Finding Christ in Our World

Rediscover Christmas  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  53:04
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Merry Christmas!!!!

Over these last few weeks… as we’ve journeyed together through Advent… We’ve talked about a lot…
We’ve looked at the Christmas story… We’ve seen it’s characters… We’ve heard from them… from their stories… from their struggles… Hopefully… we’ve learned something!
The Christmas story is a powerful story… It’s not just a children’s story… It’s not simply a tale we tell our children to give them joy… Nor is it simply meant to give us a bit of inspiration and joy for a season…
The Christmas story is filled with wonder and miracles and very real life!
— It is the story of Immanuel… The God who stepped out of His Divine Glory and into the very presence of His people…
— It is a story of Redemption… of Hope… and of Love…
— It is the story of The Creator of Universe’s redemption of His Creation…
The Christmas story teaches us that we CAN:
Find Hope in Our Uncertainties.
When uncertainty surrounds us… When fear of the unknown fills our lives… When the trials and sufferings of this life threaten to choke life out of us…
The promise of Christ fills us with HOPE to carry on.
Hope is the breathe that keeps us alive… Hope is the fuel of Faith… of dreams… of possibilities…
Hope is that whisper that says: “Maybe… Just maybe…”
It’s a spark in the cold darkness… the flicker of first light in the morning…
In the worst sufferings and atrocities and catastrophes of human history… HOPE has never been lost.
When life beats us down… and drags us through the mud and mire… when we are beaten up and left laying in the road… wondering “How long, O’ God?”
There is Hope!
Simeon and Anna… lived long, difficult lives.
They had known loss and disappointment… But they had not abandoned Hope.
They knew the promises God had made to them… And when they saw the Baby Jesus… at just six weeks old… in the Temple… They knew that this was the Messiah… the Promised One… the Son of God!
They were ready and waiting for this moment… They had embraced HOPE for so long… and now… their Joy was made complete!
They had seen God’s Messiah! And they couldn’t help but rejoice and celebrate and worship God!
The flames of their HOPE spread beyond themselves and multiplied!
How is the flame of your HOPE today?
Are you eagerly awaiting the promises God has made to you?
Let me encourage you… No matter what you are facing… no matter where you’re at… HOPE has come with Christ!
Hope is found in Him!
Immanuel… God with Us…
On December 24, 1854, Charles Spurgeon asked this question:
“Do you know the full meaning of that name Immanuel, “God with us”?”
Allow me to read you His answer to that question:
“No, he who knows it best knows little of it. Alas, he who knows it not at all is ignorant indeed, so ignorant that his ignorance is not bliss, but will be his damnation. Oh! may God teach you the meaning of that name.
Immanuel, “God with us”!
“Immanuel.” It is wisdom’s mystery, “God with us.”
Sages look at it and wonder,… angels desire to see it, … the plumbline of reason cannot reach halfway into its depths,… the eagle wing of science cannot fly so high, … and the piercing eye of the vulture of research cannot see it.
“God with us.”
It is hell’s terror.
Satan trembles at the sound of it, his legions fly apace,… the black winged dragon of the pit quails before it… Let Satan come to you suddenly, and do you but whisper that word, “God with us,”… back he falls, confounded, and confused.
Satan trembles when he hears that name, “God with us.”
It is the labourer’s strength,… how could he preach the Gospel,… how could he bend his knees in prayer,… how could the missionary go into foreign lands,… how could the martyr stand at the stake,… how could the confessor own his Master,… how could men labour if that one word were taken away?
“God with us,”
’tis the sufferer’s comfort,… ’tis the balm of his woe,… ’tis the alleviation of his misery,… ’tis the sleep which God gives to His beloved,… ’tis their rest after exertion and toil.
“God with us”—
’tis eternity’s sonnet,… ’tis heaven’s hallelujah,… ’tis the shout of the glorified,… ’tis the song of the redeemed,… ’tis the chorus of angels,… ’tis the everlasting oratorio of the great orchestra of the sky!
“God with us.”
Immanuel… God has come… to restore HOPE… To bring us the HOPE of Salvation… the HOPE of restoration and healing… the HOPE that He will continue to work in our lives!
