Classic Christianity – Christmas P5 (12-27-19)
What will get your attention as to what is really important in life? Is it the death of a mother or father, dashed hopes and dreams? You reach the point where nothing in life is important any more. What you thought was so important is really not that important. Your heart is crying out, “God save me. I am so empty inside. Lord, will you heal my mother or my father?”
There is good news for you? All those thing you heard, but you did not hear and you did not understand, that every time a Christmas carol was sung, that song “Immanuel, God is with us”. You either heard or sang such songs every year, but had no clue as to what those words really meant. Then, in the depth of your brokenness, the message of good news is explained to you, and you are ready now to hear.
This baby Jesus born in a stable, he is God’s gift to mankind. He came from heaven with a plan to restore all man’s brokenness. The real brokenness is the brokenness of an empty life, of a man who does not have the Holy Spirit of God living in him. But Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit. He is God in the flesh. He is full of grace and truth, and he explained that to men.
In the plan of God, before the foundation of the world, Jesus was sent to become a sin sacrifice for us. He came to die. We were born to live, but he came to die first. In order to give life to you and me, he had to die first to take upon himself the sins of the entire world. Sin is what caused all this pain and anguish and suffering we see, a world fallen by sin. So when Jesus died on a cross, he died for you and me, so that God will never ever see our sins again. And with sins, the cause of death, yours and mine, taken away, he came also to rise again. The life that raised him from the dead is the same life that can raise you from the dead. The real problem is people do not have the life of God in them. They are dead. That is called spiritual death, dead to God, knowing about God but not knowing Him.
When He comes to live in you, he comes to give you peace that surpasses understanding. When your heart is broken, with such heartache and pain, God is present right there with you, carrying your load, walking with you through it all. Those things you used to do, if it was success, alcohol, adultery, any number of things that thought would fill you or give you life, they deceived you, and broke you. Now, when Christ comes to live in you, you are a changed person. You no longer will want or even need those other things. Why? Christ is your provision of everything you really need. You come to know Him now. You come to know His unconditional love and acceptance, for you. You come to know that He is all you need for life and godliness. He is your peace. He is your life. He is everything you really needed.
Now, the ending of things on this earth may not be what you would have liked to happen. Your father or mother still may die, and you cannot bear the thought of this, at this time. But in due time, you come to see how God causes all things to happen for the good for those who love Him and are called unto Him. Jesus entered this world, as a man of sorrows, bearing our sins, our shame, our guilt, acquainted with grief, so he identifies with our weakness, and he overcame the world. In Him, we too overcome, not by anything we do, but by the power of the resurrected Christ within our being. The world is too great for us, but not for Him. Come to Him in faith. He knows everything about you. He has loved you at your worst and at your best, in good times and in bad. He is the anchor for your soul. Let Him be your life. Invite Him to live in you and you shall become a child of the living God.
Read again in the gospel of Luke, about this amazing gift of God to men. Learn how all this came about and what God has promised you, who puts your faith in Him.
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We are going to pick up in Luke 1:26. All a plan of God, put into the heart of God, before the foundation of the earth. Now time to put into effect His plan for mankind.
Luke 1:26-28 (NASB)
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
That should be very good news.
Luke 1:29-30 (NASB)
29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of greeting this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.”
What does he mean, “do not be afraid”. So he said, “listen”. He is going to give her real good news, now.
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Here again, is the angel announcing to Mary the reigning Messiah. You had two viewpoints of the Messiah in the Old Testament prophecies. You had the reigning Messiah and you had the suffering Messiah. Remember John the Baptist asking a question, “Is this the one or is there another?”
18 The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. 19 Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” 20 When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’”
John the Baptist was not a wimp going back and forth. He is just saying, “Are there two or just one?” The reigning Messiah they are talking about is in this prophecy, but there was also the suffering Messiah. The problem is that people are looking at that as one and the same event. But actually it is like two mountain peeks that you look at, hundreds of miles away from each other, but when you look at it at a distance it looks like one mountain peek. So you had the reigning Messiah and you had the suffering Messiah. Guess who Israel was waiting for? The reigning Messiah. They wanted Israel saved.
the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Has that occurred yet? That has not occurred yet. Will it occur? Absolutely. In the kingdom life that we will live from the millennial reign, Jesus Christ will reign over all, and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord. That has not occurred yet, but it was prophesied to Mary.
34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
How am I going to have a child when I have yet to be with a man?
35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Now Elizabeth is Mary’s relative and is six months pregnant, and that was, of course, to John the Baptist.
38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Think about this for a moment. I do not believe for a moment that Mary was dull of mind nor do I think she was naive, for as young as she was, not to know the ramifications of what this angel has revealed to her. Here she is, a young maiden, and she was engaged to Joseph. An engagement was the same as a betrothal as far as the Jewish law was concerned. When you are engaged, that was it. Ceremony has not taken place, but that was it. Here she is, not yet married, a virgin, not yet been with a man, and she is told you are going to have a baby. What in the world are people going to think? What are people going to think down at the church? Think about it. “I am not married and I am going to have a baby.”
