Jesus has always existed. It is hard for us to wrap our heads around that.
Genesis says “in the beginning”. That simply means the beginning of the world, not the beginning of God. We don’t know when the world started in relation to God because we have no reference for God beginning. It’s not like we would say, “a thousand years after God started, the world began.” God has no beginning or stopping. He always is.
John said it clearly at the start of his gospel when he said, “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. When God created the world he spoke things and the Word created all things.
God said, “Let there be light…”
God said, “Let the waters be gathered…”
God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass…”
As God spoke, His Word created. Think about that power. We might think we create, however, we only artistically combine. God is able to start with zero substance, speak His Word, and instantly worlds are created. Humans have creative tendency because we are made in His image, however, we are only able to take elements that God created and try to arrange them in a productive or beautiful way.
John went on to say, “God created everything through the Word, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
God knows that at some point His Word will become a person. How does the Word of God that creates worlds become a person? Something this spectacular could descend directly from the clouds as an apparition. Someone this regal would be born to the most influential king of the world. Someone this distinct should arrive as a fully-grown man ready to take charge. Ready to judge the world and set things in order.
Many millennia had passed since creation. Millions of people came and went. The earth suffered greatly from different natural disasters. God related to humans. He displayed his love and justice to them from an indefinite distance. If certain men went through certain procedures at certain times of the year, then they would be eligible to connect with Him.
After all, if lowly humanity was to come in contact with the brilliance of a light that speaks seas, mountains, and animals into existence it should be careful, reverent, and submissive.
So people worshipped God and God provided for His people. However, a cycle began very early. God provided, people were blessed, people forgot God and fell into rebellion against God. This happened over and over and over and over. God provided a way. People trusted the way and were blessed. Then, people were distracted with life and their trust was put in the world and they fell away from God.
When God showed up it would be in a burning bush that never burned up. A fire in the sky or food that fell from the sky at just the right time. God separated a sea and allowed them to walk on dry land. God gave trumpets super powers to crush the walls of a mighty city. He guided a rock from a shepherd’s sling to the exact spot on a giant so that he would be defeated. God sent fire from the sky that burned up the water soaked altar of a false god. The Word that created the world continued to make himself known.
So, if this Power. This Light. This Word of God was to transform itself into a person that walked on the earth it created…how would that happen?
After all these signs and wonders and creativity and power… After God had loved man and man had forgotten God… there was about 400 years of silence from God.
Then, the Word in His infinite wisdom, when the world’s position was in just the right spot. The governments of the world, the transportation systems, and the human climate were in place.
Instead of directly appearing out of the sky like the Terminator to set things straight.
Instead of being born to the palace of the Roman Caesar
Instead… The Word… peeks in on Mary tending to the family’s farm in Nazareth.
The Word has an Angel go a girl on the other side of the tracks. Mary, a commoner. Young. Virgin. Unknown by the world. No authority. No influence even in Nazareth. Mary didn’t come from the bad side of town. She came from the bad town. (nothing good comes from Nazareth).
Though, she was young and a virgin, she was engaged to a young carpenter, named Joseph. They had a quiet future ahead of them. Marriage, kids, family life in peaceful Nazareth. Now everything has changed.
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!
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Mary was compelled to go visit Elizabeth. If Elizabeth was indeed pregnant then maybe she wasn’t just dreaming. Maybe she really was pregnant without being with a man.
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
This last phrase of Elizabeth sums up the issue that all of humanity has struggled with since the garden of Eden. Do you trust God?
Not trusting God created the cycle of struggle for thousands of years.
Lack of Trust = failure, brokenness, sin.
Trust = God is with us.
Trusting God seems to be the gate.
Wow! The Word, the Creative Light entering the world as a human hinged on the heart of an unknown virgin from Nazareth. Will she trust what God said?
When you think of the track record of humanity believing and living in trust of God, that was so bold of God. It could have gone wrong so many ways.
God provided an Angel for Mary that gave her a warning and a word. However, the angel also gave her a confidant. She was provided a Friend (Elizabeth). Another human confirmed and walked with her through the unbelievable proposition from God.
God has a plan, offers it to humans, gives us a choice, gives us resources to handle it.
Do we trust him?
