What He Truly Wants For Christmas?

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It’s hard to capture the look of awe with words.

I wish I could.

Last night we went caroling through the neighborhood around our church.

One particular home stood out.

The children went up to the door and knocked.

No response.

They knocked again.

No response.

After a third attempt, we started to move on.

But out came this little woman. She came close. Standing right at the edge of the yard. We sang a song for her. I wished her a Merry Christmas. She leaned over and tried to give me some rolled up cash.

I recoiled back. “Oh no, we don’t want any money. We just want to wish you a Merry Christmas.”

She paused for a long moment. I could tell she was trying to process what I said. Trying to take it all in. The whole scene. She finally spoke soft, “You mean you don’t want money?”

The look on her face was priceless.

My heart smiled big. “No, that’s not why we came.”

Isn’t that a picture of Christmas.

A Savior came to give. He knocks on the door of our heart. Persistently. Not because we deserve it. It’s all grace. Getting what we don’t deserve.

Just because He loves us. He gave His life so we could have life. Eternal life.

What could we possibly give Him in return?

Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways…

All He asks for is our hearts.

Give Him the best gift this Christmas, your heart.

All. Of. You.

Your inner most being, your will, your understanding, your thinking, your feeling, your obedience, your resolution, your determination, your trust…

Everything.

That will make for a happy Christmas…



I Need A Savior

Joy to world? Perhaps you came here for joy, but along with you come the overwhelming thoughts of all that you still have to do. The gifts to buy. People you forgot to buy for. The people you did buy for, but what if they don’t like your gift. What if they think you’re cheap? The pressure. How am I going to pay for all this stuff? I hope my husband doesn’t find out how much I spent. I know he sees the bill. He pays it but…And then there are the pressures at work. Pressures of ministry. Pressures of children. Cookies to bake. Those cheap presents need to wrapped. Dinner plans and other plans. Family we haven’t seen. Family we don’t want to see. And on top of all that is the same old thing, the big thing that weighs heavy on your heart. Maybe it is a desire on in your heart that remains unfulfilled. A person or situation you want to change and it seems further away than ever.

 

Mark 3:1 Jesus went off with His disciples to get away. But, a huge crowd came…

 

He knows what we are feeling.

 

Mark 3:10 For He healed many so that as many as had afflictions pressed about Him to touch Him.

 

I want to bring a word in this verse to our attention. You may want to underline it. This word “afflictions” in the old language is the word mastix. It is the Greek word for scourge or to whip. In the literal sense it was the Roman flagellum. Romans would, according to custom, scourge a condemned criminal before he was put to death. The Roman scourge, also called the “flagrum” or “flagellum” was a short whip made of two or three leather (ox-hide) thongs or ropes connected to a handle as in the sketch above. The leather thongs were knotted with a number of small pieces of metal, usually zinc and iron, attached at various intervals. Scourging would quickly remove the skin. According to history the punishment of a slave was particularly dreadful. The leather was knotted with bones, or heavy indented pieces of bronze.

 

Maybe you come here this morning feeling whipped. Beat down. Hurting in your heart. And maybe no one knows what you’re struggling with. On top of all the Christmas stuff: A decision. A child. A husband. An illness. A sin. In the deepest recesses of your heart you are crying out.

 

Jesus sees your need. He knows. It may feel like you’re in this thing alone. Or like you’ve been forgotten. Jesus hasn’t forgotten you. He sees.

 

The crowds pressed into Him. Press into Jesus. When my sons were babies, there was nothing greater than when they were all worn out they would just come and snuggle up in my lap and lay their head down. Press in close. I would wrap my arms around them and squeeze tight. Eventually they would fall asleep. Camden was little more obstinate though. It would take him a lot to come and just give in. Sometimes we can keep fighting that surrender. Press into Jesus. Hear what He has to say to you. Press in close.

 

Luke 2:11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

 

Today we gather together to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Let’s begin by defining what the word Savior means: To rescue, to deliver, to preserve, to keep safe, to set free.

 

First and foremost, Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins. Save me from my sins personally. My sins which are many.

 

Luke 19:10 The Son of Man came to seek and save that which is lost.

 

I want to share some verses from Luke 15 about our Savior. Our Rescuer. In this chapter is a parable. One parable with three stories. It’s like one song with three stanzas. Jesus is replying to an accusation that He receives sinners and has nerve to eat with them too.

 

Luke 15:1-7 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

 

Sheep are notoriously famous for being stupid. They are foolish. They do foolish things. Sheep are so dumb they can’t even find their own food or get to water nearby. They need their shepherd to guide them. They wander aimlessly and mixed up so easily. How right the Lord was in likening us to them. Without our shepherd we would wander right into hell.

