o WE SEE IT IN GOD’S CREATION “Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen (in) what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 (NIV)
“Can you fathom the limits and bounds of the greatness and power of God? The sky is no limit for God, but it lies beyond your reach! God knows the world of the dead, but you do not know it. God's greatness is broader than the earth, and wider than the sea.” Job 11:7-9 (TEV)
o WE SEE IT IN JESUS’ INCARNATION “The Word became a human being and lived among us! We saw his glory . . .and he was full of grace and truth!” John 1:14 (NCV)
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
“Grace & peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come.” Revelation 1:4 (NIV)
o WE SEE IT IN HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT MOVES. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you don't know where the wind comes from or where it's going. That's the way it is with everyone born of the Holy Spirit.” John 3:8 (GW)
“He does wonders that cannot be understood; he does so many miracles they cannot be counted. When he passes me, I can’t see him; and when he goes by me, I don’t recognize him!” Job 9:10-11 (NCV)
2. BECAUSE GOD IS MULTIDIMENSIONAL I’M NEVER ALONE “Where could I go to escape from you? Where could I ever get away from your presence? If I went up to heaven, you’d be there; if I lay down in the world of the dead, you’d be there. If I flew way beyond the east or lived in the farthest place in the west, you’d be there to lead me. You’d be there to help me. I could ask the darkness to hide me . . . but even darkness is not dark for you, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” Psalm 139:7-12 (TEV)
HOW TO PRAY IN FIVE DIMENSIONS
AS I PRAY . . .
1. I lookBACKWARD TO THE CROSS “God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life . . . He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 (NLT)
The Cross reminds me
o How deeply God loves me
o How costly evil & sin is
o How completely I’m forgiven
2. I look UPWARD TO MY FATHER’S LOVIING FACE “You should not act like cowering, fearful slaves, since God’s Spirit has adopted you as children into God’s Family! Instead, by his Spiritwe simply cry outAbba! Father! and God’s Spirit affirms that we really are his children! And since we are now God’s children, we’re also heirs with Christ, and will share in both his suffering and his glory!” Romans 8:15-17
GOD WANTS MY PRAYERS TO BE
o Abba! Daddy! PERSONAL
o Cry Out! PASSIONATE
o By His Spirit A PARTNERSHIP
3. I look INWARD TO JESUS LIVING INSIDE ME “Examine yourself to see if your faith is real and growing. Test yourself. Remember that Jesus is living in you – unless you’ve failed your test.” 2 Corinthians 13:5
“Jesus, produce the Fruit of your Spirit in me today!”
4. I look AROUND AND ASK THE HOLY SPIRIT TO USE ME “ . . . Give yourself completely to God – every part of you – since you’ve been given a new life, and you want to be used as a tool in the hands of God, used for his good purposes.” Romans 6:13 (LB)
5. I look FORWARD TO MY FUTURE IN FAITH “I am confident of this, that God who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until it is finished on the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
Your understanding of what God is really like shapes everything else in your life, including how you pray.
“The Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and his faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation.” Psalm 100:5 (LB)
BECAUSE GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD . . .
1. GOD’S PLANS FOR MY LIFE WILL ALWAYS BE GOOD.
“‘I know what I’ve planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you! My plans will give you hope and a good future. And when you call to me and pray to me, I will listen to you!” Jeremiah 29:11 (NCV)
“We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)
Joseph: “Your plan was to hurt me, but God turned your evil plan into a GOOD plan to save the lives of many people!” Genesis 50:20
“So, we can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are GOOD for us – they help us learn patient endurance.” Rom. 5:3 (NLT)
