Sermon Sunday December 19, 2021 – Why Christmas part 3

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As I continue our series on the “why” of Christmas, we have two more questions today.

1: Why was he given the name of Jesus?

2: Why the Shepherds?

As Shakespeare once wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name?” We associate people or characteristics to names. Let’s face it, the reason we don’t like certain names is because we know someone by that name who by their actions or their personality, has marred the name for us.

But the name Jesus, is a name that means so much to us. Not because the letters themselves carry any sort of power in themselves, but because the man Jesus gives power to the name.

The name “Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Joshua”, and means, “God Saves”. Now the name Jesus was a common name at the time of his birth. The name Jesus continued to be popular during the life of Jesus, but after he died and rose again, the name was not used much at all. Historians have found that after the 1st century, it seemed that the name “Jesus” simply vanished from use in the region. The name Jesus took on a much more controversial meaning. For early Christians, the name Jesus means so much that they felt that no child was worthy to carry the same name as the Messiah. For those who did not believe that Jesus was the promised messiah, they did not want their child to be associated with such a controversial character.

Jesus taking a common name shows us that he came to the earth as a common person. The people of Israel were looking for someone to come as a mighty warrior as their messiah, so they missed him because he came as a carpenter.

But now the name of Jesus means so much more to us. We call on the name of Jesus for our salvation and we pray in the name of Jesus (see 14:13-14 and Acts 4:12). The name of Jesus carries immeasurable power. There is no more powerful name in all the universe than Jesus, not because of the name itself, but because of the One, the Christ, who gives the name power.

Have you called on the name of Jesus?

Moving on to the next question, why did God announce the birth of Jesus to the Shepherds?

We read in Luke 2:9 that the shepherds were terrified as they encountered the glory of the Lord. It is hard for us to imagine the terror these men must have experienced as they were blinded by the light of the glory of the Lord.

While shepherds had once been held in high esteem among God’s people, they had become unwanted, left out, and pushed to the side. They smelled like sheep. They slept on the ground. Their jobs made them little or no money and as a result they came from the lower rungs of society.

So why did God choose to announce the birth of the Messiah to a group of shepherds before anyone else?

Interestingly, Jesus was born in the line of David, the shepherd boy that God made a king. In Jesus, God took a king and made him into the sacrificial lamb. God constantly turns the ideas of man upside down. He chose Bethlehem rather than a larger city. He chose Mary and Joseph rather than a wealthy, respected couple. God chose the downtrodden and small people of Israel to be the chosen nation to host the savior of the world. When God chose to announce the birth of the Christ, he didn’t choose the emperor or the governor, or even the high priest, that would be a good option. No, God chose the people that no one would listen to, the people at the bottom of the societal structure. These shepherds probably had little education and quite possibly didn’t use the best language or display acceptable morals.

It appears God was setting the tone for the life and the message of Jesus. God was reaching to the humble people of society because Jesus was born in a humble location to humble parents. God always invites humble people to a special seat at His table.

Jesus displayed this in his ministry. Jesus always had time to minister to the poor, the lepers, and other outcasts of society. Jesus taught his disciples that serving leads to greatness (Mark 10:43).

God elevated the humble shepherds and made them the first evangelists. They left their sheep and quickly went to Bethlehem. After seeing Jesus, they immediately went out and proclaimed the Good News of the birth of the Messiah (Luke 2:17-18). The shepherds didn’t have a position in the synagogue or any theological training, but they met the Lord and became evangelists, they were changed forever.

One of the primary reasons people don’t share their faith is that they have not had a real encounter with Jesus. If you have a life changing encounter with Jesus, no one will be able to stop you from sharing the Good News. Maybe this Christmas season, it is time for you to make Jesus Lord of your life and begin living for him.

Another significant reason that God called the shepherds to be His messengers is that God Himself is a shepherd (see, Psalm 23, Isaiah 40:11, Ezekiel 34:11-16 and John 10:1-18). God wants us to know that He knows us and cares for us and will never abandon us. When the glory of Jesus’ birth was announced, it was announced to shepherds to remind us of our Shepherd and how much He loves us. The Christmas story is a story about God’s grace and His love for you and me.

Jesus came for the poor and the humble. Never underestimate the power of God to use those that the world has dismissed as uneducated, soft-spoken, or poor (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-27).

You may be listening this morning and thinking that God will never use you, the world has overlooked you pr you feel downtrodden. (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).

Do you know the call of God on your life?