 

He came to save lost sinners from hell.

 

Jesus Christ left heaven. Streets of gold. Sinless perfection. He came as a little baby and He made himself vulnerable and came to earth, the only man born to die. He came to pay the penalty for my sin. The penalty for my sin was eternity in hell. He came to die a brutal death on the cross to pay my penalty. And yours. That is how much He loves you. He will pursue after you  until you willingly come to Him. If a little sheep wandered off habitually into areas that could be potentially destructive, the shepherd would break its legs. Then, after carefully setting the bones, he would carry the sheep on his shoulders while the bones mended. When the sheep was healed, so close did she grow toward her shepherd that from that time on, she would never leave His side. Therein lies the reason we don’t want to wander. Every time we think a particular sin is not that big of a deal we may reconsider what can happen-not because the Lord is angry or vindictive, but because He wants to save us from danger and damnation. If you’re like me, you’ve had a few broken bones on your journey, and you’ve learned to say, “Lord, I want to stay right next to You every step of the way.

 

Jesus our Savior.

 

The next story in our parable:

 

Luke 15:8-10 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

 

To explain the seeming panic over the loss of a single coin, it must be understood that in the Hebrew culture at the time, on her wedding day, a woman would be given a necklace that was strung with ten gold coins. It was very valuable. It would mean the world to her. It is much like our wedding ring today.

 

A lost coin would make the necklace lose its value.

 

The loss was at the hands of someone else’s carelessness.

 

 The same thing can happen to us.

 

We can feel as though we are worthless due to what someone has said to us or what they didn’t say. Something from last week, last year, or childhood. Things done to us. Past rejection. Past abandonment can leave us feeling less. Or never enough. Not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not worthy of being loved. Whether that rejection or feeling came from a father, a mother, a boyfriend, husband or anyone else.

We feel less. We put ourselves down. We don’t take compliments well. We hurt ourselves. Beat ourselves down. We feel like failures as moms if we have a bad day.

Our Savior comes to set us free from this constant beat down in our minds. He wants to set us free in our thought life. Lift us out of the depression. The anxiety. Set us free from fear.  Fear of being ourselves. Free from being defined by man’s opinion.  Our value is not in what any man thinks of us. Our value is not found in our jobs, careers, or ministries. Our value is not in being a wife or a mother. Our value is not found in what we look like. How much we weigh or the size of our pants.

Our value is found in being a daughter of the King.

You are His. In this parable the women searches frantically for that lost coin. When she finds it, she rejoices. She celebrates. When that coin is back where it belongs, there is a celebration. While the parable continues to be about the lost sinner returning, it is a great picture of the celebration that will take place in our heart when we understand the true love of Jesus.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Fear is from the enemy.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Complete understanding of the love of God sets us free from fear.

 

We can get a beautiful picture of our Fathers love in our third story from Luke 15.

 

Luke 15:11-24 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

The love of the Father. It is the only place you will see the Father running and it’s to meet a repentant sinner. You have never gone too far away that the Father won’t run to meet you. On his way home perhaps the son expected to be berated and yelled at. But he was only met with grace and love. It wasn’t earned. Grace is not earned.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Love doesn’t have to be earned or worked for.

 It DOESN’T come and go.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The name that I love the most in this verse is Everlasting Father. I’ve never met my father here on earth. He abandoned me.

Jesus Christ is my Heavenly Father. My Dad.

He is the Everlasting Father my heart longs for.

Everlasting Father: He doesn’t come and go. He stays. He never leaves. He will never desert us. He will never let us down. He will never disappoint us. He will always be there. He always has been. He always will. He is always certain. He is stable. He is sure. He can be counted on. Relied upon. He never grows weary. He always knows what to say. He always knows what to do.
 
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The Fathers love.

True love.

He pursues after us like the shepherd and his lost sheep.

We are valuable. Cherished and precious to Him.

He is our loving Father who runs to meet us no matter where we’ve gone. No matter how far. No matter the reason.

Jesus Christ came to set the captives free.

Maybe today you want to be free.

John 8:36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Our hearts long to be free. Free to love like He loves. Free from fear. Free from guilt. Free from the opinion of man. Free from fearing the future. For ourselves or our children.

Jesus Christ came to set us free. Free from doubt. Free from depression. Free from hopelessness. Free to have joy right where we are. Free from addiction. Free from sin.

Revelation 2:17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’

This white stone is very significant. It is given to the one who overcomes.

