Blessed to Bless, Pt. 5

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Are you able to see the greater purposes of your blessings? Rather than make excuses or justify the reasons as to why we own nice things (which, admittedly, we so often do), we should instead exclaim our thanksgivings toward God, and then exalt Him for His goodness. The beautiful things in your life (those cool shoes, that delicious steak, this morning’s sunrise, the got-it-from-ya-mama show-stopping smile) exist for the benefit of others, and for the adoration and blessing of God.

Matthew 2:1-12: Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

This Scripture takes place when Jesus is about 1 or 2 years old (dissimilar to the narration of the standard nativity scene). What makes this so astounding, though, is that these three men – all of whom were kings, magi, and wise men – fell to their knees to worship Jesus as a small child. This speaks so much to their incredible humility.

Psalm 72:10-11: May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!

The kings recognize their King. The wise men worship without fear of appearing foolish (and, even today, wise men still seek Him).

Too often, what we see today is power without perspective; what we need in our generation isn’t lack of power or authority, but true leaders with wisdom. No one is without a King – everybody worships something. We need Kings who know they have a King. The world thinks that we are blessed to be blessed. But again, we see that Scripture turns the ideals of the world on their head: we are blessed to bless.

Philippians 2:4-11: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Biblical references: Matthew 2:1-12; Psalm 72:10-11; Philippians 2:4-11

Questions:

  1. How are you submitting to Jesus as King over your life?
  2. How can you look to the interest of others this week?
  3. Ask God to show you the greater purpose of your blessings.

Sermon Recap: What About Christmas (Cont’d)?

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The month of December is adorned with festivities left and right – each as extravagant, beautiful, and well-lit with twinkling lights as the next – so we want to take a couple of weeks to focus our attention back to the reason for the season: the birth of our Savior, Jesus. Pastor Paul Jackson continues to bless us with humor, Christmas sweaters very much apropos, and insight into the incredible story of the heavenly birth. If you missed the first week – we got you, whether you are a visual or an auditory learner.

Luke 2:1-20: “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 an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 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 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.” 

Let us celebrate one of the main messages in this story (as seen in Luke 2:14): Jesus came to bring peace on earth for all people. Not one person one earth is excluded from this list.

Isaiah 9:6-7 prophesies the peace that arrives to earth with the birth of Jesus:

“For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” 

Contrary to what we may believe, the world into which Jesus was born was not a peaceful place; it was corrupt, and many people were oppressed. The land was war-torn and devastated. However, Jesus’ message of peace for all surpasses the parameters of circumstance. Though the world of Jesus as a man looked differently than the world we live in today – America in 2016 – we will always be able to relate to his message. The peace of God isn’t hinged on circumstance, but on the person of Jesus, who is everlasting and always faithful.

Philippians 4: 7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.” The peace enveloped in the birth of Jesus is not made to make sense to us, because it transcends human understanding.

As we dive further into the passage of Luke 2, we read into the characters and come to understand that the shepherds – the ordinary people, the workers – represent us, as humanity. What is most extraordinary about these ordinary people, however, is their immediate response to angel Gabriel’s birth announcement. Instantly, upon hearing of Jesus’ birth, they left their flocks to find the him, the King of Kings.

The last few verses of Luke 2:1-20 (namely, 15-20) represent the promise of God to the shepherds fulfilled. They found baby Jesus lying in a manger, just as it had been told to them. They were not disappointed, because God is true to His word every single time. Just as the promise to the shepherds surrounding Jesus’ birth was fulfilled, God fulfills His promises to us. In a world characterized so heavily by disappointment, unmet expectation, and heartache, let us thank God that He does not disappoint, but rather, fulfills His word and exceeds our greatest expectations. Let us be people that glorify Him in this season and always, praising Him for all that He has done.

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Merry Christmas, Mosaic family and visitors! Please remember that next week’s service will be held at the Mosaic Edmonds campus, and The New Year’s Day Selah service will be online only. 

 

Sermon Recap: What About Christmas?

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There is a good chance, if you are American, that you celebrate Christmas (because, statistically speaking, about 93% of Americans actively participate in celebrating the holiday one way or another). Not only is it widely celebrated in America, but it is the single most celebrated holiday worldwide. And – there is good reason! Although there are many aspects of Christmas that have been commercialized, we still gather in masses across the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus. This week, Paul Jackson leads us in discussing Christmas, the first sermon of this December series.

Luke 2:1-20: “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 an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 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 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.” 

In reality, the story of Jesus’ birth is nothing less than incredible. The journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem – which the Bible mentions only briefly – was a grueling 90-mile trek across dangerous terrain. His birth could not have been more humble, but his birth announcement was unlike any other (as seen in Luke 2:10-11): “I bring you good news of great joy, that will be for all people.” 

This is what we are celebrating. This is why Christmas is such an extravaganza, because the birth of Jesus changes everything. In the midst of all the wonderful festivities, let’s direct our celebration toward the One who is worthy of it all.

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Join us again on Sunday to hear pt. 2 of our Christmas series!