.
A light has dawned, what exactly does that mean well what kind of darkness were these people in Israel during this time was a time of national crisis.
They were under siege. Economically they had been devastated, their very existence as a nation was now under threat.
They felt like they were usually Isaiah's words, there, dwelling in the shadow of death. In other words, there was a darkness of uncertainty about the future. Theirs was the darkness of fear about their safety or about the safety of the ones that they love theirs was the darkness that comes from a feeling that they were abandoned that they were all alone that they were helpless and they were hopeless. Theirs was a darkness that was from the sense that they had been even abandoned by God because of their past sense mistakes that they had made a goal down house from which there really was no way to return and no way to have things put back together the way that they were supposed to be. She maybe you feel like you're in a similar kind of darkness this Christmas.
Maybe there are fears the darkness of fears about your own future. Maybe you are facing uncertainties of your own. Maybe this is the first Christmas you're going into it, unsure about what this next year holds for you in terms of a job. Maybe it's the uncertainty of the health of a loved one. Maybe it's your own health but you are uncertain of and that's leading you to the darkness of fear, there's a fear about what you're going to be like next year this time who was going to be with you.
Maybe this is the first Christmas you're going into as a divorced man or woman. Maybe this is a Christmas you're going into the darkness of feeling I'm abandoned I don't have anyone to turn to. I don't know where to go. Maybe it's just the darkness of the fear of death. Sigmund Freud famously pointed out the fear of death dominates us more than we probably ever realize the way the writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament, said it so we live our lives as captives to the fear of death. Maybe it's this sense of this feeling that you have been abandoned by God.
Here is my question for you. What if all of the problems in your life. Ultimately stem from. Or at least were exacerbated by the feeling that you were separated from God. Some of the most insightful secular writers of our time have pointed out that a lot of our drive in life. A lot of our aches and dysfunction goes back to a fear that we are not accepted the fear that we are not approved the fear that we are living under some kind of judgment Arthur Miller who wrote the play death of a salesman and many other plays, was once asked an interview to explain some of the themes that seem to recur in his various writings and is very stage productions that he said that when he was a teenager he had stopped believing in God. Seven. Even after ceasing to believing in God is that I feel like I've carried around this sense of judgment.
I could not escape the sense of judgment. I still felt like I needed to prove myself to others to have somebody tell me that I was okay that I was acceptable that I was approved. He said he realized that he is simply replaced God God from his childhood, with the approval of an audience that he was still looking for someone to tell him he was not under judgment, Madonna, Mike typically don't quote in sermons and my may not consider to be one of the most insightful writers of our time, nevertheless said this in Vogue magazine. When does he read Vogue magazine you ask going to strike. This wasn't my drive in life comes from a fear of being mediocre. That's always pushing me.
I push through one spell of it and discover myself to be a special human being. But then the feelings come back.
I feel like I'm still mediocre and uninteresting. Unless I do something else because even though I become somebody leaves everybody tells me I become somebody I still feel like I have to prove continually that I am somebody, my struggle has never ended and I guess it never will. The Bible explains this universal human condition. Whether you are religious or not.
In Genesis 2 and it says that the first effect of our sin was a sense of nakedness not know the Genesis story you know that Adam and Eve were naked before they send, but they had no sense of shame about their nakedness. There was no sense of vulnerability that nakedness. The reason was that all quote some of the early church fathers here. The reason was because they were clothed in the love and the acceptance of God and feeling clothed in the love and the acceptance of God even though they were naked. They didn't have that sense of shame about it because they knew they had their heavenly father's approval, having stripped themselves of their love and acceptance of God in their sin. They now felt vulnerable.
They now felt exposed.
They felt ashamed they felt under judgment. They fell in darkness. What if the problem behind all the other problems in your life was being separated from God. Blaise Pascal famously said that the human heart has what he called an infinite abyss and it be abyss that yearns for happiness that latches on to various things throughout life.