From that day forth, Mary was put in a position of being looked at askance. Only to the believers was Mary made a woman of distinction. To every one else she was nothing more than a loose woman, and according to tradition, who had been impregnated by a Roman soldier. Living with disgrace of that through all of her life, living with people, discrediting her, and looking at her askance, because of pregnancy out of wedlock. Men, we have a little difficulty with that. We do not realize how severe, that back in those days, because of the way it is now. Now you have your baby, like Tom Cruise, and six to nine months later you get married so you can have your baby at your wedding. People think nothing of that today any more. That is just common place. It may be common place, but it is not what God planned for us. It is out of order. He said to cleave not before but after. But we do not believe that anymore. We live in this generation of situational ethics where nobody knows what is right and wrong. We do not take the bible as right and wrong. We just make our mind up to it. Back in those days it was severe. It was severe even in my youth. It is something we have to keep in mind. We do not pay attention to it today as they would back in those days. For Mary to respond the way she did, “whatever happens happens”. The angel left her.
39 Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country,
So angel said, “you are going to be with child. Your cousin Elizabeth is already six months pregnant.” Mary gets up and leaves. Mary comes back after she had her child three months later. She is three months pregnant. It now intensifies and gets worse, because she has been out of town for three months.
to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women,
That is true Mary is blessed. For God to have chosen anybody, and the fact He chose Mary, in who the Messiah would live in her womb for nine months. That is a blessing isn’t it? And for her to be his mother. But I have said to people, as great as that news is, how much greater is the news that when you became a believer, God came to live in you permanently. He came to live in Mary for nine months. He came to live in you for all eternity. So that helps to keep it in its proper perspective.
and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
46 And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
And that is true.
49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
50 “And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.
51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
53 “He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
54 “He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.”
56 And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.
Now the birth of Jesus happened like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to Joseph but before they come together, before they had relations, she was found to be pregnant with the Holy Spirit. Now this announcement from the angel of the Lord, “you are going to be impregnated”, and Mary is thinking, “it is not only that I have been with a man, I have not been with my fiance. What is he going to think? This is the man I love. This is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. What is he going to think when I come back after three months with Elizabeth and tell him I am impregnated with the Holy Spirit.” You can imagine Joseph thinking, “Sure you are?”
I do not imagine, when you read the account, was Joseph overly thrilled with this announcement. But Joseph was a just man, a man of mercy, a man who had God’s heart. Do you know one of the sayings you can tell a man with God’s heart? He has no desire at all to expose. He has no desire at all to be a rumor monger. We call him in Christian settings, prayer chains, where you can tell rumors in the name of Jesus. Joseph had a heart there to cover instead of expose.
1 Peter 4:8
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Here is Joseph, a just man, who did not want to publicly shame somebody. “Somebody has blown it and let’s let the whole world know about it.” That kind of heart is an evil heart. That is a kind of heart that is the very opposite of the heart of God. It is evil. There is nothing in it where God belongs. And so he did not want to expose her to public shame. He did not want that to happen. So he considered whether he ought to divorce her quietly.
You see this conflict. Here is this young maiden who “I love with all my heart and soul, innocent, sweet, beautiful, and all of the things that go with love. She says she is pregnant, but she says it came from God. How am I going to know it came from God or not? I have never heard of a pregnancy coming from God. So, maybe I ought to divorce her quietly. But as he thought about these things, and as he thought, the conflict in the heat about what is right, but I love her.” That conflict in many experiences we have in this day and age. Yes, I know what I ought to do. I know I ought to get rid of her, but I love her. Can I forgive her? That, too, is out of the heart of God, because he heart that God is looking for is a heart of forgiveness. As the Lord Jesus forgave you, so forgive one another. So he thought about these things.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
So this announcement from this angel had confirmed what Mary had told him. This was not coming from Mary but an outside source as well. You have a tendency to listen to them.
21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
We talked about that, how this announcement came, that Mary is going to deliver this baby called Jesus, and this Jesus is going to save his people from their sins. We talked about how he pulled that off. How through his life, as part of this overall plan, Jesus had his own niche, his own plan. He is going to come into this world and will take upon the sins of the whole world and become a human sacrifice, so my people whom I love can have the righteousness of God in them, to have the righteousness of God in them, the hope of glory.
22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
So in the Old Testament, you have the proclamation of the prophecy, and then you will have the fulfillment. Some of the proclamations made in the Old Testament have not yet been fulfilled. It will be fulfilled when the kingdom of God shows up, during the thousand year, millenial reign.