Sermon February 16, 2020 A life Well Lived

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“A Life Well Lived” – A phrase we often hear at funerals to refer to someone who has made a remarkable impact on the lives of those around them. In our culture we tend to think about greatness as a descriptor that is reserved for those who speak in front of thousands, who’s books make it onto the bestseller list, or who’s faces are on T.V. But how does the Bible define greatness?

Jesus said in Matthew 20:26, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,”

How do we define a life well lived?

Andrew was the first disciple of Jesus to discover that Jesus was the Messiah, but one who was always in the background.

In John 1:35-42, we see that Andrew was the person who invited his brother, Peter, to come and see the Messiah. He may have lived in obscurity, but he was used by our Lord to touch one who touched thousands. His eagerness to follow Christ, combined with his zeal for introducing others to Christ, typifies Andrew’s character.

Scripture doesn’t tell us a lot about Andrew. He appears in the New Testament only nine times and most references simply mention him in passing.

Andrew lived his life in the shadows of his better-known brother, Peter. He is even mentioned in the text as Simon Peter’s brother.

Andrew’s personal encounter with Jesus took place a few months after Jesus’ baptism (see John 1:36). Andrew and John became Jesus’ first disciples. The news Andrew heard was too good to keep to himself, so he went and found the one person in the world he whom he most wanted to know Jesus and led him to Christ (see John 1:42).

We can learn three things from the Apostle Andrew.  

I. HE SAW THE VALUE OF INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE.

Andrew appreciated the value of a single soul and he was known for bringing individuals, not crowds, to Jesus. Almost every time we see him in the gospel accounts, he is bringing someone to Jesus.

He brought Peter to Jesus and we know the impact the Apostle Peter has had on the world.

In John 6, we have the miracle of Jesus feeding the five-thousand, and it was Andrew who brought the boy with his lunch to Jesus. We don’t know the age of the boy, but he was someone that Andrew had noticed. Andrew was the kind of person who would notice a little boy in a crowd of thousands, where Jesus was the focal point. Andrew was not interested in being noticed himself, rather he went out of his way to notice others. This is such a valuable trait and gift that we neglect in our busy self-absorbed society today. Because Andrew brings this young boy to Jesus, one of the greatest Biblical miracles occurs.  

Most people do not come to Christ as an immediate response to a sermon they hear in a crowded setting. They come to Christ because of the influence of an individual. Andrew brought Peter, and Peter’s ministry impacted thousands. All the fruit of Peter’s min­istry is ultimately also the fruit of Andrew’s faithful individual witness. Few people have ever heard of Edward Kimball, but he was the Sunday School teacher who led D.L. Moody to Christ. D.L. Moody lived around 1860 and during his ministry he addressed more than 100

million people in person and personally prayed for and pleaded with seven-hundred and fifty thousand people. He started the Moody Bible college for training pastors and started two printing companies. Millions know the name of Moody, but few remember Kimball. Kimball brought Moody to Jesus.

Many Christians are intimidated by the lie that they cannot share the good news about Jesus because they won’t get it right. But, it’s really not that complicated, it could be simply inviting someone to church, introducing them to Jesus. Step out in faith and you will be amazed what God can do through you.

II. HE SAW THE VALUE OF INSIGNIFICANT GIFTS.

Andrew noticed the small things. Some people see the big picture more clearly just because they appreciate the value of small things. In the Gospel account of the feeding of the five thousand,

Philip’s vision was overwhelmed by the size of the need. But Andrew noticed the five loaves and the two fishes. No gift is insignificant in the hands of Jesus (see Luke 21:1-4).

God’s ability to use a gift is in no way hindered or enhanced by the size of that gift. It is the sacrificial faithfulness of the giver, not the size of the gift, that is the true measure of the gift’s significance. It’s not the greatness of the gift that counts, but rather the greatness of the God to whom it is given.

We dismiss the value of the little things. The phone call or a card to a neighbor who has recently lost a loved one or suffered some other kind of loss. In our fast-paced culture, your little gift of time and care is the very thing that can change someone’s life forever as you bring them to Jesus.

III. HE SAW THE VALUE OF INCONSPICUOUS SERVICE.

Andrew is the picture of all those who labor quietly in humble places (see Ephesians 6:6).

Andrew did not mind being hidden as long as the work was being done. We have lost the capacity to grasp the importance of serving without recognition. Not because recognition is wrong, but we have been duped into thinking that the only effective people in the kingdom of God are the one’s speaking to thousands or writing books as mentioned earlier. But we forget that we are serving an audience of One.

It is infinitely better to be recognized and approved by the Creator of the universe than to receive the temporal applause from man that is forgotten the next day.