The team at last I have found it. This is what I have been missing. This will complete the hard copy said, various things work at various times, he said, but nothing quite gets it all the way to where we wanted it to be. We know deep down that there still something that we are missing. Here's what he said and I read from his pensée. He said this inability we have to be happy. What else does this craving point to other than that, something that was once there is now missing is referring to Genesis. True to that which was there, which is now missing was a love and acceptance of the heavenly father. The love and acceptance of God into that darkness into that nakedness into that separation God for the child you would not be a normal child you live the most unusual life. It would not be born in the power and privilege the way you would expect, the son of a deity to be born.
He would not rule from the throne he would be born in poverty he would make his life with the guilty of the upper and the oppressed. He grew up to die unjustly a criminal's death, even though nobody could point out anything ever said or done wrong. He was born that way because he was identified with us. He was uniting himself the eyes. He was born in poverty because in reality that's what all of us are before God even died a criminal's death because he was buried. Our sin I say I would say he was not dying for his own sin as he had no sin to die for. He was dying for our sin.
Shirley Isaiah says he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities the punishment that brought us peace was upon him so that by his stripes we could be healed. When I was a teenager my pastorate pointed to me like this very simply said, let this book here represent your sin. Let this hand represent you is that your sin stands between you and God's no matter how close you try to get the God to matter how hard you work. That sin will always be there and that separation will always be keeping you from the love and the acceptance of God. What Isaiah says that Jesus came to bear our sin in our sorrow he took upon himself that separation. He died for on across put in a grave and buried forever so that now nothing remains between God and me, and nothing remains. It keeps me from being loved and accepted by him, but Isaiah will go on to describe the relationship that this child would give us to God, he shall be called wonderful Counselor counselor means helper means somebody who walks with you through life. Someone who shoulders the heavy load. Someone who promises to work in all things for your good someone who does not keep you from problems with someone who walks with you through those problems the infinite and mighty God working on your behalf as your help in your counselor, mighty God, this is not the mighty God in the sense that we seize money from how he created the universe, but the mighty God working in and through me to make me into what he wants me to be to commandeer all the things happening in my life.
So they are working for his glory and my good people say love God really on my side and he would have that I would never have any problems but God has greater purpose for you purposes for you been keeping you just keeping you from problems is making you into something and he is doing things in this world that will accomplish is greater purposes.
He doesn't keep us from problems all the time he keeps us within those problems, everlasting father, I would suggest to you that if there were ever anything we needed in a Savior. It is a perfect and everlasting father for some of you your sweetest childhood memories go back the love you experience from your dad, brothers, that you perhaps many more.
So is your greatest pain goes back to a dad who wasn't there. Maybe he was there, but he was abusive. Maybe he just never emotionally connected to you. You never heard him say I love you or I'm proud of you. Never seen an interview in Sports Illustrated with Bo Jackson when I quoted Vogue magazine a few minutes ago. Some of you thought I needed to turn in my man card okay. Just got back sports illustrated by Jackson. If you don't know Bo Jackson was many say greatest athlete that least of our generation subsite greatest athlete who ever lived. He was he was a professional and him and into sports of the top of his game to both of Bo Jackson. This interview is Sports Illustrated said.
He said he said you know he said my dad was still alive, has never been to a single athletic game that I've ever played in my life is here I am. What many say is the greatest athlete alive, he said, and after the game that I may have had a great game.
Accolades pouring in from reporters and from coaches. He said here I am in the locker room and he said several times of look across the locker room is seen at another player, one who didn't even start yet, there he is with his dad. His dad was come to the game and they're going out for a drink or something. After the game and he said I look at them with envy and I can understand it. He said because I would give every eight bit of my athletic success away for that kind of relationship with my dad if there were ever a place in which we felt our need of salvation. It was to have the father that we crave restored and he Isaiah said shall be called the everlasting the eternal father. Jesus was the father that we'd always been yearning for the father that our earthly fathers were supposed to point us to tell my kids all the time I'm your dad. I love you I will never stop loving you I will always try to be your biggest fan receive my love at its greatest. Is there is a dim reflection of an even greater father, a greater father who will never fail you a greater father who will love you even when I even when I fail you in my love of father not only would support you would love you and be your fan father who would give his life because he could not bear the thought of you being apart from him.