Look at Mary’s fiancé. Joseph. Wow. He was put in a tough predicament. In 2013, even in our secular society, we don’t look favorably on those who have affairs. In Mary’s culture, women were stoned for cheating. Joseph gets the word that his wife is pregnant and he knows they haven’t been together. He is faced with the brutal choice of taking her word (from the angel) or believing common sense. She cheated. Joseph comes to the conclusion that she cheated on him.
There is one phrase in the gospel of Matthew that speaks so deeply of Joseph.
It says, “…then Joseph, being a just man.” He was a good man. He must be so broken hearted that his future wife has cheated on him. He was devastated, but he didn’t allow his misfortune to sway his character. The scripture says that he decided to quietly end things with Mary and not make a big deal about it.
Then, God provides an angel for him too.
“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid (trust) to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
This Story beautifully depicts an eternal God with supernatural powers that creates man with His Word. When man separates himself from God, the Word becomes man.
Next week, we will talk about exactly how that happened in Bethlehem. We have some really good parts to cover next week.
As you sit and listen to the story of God, he begins to work on your heart. The Spirit of creativity, the Word of God begins to speak to you. What would happen if we listened to that same voice and trusted what we heard?
Sometimes we make it too complicated. We try too hard to work through the logic. We want to reason ourselves into a comfortable understanding. However, when we hear from God, the message is often speaking a different word than what we are used to hearing.
Remember, His word speaks to nothing and makes it something.
His Word creates worlds. What part of your world is broken and needing a savior?
We are having Pastor/Dr Jeffrey Garner from San Francisco join us at First Wednesday Worship (7pm CST) via LIVE video feed.
He will be covering how to TALK about the Gospel of Jesus in everyday life AND how to integrate the Gospel into everyday life.
You don’t want to miss this!
Because of this method of teaching we will NOT be streaming this service LIVE online.
Here is a pic of Will and I testing out the technology.
Jeffrey Garner was at PSM when we hosted Disciple in Oct. You guys are going to love him!
Meat and Potatoes | Scripture
Next week. We will talk about Sharing our Faith.
We are going to pick up where we left off last week. The whole concept of last week asked the question, “When you pray, why does God listen to you?” Is it because you have a business relationship with him or a family relationship with him?
Today, we will read a prayer from a man who got it right. He was a man after God’s own heart. DAVID. David understood the power of God, the Grace of God, and the Kingdom of God.
Today we will read his prayer in Psalm 119. Turn there with me.
In this Psalm, he expresses the POWER of God’s Word. There are basically 3 ways in which he discusses the influence of God’s word in His life:
His Word Gives us DIRECTION
Look at this stage. It is filled with clutter and obstacles. I think most would agree that our life’s path is very similar to this obstacle course and we have to find our way through the maze of life.
HOWEVER, life is not really like the way you see it here. It is actually like this.
105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.
29 Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.
How do we know his Instructions? READ HIS WORD
37 Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.
39 Help me abandon my shameful ways; for your regulations are good.
67 I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.
How do we closely follow his Word? READ HIS WORD
74 May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word.
98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide.
How do we become wiser? READ HIS WORD
101 I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to your word.
104 Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life. How do we have understanding? READ HIS WORD
We know what way is false and what way is right when we READ HIS WORD.
133 Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil.
165 Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.
How do I have great peace and not stumble? READ HIS WORD
**BRING LIGHTS UP to normal**
His Word Brings Us DELIVERANCE
25 I lie in the dust; revive me by your word.
28 I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word.
40 I long to obey your commandments! Renew my life with your goodness.
Revive! Encourage! Renew! How do these come? READ HIS WORD
43 Do not snatch your word of truth from me, for your regulations are my only hope.
45 I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.
David’s heart is passionate for the structure and boundaries of God. A heart of a son who understands that discipline and regulations are purposed filled
50 Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.
61 Evil people try to drag me into sin, but I am firmly anchored to your instructions.
69 Arrogant people smear me with lies, but in truth I obey your commandments with all my heart.
81 I am worn out waiting for your rescue, but I have put my hope in your word.
87 They almost finished me off, but I refused to abandon your commandments.
Freedom from the mess of other people! How do we find our hope and freedom? READ HIS WORD
92 If your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery.
93 I will never forget your commandments, for by them you give me life.
How do we find joy and life? READ HIS WORD
109 My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your instructions. You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.