2. GOD ALWAYS GIVES ME WHAT I NEED, NOT WHAT I DESERVE.
“He has not treated us as we deserve for our sins or paid us back for our wrongs . . . (In his goodness), he has taken our sins away and removed them as far as the east is from the west!” Psalm 103:10, 12
“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close . . . my enemies are waiting for me to fall . . . Yet I remain confident that I’ll see the goodness of the Lord while I’m living here in the world.” Psalm 27:10-13 (NLT)
“(Jesus) understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly with confidence to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find the grace to help us when we need it.” Hebrews 4:15-16 (NLT)
3. GOD PUT MY GOOD ABOVE HIS OWN GOOD. “I am the GOOD shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me . . . And I will sacrifice my life for my sheep.” John 10:14-15
“Jesus died for our sins and rose again to make us right with God, filling us with God's goodness.” Romans 4:25 (LB)
“Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave Christ up for us all, won’t he now also give us everything else we need?” Romans 8:32 (NLT)
4. HE DOES NOT SAY YES TO EVERY REQUEST!
“You fathers – if your children asked for a fish to eat, would you give them a snake instead? Or if they asked for an egg, would you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you, as sinful people, know how to give GOOD gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “You don’t realize what you are asking for!”Matt 20:22 (NLT)
God says, “My thoughts are completely different from yours, and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)
5. HE INVITES US TO LIVE WITH HIM FOREVER.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ, and God our Father who loves us, has given us by his grace an everlasting encouragement and a good hope that will last forever. May this encourage your heart and give you strength for every good thing you do and say!” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, then I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!” Psalm 23:6 (NIV)
PRAY THIS WEEK
“Lord, keep me from paying attention to what is worthless. (Instead) let me live by your Word . . . I want to obey your principles. Please renew my life with your goodness!” Psalm 119:37, 39-40
Revive My Heart . . . My Small Group . . . Our Church Family
“Bring us back to you, God; we’re ready to come back. Give us a fresh start.” Lamentations 5:21 (The Message)
*based on material from 40 Days of Prayer by Rick Warren
Prayer is a universal topic but there are 3 basic facts about prayer.
Our Creator wired human beings for prayer!
Ecclesiastes 3:11: “God has planted eternity in the human heart.”
We’re not very good at prayer
Romans 8:26 “We don't even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray...” (NLT)
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’” Luke 11:1 (NIV)
Our frustrations with prayer are caused by: Our misconceptions
not a magic wand
not a fire extinguisher
not a tug of war
not a ritual to relieve guilt
Matthew 6:7 “When you pray DO NOT use meaningless repetition thinking that you will be heard for your many words.” (NAS)
4 FOUNDATIONAL TRUTHS ABOUT PRAYER
GOD LOVES FOR ME TO TALK TO HIM ABOUT ANYTHING
“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who reverence him.” Psalm 103:13 (NLT)
“We can be confident in approaching God, knowing that he listens to us whenever we ask him for anything according to his will. And since we know that he hears us when we make our requests, then we can be sure that he will answer us.” 1 John 5:14-15
PRAYER IS: A CONVERSATION, NOT A CEREMONY
____________A RELATIONSHIP, NOT A RITUAL__________
“I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future. Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12 (NCV)
GOD LISTENS TO PRAYERS THAT ARE SINCERE & SIMPLE__
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they’ve received their reward in full. Instead, when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep babbling on and on like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:5-8 (NIV)
“Let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith . . .” Hebrews 10:22 (TEV)
3. GOD LIKES TO SHOW HIS GRACE BY ANSWERING PRAYER
“Call to me and I will answer you. I will show you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” Jeremiah 33:3 (Message)
“If you, being imperfect and sinful parents know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?” Matthew 7:11 (NLT)
“You do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:2 (NIV)
4. GOD LONGS TO BE CLOSE TO ME!
“The Lord waits for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion.” Isaiah 30:18 (NLT)
“I don’t want your sacrifices – I want your love! I don't want your offerings, I want you to know me!” Hosea 6:6 (LB)
Jesus said, “I don’t call you servants…I call you my friends!” John 15:15
“Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him. With them He shares the secrets of his covenant.” Psalm 25:14 (NLT)
“Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.” James 4:8 (NLT)
The Closer I Am To God, the less stressed & more blessed I’ll be.
