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The Seeker’s Chapter, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
December 22, 2023 9:00 am

The Seeker’s Chapter, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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December 22, 2023 9:00 am

It’s been said that there’s a “God-shaped hole” in every heart. We all have a sense that there’s something missing—something bigger than us that would give us purpose and meaning. And yet, we often look in all the wrong places.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. He changes our hearts so that we quit loving sin and start loving him again. Eventually, he is gonna put the world right again, but he's gonna do it in stages. He's gonna remove the curse of sin by dying for it and then through our reception of that, he will change the hearts of his people and then he will establish truth and justice on the earth. Thanks for joining us today for Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. It's been said that there's a God-shaped hole in every heart. No matter who we are, we all have this sense that there's something we're missing, something bigger than us that would give us purpose and meaning and yet we often look in all the wrong places. Or maybe you want to believe in God, but there are things that you've experienced, tragedies or heartbreak that make you doubt his existence. Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer is addressing those doubts. He preached this teaching in 2012 on Christmas Eve, shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy and he called it the seeker's chapter.

Let's listen in. I want to spend a few minutes just thinking about a very familiar Christmas story, the story of the wise men who came to find Jesus. The story takes place in Matthew chapter 2, which I would call the seeker's chapter in the Bible. If you're unfamiliar with the story, it basically goes like this. A group of wise men in the east see a sign, a divinely appointed sign in the heavens and they figure out that it means something significant and the sign is pointing toward Israel and so they travel to go to Israel to see the new king that has been foretold by this star. When they get to Israel, naturally they go to the capital, which is Jerusalem, they go to Herod's palace who is the current king and ask him where this king is to be born and what he knows about it, thinking he would know, not realizing of course that Herod is a psychopath who is paranoid about losing power. And so Herod goes and gets his religious rulers together, religious leaders, and he says, hey, what is this I'm hearing about a new king that's being born, the Messiah? And the religious leaders go back study and they're like, yep, sure enough, all the prophecies point toward Bethlehem. When the Messiah is born, when the new king is born, it's going to be Bethlehem. So Herod goes back to the wise men and he says, well, we think it's going to be in Bethlehem.

Why don't you go and find him and when you find him, bring him back to me because I want to worship him too, which is of course a lie because Herod has every intention of murdering him because he sees him as a future challenge to his throne. Well, the wise men travel from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. When they leave the palace at Jerusalem, they see the star again, takes them right to the place where Jesus is being born and that's where these two verses right here take place, Matthew 2 verse 10. When they saw the star again, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy and going into the house, they saw the child with Mary's mother and they fell down and they worshiped him. The wise men are then warned by an angel in a dream of what Herod wants to do, so they choose a different route home that doesn't go through Jerusalem and the same angel warns Mary and Joseph about what Herod's intentions are, so they take Jesus and they flee to Egypt.

When Herod figures out that he has been foiled, he sends out a decree, he goes on one of his maniacal murderous rampages and sends out this decree to have every baby boy two years old or under taken out into the street and slaughtered all in Bethlehem and all around Judea. The seekers chapter in the Bible. Here's what I want to try to show you very, very quickly is I want to try to show you how there were some things that God was showing to you about people who seek God, that whether they're seeking God through the means of a star 2,000 years ago or whether you're seeking God today, these things are going to be true and here's number one. For many of you throughout your life, God has been guiding you toward Jesus. You see, I would say that whether we are religious or not, almost all of us are on a search for God.

Now you may or may not have called it that, you may or may not have recognized that what you are searching for is God, but each of us is looking for ultimate answers. We want security. We want to be significant. We want to know that our lives have meaning beyond the grave. We want fulfillment that satisfies our souls in the deepest places. I am not sure where you have been searching, but my guess is that you have been searching. And for many of you, God has been guiding you into seeing that it's not working. Maybe it's coming from this growing sense of dissatisfaction or maybe it's a worry or a fear that is beginning to dominate your heart, a health scare that you've had.

Or maybe it's just a fear over our country and what's going to happen in the next couple of years and are our children going to be able to grow up in a place where they can have the kind of prosperity we have. Maybe it's come in the form of unanswered questions for you. Maybe there's something inside of you that says your search is not over. That star has guided you to this.

Maybe that's why you're here, is maybe that has brought you to a place where you don't exactly know even what the question is, but you know there's something not settled in your heart. These wise men, when they encounter Jesus, it says they had, you see this? It says they had rejoiced exceedingly with great joy, joy to the fourth power. This was the greatest quest of their lives. And they had found him at last.

This was God. Number two, you need the scriptures to complete the journey. How did the wise men actually find Jesus? Don't say the star.

Because the star got them started, but the star didn't complete the journey. They had to go consult the scriptures and the scriptures told them he'd be born in Bethlehem. The only thing that can bring you to the knowledge of Jesus is the scriptures. You cannot find God within. That's what Jesus said in John 539.