For those you that are in our Summit family, you're probably familiar with the stories we talk about a little at last couple weeks.
One of our pastors recently adopted a child from another country in the court in that country awarded them the child.
The child is officially a Doherty is his name is Charlie Doherty and so right before the day came when their shift picked Charlie up from this orphanage. Something happened in the country.
There was some political upheavals and problems in the country froze the process and said I'm at this time.
No more children to be able to relieve our country. Now the child is already legally there's and so Ryan and Morgan found out that there was the only possibility only chance they had was to the child could not come to them for them to go to him. So they left up to three weeks ago and they were there for a while. Basically camping outside of the orphanage spends much time with her son is a good and and then and then lobbying the courts every day meeting with government officials pleading with them to release their son, but what you see is that you see there's a father who loves his son and since his son cannot come to him. He is going to that sign and he is fighting for his son and as I'm watching this unfold. I'm just reminded of what a picture of the gospel. This all is because I have a heavenly father who actually went farther for me than rhyme is even more for his son. He would just expensive and inconvenient for emptiness and purchase an expensive plane ticket. He poured out his blood so that I can be reconciled to him even try to move me from a country of poverty or country of privilege.
They transferred me from the domain of darkness, to the kingdom of his dear son.
Jesus is the everlasting father.
He's everything we've ever yearned for in a father the sweetest memories of your father. Where there is just a dim echo of the love of your heavenly daddy for those of you who were devastated and disappointed by your dad. It's is there to remind you there is a heavenly father who is never disappointed and never will, he shall be called the Prince of peace, he would bring us peace by restoring us to peace with God. There's a secret I've learned in my life and sing it played out hundreds of times in the church that I pastor is that horizontal dysfunction almost always goes back to a vertical disconnect from God. She is people. Our souls are so are so dissatisfied without God that we turn toward other things. We begin to abuse them and use them. That's what we have a hard time loving people and trusting people and forgiving people because instead we abuse them because we need them to fill a place that were missing because were missing.we do the same thing with power, with money, sometimes even with food and drink.
That's why listen the peace of God in your life. Horizontal only comes from peace with God. You may have noticed this that when people find God they become better husbands. They become more content as wives, they become better fathers, so they become more forgiving. That's because our souls were made for God in our souls are restless until we find our rest in him one day. Isaiah says this child will restore the earth the way it was intended to be right all wrongs you will restore justice, but first he had to be born as a substitute for sin to reconcile us to God before he could institute the peace of God on earth the ad to bring peace with God between us and the father. This was the light that God sent into our darkness. Many of you want your circumstances change. This Christmas, what if there were something greater then changed circumstances. What if it was to know that God was really with you, to know God again is your everlasting father to have peace with the mighty God to wall with the wonderful counselor to know intimately the Prince was a little phrase back in verse two to talk about the birth of the child want to draw your attention to this. The people dwell in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the shadow of death shadow. That's your word on them. A light has dawned. Chatters are real things. Isaiah says, these people are doing in the shadow of death shadow scanner are you as a pass-through is about my age.
I kids about the ages of my kids. Mild my my my children are not teenagers yet and when this pastor was my age.
His wife developed. Suddenly, a very rare form of cancer that took her life within about three weeks and the conductive part of the funeral and was riding with his oldest daughter who is 12 years old time was riding from the funeral place to the gravesite and his oldest daughter had heard him say in the message.
Psalm 23 gate wall to the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil sugar daddy and she said that you said that mommy walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
What is the valley of the shadow of death in this pastor thought for a few seconds trying to explain this to a 12-year-old. He said when when beside the car he was riding in this big old tractor-trailer broke by the way the sun was shining a cast shadow across their car passed over them. We look at his daughter he says, sweetheart.
