introducing ordinary people to extraordinary, ever-growing life in Jesus, our Savior

Sermon

Jesus is Born!

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Description: Jesus shows us, through His birth, the beauty and majesty of the nature and character of God. God, while sovereign, chooses to be humble. God extends grace to the least likely by human standards. God is worthy of our reverent awe and constant praise!

Keywords: Gospel, Jesus, God, Luke, narrative, Son of God, Bible, Sermon, Bible Fellowship Church, BFC, Whitehall, Northern Lehigh

Date: December 20, 2015

Series: Luke

Speaker: Pastor Tim

Church: Whitehall

Scripture: Luke 2:1-21

Video: Watch this Sermon

Audio: Listen to this Sermon (time 44:24)

Notes: Read Sermon Notes

Transcript (new way)
1 “Jesus is Born” (Luke 2:1-21) CLARENCE REHRIG: “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, 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. “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And the 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 2 lying in a manger.’ “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.’ “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. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” May God bless the reading of his word. PASTOR SCHMOYER: All right, friends. You’re going to need two things as we get going. Grab your connection card. On the back is certain connection points, ways to really take this text home and apply 3 it to your life. And then the other thing I want you to grab is your green sheet, the sermon notes, as we walk through the passage together. All right. So Jesus is born. We kicked off a study of Luke’s gospel back in September, and we started with chapter 1 verses 1 through 5, and then we jumped to chapter 3. Why did we do that? We did it to save the Christmas story for Christmas time. Okay. That’s why we did it. So now we’re back in chapter 1, chapter 2 for the last couple weeks, and we saw that the angel visited John the Baptist’s parents, all right, Zechariah and then Elizabeth. And then after that the angel then visited Mary in Nazareth. And so the angel is interacting with these two families. Then last week we saw how Zechariah and Elizabeth gave birth to a son, John the Baptist; and today we’re seeing how Jesus himself is born, in very humble means, in very unlikely circumstances. I want this morning to be a reflection of your love and devotion for God. So what I want to do is our takeaways are really just things for you to still and quiet your hearts, and just from the busyness, from the franticness think about these things in your quiet times throughout this week. And I know there are four more days until showtime, so your families are extra, 4 extra busy, but I hope that you find at least some segment of your week to digest God’s truth, to chew on it, to mill it over, to process it all in your brain. Here we see that everyone who heard the message of the shepherds pondered these things. You know, in that season Bethlehem was a frantic, crazy place. Even on the very first Christmas it was a frantic pace. Why? Because we see in verse 1 that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus. Everyone needed to return to the homeland of their parents, their lineage, to be counted in census. And so the capital of ancient Israel was Jerusalem, but the hometown of the king, King David, was Bethlehem. And you know how kings have lots of wives, and those lots of wives give the king lots of kids. And so David had like seven, eight, nine wives, and his son Solomon who took his place had 300 wives and 700 concubines, so the lineage of David is huge. And think of all of those grandkids having all sorts of great grandkids, all sorts of great, great, great, great grandkids. Bethlehem is Crazyville; it’s frantic, it’s high-paced. We see in the passage that there’s no room for Christ in the inn. There’s no room for them in the inn, so Christ is born, and his first cradle is a feeding trough, a manger. 5 There’s no room. Why? Because Bethlehem is crazy-town. And if you think your life is crazy, high-paced, imagine giving birth in a barnyard. All right. That’s Christ, that’s how he entered this world. One second in the throne of heaven, the next in a feeding trough. Imagine our God humbling himself to that point. I want to just give you three character traits of God that I want you to mill over. In your franticness find time to think about at least one of these three things, because our God will be honored as you reflect and as you meditate on the kind of person he is; his character, the things that make him him, the attributes that define I am God and this is how I am. And as you and I think about those things God will be honored, your faith will be enhanced, and people around you will see a person more in tune with God and his ways. In verse 1 and 2 all the way through verse 4 I see a God who is in