He says, you want to know me? You want to know God's search of scriptures because these are the ones that tell you about me. I simply give this to you as an invitation for you to come back and for you to learn. If not at our church, at another church that preaches the Bible. I will say this as a father to you other fathers, the most important thing in my life, the most important assignment I have ever received is to teach my kids to know the Bible, to know the scriptures, and thereby to know God. And sometimes it breaks my heart because it seems to me like some of you parents care more about where your kids go to college than you do where they spend eternity. You want a child to know God? You want your family to know God? You want your family to be centered on God? Then that will come to the degree to which they know this book because this book is the only way that they come to know Jesus Christ. You know the scriptures. Number three, Jesus is God's answer to the seeker's most difficult question.

Jesus is God's answer to the seeker's most difficult question. This story as I told you ends in a tragedy. In many ways an unspeakable tragedy. Herod in one of his maniacal rages orders that all baby boys under the ages of two be slaughtered.

You can imagine the pain as all around Bethlehem. You've got families who for no reason they can understand or think of their baby boy was taken out from them and murdered. And you know that there were parents in that day, they're not that much different than you and I are, that walked out and looked up at heaven and said, God, why?

Where were you? Why would you allow something like that to happen to my child? This story does not give you the answer for why certain bad things happen. It doesn't even give you the answer specifically for why that happened there in Matthew 2. But it does give you a glimpse into what God is doing about it. You see, Matthew quotes a verse from the Old Testament and he applies it to this situation. That verse, Matthew 2.18, he's quoting Jeremiah 31.15, says this, a voice was heard in Ramah weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children, she refused to be comforted because they are no more. That verse comes from a very important Old Testament story.

So give me just a second to unpack it for you, all right. In Israel, after they've been delivered from slavery in Egypt, God had told them that if they would follow him, this would be their land forever. But if not, if they forsook him, that he would let them go back into slavery. Well, after several hundred years of persistent hardness of heart, God finally said, okay, I told you this was the warning. And he allowed the Babylonian empire to come and invade Israel and take a number of them off as captives, in fact, pretty much the whole nation.

And after they slaughtered a bunch of the Israelites in 450 BC, they took Israel, a lot of Israelites, up to a city called Ramah, and from there, they were auctioned off as slaves to different Babylonian families and spread out all across, all across Assyria. Can you imagine the pain of being a parent who is watching as your high school child or your middle school child or your, or your kindergartener is taken away from you, being sold into slavery, maybe the sex trade, and you're never going to see them again. That's what he's referring to when he says, mother's weeping, refusing to be comforted. Refusing to be comforted. Refusing to get some pat answer about, oh, it's all going to work out, and everything's going to be fine.

That's what he refers to. But then here's the verse after that verse that Jeremiah gives, that Matthew is calling up. Here it is, Jeremiah 31 16.

One day your voice will cease its weeping, however. One day your eyes will cease from its tears, for your children shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future declares the Lord. That hope, God is going to bring back the children of Israel from exile. And he's going to do that, Jeremiah says, in a few verses later, he's going to do that by coming himself as a new victorious king. This exile is not the last word. The new king is going to have the last word. But first, Jeremiah goes on to explain in Jeremiah 31, listen to this, that king has to make an end to our sin. That king has to change our hearts and establish God's rule in us. The problem you see in our world is not just that other people have evil.

The problem is within us. And we may say that we've not done things, the worst things, but the Ten Commandments are the standard of what God sees as goodness. You ever think about how you stack up next to the Ten Commandments?

Could you even conjure up the Ten Commandments if we had a test right now? You shall have no other gods before God. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Do you love God supremely, always? Has he always been first in your heart?

Has he always been first in your affections, first in your attention? Have you always served him more diligently than you've served anything else? You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. You've always given proper seriousness to the things of God, always being careful and giving the utmost respect and treating holy things like they are truly holy. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. You always remember to give God his portion of your time, your money, whatever, it belongs to him. Honor your parents.

Teenagers, how we doing on that one? You always honor the God-ordained authorities in your life. Are you parents?

You used to be teenagers. You always honor the God-ordained authorities in your life? Whether it's your teachers, whether it's the police, whether it's your parents, don't steal. You always take what only belongs to you. You don't even want what other people have. You're just satisfied with what you have. Don't lie.

I'm not even going to mention that one, right? I know where you fit. Some of you are like, get to murder, get to murder, get to murder, get to murder, get to murder. All right.

Jesus said, Jesus said, if you look on somebody in your heart with hate and you desire their harm, you are guilty in his eyes of committing murder because it's the same emotion that leads to murder. How you doing? You owe for six or seven or however many I gave?

