Sermon Recap: Parenting the Next Generation, Pt. 3

In this series, we are discussing the high calling that is parenting. We have identified that children are a blessing – a gift from God! – and ways in which to love them intentionally, just as God loves us intentionally. Today, we are approaching a more difficult topic: discipline.

aleksandar-popovski-114743

As parents, we are the protectors of our children. And, in an effort to protect, we are called to discipline. We are to lead them, and if we don’t, they will find someone else to follow. Why, then, is discipline so important?

  1. We discipline because we love them:
    1. Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
    2. Proverbs 3:11-12: “My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
    3. Hebrews 12:6-7: “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
    4. According to God, love and discipline are inseparable. God, in His grace and love, disciplines us as His own children.
  2. We discipline to teach them:
    1. Proverbs 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”
    2. If our children are disobedient, it isn’t a reflection of them, it’s a reflection of our parenting.
  3. We discipline because we have hope for them:
    1. Proverbs 19:18: “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.”
    2. Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Why are parents, then, reluctant to discipline?

  1. We don’t want to kill their spirit, creativity, dreams, uniqueness. But, our children will find abundant life because of our discipline, not despite it. They crave safety and boundaries, which discipline provides and encourages.
    1. Proverbs: 23:13: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.”
  2. We don’t want to be inconvenienced. It takes time and it’s hard. In public, it might be embarrassing. And, watching our children suffer can be emotionally taxing and painful.

Let’s define clearly the differences between discipline and punishment, because they are not synonymous as we often assume. Punishment is payment and leads to condemnation. Discipline is training our children within the grace of God to teach them obedience (after all, unlike parental discipline, God’s discipline towards us never ends). Discipline leads to abundant life.

The Parameters of Discipline:

  1. It is restorative.
    1. Galatians 6:1: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” It must be done in a spirit of gentleness and not in anger. Anger won’t be the thing that trains our children’s hearts.
    2. Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
    3. Restorative discipline is the result of a child choosing discipline because of their disobedience.
  2. It is unpleasant (neither a joy for the parent or the child).
    1. Hebrews 12:11: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
    2. It’s a painful process.
  3. It produces repentance without regret.
    1. 2 Corinthians 2:10: “Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ.” 
    2. Discipline looks like confession, repentance, and forgiveness. It should never lead to resentment; God doesn’t hold grudges against us for our disobedience, so we shouldn’t hold grudges against our children either.
    3. Discipline should not have a negative affect on our relationships with our children. Rather, it should lead to greater trust.

aleksandar-popovski-50818

Join us next Sunday as we head into the last sermon of our current series, Parenting the Next Generation. It’s going to be so good! 

Sermon Recap: Parenting the Next Generation, Pt. 2

Parenting is a high and a happy calling. The problem isn’t that parents make mistakes (it’s inevitable as imperfect people); the problem is when we lose our vision for the high and happy calling that is parenting. Let us run after Jesus, and look toward our perfect Father for strength and guidance as we dive into week two of our sermon series, Parenting the Next Generation. 

caleb-jones-135058

A major component of parenting is making sure that our children feel loved. There are two ways to experience love:

  1. Love that happens to us (it’s the warm and tingly feeling)
  2. Love that is intentional and purposeful (which is often more of a choice rather than a feeling)
    1. Intentional, purposeful love is the kind of love that transforms lives.
    2. Luke 6:32-35: “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”
    3. God’s love is a love that prefers the other, and doesn’t just happen to us like a warm feeling that bubbles up and stays just for a moment.
    4. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 
    5. We must, as parents, make the transition between loving our children because of a warm and tingly feeling to loving intentionally – even when it’s challenging.