“We are not meant to remain as children at the mercy of every chance wind of teaching . . . Instead we are meant to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ . . .” Ephesians 4:14 (Ph)
SIX LAWS OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH
1. WE GROW WHEN WE FEED ON GOD’S WORD.
Jesus: “People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every Word of God.” Matthew 4:4 (NLT)
Paul: “. . . the Word of grace is able to build you up and give you all the blessings that God has for his people.” Acts 20:32
“In many different ways John preached the good news to the people.” Luke 3:18 (CEV)
By Listening (Auditory)
By Watching/Reading (Visual)
By Talking (Verbal/Oral)
By Doing it (Physical/Kinesthetic)
“God speaks in different ways, and we don’t always recognize his voice.”
Job 33:14 (CEV)
3. WE GROW WHEN WE DEVELOP SPIRITUAL HABITS
“Now that you know these things, you’ll be blessed if you practice them!” John 13:17
“Solid food is for mature people, whose minds have been trained by practice to know the difference between good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14 (GW) “All good athletes train hard and practice to get better. They do it to win a prize that won’t last. But we practice to win a prize that will last forever!” 1 Corinthians 9:25
Habit of weekly large group worship
Habit of small group fellowship
Habit of a daily time alone with God (Bible & Prayer)
Habit of memorizing God’s Word
4. WE GROW WHEN WE HELP EACH OTHER GROW
“I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.” Romans 1:12 (NCV)
“Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the HABIT of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more . . .” Hebrews 10:24-25 (TEV)
Action Step: JOIN IN A SMALL GROUP
5. WE GROW WHEN WE EXPECT TO GROW
Jesus said, “According to your faith will it be done to you.” Matthew 9:29 (NIV)
6. WE GROW WHEN WE COMMIT TO GROW
God: “You’ll find me when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else . . .” Jeremiah 29:13 (Message)
Action Step: COVENANT WITH OTHERS
Nehemiah: “In view of all this, we are making a covenant together in writing, and all of us are signing our names to it . . .” See Nehemiah 9:38
“Our greatest wish and prayer is that you will become mature Christians.” 2 Corinthians 13:9 (TLB)
*sermon based on materials from 40 Days of Prayer by Rick Warren
INTRODUCTION: Most scholars believe 3 John was written by the aged Apostle John who calls himself the Elder in this letter. The short letter would have filled one papyrus page and was addressed “to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth” (1). Good churches have good people. Gaius was a good and faithful leader in his local church. John encouraged him to continue to welcome traveling missionaries and imitate other good leaders. John gives the qualities of a good leader and warns those who oppose the truth.
GOOD PEOPLE MAKE THE CHURCH OPERATE WELL.
*Good people are…
people of faith - Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul (2).
people of truth - For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3-4).
people of hospitality and love - Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God (5-6).
people on mission - For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth (7-8).
GOOD PEOPLE CONFRONTPROBLEM PEOPLE.
*Problem people are…
people who are self-centered and reject authority - I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority (9).
people who gossip - So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing,
talking wicked nonsense against us (10).
people who refuse to practice hospitality - And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers (10).
people who hinder missions and ministry - he refuses to welcome the brothers and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church (10).
GOOD PEOPLE SUPPORT AND IMITATE OTHER GOOD PEOPLE.
*Good conduct is a good indicator of good character. Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God (11).
*Good people believe the truth, live the truth and are recognized by others as good examples of Christian integrity. Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true (12).
INTRODUCTION: The themes and phrases of 2 John and 3 John are like each other and to 1 John. Most scholars believe 2 John was written by the aged Apostle John who calls himself the Elder in this letter. The short letter would have filled one papyrus page and was addressed to “the elect lady and her children” (1). John probably was writing in code to a local church and its members to protect them from discovery and persecution. John encourages the church to remain faithful and warns them of false teachers who are coming to deceive them. Christians believe in Jesus Christ and love one another. They will stand against the lies of the devil.
BELIEVERS SHARE A COMMON BOND (1-3).
*Truth and love indwell and unite believers forever. The common truth is that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and is fully human and fully divine (see v. 7). The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever (1-2).
*God the Father and God the Son’s gifts of truth and love generate grace, mercy and peace. Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father's Son, in truth and love (3).
BELIEVERS WALK IN LOVE AND TRUTH (4-6).
*Obedience to God’s commands means that you are walking in the truth. Belief in Christ is the basic truth of the Christian faith. I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. (4).