control. Because the prophets long ago, 700 years before Christ’s birth, the prophet Micah said that the Christ would be born where? In Bethlehem. In verse 4 Jesus is born where? In Bethlehem. But where are his parents from? Nazareth. So I see a God who is in control even of kings 6 and even of governors. I see a God who is in control shaping the circumstances. Because 700 years earlier he said the Christ will be born in Bethlehem, and yet 90 miles away in Nazareth his parents are preparing to give birth to him in Nazareth. Now in verse 1 God, in his infinite wisdom, directs secular, nonbelieving kings, it says here Caesar Augustus, to send out a decree to have everyone go back to their hometowns to be counted in the census. And so while governments look for new ways to find tax scenarios, God is really behind the scenes orchestrating it so that his 700-year-old prophecy through the tongue of Micah would come about. Joseph and Mary are forced to now go to Bethlehem. So see a God who’s in control, but while we see a God who is majestic, all wise, the grand orchestrator, in control, I also see a God who in these seven verses demonstrates humility. Our God is humble. I want to show you that in the passage. It’s a wonderful thing. So Joseph and Mary travel to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David. He was registered with his wife Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. Verse 6. “While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She 7 wrapped him in swaddling clothes.” Let me just pause there for a minute. I see in those verses a God who is humble, because our God was wrapped in swaddling clothes. Our God knows what it is to be a babe in the womb. Imagine God, the king of the universe, used to be sitting on his throne, very accustomed to the praise of all of his angels, and he stoops down to enter the womb of a young woman. That our God humbles himself, and I would even add, and there’s some theology in all this, but he limits, he confines himself. He empties himself of glory to be wrapped in human flesh. Consider the words of another gospel writer, John. In John chapter 1, we all know what verse 1 says. “In the beginning the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God, and nothing was made apart from him. He made all things. He was the light that’s entered the darkness, and the darkness loved its darkness rather than light. He came to his own, but his own did not receive him, but to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to become children of God, who were born not of the flesh or of the will of man but born by the will of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” You see what God is doing in the beginning of 8 John’s gospel, what he’s doing here in verse 6. That the God of the universe, the sovereign of all of the world and everything that is, he who created all things out of nothing, with his very words he spoke eternity, he spoke creation into being. Nothing exists apart from him, Jesus. He created all things, and he becomes creation. Can you imagine, when you are independent and now you’re limited. Sometimes as we age we lose some things. I’m starting to lose my hearing. I caught a cold just a couple weeks ago. I can’t hear anything out of this ear, and I just feel like, man, am I just getting old; is this body just breaking down? And some of us feel like we used to be more independent, and now we’re a little more dependent on others. And imagine God. As independent as you may feel now or you used to feel, imagine God, who needed nothing. He is not served by human hands, but instead he serves humans. This is the God who is independent. He can do whatever he wants, he can change everything in a snap of his fingers, and he now limits himself by being wrapped in swaddling clothes. Do you know why babies, newborns are wrapped in swaddling clothes? Do you know why? Let’s just be honest. It’s to hesh them, to hush them up, right? 9 Because a baby feels security. It reminds the newborn of being in the womb being wrapped so tightly in these swaddling clothes. Swaddle means to wrap tightly, so the baby is wound up tightly. Imagine the God of the universe who is totally free, could do whatever he wanted, and now is limited, confined. When he is hungry, this is the first time that the God of the universe is hungry, and what does he have to do to get food? He just wills it into being; I am now fed. What does the God of the universe now have to do to get food? He has to cry. Imagine the God of the universe scared at noises in the middle of the night. Do your babes get startled when there’s a loud crash outside or someone is trying to start their car and it backfires and the baby starts crying? Or you turn on the vacuum cleaner and they start crying? Pretty much all the time they’re crying, right? Remember this? Remember when you had kids, that’s how it was? Imagine the God of the universe being