143 As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.
149 In your faithful love, O Lord , hear my cry; let me be revived by following your regulations.
153 Look upon my suffering and rescue me, for I have not forgotten your instructions.
How do we not forget his instructions? READ HIS WORD
161 Powerful people harass me without cause, but my heart trembles only at your word.
His Word Expresses Our WORSHIP
7 As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!
Our lives RESPOND in a heart of gratitude. WE are motivated by HIS love!
How do we know how to respond to God’s love? READ HIS WORD
131 I pant with expectation, longing for your commands.
148 I stay awake through the night, thinking about your promise.
How do we know His Promise? READ HIS WORD
151 But you are near, O Lord , and all your commands are true.
175 Let me live so I can praise you, and may your regulations help me.
If you are brand new to Christianity or simply exploring start with John, then read Luke and Acts.
Once you have met Jesus and are getting a picture of who He is, go back and read the Bible from Genesis. (English Standard Version or New International Version)
Those who have been around for a long time, choose a new translation and read whole Bible through or go slow and read segments (History, Prophets, Gospels, Epistles).
Highlight and take notes every time you are touched.
Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the heathen (pagans) do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Jesus says here that there is a Pagan way and Christian way.
Pagan seems to be irreligious. Actually, he is talking about people that ARE religious.
He is saying that the real difference is not the religious from the irreligious, but those religious and the Christians.
Jesus presents 2 different bases on going to God. A right way and a wrong way.
Let me ask you a question to really kick start this thing:
When you pray, why should God listen to you?
Pagans/Religious folks think one thing and authentic Christians think a different thing.
When you approach anyone, you have preconceived ideas about how they relate to you. You approach your boss differently than your best friend. You approach your professor differently than your boyfriend.
Intuitively, your approach affects the way you ask and the way you interact.
At bus stop, you can ask: Where is the bus to Post Rd? Within our American culture there is appropriate asking realm. Time, directions, maybe loose change. However, you can not ask for their backpack or purse. There is no basis for this deep level of ‘ask’. You have no relationship equity to make that deep of a request.
Jesus is showing us that fundamentally there are 2 basic ways to approach God.
- In a Business relationship, the basis is performance. You perform for me and I perform for you.
- In a family relationship, the basis is a commitment. A permanent, committed relationship.
In a Business Relationship – I have something for you
In a Family Relationship – I am something to you
There are 2 ways to live in someone’s house:
- A boarder
- A Family member
When you are a boarder, you can have a good relationship with your landlord as long as you pay the rent and they keep maintaining the house. As long as you respect the rules with each other.
The exchange with each other is a MECHANICAL one of goods and services. A business relationship.
A business relationship is a conditional one. A family relationship is unconditional. Business relationships are based on what you have and performance.
Living with your parents is completely different. Family has to do with who I am.
In business, it is if you perform, then you will be accepted. A family dynamic should be: Since I am excepted, then I will perform.
Jesus was addressing two types of people IN THE CHURCH.
Jesus says that you can approach God on a business basis or a family relationship.
You will heap up empty phrases or babble if they are coming from a business relationship.
Empty means anxious.
Meat and Potatoes today. Let’s make it simple. We want to approach God as, “Our Father.”
He wants to have a family relationship with us! He wants to be approached as Father.
So how do you know if you are a pagan or a Christian when you pray?
What is the atmosphere of your prayer time? Do you constantly frame your prayers with boarder or family lingo?
Another great way:
What happens when your prayers aren’t answered?
If you are pagan, when they are not answered, you will either be cold or anxious.
COLD: ”I have been paying the rent and I deserve from you.”
ANXIOUS: “I haven’t been paying the rent and so I do not deserve to have my prayers answered.”
“God is not coming through and I have been doing my part.”
OR “I guess I have not been doing my part.”
In either case, you are proving that you are a boarder and not a child.
A Pagan relationship with God is a business one. You have duties. He has duties.
A Christian comes into the relationship saying ‘You lived the life I want to live. You accept and adopt me not based on my performance, but for your love.’
We are not talking about eloquence or articulation, both could be these.