*The basic command from God is that we love one another. The true expression of love is that we do what God says. The fulfillment of God’s law is best depicted as loving God and loving our neighbor. To be a Christian is to believe in Christ and to love one another. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it (5-6).
BELIEVERS REJECT FALSE TEACHERS AND DOCTRINE (7-11).
*Deceivers try to disrupt the faith and practice of local churches and Christians. They deny the basic teachings of the church and substitute false ideas about Christ. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist (7).
*Faithful Christians watch out for dangerous ideas that would lead them astray spiritually or cause them to lose their heavenly rewards. They test all progressive teachings to see if they match the truth of God’s Word. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son (8-9).
*Loving your neighbor does not mean you have to compromise your beliefs. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works (10-11).
Followers of Jesus Christ love one another and refuse to compromise the truth of the gospel.
INTRODUCTION: Jesus is heading to Jerusalem to die. He knows that conflict and trouble await him. There is intense speculation about whether Jesus will appear in the Temple to teach during the Passover season. Jesus stays with friends in Bethany and sends his disciples to get a colt. He rides into Jerusalem on the colt and people begin spreading the word, “Jesus is coming!” They sing praises. They worship him. Then without warning, Jesus clears the Temple of merchants and merchandise. He drives away the buyers and the businessmen. When he had everyone’s attention, Jesus proclaimed a truth that stands for all time, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’” (Matthew 21:13). We read about this incident in Matthew 21:12-13. As we think of our mission for 2019, we need to ask ourselves an important question: Is Parkview Baptist Church a house of prayer?” We can be if we do two things.:
RECOGNIZE THAT JESUS IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH.
*Jesus has supreme authority over everything. He controls and leads the church. “Christ rules over all forces, authorities, powers, and rulers. He rules over all beings in this world and will rule in the future world as well. God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything” (Ephesians 1:21-22 CEV).
*The church is a living organism not simply an organization. “The church is Christ’s body and is filled with Christ who completely fills everything (Ephesians 1:23 CEV).
*Jesus knows what is best for his church. “And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’” (Matthew 21:12-13).
MAKE PRAYER THE MAINBUSINESS OF THE CHURCH.
*Jesus wants his place of worship to be a place of prayer. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’” (Matthew 21:13).
*Any business in the church other than prayer is secondary. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers” (Matthew 21:13).
HOW CAN PARKVIEW BAPTIST CHURCH BECOME A “HOUSE OF PRAYER?”
THE MISSION 2019: Pray for Breakthrough
PURPOSE: Maturity in Effective Prayer
VERSE: He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’” (Matthew 21:13).
MOTTO: Breakthroughs always begin with prayer.
OBJECTIVE: Pray, pray some more, and keep on praying until we see a breakthrough.
Goals: The goal is to lead God’s people to pray for some major breakthroughs in our church in 2019.
(see the handout for suggested goals and 40 Days of Prayer campaign)
INTRODUCTION: Mary and Joseph found themselves in a new situation. They were away from home with a new child and had been surrounded by shepherds and wise men and prophets with strange tales. They were awed and excited. Life was filled with expectancy and hope. Then tragedy hit. Trouble was brooding in a jealous king and threatened their lives and their newborn son. After Christmas trouble comes. After the good times trouble comes. It seems to be an unwritten law that after any spiritual, material or emotional high times of trouble, confusion or depression hit us. How are we to deal with these times? Mary and Joseph provide us with a godly response in Matthew 2:11-23.
HOLD ON TO THE PROMISES OF GOD.
*Mary and Joseph both had promises from God that they could cling to (Matt. 1:20-23 and Luke 1:29-38).
*When we are troubled or down or disappointed we need to go to the Word of God and lean on God’s promises. Mary and Joseph walking to Egypt only had the words of the angel to trust. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” (13).
BE OBEDIENT TO WHAT YOU KNOW TO BE TRUE.
*Joseph obeyed the word. He acted on the light that he had.
He married Mary and named her son. “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus” (1:24-25)
He fled to Egypt with his family. “And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod” (2:14-15).
*The temptation is to sit or rebel when we are in tight spots.