If a child doesn’t receive intentional love, they might start to perform, prove, or seek it elsewhere. Of course, this is dangerous and destructive. Let’s look at 4 acts of intentional love:

  1. Pursuit:
    1. 1 John 4:8-10: Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
    2. It’s from the perfect pursuer, God, that we learn to pursue our own children.
    3. Pursuit takes time and effort. It’s hard.
    4. We have to study our children, individually and intentionally, so we know what makes them more alive. Ask them, “How am I doing at loving you?”
  2. Encouragement:
    1. Romans 5:8: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
    2. He encourages us when we do well, and He encourages us when we fail miserably.
    3. Psalm 138:3: “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” God is the strengthener of the souls of His children. 
    4. The more our children ignore our encouragement, the more they need it.
    5. We aren’t only worthy when we do something worthy. We are worthy all the time.
  3. Celebration:
    1. It’s the small things!
    2. Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
    3. God rejoices because of who we are, not just what we do.
  4. Service:
    1. Mark 10:43-45: “But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
    2. Jesus came to serve us, and He kept no record for it.
    3. He didn’t give us His life for His sake, but for ours.

There is no higher calling than to give away your life to prefer another person. Our children will know they are loved when we go from idea to implementation.

We love because He first loved us.

caleb-jones-134681

We meet every Sunday at 9am and 11am. We hope to see you at a service as we continue on in our parenting series!  

Sermon Recap: Parenting the Next Generation, Pt. 1

london-scout-41030

Calling all parents (literal and figurative), people who want to be parents, people who have parents, and people who know parents: this series is for you. Parenting is a high calling; perhaps it is the highest calling. It’s a wonderful responsibility, an exciting endeavor, and a very difficult job to raise up the next generation. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that we talk about it, even though the conversation might be uncomfortable or offensive or taboo. Let’s get to it (and S/O to Lead Pastor Andrew Bach for leading the discussion).

To do our best job as parents, we must look to our perfect Father, because He knows best, despite the innumerable amount of self-help books and online articles. In today’s sermon, we look at 3 (but not the only three) Biblical truths about parenting:

  1. God is a perfect parent.
    1. Our right to parent is not based on our perfection. We shouldn’t try to be perfect, because it isn’t possible; instead, we leave standard for God to fulfill alone.
    2. John 20:17: “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Just as He was a perfect Father to Jesus, He remains a perfect Father to us. We face hardship, but He has never once made a mistake toward us in His parenting. 
    3. Matthew 7:7-11 exemplifies that He is a perfect provider: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
    4. We see in Deuteronomy 33:12 that He is a perfect protectorLet the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”
    5. Luke 15:17-22, the story of the prodigal son, displays God’s awesome grace for us: When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.'” 
    6. God intends to fill every gap of our own parents’ imperfections. He has never failed [Ed. Note: and He won’t stop now!].
  2. Children are a blessing.
    1. Psalm 127:3-5: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” 
    2. Contrary to society’s tone, children are not a hindrance to abundant life. They are very much part of an abundant life, and an absolute gift from God!
  3. Parenting begins with parents.
    1. Deuteronomy 6:4-9: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
    2. Our children will glean more from our parenting when we are honest about who we are (flaws and all), than if we pretended we were perfect parents.
    3. Our calling is to raise up the next generation to know they are eternally loved by a perfect Parent, and their imperfect parents.

london-scout-27288

This coming Sunday, we get to hear more about parenting the next generation, in part two of this sermon series. See you there! 

Sermon Recap: Jesus’ Church, Pt. 7

loli-clement-219772

This week, we have the great opportunity to hear from Paul Jackson, as he closes our current series, “Jesus’ Church” with part 7: “Everyone Serves”. So far, we have discussed these Truths about being his hands and feet:

  1. God is approachable
  2. The Gospel is powerful
  3. Everyone disciples someone
  4. Devoted to fellowship
  5. Love your neighbor
  6. Hard things are promised to everyone who believes

Acts 20:28: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” We are the ones that Jesus purchased with his own blood. We are the ones he chose! This is a simple, but profound Truth, that affects us deeply in two ways: individually (because we belong; the fear of our not belonging has been answered) and as a church family (which affects how we think, interact, and function as a body, with Jesus as our leader). Our values and decisions are to reflect the calling of our head. Jesus said that, to be great, requires service to others: “the one who is great is the one who serves”.