Let me assure you: No matter where you are… No matter what you are facing… No matter how discouraged you are… There is HOPE!
God has brought restoration and healing into your life… and He will continue to work in your life!
He has a plan for you!
Today, I am praying with Paul for you:
Romans 15:13 NIV
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We can…
Find Peace in Our Struggles.
Everyone knows, the struggle is real!
Jesus said:
John 16:33 NIV
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The PEACE of Christ transcends even our darkest days.
That’s the promise given to the shepherds…
Think about it… Here they are going through life… carrying out their daily work… just trying to make it… when suddenly! In the middle of the night! Their rest is interrupted with a terrifying — yet somehow completely awe-inspiring — visit from Angels!
Of course it happened in the dark of night… Of course the angels began their announcement with the words, “Do not be afraid!”
Because, of course… they were afraid!
They were human! There is so much in our world that causes us fear…
There is so much that happens that we struggle to understand....
For the shepherds, that included these magnificent, terrifying heavenly visitors…
For us, it’s the normal pressures and disappointments and uncertainties of our frail and broken world…
Jesus… Immanuel… the Prince of Peace… has arrived on earth!
And the Angels proclaimed it:
Luke 2:10–14 (NIV)
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
The favor of God is here… Immanuel…
The Peace of Shalom… the fullness, safety, completeness, and wholeness of God… has been made available to us!
Jesus is the Peace of restoration with God…
Jesus is the Peace that settles our souls…
Jesus is the Peace in the midst of the storm that allows us to say: “It is well with my soul.”
Think about it — When the storm raged… when the disciples feared for their very lives… Jesus calmed the storm!
And He’ll do the same for us!
Jesus calms the storms of life… He brings us PEACE!
This is why the Apostle Paul tells us:
Philippians 4:6–7 (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Peace has a name… and His name is Jesus!
In Him, we find HOPE… we find PEACE… and in Him we…
Find Joy in Our Discouragements.
We’ve all had one of “those” days… or weeks… or years… amen?
King David was no exception, but look at what he wrote in Psalms 30:5
Psalm 30:5 (NIV)
5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
David wrote those words because… he understood (probably better than most)…
Sometimes night can feel so long… Sometimes happiness feels so elusive and distant… Like we will never find it again…
BUT… the “good news of great joy” that gives us life! Is that Jesus is the strength that sustains us!
Elizabeth and Mary shared the Joy of their pregnancies.
For Elizabeth, Joy was a fulfillment of long-dashed dreams… It was the erasure of a life-time of cultural shame… Her Joy erased decades of disgrace!
For Mary, Joy was the relief of acceptance and understanding… It was a celebration of being in the middle of God’s greatest miracle!
She knew she’d face scorn… disbelief… and misunderstanding… BUT… together with Elizabeth… she found the freedom of JOY!
Let’s be honest…
For some of us, Christmas is a joyful season… filled with songs and celebrations and traditions and comfort…
For others, Christmas serves as a reminder of deeper pains and disappointments…
For most of us… it’s a mixture of the two…
In the midst of our pain… our fear… our anxiety… we CAN find Strength…
Jesus is in the midst of our pain… our anxiety… And He can turn our weeping and our fear into JOY!
Remember what Nehemiah said:
Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Speaking of those who put their Faith in Christ, Peter says:
1 Peter 1:8–9 NIV
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
What is your source of JOY today?
When we find JOY… we find FEARLESS LOVE!
And let me tell you…
Fearless Love overcomes Our Differences.
There is so much in our world that drives us apart… there is so much that divides…
The Love of Christ runs deeper… It runs deeper that our differences… and it floods us with grace, forgiveness, and unity.
We talk about that “God shaped” hole in our hearts… because we understand that we have a deep… unquenchable… need to be loved!
We long to be loved so deeply…
Here’s the crazy part…
The desire for Love is so dominant in our culture…
Our songs and movies and TV shows and literature… are filled with themes of Love — of longing for it… celebrating it… and mourning its loss!
Seriously… Hallmark has built am extremely successful business on it!
We are captivated by Love.
BUT… We struggle… so horribly… to love each other.