I don't know where you went to college, but when you get a zero on the final exam, you do not pass the course. This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. Find out more about this ministry at this critical time of year by visiting jdgreer.com. We'll return for the conclusion of today's teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to remind you about our featured resource this month. You know, there's nothing magical about the new year, but it does present a natural opportunity for reflection and change. We all start back to the gym, right?

Or a new diet meant to change our eating habits and lose some weight. I mean, the truth is it really is a great time to take stock of your life and set some goals for the ways that you want to grow in the coming months. Maybe you want to start reading your Bible every day, or maybe you want to get better at making time for ministry or leading your family in a new way. Whatever it may be, we hope that our 2024 Summit Life Day Planner will be a great tool to help you meet those goals.

Reserve your copy right now by calling 866-335-5220, or visit us online at jdgreer.com. Thanks for being with us today. Now let's finish up this week's teaching on Summit Life. You see, the problem with asking God to get rid of all the evil in the world is that if He did, there would not be a single one of us left.

That's the problem. I've described this to our church this way, and forgive the crudeness of this. This is kind of the student pastor of me coming back out. It's almost like, imagine if somebody handed you a nice cold glass of milk, and as you were about halfway down drinking it, they're like, good news, it's only 12% human urine. All right, 88%, that's like above average, awesome, I gotta know.

Above average, no, you spit the whole thing out because you cannot imagine that kind of defilement in something you would put into your body. The holy God who created the world is so holy that our sinfulness could never enter His presence. Being in God's presence with sin would be like a tissue paper touching the surface of the sun. And for God to make an end to evil, see, it had to start differently than you and I think about it. So God was born as a baby so He could grow up as a man and He could die in our place. He paid the penalty for our sin, and when we receive Him as our Savior, He changes our hearts so that we quit loving sin and start loving Him again. Eventually, He is gonna put the world right again, but He's gonna do it in stages. He's gonna remove the curse of sin by dying for it, and then through our reception of that, He will change the hearts of His people, and then He will establish truth and justice on the earth. Matthew then applies that truth from Jeremiah 31 to this situation in Bethlehem. These children have been murdered, but what he says is, Herod didn't get the last word.

The new king has been born. He gets the last word, but he was born now as a baby in poverty so he could grow up and die for our sin. One day soon, he's gonna return and restore peace and justice on earth, and when he does, when he does, when he brings back the children from exile, when he does, the joy of that moment will make all the pain of the past dissipate like a wisp of smoke as death is swallowed up in victory. Paul said it's gonna be like a woman in labor has feelings of pain as she's giving birth to the baby, but the moment that baby is there, you forget the pain. He says that that joy is going to swallow up the pain that you and I live with, but first, before he does that, he's going to end sin in us. Our country is still reeling from a horrible, unspeakable tragedy.

Twenty children murdered by a crazy gunman. Mothers refusing to be comforted because their children are no more, and people say, where was God? First of all, you realize that getting rid of God didn't fix the problem. If there is no God, if there's no eternity, then that is the last word. That's why atheism rings so hollow.

Well, it's just the way it is. Worlds evolved into a dangerous place, and we need to figure out how to make some better rules and better laws, but too bad for those kids. That's the final word for those kids. The gospel says an emphatic no to that.

That is not the last word. God will bring back those kids from exile because a new king has been born. A king that is going to end death, not cause it. A king that will not cause sadness like Herod did, but will make all the sad things come untrue. A king who will not issue curses like Herod issued them, but reverse the curse by taking it into himself and dying for it and putting it away.

Our curse. And when his reign is fully established, he will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will be no death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away, and all things have become new as death is swallowed up in victory. So unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, because he will save his people from their sins. Jesus is the only answer to the pain and the tragedy of evil. Getting rid of God doesn't help. In fact, it just makes things worse because it makes it the last word. And I'm not saying that I can explain to you the ways of God.

I'm not trying to say that. But I can tell you that the birth of Jesus shows you what God is doing about sin. What God is doing about evil and suffering and pain, that it's not the last word because he took those things from us, took them into his body and he put them away forever through his death and resurrection. So we can now say joy to the world. The Lord has come. Let heaven and nature sing. He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations, the unrighteous nations prove the glories of his righteousness. No more let sin and sorrows grow nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found. You see, many people that I talk to feel like they have to choose between the joy of Christmas and the pain of Newtown, Connecticut.

Like it's two different worlds and you can't have both. But see, there's a profound unity between the two because the joy of Christmas is the only way to deal with the pain of Newtown. Because it shows you that a king has been born who is going to remove the curse altogether and he is going to set the world right again. He is going to bring back the children of exile and the words of J.R.R.

Tolkien, he is going to make all those sad things come untrue. Let me end this by showing you the three different reactions that these people had to this news. You see them all right here.

These are the full gamut. The first reaction was the wise men. Joy. Unspeakable joy. Joy that made them fall on their face in front of a baby and basically say all of our wisdom is worthless.

