[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for singing. Don't you love singing Christmas carols. I wish we could sing them year round. They carry so much, meaning it's such a great way to worship God. So thanks for participating in that. And I just want to welcome you into our home. This is where Lisa and I live and we're in our family room and I have the privilege of sharing the word of God with you from here.
[00:00:19] And I'm just so glad that you're with me. I want to do something that I, it seems like the Christmas can't be Christmas if you don't read the Christmas story, especially as it's told by the the gospel writer, Luke. And, and so what I want to do is I want to read through a passage that I, I heard a long time ago and, and I always resonate with this.
[00:00:36] I mean, this, this passage just takes me there and I can see this in my mind's eyes so clearly. So let me just read to you from Luke chapter two, verses one to 14. In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken to the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
[00:00:56] And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph [00:01:00] also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and the line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there
[00:01:14] the time came for the baby to be born 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. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified.
[00:01:35] But the angel said to them do not be afraid. I bring you good news. That will cause great joy for all the people today in the town of David, a savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord, and this will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger and suddenly
[00:01:53] a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying glory to God in the highest heaven [00:02:00] and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. You, you know, what's interesting. I just can't imagine not reading that passage. That passage has left a mark on me in my life. You know what also has left a mark on me in my life.
[00:02:16] The same thing has left a mark on you in your life. It's the year 2020. This year has been an incredibly difficult year. No, nobody's, uh, this is a year w none of, none of us are gonna forget. Nobody saw it coming. All of us are affected. All of us have been in it. You've survived. It it's an historic event that you have lived through.
[00:02:35] And, um, it's changed us in a lot of ways. It's interesting to me, as I think about the year 2020 this year is. It's just been like wave after wave of bad news. And, you know, we, uh, let's just start with the Coronavirus and then we can talk about all the racial tension and then we can talk about economic issues and we can talk about schools being shut down and we can talk about a political campaign and an election.
[00:02:55] We can talk about a Supreme court justice who died. They took up on a perfect storm and a perfect storm was being hit by three [00:03:00] waves. What do you call the perfect storm that got six waves that hit you? Uh, Perfect storm on steroids. I mean, that's what this year has felt like. In fact, dictionary.com.
[00:03:09] Interestingly enough, they came up with a word that describes 2020. And, uh, it's, it's a, it's a weird idea, but they called it doomscrolling. It started with the Coronavirus, but everything added to it, doomscrolling is this process. I mean, it's literally, it's the act of the consuming, endless amounts of online news
[00:03:30] that's all bad. It's what happens when you go to bed at night and you're ready to go to sleep, but just one last time, you want to check your Twitter feed until you check it. And all of a sudden you hear, you know, there's another rise in the Coronavirus or whatever the news is. And, and before long you feel yourself drowning in a pool of despair.
[00:03:47] This is, this is doomscrolling. And it's, it's kind of the thing that sums up this year. In fact, 66% of Americans say I'm so over the news, I'm just so past this. Again, the great news is it's [00:04:00] almost over because you know what nobody ever said in the history of mankind, 2020 is almost over I'm so sorry to see it go.
[00:04:06] No one ever is guilty of saying that none of us want to see anything, but 2020 in the rear view mirror in hindsight, 2020, kind of the idea, and we can't wait for that to happen. What would it be great though, in the midst of this year of all of this difficult news to hear some good news, don't you love hearing good news.
[00:04:26] In contrast to bad news. There's a proverb that, uh, I think it's just such a good proverb. Proverb. 15:30 says light in a messenger's eyes brings joy to the heart and good news gives health to the bones. Good news brightens your day. Good news edifies you, it lifts you up. There's no dooms, you know, doom in, in good news.
[00:04:49] It's just edifying it. Wouldn't you love to hear some good news? Now I'm going to go back in that story that we just read. I want to take you back to what the angel said. And like, I want you to think if you would, with me, [00:05:00] what, what did that angel say uh, to, to the shepherds that made such a difference?
[00:05:06] Let me read it to you again, Luke two 10, but the angel said to them, this is the exact thing they, this angel said do not be afraid. I bring you good news note, note the phrase. Good news. That will cause great joy for all the people. What kind of news could the angel bring that would do that? That would bring great joy to all the people.