We claim to be a Christian nation… (or at least we have done so for years)
Christ commanded us to “Love our Neighbor”
We are a nation and a world filled with division… conflict… and hatred!
And the Church is not immune!
John 13:35 NIV
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
We are supposed to be CHARACTERIZED by our Love… Yet we fail…
So, How do we change?
Let me tell you: Love has a name, and His Name is JESUS!
Look at Jesus’s prayer for us:
John 17:20–21 NIV
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Jesus is the Bridge of Love that unites us!
Jesus made the way for us to be restored into a relationship with God… With Love Himself!
We are called to be UNIFIED in that LOVE!
Throughout this advent journey, we have seen how God gathered a “rag tag” group of “misfits”… to be involved with the arrival of His Messiah…
Through these people, God was uniting what the world divides… Young and old… earthly and heavenly… lowly and noble… Jews and Gentiles… clean and unclean… ultimately… God and humanity!
And He did it all through Love!
We need to rediscover the Love of Christ in our lives…
We need to rediscover the perfect love that allows us to experience complete acceptance by God… the love that removes our fears… the love that washes over us and fills us from within… that propels us to reach across the divisions around us… even to our enemies… with humility… forgiveness… and grace.
Paul wrote in Ephesians:
Ephesians 3:17–19 (NIV)
17… I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Father, help us to understand Your Love… help us to find it in our lives… help us to embrace it… help us to live within and through it…
Father, help us to…
Find Christ in Our World.
That’s what we need!
Christ has come… Immanuel…
He has come into our world… bringing with Him Hope… Peace… Joy… and Love.
He has come to change our world… by changing US!
No matter what you are facing… no matter what you are going through… Christ has come to change your circumstances!
Now… understand…
Sometimes, that doesn’t mean changing your situation… It doesn’t mean that He is going to “rescue” you from suffering and troubles…
Sometimes, it means changing you!
— Bringing Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love into your heart…
— Strengthening you to walk through … and out of it!
Look at Luke 2:6-7
Luke 2:6–7 NIV
6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
This is Christ’s arrival into our world… This is where Mary and Joseph were…
They weren’t in a 5-star hotel… They didn’t have a hospital with doctors and mid-wives to help them… They didn’t even have the comfort of family and friends…
Their circumstances were not “joyous”… they were not “peaceful”… Yet God saw them through… and brought about the birth of Christ…
It was such a humble birth… such an understated beginning to life… especially for the Messiah!
Yet… that is the normal entry into our existence…
Jesus’s birth as a fragile, helpless baby… Reveals Jesus as one of us!
Able to understand everything we go through… all of our longings… struggles… pains…
Yet, Jesus is God.
He is Hope… Joy… Peace… and Love… personified!
Genesis 1:26 NIV
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Jesus came into this world… not just to save us from sin… But to restore us to God… To restore us to the very image of God… To restore those characteristics of God in us!
Jesus is Life Rediscovered!
John 10:10 NIV
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
What is “abundant life”?
Is it wealth? Is it Fame? Fancy cars? Lifestyle? Being important?
The answer is “NO!”
The abundant life is a life filled with Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love.
And… it is only found when we “pisteuo”… when we put our complete and total trust in Jesus.
Jn 3:16-17 isn’t about believing that God exists… It isn’t about proclaiming Jesus the Son of God… It’s not about just saying “forgive me”…
It means to “die to yourself and live in Him.”
Romans 6:3–11 NIV
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
If you are struggling this year…
If you are asking “Where is Jesus?”
Let me offer you this:
Jesus is…
In our uncertainties… struggles… discouragement… and differences.
In our celebration and mourning.
In our fear and in our triumphs.
In our losses and our victories.
In our brokenness and healing.
In our sickness and our health.
In our life and our death.
Wherever you are… Jesus is there!
He is working… He is moving… He is offering life and forgiveness… He is calling us to trust and to see beyond ourselves… beyond our immediate circumstances…
Jesus is in our world and in our lives.
He will never leave you… or forsake you.
Jesus is Christmas!
He is Immanuel… God With Us!
Let’s run like the shepherds to Him this year…
Let’s worship and find renewal in His presence…
Let’s rediscover the life He brings within us…
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