Christmas Week Day 5: Choosing Well

Read Luke 2:15-20

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Letʼs go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:15-20

The shepherds saw something they werenʼt expecting. They had an encounter with Godʼs Kingdom in an amazing way. And afterwards, they were left with a choice.

What were they to do with the information they just heard?

The truth is that once we encounter Christ, each of us, you included, has a choice to make. When people hear the Gospel, or have a chance to encounter Christ through the Bible, there is a choice to be made. People have to respond one way or another. They will either move on this information, or they will not. They will either be compelled to know more, or the will choose to walk away.

The shepherds had a choice. They made their choice and they made it well.

The shepherds acted and they retold. They acted on the angelsʼ message. Look in verse 15. They heard and they moved. They could have sat and talked, or they could have gone home. But they didnʼt. They followed through and they were rewarded by coming face-to-face with the Son of God.

But they didnʼt stop with simply acting. They retold. Verse 17 says that once they were sure of the angelsʼ message, they couldnʼt contain themselves. They started talking. They started spreading the word about Jesus.

It was as if they couldnʼt keep quiet.

Today, over two thousand years later, weʼre still expected to do the same. If you know Christ, you should find yourself compelled to speak of His story. If you have encountered God and His Kingdom, you know that you will find it hard to keep your mouth shut.

You have to move.

You have to act.

And with God empowering you, you will.

And youʼll be awesome.

Think About This…

• Whatʼs keeping you from being a more powerful teller of Jesusʼ story? What can you do to be more committed to being someone who tells Jesusʼ story to others?

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Christmas Week Day 4: Break Down The Wall

Read Luke 2:8-14

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. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 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 peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:8-14

Have you ever been in a situation where suddenly your assumptions or thoughts about a specific person or thing were pretty much blown off the map? Maybe it was the moment you realized the little test you were “prepared” for was really an overwhelming obstacle you had no chance of conquering. Or the moment you realized that she really does like you, a lot! Or how about the moment you realized your team is completely overmatched. Or . . . Well, you get the point.

There are moments of clarity where what you thought was the case may not necessarily be the case at all.

The shepherds who were in the fields outside of Bethlehem? They experienced one of those moments in a big, big way.

Itʼs safe to say that the shepherds knew God. Or they knew of Him as well as they could. They were Israelites. Their people had a rich history with God. They were, after all, Godʼs people. But, everything they thought they knew about God and His ways were pretty much overwhelmed that night. All of a sudden, the God who was a little distant and a lot mysterious, was right up in their world. In their faces!

Look at the description in verse 9: “the glory of the Lord shone around them.” Can you imagine? God was no longer an idea, He was real. He had broken the invisible barrier between His Kingdom and this world. And itʼs entirely safe to say the world was never the same.

Isnʼt that a pretty good way to think about the Christmas story in general? Isnʼt it really as simple as God breaking the barrier and coming into our world? It is that simple. Yet, the power behind this simple truth is life changing.

You are who you are today because God chose to send His Son into this world.

Think About This…

  • Answer this: How does Christ coming into our world change things? What would your relationship with God be like if God had not designed it this way?
  • Consider thanking God for His love that compelled Him to send Jesus into our world.

Christmas Week 3: Big News, Small Package

Read Luke 2:1-7

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph 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 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, 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 room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1-7

Over the last few years there have been some pretty cool stories of people finding near-priceless treasures in the least likely of places: yard sales. Thereʼs the story of the person who paid a few dollars for the painting that turned out to be worth millions. Then thereʼs the guy who bought an old baseball card that was discovered to be one of the rarest cards in existence. Can you imagine how cool it must have been to find out how valuable these relatively small purchases were?

These stories illustrate a simple truth: the most valuable things can sometimes be found where you least expect it. But these stories donʼt hold a candle to the story you just read in Luke 1:2-7. Not even close.

This is the ultimate case of something big, something amazing, showing up in the most unforeseen place.

Think about it . . . Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Kings, the promised Messiah came as a conquering ruler, displaying His power and might, appearing in a palace in front of throngs of crowds, in one of the leading cities in the world . . . Huh? Ummm . . . not so much.

Jesus didnʼt come in any of these ways. He came as a baby, vulnerable and small. He came to one of the most obscure cities you could find. And He was born in a glorified barn, surrounded by livestock.

Not exactly the way a King comes into this world.

But you see, this is exactly how God works. And itʼs exactly how Godʼs Kingdom works. God values the low and the lost, the broken and the beat down. Jesus came not to lead the rich and powerful, but to heal the sick and sorrowful. Jesusʼ mission was and is about redemption. Itʼs a rescue mission.

And it had to start where it started, with a little baby, in a little corner of the world.

Think About This…

• Do you ever feel pressure to be perfect, or good enough for God? How does it feel knowing that God values and loves you as you are? And that He loves you enough to send His son?

This Sunday: BRING THE UGLY!

It has happened to all of us.