scared of bumps in the night. He was. He was fully human, and he was fully God. We also see his humility in verse 4 where he travels to the city of David called Bethlehem. Now, why do I say that? This is a regal city, this is the king’s home. Friends, when David was born there it 10 was a Podunk little town out in the outskirts of civilization, and it’s not so different today either. Consider what Micah 5 says. Up on the screen you’ll see it, Micah 5 verse 2. “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” So there we see this king, at the very end of the verse, this king is really God, right? His goings forth are from long ago. At the beginning it says you, Bethlehem, are what? What is Bethlehem? It is too small a village to be even counted among the clans of Judah. All right. So Israel has 12 tribes. Right, there are 12 sons of Jacob, and there are 12 tribes in Israel, and Judah is one of those 12. Judah is the tribe from which the king will come. And so David came from Judah, and his great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson, Jesus, is also from the tribe of Judah. But what does it say about Bethlehem when Jesus was born as well as when David, his great grandfather, was born? You are too small to be counted among the clans of Judah. In other words, there were many more grand cities. Here in verse 4 it says the city of 11 David, but it’s really the Podunk little village. I wouldn’t even call it a village. It doesn’t have a ZIP code. Well, maybe today it has a ZIP code, but back then it didn’t have a ZIP code. But there was nothing about Bethlehem. Now, if you’re the king of the universe and you’re used to the laud of all the angels and you’re going to wrap yourself in flesh and become a human and come down to earth, how would you want your birth to go down? Well, you’d want to be born in a regal palace, right, in all the majesty of all of the praise of all of the kings of the earth; and you would want horns to be tooted and you would want gifts to be given and you would want laud and praise and honor, and you’re now the Christ. But God says, I’m not going to the best place on earth; I’m going to the Podunk little village out in the outskirts of civilization; I’m going to Bethlehem. A couple more ways in which God humbles himself in these verses. So it says in verse 7, “She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, she laid him in a manger.” Laid him in a manger. I just want to pick that apart with you, she laid him in a manger. That the God of the universe stepped into human 12 form, did not get born in a palace, was not laid on a throne. There was no tooting of horns, there was no spectacular moment that everyone’s attention was drawn to. No. It was this little tiny village, and he was laid in a manger, a feeding trough. It’s interesting. Consequently the name Bethlehem means house of bread. So he’s born in the house of bread, he’s laid in a feeding trough; and later on what does he say in John chapter 6? I am the bread of life, I am the bread from heaven. It’s interesting that the bread of life would be born in the house of bread, and he’d be laid in a manger where it’s a feeding trough for animals. But it shows his humility, doesn’t it? I don’t need the ritz and the sparkle. I’m happy to step down and humble myself to the lowest place here on earth. This is the heart of our God; he humbles himself. Consequently then, when you put your trust in Jesus Christ, he sends you the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit resides in you, not unlike the way that Jesus resided in a manger. He probably had to swallow his rightful pride. It is right and proper for God to be proud. He is the creator. He deserves laud, he deserves pride; and he lowered himself to be in a manger. And now he sends his Spirit to whoever 13 believes in him, and the Spirit puts up residence in you, not unlike a feeding trough, kind of messy, kind of mucky. There are times that our life is a bit more dirty than a feeding trough. But we see the humility of God in the story. The final piece of humility, at the very end of verse 7, “There was no place for them in the inn.” And imagine the swallowing of Joseph’s pride. My wife is going to have to give birth in a public field? This is not right. The God of the universe does not deserve to enter the world out in the field. Maybe it was a stable. This word “inn” by the way, we think of the Ritz or we think of the Holiday Inn or we think of the Comfort Inn. We think of the concierge at the desk who’s going to give you your keycard and you’re going to go to your hotel room. This word “inn” is not the same as that. Back then they did have a Holiday Inn. Remember the story in Luke’s gospel of the good Samaritan. The good Samaritan takes this beat-up Jew, and he takes him to an inn for the innkeeper to care for this beat-up person, to apply the medicines that the good Samaritan purchased. That’s