[00:05:26] Most news that we talk about is bad news. Most things that you hear, uh, certainly on the news. If you watch the news, the news tends to be bad news. Um, you, you might know the adage. If it bleeds, it leads. It's the idea that get the, get the most horrific story. And the one that grabs your emotions. The one that sucks you in and news outlets are really known for doing this to get a visceral effect out of us.
[00:05:52] They, they want it to agitate. They want us to be afraid and they do this because news would never sell if there was [00:06:00] nothing in it that would cause you to want to come back and get more information. And, and so we're literally baited on and on and on a little bit more information, a little bit more information.
[00:06:08] It gets a little darker and we come a little bit more afraid. There's a lot of profit in selling people, bad news. And you know what? The news media does not like? Peace and calm. Peace and calm never sells peace and calm has nothing to talk about. So. We hear a lot of bad news. Now let's jump back here though.
[00:06:29] Uh, th the, the message of this angel, cause I think it's so important. Um, so what, what did he say? What did he say now? Look at verse 11. Very clearly it says today in the town of David, a savior has been born to you, the Messiah, the Lord. Okay. What's the good news. A savior has been born. Uh, the Messiah, the anointed one, the Christ has been born.
[00:06:54] The Lord has come. This is fascinating. They have been [00:07:00] waiting so long to hear this. You need to understand that all throughout the old Testament, there were prophecies of a coming Messiah. And in fact, the last book that will come Malakai ends with an anticipation of the coming of the Messiah. And then there were 400 years of silence where seemed like God just had disappeared.
[00:07:13] He wasn't saying anything. And they were waiting and waiting and anticipating and nothing showing up. There's a promise of a King to come a King that would sit on the throne of David, a King that would supersede the greatness of David and that they would lead Israel into an even greater stature than it had under the reign of David. A 700 years before the time of Christ the prophet Isaiah.
[00:07:35] He spoke and he said something would have made so little sense to so many people, but this is what he said. And again, you might be familiar with these words. We tend to read them around Christmas. Isaiah chapter nine says this for six and seven for to us, a child is born to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, Prince of peace, and of the greatness of his government and peace
[00:07:59] there will [00:08:00] be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom establishing and holding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. And the zeal of the Lord almighty will accomplish this. There's so much to hope for a coming of a Messiah. And the good news that the angel said is he's been born.
[00:08:19] Now, let me ask you a simple question. Did God come for us or for himself? We certainly didn't come for himself. He had nothing to gain by coming here. He came for us. He came for you. He came for me. And, uh, this is for our good. I want to think of one more time back to Luke, Luke two 13 says suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying glory to God in the highest and on earth
[00:08:43] peace on those of whom his favor rests. Which means peace is coming. God has a gift for those who will receive what he has and what he wanted to bring them. This was not for his good, this was for our good. So what difference does it make? [00:09:00] What, so, okay. The news a savior has been born. What's a savior?
[00:09:04] A savior is someone who saves you, who rescues you, who provides help when you're in a sense of despair, you go, what do I possibly need to be saved from? Well, in the biggest sense what we need to be saved from is the fact that we're all sinners and we've all rebelled against God. And there's consequences to that.
[00:09:21] Romans three talks about how we've all missed the mark. Roman 6 says that the wages of sin is death. The best news of all is that Jesus came born as a baby to die on a cross, to take away the sins of the world, yours included. Now you've got to receive him. You've got to accept that for that to become effective, but you know what, there's an even a more immediate sense that I think you could look at this and say, this is what this good news means is that, you know what I need saving from right now in the year 2020.
[00:09:50] I need to be saved from an overwhelming sense of despair. Uh, a S a sense of doom, a sense of hopelessness, a sense of pessimism of the year [00:10:00] 2020 is what I need to be rescued from. I've got great news. You have a savior and he's come, he's come for you. And the good news is, is that help has arrived. And where this help came from hope has arrived.
[00:10:16] Jesus came to bring you hope. He came to cause you to realize that it's going to be okay, that he's not gonna leave you. Hey, you see every need you have right now, it can be met in Jesus. He, he is simply come to be your rescuer and your savior. Now I, I wanna just say that, you know, Christmas is all about hope.