22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
Bob shares his story. Does his story identify where you are right now in your life? If so, let it be known to you, that Jesus is the answer to your need of life. He is the only life available to man, and is a gift to be received by simple child-like faith in his death, burial and resurrection for you.
Don’t you wonder. I think to myself, as I grew up, there was no time of the year that was more exciting to me than Christmas. Back when I was a child, we did not have television. We had those great big radios. There were big ones, not these little ones. They were big box radios. That was really the center of the family. That is where the family would gather to listen to “Amos and Andy”, and the “Gilder Sleeve” and all those well known names today to the young people (smiling). But that is what we did. I remember Christmas. It was listening to Christmas music. I remember like it was yesterday, days and days, lying in front of that radio, and listening to Christmas songs. I would have tears streaming down my face as they touched my heart. The words and the music touched my heart. How many times did I hear the song? You will call his name Immanuel, which means God with us, and I did not have a clue that Jesus was God. But I heard it, but I did not hear it. Jesus would say numerous times, “if you have ears to hear listen”. Well, I have ears, but I am not hearing. I am not absorbing the truth. I went through all of my life like that up until the age of 36. I went along knowing about Jesus, knowing about him, but not having a clue about knowing Him. I was in church all of my life. I probably never missed a Sunday when I was in high school. Now that was the end of that, I never heard the gospel. I was in a literal church. I never heard an explanation of “you shall call his name Immanuel, God with us”. I never heard an explanation. I never went to the bible. I had a bible but had no interest in it. In college, I certainly had no interest going to church through college, except Easter and Christmas. I always appreciated when I would go on Christmas and the pastor would say “Merry Christmas”, because I would never see him. So I appreciate the salutation. I was never in a church that proclaimed the gospel of Christ Jesus.
Amy And I got married. We certainly thought children should be in church. So we brought them to church, and picked them up, too. We tried to do both those things diligently. I was always diligent. I was always diligent to always put my dollar in the offering plate. Did you catch that? My dollar. How come with that much? But nothing was ever happening. I had been brought up with the philosophy that success was making money. That is what success is. Go out and make money and you will live a happy life. Get married and have your picket fence and everything will be okay. That is the thinking of people coming out of World War II. As we get rid of this war, there is a new economy on the horizon, and go out and work and have your home, picket fence and children and everything will be okay. I believed that. As I proceeded in life, and proceeded in the business world, and began to enjoy a certain success, I came to find out that success was very shallow. Every time you had a degree of success, you were looking for the next degree. Any time you got this degree, you wanted the next degree. Every time you hit this, I imagined hitting the $1200 per year, then that would be it. Anyone old enough to remember those kinds of figures? I remember the day I got $12,000, then I decided that day to hit $24,000. Then hit that and started a new goal of $48,000. I just went right up the ladder, but never satisfied. Somebody asked Rockefeller one time, “how much does it take to make you happy?” He replied, ”Just a little bit more.” So that is your life, with emptiness inside. I was enjoying success in business. I had a distributorship in Los Angeles. You know what that can lead to. I had a goal to become a millionaire by the time I was 29 or 30, and I was working on that. The good things, the business was going fine. Amy was taking care of the children. I was taking care of the business. But I was not taking care of the children. I was taught my job was to put food on the table. I had my big black Lincoln Continental convertible. It did not mean anything, but it was showy. You thought you were something when you had one of those. I was real proud of that. I was proud of my warehouse. I could not wait for my family to see me. First thing I did was take them to see my warehouse, to see how big that is. Then my dad got sick. I love my dad more than anyone on the face of the earth. He was dying. I remember getting in an airplane to fly back to Indiana to see my dad. All I wanted to do was get by the window and not talk to anybody. I wanted to be still. I did not know what the Lord meant when he said be still and know God. He was trying to get me to lay down and be still. I remember the thought as that airplane took off. It only took just minutes. I took off from Los Angeles. Where Los Angeles airport was I could see down where my warehouse was. It was a matter of minutes I could not see my warehouse. It was so small. Just disappeared. Those huge buildings just disappeared. You do not have to go up very high. I thought to myself, ”How important are we? All you have to do is get up in the air a few thousand feet and everything disappears. Just how important are we? I do not think we are very important.” It was in that state of two things happening. First of all getting all success I needed. I knew more was not going to do anything for me. I figured that out. Then seeing my dad dying of cancer. That was a killer for me. As dad was in the hospital and was extremely ill. He had sarcoma of the throat. Part of his throat had been cut out. That sarcoma had spread and caused a bowel obstruction. When you have that, there is no option but to operate. But he was so weak, he could not get water out of a straw. I had to pick him up to move him. I knew dad could not survive an operation the next day. So I did what was natural for a man to do. I went to the chapel of the hospital, and I said, “Lord Jesus, if you will get my dad well, I will dedicate my life to you”. I thought, there is no way God can refuse that offer.