a different word. This word is more like a temporary tent. Think 14 refugee camp, if you’ve seen pictures of different refugee places. I heard on the radio this week about the refugee camps that are in Syria. Do you know that there’s a refugee camp in Syria with enough tents to house 1.2 million people? That is a crazy, crazy thing that’s going down over there, and we need to pray for God’s people and we need to pray for peace on earth the way the angel said it. But this is the kind of scenario. Not only were the hotels all booked up, but so many people are coming to Bethlehem because there’s so many descendants of David and of his son Solomon, so many descendants are coming to Bethlehem that even the refugee camp, even the tents that are erected on the perimeter of Bethlehem, even there there’s no room. Our God stepped into human existence with no room for him. He came to his own, and his own did not receive him. And then of course we know how the Christmas carol goes, right? The Christmas carol that says “but come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there’s room in my heart for you.” And I would have you think about that. I would have you think about God’s humility, I would have you think that the high-and-lifted-up one lowers himself down to us. I would have you consider 15 this kind of God because there is no other religion and there is no other type of God that anyone has ever dreamt up where that god lowers himself, where that god stoops. But in Christianity God expresses himself as the servant, as the one who stoops, as the humble one. It is no mistake that religions take on the character traits of what they imagine their god to be like. And in Christianity we are not imagining it. God has revealed himself as a God who is humble. God is humble; therefore, his people need to be humble. Have this attitude in yourself which was also in Christ Jesus. Although he existed in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as something to be held on to, but he emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant. This is our God, the one who humbles himself. I would have you consider the first takeaway. On your connection card you’ll see the first application here and my decision, the first point. So all of these are just all about thinking, all about milling over, all about praying, all about reading scripture that helps you understand God at a better level. And I would invite you to read this. “I will ponder why the God of the universe chooses to be humble when he 16 is all-powerful.” Why would an all-powerful God lower himself down? That’s what we’re saying, that’s what we’re saying Christmas is. Think about that, mill that over, talk with God about that. Let’s move on to No. 2. Here we see the story of the shepherds, the angels, and here we see that God joyfully delivers grace to the unlikely. In verse 8 we see that there were shepherds out in the field keeping watch over their flocks by night. Shepherds in the poetry of the Jews are very noble, very good. We know King David was a shepherd. We know Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall never be in want.” We know that Jacob and his 12 sons were all shepherds. But frankly, as the economy of the Jewish nation evolved, more and more people are becoming professionals, clerics, and the economy is growing and fewer and fewer people are doing this noble, humble job of the shepherd, and they’re lowering themselves, these shepherds, and there actually began to be some derision towards shepherds. They’re stinky; they’re smelly; they’re nomadic, they’re always traveling; they’re sketchy, right? And so they get this reputation of being kind of the unacceptable parts of 17 society. But God chooses to go to certain individuals with his good message, and he sends the angels not to King Herod, not to the scribes and the Pharisees. He does not go to the tax collectors even; he doesn’t go to just good, noble, faithful Jewish people. He goes to the outskirts; he goes to the shepherds, he goes to the unlikely; and he delivers grace, joyful news to people that we wouldn’t have even picked. If you and I were making up the story, we would not have made up this. We would have said: No. God should go to the best people and tell the best people. And in God’s mind, the way we measure best isn’t best. God measures best by a different measuring stick. He measures it by his grace. So he goes to the shepherds, these kind of outcast individuals, the stinky, the lowly. In verse 14 we see that the angels are telling this great song, this great message. They start singing, the whole host, the whole multitude of heavenly host praising God, and they were saying in verse 14, “Glory to God in the highest.” And now listen to what it says, because this isn’t Peanuts, this isn’t Charlie Brown. Listen to what it says. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is 18 pleased.” That God’s peace isn’t on earth; God’s peace is on earth with whom he is pleased. In other words, there is an experience of peace directed towards the hearts that God gladly gives it to. He’s not giving this peace to humanity; he’s giving this peace to certain individuals within humanity. And I would say, well, who is that? Verse 8, the shepherds. “Peace among those with whom God is pleased.” Who is God pleased with? The shepherds, those that we wouldn’t expect. We wouldn’t write the script and include shepherds. We would include certainly the Magi from Matthew’s gospel, the three wisemen of Orient. Or the king of Jerusalem, Herod. Let all earthly kings bow down to the heavenly king, let that happen. But no, he goes to the unlikely. He goes to the outcast, he comes to you and he comes to me. In our mission statement we believe that our mission is to show ordinary individuals the extraordinary life found in Jesus Christ. And aren’t we all? We’re just ordinary. There’s nothing necessarily all that spectacular about us; but I want to encourage you, God is pleased with you. He has been pleased to reveal his Son in your heart. He 19 loves you. And it’s not because you’re great; it’s because our God is great. Amen? Is that a big difference? Because do we have it all figured out? No. The God of the universe has it all figured out, and in his grace he said I want that one; I want that one, that one, and that one. I want you to experience the joy of my love; I want you to experience peace on earth. While the whole world is going to hell, you get his peace; you enjoy his love; you wrap yourself in his grace. You understand what the angels are glorifying God for? They’re saying God is pleased to divest himself into individuals and to communicate himself and his love to individuals. He has shared with us good news, and so go back to verse 10. The angel says — this is probably the angel Gabriel. The angel says to the shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.” God doesn’t hold back his grace to the very best of the best; he gives out his grace to all peoples. Men and women, boys and girls from every tribe, every tongue, every people, every nation. He has delight in himself for the peoples of the earth to delight themselves in this 20 good news of Christ Jesus. It says in verse 11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” God, joyfully delivering his grace to these shepherds, says in verse 11, this child is born to you. Well, tell Mary that while she’s in the throes of labor pain. Tell Mary that, that this boy, this babe is born to the shepherds and this babe in Bethlehem is born to you and to me, while she’s the one grunting and crying out giving birth, and this babe isn’t for her and this child isn’t for Joseph. This child is for you; this child is for me; this child is for all that God chooses to deliver his grace to. We are recipients of a mighty, mighty message, and God is a God filled with joy. You might have come this morning understanding God to be a God of vengeful wrath, a God who is very stern. You might have a picture of God that he’s angry. But on this day he is sending out angels deploying joyfulness; rejoicing, praising, glorifying, magnifying the precious name of God and delivering a beautiful message of happiness, of gladness, and of grace. When we think of us unlikely candidates, when we think of us who don’t truly deserve God’s wonderful, 21 beautiful message, I just want to read for you what Luke says in Luke chapter 17. Up on the screen you’ll see it. This is Luke 17 verse 10. Jesus is telling you and I a parable about our spiritual condition. He says this in Luke 17:10, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, you ought to say this, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” And so Jesus teaches us to say, oh, God, that you would love me and that you would save me. I am not worthy; in fact, I am an unworthy servant. See, God teaches us to say this, he teaches us to think this way about ourselves. We were the shepherds, not the Magi. We were undeserving, not worthy. Because when we get a lower picture of ourselves, we get a bigger picture of God. When we make too much of ourselves, we lower how good God is, and God wants you to have a big picture of him this Christmas, he wants you to see the hugeness of his grace. And so consider yourself unlikely, unworthy so that God can show how great his grace is delivered to you. So as we think about that, perhaps I would invite you to consider this week meditating on this principle, the second check box on your connection card. “I will delight in the God who chose me, the 22 least likely to believe, and he graciously revealed himself so that I could benefit from his grace.” Contemplate that this week, chew on that thought. Think, God, I the unworthy one, you a gracious, loving, generous God gave to me, this undeserving mess. Finally, in verses 15 through 21, now the shepherds