Galatians 5:13: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  Jesus lived his life for the glory of God and for the sake of others, the greatest example being the Cross. However, the Cross is only one of so many examples of his servanthood.Isaiah 53 introduces Jesus through prophecy as the “suffering servant”. 

In John 13:12-15, we see Jesus washing the feet of His disciples: When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.'” In Jesus’ church, everyone serves. 

Matthew 23:11-12: “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” 

Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” We are to look to the interests of others, with joy, and do the stuff that no one else wants to do. We are called to be the ones who willingly step forward.

In the sphere of family, what could it look like to serve?

  1. Building relational bridges
  2. Happily going to the family party
  3. Hosting the party (that you didn’t want to go to)
  4. Spending time with your kids, even if exhausted…and the list goes on

In the sphere of the workplace, what could it look like to serve (because, whether you are the unpaid intern or the CEO, you are called to serve)?

  1. Doing a good job, even if nobody will notice
  2. Offering to do the project that nobody else wants to do
  3. Having a difficult conversation with a coworker
  4. Taking the window-less office so someone else can have a well-lit office
  5. Helping a coworker, even if it doesn’t benefit you. Remember, we are serving Jesus first and foremost.

In the sphere of the church family, what could it look like to serve?

John 12:26: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” The call to serve is a call to serve God.Leading a Lifegroup

  1. Hosting a Lifegroup
  2. Making coffee on Sunday mornings
  3. Helping set up or tear down
  4. Helping administration…and the list goes on.

In most churches, according to statistics, 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. Why? Let’s identify a few obstacles to serving:

  1. We don’t recognize the task at hand as our responsibility
  2. We struggle to put others’ interests in front of our own
  3. Pride

Luke 6:45: The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good…”

If we can get our heart in line, our actions will follow. We are called to put others before ourselves, to get low before others to raise them up, and to look like Jesus. Let’s run after His example as a servant!

loli-clement-219771

Next Sunday, we enter into a new series rooted in the good Word. Can’t wait to see you there, church family! 

Sermon Recap: Jesus’ Church, Pt. 1

4v1dc_eocwg-edwin-andrade

This week, we are back in the swing of things (hello, 2017!) and starting a new sermon series, titled “Jesus’ Church”. Led by Lead Pastor Andrew Bach, we dive into what it means to be the body of Christ – biblically and practically.

Firstly, let’s remember that Jesus wants His church to know that we belong to Him. So much so, in fact, that we are only His; we don’t even belong to ourselves. Acts 20:28 says: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”  We have been rescued from our captivity and imprisonment, and we belong to our rescuer.

Secondly, let’s also remember that God is approachable, because in understanding this fully, it will be easier to understand our belonging. He is approachable in that he is accessible, relatable, friendly, easy to meet, and easy to know. What else is He like? The Bible provides us with solid Truth to understanding better God’s character:

  1. Absolute authority:
    1. Acts 17:24-25: “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
  2. Compassionate:
    1. Psalm 103:1-5: “Bless the Lord, O my soul,
          and all that is within me,
          bless his holy name!
      Bless the Lord, O my soul,
          and forget not all his benefits,
      who forgives all your iniquity,
          who heals all your diseases,
      who redeems your life from the pit,
          who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
      who satisfies you with good
          so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
  3. Good:
    1. Exodus 33:18-19: “Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.'” 
  4. Just:
    1. Deuteronomy 32:4: “The rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”
  5. Protective:
    1. Psalm 91: 3-6: “For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
          and from the deadly pestilence.
      He will cover you with his pinions,
          and under his wings you will find refuge;
          his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
      You will not fear the terror of the night,
          nor the arrow that flies by day,
      nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
          nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.”
  6. Providing:
    1. Philippians 4:19: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
  7. Consistent:
    1. Malachi 3:6: “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

The Bible – in its perfect Truth – says all of these things about our God, but our experiences in life sometimes lead us to believe otherwise. And we, as people, are not at all worthy of being in such close relationship with an approachable God; it seems too good to be true. And it is! But, Jesus. This is why He came, to make this relationship possible for us. We are no longer enemies of God, but instead, we are children of God. Praise! Thank you, Jesus.