Pagan: Babbling, cold, impersonal, no fullness, not personal, guilty
Christian: Warm, personal, confident, humble
Jesus doesn’t start the prayer with “Our King…” though he is.
He doesn’t start the prayer with “Our Creator…” though he is.
He doesn’t start the prayer with “Our friend…” though he is….
Friendship is wedged between business and family.
The powerful institution of family created by God is proven in the brokenness of families today.
There is something about families that even in those difficulties something sticks closer.
She is still my sister, he is still my son, she is still my mother, …
Jesus is saying in these verses that our identity as God’s kids is the essence of being a Christian.
John 1:10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
Authority to become children. You have been adopted!
Adopted, given the rights as a child of God. If you don’t understand that concept, you don’t understand Christianity at all.
Adoption is not from the efforts of the child. It is an act of the father! Adoption is not an act of behavior.
When you adopt an unruly child the behavior may change over time, but it doesn’t happen immediately. What does happen immediately is a STATUS change.
It is a legal change. What does that mean? The father legally adopts the child. You are here whether you misbehave or not.
The FATHER says, “I promise to regard you with all the commitment and praise as I would my own biological child. “
John 17: 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Even as the father loves Jesus… EVEN AS… God would love us as much as he loves himself. By legal action, you cross over from being a non person to being a child of God. God is committed to you as adopted sons and daughter.
Do you understand that?
“that’s too easy…” That means you are a boarder and not a child.
If you say, “that is too simple, I have to work for it…” that means you are a boarder.
Christians accept this position by faith.
Many move from being irreligious to being a Christian.
BUT many in here today are moving from being religious to being a Christian.
In other words, you had a system to get to God or finally earn his attention and pay the rent for an answered prayer.
MOVE TO BEING A CHILD OF GOD. You are accepted.
He died the death I should have died. He lived the life I always wanted to live. I trust in the son of God, Jesus Christ. Upon his death and life, I base everything. That is what a Christian is.
If you understand that, then
Start your prayer with the doctrine of adoption. That is the fire that fuels access into the presence of God.
He is committed to you. Every time you deal with God, saturate yourself with the thought that you are God’s kid. He loves you and wants to talk to you! Rejoice in it!
Think about it, every time you have received the power of his Holy Spirit it wasn’t because you marched into church and said, “This week I nailed it! I deserve a dose of God…bring it on!”
NO! it was when you humbly said, WOW you love and accept me even though I don’t deserve it.”
Many in here today might be longing to be with the love of God. You have a drought that needs to be filled. OR you long for the power of God to make something in your life live again.
Instead of trying to figure out how to make your business relationship with God balance, REST in the adoption of God!
1 John 3:1See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!
How Great is the love of the Father…. Great- from what country does the love of God come? A Christian is someone who finds the love of God off the scale amazing. There is a spirit of wonder!
A Christian is someone who says ‘it’s a miracle that I am a Christian’.
Praise and worship is unnatural for a boarder. A boarder can go in with a list of things that are needed and as soon as the list is done, you are done. Boarders are unable to worship, because there is nothing to worship. The reason why is because you have felt you deserve what you are getting.
Christians understand it is a free gift (thankful).
Boarders say ‘I’m moral, I work hard, I deserve this miracle..’
When a Christian receives a miracle, they say, “incredible, why would he do such a thing!?”
When you ask a boarder if they are a Christian, they will say, “sure! Of course!”
When you ask a Christian if they are a Christian there is no ‘of courseness’ about it. They will say, “it is incredible, but it is true! It is a miracle but it is true!” Behold it is true.
When you have worked hard all week and you get a paycheck at the end of the week, you don’t say, “behold, it is a miracle! My paycheck!”. You say, “of course, I worked for it.” If you are not continually in an attitude of praise, then you are a boarder.
Another way to see the difference between a boarder and a child is through repentance.
Boarders repent of their sins, but not their righteousness.
Christians do. That is the difference. Christians know even their best deeds are not enough. Boarders believe ‘their best’ is pay towards their relationship!
There is wonder about the LOVE of God. The adoption of all us
We find healing in our hearts when we lean to God as Father.
Don’t be like a pagan because you think you will be heard because of your babbling and repetitive talk.
Instead, pray: OUR FATHER…