come to Mary. The shepherds tell Joseph and Mary and all those who heard, the shepherds tell them everything that the angel had said. So let’s walk through that. I want you to observe all of the milling and the meditating, because here in this section what we see is that God overwhelms our minds with his majesty. And so let’s go through it. In the first part of the session the angels leave, verse 15, and the shepherds say to themselves in verse 15, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,” let’s go see. In other words, they’re stimulated, their brains, their minds can’t get it out. That the angel just told us this thing, let’s go check it out. The angel said that this will be a sign for you: you’ll see the child wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. We want to go see that sign; we want to go see the God of the universe wrapped in 23 swaddling clothes lying in a manger; let’s go see. Their brains, their minds, their spirits are unquenchable. I need to see this, I need to experience this. They say, “Let’s go see this thing the Lord has made known to us.” Again they’re delighting themselves in grace. Why? Because God chose to reveal himself, God chose to show it to them. They say to themselves, if God in his grace decided to show it to me, I better go check this thing out. And if God would deliver good news to you, I would hope you would say to yourself, I better go see this, I better go examine this. God has given you 66 books of his mighty wisdom and insights, and how often are we like the shepherds anxious to go see what God has said to us? Wow. Let’s keep going. So they go and they see the sign, and the scripture says that they made known the saying that had been told to them. Interestingly, they say to themselves back in the fields, God has made this known to us, and now the very next verse, they told all who heard what had been told to them. We make known because God made it known to us. See, God made it known to us, now we’re making it known to them. How beautiful is that, this legacy of witness. And then the reaction. It says “all who heard 24 wondered.” I just want you to walk away from this morning realizing that God wants you to wonder about him. He doesn’t want you to have him all tied up in a nice, neat little box: God is this. No, no, no, no. Once you understand God, you’re the one in control. See, God is bigger than any box that we can confine him in. God is far grander than we can possibly imagine. And all who heard wondered. I wonder if — ironically, huh? — I wonder if you lost your sense of wonder; I wonder if you’ve lost your sense of awe; that God is awesome, but you’ve lost your awe of him. “All who heard wondered.” And then Mary goes a next step. See, all who heard wondered, but then the text says, “Mary treasured up all these things in her heart.” See, this phrase “she treasured these things up” is different than wondering, it’s the next step. Wondering takes my mind in every single direction, but treasuring up, wherever I go I pick something up and I put it on my pile, and then I wander over here and I pick something up and I pile it up on my pile; and then I walk over here and I pick something up, I put it on my pile. You see, Mary is wondering just like everyone else is wondering, but she’s actually pulling new 25 information and piling it up. That’s what this word treasuring these things up means. And I wonder if in our devotional life, if I run over to Micah 5:2 and I make some observations and I put them on my pile, my storehouse. Then I wander over to our opening verse, Psalm chapter 2, and I find some things about our Lord Jesus and I put them on my pile. I wonder how much piling we’re doing. I wonder in your devotional life, if you read Daily Bread or you read Jesus Calling or just going through the scripture by yourself, you’re reading different devotionals, how much piling are you doing, how much treasuring up? Or are you just coming to everything with a blank slate and you’ve forgot everything you read yesterday and you’re not really accumulating, you’re not really treasuring, you’re not really retaining information about our Lord. God would have you treasure these things up, pondering these things in your heart like Mary. Finally, the shepherds leave. After they saw the Christ child, after they left, after they had told everyone what they saw, as they were going back to the field, verse 20 says, as they returned they “glorified and praised God for all they had seen and heard.” I imagine like all the lights in the town are 26 coming back to life. It’s been midnight, everyone was asleep. Now as these ramshackled shepherds, noisy little guys — you know, I can hear some with the sheep on their shoulders and the sheep are bleating, and there’s just noise and noise and noise. Not only the noise of the sheep, not only the noise of the scurry, but verse 20 says while they were returning they were