It’s important to understand the meaning behind this white stone.

In Jesus day, stones were used to cast a verdict after a trial. A black stone meant guilty. A white stone meant innocent.

Jesus paid with His blood for us to be set free. He paid the penalty for our sin. We can receive this white stone with joy.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Condemnation is from the enemy. There is freedom is Jesus Christ.

Innocent and set free.

Here is the second part of Revelation 2:17:

On the stone is a new name. It is a new name the Lord wants to give you today. A name that is only between you and Him. Only He knows your heart.

You may say, “I want that new name. I want to be free from these things. But how?”

It seems impossible. It seems so far away.

I want to close with a very familiar story that will teach us how.

Matthew 14:15-21 When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

I want you to take a little bit of a different perspective of this story. I want you to place yourself in the crowd. Each one of those people made an individual decision that day. Jesus gave the invitation. They came and sat down at his feet.

They waited expectantly.

Did some of them leave? Go off on their own to find their own provision? If they did, they missed the miracle.

The people came with great need. They were hungry. They were far from home. They had nothing. Some were desperate. Most had no idea a miracle was about to happen.

Jesus saw their need. Individually. He didn’t see a crowd. He saw the heart.

He sees your need.

Matthew 14:19 Then He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and He took the five loaves and the two fish and, looking up toward heaven, He blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people,

Jesus took what they had. He looked up to heaven. He looked up. He didn’t look down at what was there. He didn’t complain there wasn’t enough. He looked up. He blessed it. He blessed God for the little bit he had.

A good example for us.

He broke the bread.  So often I say, “Lord, break him, break her, breakthrough in this situation and the Lord gently says, “I want to break you.”

 Also note, it was the Lord that did the breaking. Not the people. He doesn’t need our help in that area.

He looked up. He blessed God. He broke the bread.

The miracle happened.

The people sitting at his feet waiting saw the miracle happen.

They came expecting and he delivered.

He met their need supernaturally. He will meet yours in the same way.
 
gold coin

 

In the box is a gold coin for you to remember how valuable you are to Jesus. When you place your heart, your mind, your will in His hands that’s where your value lies.

And the white stone. Your white stone. It’s for those who overcome.

A reminder of the verdict. Not guilty. Set free.

And a piece of paper for you to write your new name. The name the Lord wants you to leave here with.

Let’s pray.

What do you need from your Savior today?

He wants to give you a new name.

Maybe you came here and you’ve never given your heart and life to Jesus. You’ve never asked Him to forgive you of your sins. And you want to do that. Today He forgives. Your new name is forgiven. Child of God. Daughter.

Did you come here fearful? He wants to give you a new name:

Trust. Confident. Your future is secure in Him.

Did you come feeling worthless? Your new name is Valuable. Precious. Treasure. Beautiful.

Did you come bitter or resentful? Leave with a new name: Sweet or Accepting.

Did you come unloving? Leave with a new name of Love. I will love.

Or feeling unlovable? Leave with a new name of Loved. Cherished.

Did you come prideful? Leave with a new name of Humble.

Did you come insecure? Leave with a new name of Secure.

Ask the Lord to speak to your heart and then write your new name on a piece of paper to remember this day. Go back to it often. Take it with you. Put in your pocket. Remind yourself. Every day.

You are Loved. Valuable. Treasured. Cherished. Precious. Beautiful. Full of beauty because of Whose you are.

You are His.



The Word of God: Matchless in Power

I love the Word of God. The word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than a two edged sword. It cuts like a scalpel. It does hurt sometimes. But it is so powerful and that is what I stand in awe of today. It is more powerful than human wisdom. Overrules doctors and therapists. All. The. Time. It has more power than the most effective medicine on the market. More efficacy than the latest therapy known. Do not underestimate this word. It has supernatural power that we cannot even imagine or think of. One word of God is enough to raise a man from the dead. Literally and spiritually dead can rise up and walk. They can run. This word can give sight to the blind. It is wisdom. Teach this word to your children. No matter how old they are. Irrespective of their perceived ability to understand. Many children with special needs don’t make eye contact or speak. No worries there. They are hearing just fine. You’re trusting in the power of the word and not in your delivery. The word of God says even little tiny babies have the ability to praise Him (Matthew 21:16)! Speak it. Read it. Sing it. Go for a car ride and play a CD. You have a captive audience…and their strapped in. Win. Win. This word is doing things in the heart that our minds can’t fathom. This word. I love this word. I love what this word has done, is doing and has promised to do in them.
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Joshua 21:45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken…All came to pass




 

 

 

 

 

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