Someone (who should remain nameless) give us a gift that brings the ugly to a whole new level. Maybe it’s a shirt that looks like a horse threw up on it. Maybe a sweater fit for your cat. Maybe a dress that you wouldn’t put on your dog. Maybe I’ve made enough animal references…

Well, this Sunday is your chance to wear it PROUDLY.

Come to the 11am service for a morning of silly games, hilarious ugliness, and an inspiring message about how to turn that ugly into amazing. Breakfast is on me.

It’s (almost) 2015 y’all!

Let’s look forward to the new year with a hope for a new hope and a new you (and me).

Christmas Week Day 2: The God of No Limits

Read Luke 1:34-38

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lordʼs servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:34-38

You live in a world where logic rules. Where reality wins. There are things you want that you canʼt have. Some may be relatively fun, like wanting to be a TV star or a famous athlete. Some may be more serious, like wanting your parents to get back together or wanting someoneʼs health to improve. Whatever the case may be, there are plenty of things in life that are simply impossible to have, achieve, or grasp.

And while this is a major bummer, itʼs just the way it is. There are some things that just arenʼt possible.

Except when they are. Except when God gets involved.

Have you ever prayed for something you thought could never happen only to see it happen? Have you ever seen God “open a door” you thought was closed? Have you ever watched God blow away your human-based understanding with a God-sized movement? Mary did.

Mary watched God do the impossible.

She watched Him defy the laws of nature. But before she saw the miracle, she doubted the Miracle Maker.

Look back at verse 34. For a moment, even face-to-face with an angel, Mary had an attack of humanity. “How can this happen?” Mary knew how babies were made, and she knew for a fact she wasnʼt a candidate! But Mary forgot one thing. The rules that she knew governed the creation of life? The process she was sure she had not been a part of? Mary forgot that God actually set those rules in place. God created the process! Thus, He can work outside the process when He chooses. It sounds a little oversimplified, but itʼs true:

Nothing is impossible with God.

Think About This…

  • Is your vision of God too small because you put limitations on Him? How might your relationship with God be different if you saw Him for who He was?
  • Take a few minutes and praise God for His ability to constantly surprise us and keep us in awe. Ask for God to show you ways He has made the impossible “possible” in your life.

Christmas Week Day 1: A God Of Action

Read Isaiah 9:6-7 and Luke 1:26-33

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. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7

 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Luke 1:26- 33

This passage in Isaiah is probably pretty familiar, right? Itʼs one of those passages we hear a lot at Christmas. And because of this, we can easily kind of pass over its importance.

Take a second, slow down, and let this awesome truth sink in.

Isaiah 9:6-7 was written by, you guessed it, Isaiah. Now, Isaiah was one of Godʼs chosen messengers. We call these guys prophets. Isaiah was passing along Godʼs words at a time when Godʼs chosen people, the Israelites, had completely turned their backs on God. Godʼs people had stopped counting on God and His promises. God had given them tons of warning, but they hadnʼt listened. So, Isaiahʼs message was one of coming judgment. (Which probably didnʼt make him very popular at parties.)

However, because God is who He is, even His message of judgment carried hope.

Isaiah 9:6-7 is all about hope.

Itʼs about a hopeful future, one in which God once and for all provides a way out from under the weight of our sins.

Fast forward something like 700-800 years and you see this message of hope coming to life in Luke 1:26-33. The little baby God was forming in Maryʼs stomach? He was the same promised savior Isaiah was writing about in Isaiah 9:6-7.

Long before God sent Jesus to this earth, He knew the plan. In fact, Godʼs sending His own Son to live and breathe and walk this earth was always the plan. God has always known that Jesus would be the answer to a perfect relationship between God and His children. Which is great news for you and me. But to see this plan come to life, Jesus had to come to earth.

And thatʼs what Christmas is all about.

Think About This…

  • God has had a plan to rescue you from the pain and scars of your sins for all eternity. How does that help you trust Him with your worries, concerns, and future?
  • Take a moment to pray to God, thanking Him for being a God of action who works in the world, the lives of His followers, and your own life!

Christmas FX: Get Wrapped Up

Ok, seriously, you do NOT want to miss this weekend.

It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in the presents and festivity of the Christmas season, so join us for our PowerHouse Christmas Family eXperience as our FX cast helps us remember to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas…

Jesus!

There are elementary students, middle and high school students, and a bunch of adult leaders and parents involved in this incredible production. The team has been building sets, memorizing, singing, filming, and running around like crazy for months now. I am so excited to celebrate Christmas early this weekend!

In order to set families free to eXperience this together, Middle and High School will not meet separately this weekend, So, feel free to come on out to any of our three regular services.All three promise to be moving, inspiring and a ton of fun. I personally highly recommend the Saturday 6pm or Sunday 9:15am services for a new twist on your regular routine!  So, this weekend, 12/20 and 12/21…

Get Wrapped Up!