TRY TO GET THE LARGER PICTURE.
*Joseph obeyed step by step but did not know the larger plans or purposes behind his move to Egypt.
He escaped to Egypt in fulfillment of prophecy. “And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt…This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’” (2:14-15).
He listened to God’s guidance and warnings and settled in a safe place predicted by the prophets. “And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene” (2:21-23)
*Don’t ever think that your present situation is your final situation. God has larger purposes in mind.
KNOW THAT GOD WILL PROVIDE EVEN IN THE TIME OF TROUBLE.
*Mary and Joseph were poor. How could they make a trip to Egypt? God took care of that with the gifts from the wise men. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.(2:11).
INTRODUCTION: The Christmas season is the time of Advent. Advent means “coming.” Today we lit the Fourth Advent Candle, the Love Candle. Christmas marks the entrance of love into the world. Christmas is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. John 3:16 has been called the Gospel in a nutshell. It tells us everything we need to know about God, love, giving, faith and eternal life. Say this verse with me, For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). This is a wonderful verse to remind us of what Christmas is all about.
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT LOVE.
*We express love at Christmas. We gather with friends and family. We share the excitement and wonder of children as we remember the birth of the Christ child. The child in the manger, the celebration of angels, and a mother’s love are all wrapped up in the Christmas story. God loved us and sent his son. For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son (3:16).
Love motivates us to give our best.
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT GIVING.
*Christmas is about gifts and giving. We give because God gave. We think of wise men bringing their gifts to give to the newborn King. The wise men and shepherds also gave their worship in gratitude for God’s gift to us all. The greatest gift was God’s gift. He gave his one and only Son. For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son (3:16).
*God’s love is sacrificial love. We are called to love oneanother like Jesus did. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16).
The best gift is serving others in Jesus’ name.
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT BELIEF.
*People believe in the Christmas spirit even if they do not believe in the Christ of Christmas. They take to heart the message of the angels singing “Peace on earth, good will to men.” They wonder why this same spirit cannot last the whole year round. Christmas is about belief. It’s about faith. It is putting your trust in the promised Messiah who was born in Bethlehem. For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
*God had a purpose in sending his Son. He gave us Jesus, so we could receive life. Jesus gave his life, so we could receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).
Christmas is the time to believe:
Believe that Messiah has been born.
Believe that salvation has been given.
Believe that we can have life that begins now and lasts forever.
Believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior who forgives us and gives us peace with God.
Will you believe in God’s love for you this Christmas
INTRODUCTION: The Christmas season is the time of Advent. Advent means “coming.” Today we lit the Third Advent Candle, the Candle of Joy. We associate Christmas time with joy. We sing carols, we give and receive gifts, we spend time with family, and we eat good food. But many cannot find joy at Christmas. They remember loved ones who have passed on or they have lost their jobs. They see pain and violence and hunger in the world and wonder where the joy of living is. But the angel told the shepherds that Christmas is a time of joy: “And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).Christmas is the time to celebrate the JOY that Jesus Christ gives to us.
JOY OVERCOMES ADVERSITY.
*Joy was born in a manger. Joy can be born during hardship and difficulty. And Joseph also went up from Galilee…to be registered with Mary…who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn (Luke 2:4-7).
*Joy appeared to the shepherds. Joy can appear to anyone, at any time, and at any place. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:8-10).
*Joy was heralded by angels. The message of joy is available to all who will receive it. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:10-14).
Joy comes through a Savior. The shepherds believed and found their Messiah. When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. (Luke 2:15-17).
God can bring great joy out of trying circumstances.
JOY IN THE LORD BRINGS VICTORY.
Joy settles conflicts. Paul reminds his co-workers that their joy lies in service and unity in the Lord. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord (Philippians 4:1-2).
Joy rests in the Lord. The Lord Jesus is the source of joy in all circumstances. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice ( 4:4).
Joy is a command and a choice. Because you always have the Lord with you, you can always choose to rejoice no matter what the situation. Rejoice in the Lord always (4:4).
Joy endures to the end. Keep rejoicing until victory is won. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice (4:4).
“The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).