Andrew the Apostle never stopped working behind the scenes. He never stopped bringing people to Jesus from as far afield as Russia, and it was this passion that ultimately led to him to be crucified himself by the Roman authorities.  

How has God gifted you? God has placed you where you are to reach the one person that He has called you to.

 “Never allow this thought—’I am of no use where I am,’ because you certainly can be of no use where you are not!” Oswald Chambers:

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 2:5-11 – Sermon December 9, 2018

Philippians 2:5-11

As we come to this Christmas season, I want to ask two questions. Firstly, who is Jesus? And secondly, who is Jesus to you?

Both may seem easy to answer, but that is simply because we don’t grasp the depth of the questions.

In the first four verses of Philippians chapter 2, Paul writes that the key to unity in the church is putting others first. In the next few verses, Paul turns our attention away from ourselves and gives us the perfect example of sacrificial humility, the example set by Jesus. Jesus gave up his royal throne in heaven and came to a humble stable preferring us over his glory.

Verse 5 begins, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” Paul writes essentially that we should have the mindset of Christ, which is humility and submission to the will of the Father. Jesus did not think of himself, he thought of you and me, this is the mind of Christ. We exhibit the mind of Christ when we think of others and prefer others.

Question 1: Who is Jesus?

Philippians 2:6, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,”

Jesus is God, Jesus always was God and will always be God. Christmas, the birth of Jesus, was not the beginning of the second person of the trinity. Rather it was the revelation of God to man, but it was not the beginning, and even though Jesus became a human being, he did not cease to be the eternal God. Jesus identified himself as God (John 10:30 and John 14:9).

The attitude of Jesus was that even though he had every right to the honor and privileges of being God, he gave up these privilege for a season. Jesus counted the cost for our salvation, he was willing to lay aside privilege for the benefit of all who would trust in him.

Not only did Jesus give up his privilege, but in Philippians 2:7-8 we read the extraordinary level that Jesus went to. Jesus humbled himself willingly, becoming a servant in order to save us.

Now when the Bible says that Jesus emptied himself, it does not mean that he ceased to be God. He did not empty himself of his divine nature or attributes, rather he emptied himself of the outward and visible manifestation of the Godhead. Jesus took on the nature of a servant, being made in human form, he added servanthood to his deity.

We can talk about this all day and still come no closer to fully understanding the depths of this statement. The King of Kings became a servant, lowering himself more than any being has ever done. Not only did he become a servant, he became obedient even to the point of submitting himself to dying on a cross. Jesus took on the curse of the cross so that we didn’t have to die and be eternally separated from God.

But Jesus didn’t just come as a baby to die a cruel death on the cross. We are not saved because of the nativity, we aren’t saved simply because God, the creator came and lived with his creation. We are saved because after he was crucified, he was buried but on the third day he rose again. God the Father reached down and restored Jesus back to life. And we believe that this same Jesus is coming again in glory and power the likes of which this world has never seen. Jesus came as a baby, humble and poor in a manger, but when he comes again, it will be so glorious and majestic that every person on the face of the earth will instantly know about it.

Verse 9 of Philippians 2 continues, Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” Because of the obedience and humility that Jesus displayed, God the Father exalted him and gave him the name that is above every other name.

Jesus, the name given by the angel to Joseph, the name that was ridiculed, mocked, shamed, belittled and rejected by man, has become the most powerful and exalted name above all. The Apostle Peter taught this to the Sadducees when explaining the healing of the cripple beggar outside the temple in Acts 4:10-12.

The name of Jesus is the only name with the power to give eternal life, to heal the sick, to overcome demonic forces, to set people free from addictions, to restore broken marriages and relationships. Without the name of Jesus, we have no hope in this world. There is power in the name of Jesus, he has been exalted above every other name.

Philippians 2:10-11 continues to teach that whether people worship or reject the name of Jesus, there will come a day when every person who has ever walked this earth will get on their knees and confess that Jesus is Lord.

Question 2: Who is Jesus to you?

For most people in the world, Christmas is simply another celebration of music, gifts and parties. The world recognizes Christmas, but does not recognize Christ, the Lord over all.

If you know Jesus, Christmas takes on a far deeper meaning. Jesus is a real person who walked the earth, the world acknowledges that much, but what Jesus offers is a personal relationship, which is much more than simply knowing about another person in history.

One can know the facts of history and the Bible cover to cover, but if you don’t know him personally, you are not saved and will spend eternity separated from God.

Salvation is about a personal relationship with the creator God who humbled himself and died on the cross for you. There is power in the name of Jesus because of the personal relationship that we have with our maker and our savior. Do you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?