glorifying and praising God, and all the lights in town are shining on. This is the first Christmas carolers. You know, I’m not sure they’re knocking on doors and ringing doorbells, but certainly the whole town is coming to life because these shepherds are glorifying and praising God, that they were affected by a God who overwhelmed their minds. And I wonder how much we’re allowing God to overwhelm our minds. Sometimes we allow the world to overwhelm us, the circumstances that we find ourselves in. We allow our job insecurity to overwhelm us. We allow the bills piling up to overwhelm us. We allow marital stress to overwhelm us. We allow the kids and their craziness and their fun and their busyness and running to soccer, running to the dance recital, running to everything; running, running, running, everything is overwhelming us. And I’m sure you’re 27 all really tense and stressed right now, thinking of being overwhelmed. And God would have you be overwhelmed with the majesty of who he is. That’s a different kind of being overwhelmed, friend. I would encourage you to consider that it is your choice to be overwhelmed by life’s circumstances or to be overwhelmed by a loving God who actively involves himself in our lives, steps into human existence. Will you be overwhelmed by that this Christmas? So the takeaway, the last connection point: “I will pray for renewed awe of God’s majesty.” Maybe that’s where you are this morning. God, you’ve become too accustomed to me. We’re on a first-name basis for so long that I kind of think of you as my peer, but God, you’re majestic. There is none like you, and I am not like you. Would you just give me a renewed sense of your awe, your splendor? Christmas is about fun and joy. It’s also about stillness, reflection, quiet, the candlelight. Have your fun, have your jubilations, but also have stillness to ponder this wonderful thing. Let’s say a prayer, and then we’ll conclude. God, you’ve been so good. You’ve been so good in our lives, you’ve been so gracious to us. We 28 unlikely, we undeserving, we unworthy servants, and you chose to reveal yourself to us, and in fact the scriptures say that you chose to reveal yourself in us. I pray that Christ would be revealed in us, that his character of humility would be reflected in this host of your followers; that the gracious gift of God, this undeserved gift of God, Lord, that we would learn to be like that. That someone doesn’t deserve forgiveness, but we forgive them; someone doesn’t deserve a gift and we give them; someone doesn’t deserve our attention because they wounded us before but we give it. And, Lord, you, the gracious God, affecting us to be gracious towards others. And then, Lord, just thinking of your majesty, just thinking of your splendor, and we don’t delight ourselves in you to the extent that we need to. Would we be renewed in our affections for you. Lord, would you stir in each heart that we might get a renewed sense of your awe, oh, God. I pray for every man, woman, boy, and girl in this room, I pray for all of our kids that are in children’s church, Lord, that we would get a glimpse of Christ and that we would delight ourselves in him and be found in him, not found in our presents, not found in our decorations, not found in our cookies and 29 eating and eggnog and all of the excess and extras. Those are all the fringe benefits of Christmas, those are all the side dishes of Christmas. The main course is you, and help us to feast on your grace and delight ourselves in the main thing. Now, Lord, if there’s any man or woman here that does not yet know the joy of being found in Christ and they could not say, if they were honest, I know this God in a personal way, I’ve experienced his washing forgiveness; friend, today you can have that. He came to the shepherds to announce good news to all people, and you’re one of those people. If you’d only call out — the scriptures keep it very simple. They say whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. And so in the quietness of this moment, in the stillness of your heart, you can call out to a God who hears all things, and you can say, Jesus, I believe. I believe that you came to earth the way this text says. I believe that you went to the cross to die my death, to pay for my sin, to be punished in my place. I believe in you, I trust in you. I relax because what you did on the cross covers my entrance to heaven. And now, Lord, help me follow you. Help me to obey you. Let me experience the joy of eternal 30 life because you’re the God who gives it. Friend, if you prayed a prayer like that, welcome to God’s family. Don’t let Christmas go without receiving the best gift of all, God’s forgiveness. And now, Lord, we, your people, want to exalt you in song, we want to honor you with our lips and with joy-filled hearts. Let us do so. We ask in your name, Jesus. Amen.

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