[00:10:39] That's the point of Christmas. It's all about hope. And, uh, we were talking about carols earlier a few minutes ago, I talked about carols, you know, one of the most loved carols of all is a little town of Bethlehem. And, you know, I've been to Bethlehem a number of times and, uh, you know, it's always interesting cause there's Shepherd's fields and you, and you look up, you know, and you see [00:11:00] Bethlehem and, and there's this beautiful image of, of what this, this first night that is recorded in Luke in Bethlehem was like, in fact, let me just capture the words of the song.
[00:11:10] Let me read to you. A verse verse one and three, a little town of Bethlehem. How still we see the lie above the deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in the dark street, shine with the everlasting light, the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given.
[00:11:32] So God imparts to human hearts, the blessings of his heaven, no ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive him. Still. The dear Christ enters in. See the great news is Christ is come. You're not alone. You're not overpowered. You're not outnumbered. You're not doomed in any way, but here's what you have to do.
[00:11:58] The shepherds in the fields [00:12:00] had to look up. They had to look up. Because that's where the baby was. They had to look up, you know, looking up, reminds me of Psalm one 21, which again, I just got to read the words to you of Psalm one 21. I lift my eyes to the mountains. I lift up my eyes to the mountains.
[00:12:16] Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed. He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you. The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night, the Lord will keep you from all harm.
[00:12:38] He will watch over your life. The Lord will watch over your coming and your going both now and forever more. You have a savior. You have someone who's come to rescue you. Uh, first Peter seven cast all your anxiety on him. Why? Because he cares for you. You, you, you got to understand. If you simply put place your faith in [00:13:00] Jesus, you're never going to be forgotten.
[00:13:02] You're never going to be forsaken. You're never going to be abandoned. In fact, the very last words of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, I'm going to be with you. Count on it until the very end of the age. What does this require? What is God? What do you want from me? You what he wants you. I want you to believe in him.
[00:13:16] He wants you to have faith in him, which means that you've got to take him at his word. You have to trust what he's told you. You got to believe in the good news. And, um, Hebrews 11 one. It is, it basically says this a faith is confidence in what we hope and assurance in what we have not seen because you just take me at my word, 11, six, a little farther down says without faith, it's impossible to please God, because you've got to believe that he exists and that he rewards you if you seek after him.
[00:13:45] So the simple question is, do you believe, do you believe. You see Jesus came. So you would have someone to believe in something to put your confidence in. And if you put your faith in Jesus, there's nothing that's going to come your way that you can't handle. He won't allow it to [00:14:00] happen. I want to close this by telling you a story.
[00:14:03] True story it happened back in 1903, the Wright brothers finally got their plane off the ground. They'd flown it 120 feet. They were so excited. They couldn't wait to telegram home to tell their sister to tell the news, that they had got it off the ground. And so they contacted their sister, Catherine with a telegram and, and they said in fact, let me read to you the very words of the telegram. We have actually flown 120 feet.
[00:14:25] We'll be home for Christmas. And Catherine ran to the local news editor to give it so they can get it on the news. And the editor read the note and he said, Oh, well, that's nice. The boys will be home for Christmas. Totally missing the point. Yeah. That's what I fear so often happens when it comes to Christmas.
[00:14:45] As you go through all the motions, we'll go through all the celebrations. We have all the decore we have do all this, but we miss the very point of the best news that you could ever be given, which is your savior has come. You, you, you have been rescued Oh, on all the big issues of [00:15:00] sin. Yeah, he, he, he was born so that he could die so that he could take away your sin.
[00:15:04] But today and tomorrow, and next week, you don't need to be afraid. You don't need to be overwhelmed. You need to, you need to understand you have a, God who's come for you because you matter to him and in you're that important to him. So rejoice got great news. In the town of Bethlehem, a baby was born the savior.
[00:15:24] Listen, I'm going to hand this over to our campus pastors and our online host. And they're just going to lead you in a few moments of reflection, as we think about the significance of what this actually means. Thanks for listening to me.