If you have the choice, would you rather be hit by that truck arrived. Would you rather be hit by it. Shadow just a will, of course, that he had rather just be hit by the shadow. He said that's right you said Jesus got hit with the truck of your mommy's death so that all that would be left for her is the shadow Jesus would take the truck of darkness. He would take the condemnation he would take the shame he would take the abandonment he would take all of it so that all that would be left for us is the shadow you see when he died on the cross. There was actual darkness was an unnatural unexplained three hour period of darkness where the darkness that we had encountered entered into his soul on the cross. Isaiah says he bore the penalty for our sin, he was actually punished for the things that I had done wrong on the cross, he faced abandonment, he would look to heaven and he would say, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me that was not prose or poetry.
That was the son of God for Sega by the father so that you and I would never have to be forsaken by him. He would go into it to where he would meet my death head on and he would defeated.
Nothing will be left for me except for the shadow so I know that there are many of you here. Listen, you might feel alone. You might feel alone, you're not all that is is a shadow you said I will never leave you or forsake you. You might feel abandoned, you can't be because he was abandoned for you.
You might seal condemn. There is therefore no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus.
Jesus went into the darkness so that you have the light of God's presence eternally with you.
So they gave though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil power with me your rod and your staff they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life because anger and wrath and separation was absorbed into Jesus in my place to the now what I call him is not condemning judge.
I call him everlasting father. I call him mighty God.
I call him my wonderful counselor. Do you know God this way, do you know God. This way you can you can back about to be rather simple. There's two groups of people here is one group you do know God this way because you have personally received Christ as your Savior, you have received this invitation to him for him to save you what I want to tell you is, God is with you. God is with you and some of you need to reflect on you to reflect the aloneness that you feel the darkness that you feel is just a shadow you're not abandoned you need to take heart. That's all it is a shadow.
If you're not a believer. That's the other group you've never personally received God's invitation and well, I've got good news and bad news and good news for you. The bad news is, God is not with you.
He loves you deeply does, but is not with you. You really are in darkness.
You really are alone. You really are condemn the good news is he's offer himself to you is died in your place is remove the separation of yours, good news that Pastor Jeannie talked about offer of salvation is available to you today the gift of Christmas never received that gift we would like to help you learn more. Be sure to get in touch when you visit JD Greer.com today I have a special Christmas message for you from Pastor JD/José were some a life audience. I know that that this Christmas might look different again for many of you this year compared to previous years, and maybe this time last year you thought that this Christmas is going to look a lot different, maybe just this year with Cova concerns. Maybe it's impacted you personally financially.
Maybe you look around the table this year, and there shall be a missing place for the first time.
For some reason you're not able to be with your family. I know that for a lot of people. This is a painful time of year is also say that if you're lonely today or you're grieving the loss of a loved one is José we love you hear some a life and it's our privilege to be able to be with you in this way no one reminds you that that even more portly. There's a Savior, who promises never to leave or forsake his very familiar with loneliness and pain says you want with us to the valley of the shadow of death, so that we want to be afraid of any evil. And even there.
There is rod and staff comfort us what we can say the goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. I'm so glad you're able to take a few minutes out of your day to dive into the gospel with us day by day because that really is what is what Christmas is all about is about experiencing the love of God for the life, death and the resurrection of Jesus and his spirit at work in the world to bring hope for. There's there's been darkness. I'm glad that we have a chance to to be friends and family and that so thank you for your your love rush or support about your involvement to us. So from all of us here are some a life. Merry Christmas are grateful for you and were grateful that we can share the land of God with you during the holidays. We know this is a busy time for you and your family. As we celebrate Christmas again tomorrow. We just wanted to thank you for setting aside time to join our way of saying thanks for your gifts today. We'd like to send you the brand-new 2022 semi planar cleaner when you visit us online.
JD Greer.com hi Molly, minutes, and on behalf of Pastor JD in the end your centerline team allow me to wish you a very Merry Christmas.
Be sure to join us next time.
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