James 4:8: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” 

Hebrews 4:16: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

In order to understand further your belonging to God, spend time with Him (whether in worship, reading, or prayer, for example). And, in doing so, remember that it is not the method that is powerful, but it is God who is powerful.

1fpcmdib1oc-edwin-andrade

Don’t miss next Sunday’s service, as we continue on to part two of the Jesus’ Church series! 

Sermon Recap: Kingdom Ambition

o91lhkdb_sq-marco-bonomo

For the first Sunday of the year, we met virtually as a church to watch the Selah service online. It was an incredible way to reflect on 2016, and look toward 2017 with fresh perspective and to ask God what he has in mind for the coming 12 months. This week, we were back to meet in a physical space and to hear about Kingdom ambition. Jim Larson – a deeply devoted disciple of Jesus and member of our church – blessed us with his Spirit-filled wisdom in this week’s sermon.

Firstly, let’s acknowledge that ambition of the Kingdom and worldly varieties are vastly different. Kingdom ambition is rooted in the fact that we have a highly ambitious God (exemplified by His creation of at least 100 billion galaxies in the universe).

Psalm 19:1 states, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands.” As beings of His creation, we were made in his image, and piece of that is His ambition living within each of us. Not only were we created to look like him, but he invites us to co-labor with Him; such an invitation for us prompts ambitious excitement!

Matthew 25:14-30: “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

God is pleased with those ambitious for His Kingdom; He voices it so clearly. Using this passage from Matthew, we want to be like the first two servants, and unlike the third.

In 4 categories, we can acknowledge and identify our Kingdom ambition (Kingdom-focus x ambition):

  1. Low Kingdom-focus x low ambition: similar to a rudder-less ship. It’s near impossible to move a ship that is docked.
  2. Low Kingdom-focus x high ambition: this is what culture tells us is right, fulfilling, and satisfying.
    1. According to the world, high ambition has nothing to do with loving God or loving your neighbor.
    2. We can become harmful toward others when we have too much worldly ambition; we might become greedy, selfless, envious, or find it easier to step on others in order to climb the social or financial ladder.
    3. This category might apply to people who believe in Jesus but who don’t allow Him to permeate their lives.
      1. If this is you, get in community and walk with Jesus together. It’s so much more encouraging to walk with others, and this is the intention of God.
    4. Or, this category might apply to people who have found that they have drifted away from God over time.
      1. If this is you, rededicate your life to Him. Ask Him to speak to you, and ask Him for help. He wants you near to Him and wants to again be part of your life!
  3. High Kingdom-focus x low ambition: faith that is not action-oriented.
    1. We are held accountable to the things that we do in our time on Earth. Make it count!
    2. Cultural individualism perpetuates this category.
    3. If you find yourself in this place, start by asking God, “who can I bless today/this week and how can I bless them?”
      1. Decide, commit, and execute.
      2. God will show up and change your heart in your faithful first step.
    4. Some of us in this category are not individualistic, but we feel unworthy of helping others. This isn’t true! Each of our identities is critical to advancing the Kingdom of God.
      1. Ask, “What are the callings of my life?”
        1. Dream with God.
        2. Listen to the myriad of ways in which he speaks (because, though it might occur this way, it doesn’t always happen through a burning bush).
  4. High Kingdom-focus x high-ambition: we get to this place by:
    1. Believing that God is who He says He is.
    2. Believing that we are who He says we are.
    3. Devote and direct your ambition toward loving God and loving others.
    4. Identify and take the next step in faith.

No matter where you find yourself (and not everyone fits into one category alone – we all have different Kingdom ambition according to different parts of our lives), God wants us to live abundantly and ambitiously. Dream with Him, trust that He will speak, and know that He will be with you wherever you go.

4ke05x0pjgq-marco-bonomo

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

iztmujrvx4c-annie-spratt

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.

ozmyg5atndw-annie-spratt

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.