This is wisdom revealed. A joy that made them take their treasures that had been their delight and their trust and shower them at Jesus' feet because in light of the glory of what they had just seen, all of their diamonds and all their gold seemed worthless. That's one reaction is joy that leads to worship. By the way, you know the difference in joy and happiness, right? Happiness is when what you want to happen happens. That's why we call it happening. Happening-ness. Joy is different. Joy is when you have something that is not subject to the circumstances of life because it's larger than life.

It's a presence that cannot be taken away and a God who abides with you forever. That's one reaction. The second reaction was Herod's.

Hostility. Herod was hostile toward Jesus because Jesus was a threat to his throne. He thought Jesus was a threat to his throne and guess what? He was and he's a threat to your throne. He's a threat to your throne. Jesus, if he comes, comes as Lord which means that if he is Lord of your life, you cannot be Lord of your life.

He didn't come as an influence. In every heart, there is a throne and a cross. If you were on the throne, Jesus must be on the cross.

If Jesus is on the throne, you must be on the cross. There are many who want Jesus as an influence but they do not want him as Lord which is why they come to this place and they back away which leads me to the third reaction which is indifference. You might not have seen this when we went through it so quickly but the religious leaders were indifferent. I mean, they figured out that he was going to be born in Bethlehem. The next verse should have been and so they rushed to Bethlehem to see the Messiah but they didn't really care because the Messiah, watch, the Messiah was not instrumental in their plans. They didn't need the Messiah to accomplish what they really wanted to accomplish in life so they were indifferent to him. I would say in here, we have many people who are not hostile to Jesus but they're indifferent because you just don't see how he's that instrumental in your plans but here's the thing, indifference turns into hostility because these same religious leaders who are indifferent to Jesus in Matthew 2 are the same ones crying out for his crucifixion in Matthew 26 because when Jesus did get put in front of them as the Lord and when their need of him for salvation what they could never be good enough to earn God's favor when that was exposed, that's when they turned hostile and they started to shout crucify. You see at the end of the day, there are only two reactions to Jesus, worship him or crucify him. So I see as Lewis said it this way, he said the gospel if it is true is of the utmost importance. If it is false, it is of no importance.

The one thing that it absolutely cannot be is only moderately important. What has been your reaction to Jesus? Is it hostility?

Is it indifference? Or have you come to a place where you recognize that he is the Lord and you have fallen on your face to worship him? The gospel is see that God has declared Jesus to be the Lord. That's the gospel.

Jesus is the Lord, not the influence, not somebody you think about from time to time but the Lord. Is he your Lord? Have you surrendered? The gospel is that Jesus Christ, God has declared him to be the savior, meaning that there is no hope for anyone to enter into heaven except through Christ. Have you received him as your savior? The gospel is a declaration that God gave about a baby in a manger who would grow up to bear your sin and die in your place and the only reaction to him is what you see with these wise men which is to fall in surrender and to receive the gift that he has given. Have you surrendered a belief? If you're a fellow seeker and you'd like to learn more about Jesus, check out our latest free online resources at jdgrier.com. Pastor JD, our world continues to face heartache and hardship, uncertainty, and it may feel like hope is in short supply, but it doesn't have to be.

Yeah, Molly, that's actually very well said. It seems like we're always entering another year not knowing what the future holds. The Christmas season reminds us God is not far off and distant. He's not a God that separates himself from chaos.

He enters it. He wants to be with us. This ministry's purpose has never been just to reach a larger audience year by year or try to gain some kind of following. It's really to help you multiply. Every broadcast, every podcast, every blog post, every devotional is done with the goal of fanning the flame of the gospel in your life so that it multiplies more quickly through you. This time of year, as we get close to the end of the year, it's really critical for us financially because it allows us to go into the coming year with plans about where the new places that we can get into. So if God has used this ministry in your life, if he's blessed you through this, would you prayerfully consider joining us today and give a generous year-end gift?

There's nothing more important than the gospel and its spread. And so we'd love to have you as a partner with us. You can go right now to jdgrier.com slash donate and find out more. As our way of saying thanks for your support, we offer you the 2024 Summit Life Day Planner.

It's a great tool to use for busy students, parents, businessmen, and women, anyone really. We're even including a year-long Bible reading plan to help you grow deeper in your knowledge of the gospel throughout the year. We'd love to send you the 2024 Summit Life Day Planner when you donate today at the suggested amount of $35 or more.

Call 866-335-5220 or give online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vitovich. The next time we'll see you is Monday, Christmas Day, and we hope that you'll join us for another very special Christmas teaching from Pastor JD. In the meantime, we wish you a very happy holiday weekend with friends and family, and we'll see you Monday to celebrate Christmas together right here on Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-22 10:15:07 / 2023-12-22 10:25:51 / 11

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