MISSION WOODS CHURCH
Worship Sunday January 3 2021
      • Bible Trivia
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      • Bible Trivia
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  • Let's Worship and Adore Him
  • As with Gladness Men of Old
  • We Three Kings
  • Close your eyes for a minute. Imagine, if you will, an epic journey. One that leads you far away from home, away from everything that is familiar. Perhaps you’ve endured some harrowing experiences from weather, wild animals, or perhaps some would-be robbers trying to get what ever treasure you might have. Still, you’ve pressed on. Perhaps several times you’ve questioned, “Is it worth it?” “Do I even know where I’m going?” Yes, you longed for home, but something deeper compels you forward. Driven by some internal longing that only seemed to get stronger, your journey has continued. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and month have turned into years. And then… almost unexpectedly your eyes glimpse your destination for the first time. A wave of adrenaline surges throughout your body, your wearied body is suddenly rejuvenated by the thought that your quest is nearly over. Your pace quickens as your anticipation grows, you’re almost there. Your body is worn and exhausted from your quest, but you press on knowing that it is nearly done. And then...
    You’re there. A sense of relief now surges through your veins, you drop to your knees, and then you drop face to the ground. You’ve arrived. Open your eyes.
    So I imagine it was for the wise men who came from the east. The Bible tells us:
    Matthew 2:11 ESV
    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 upon completing their journey, they are compelled to lay before our Lord their gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh.
    Let’s pray:
    Sovereign Lord, You came did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but empties yourself by taking on the form of a servant and being born in the likeness of men. As you have set the example for us, and it is you we claim to follow may we too empty and humble ourselves before you. We offer ourselves to you this morning. Speak Lord, your servants are listening. AMEN
    Our Gospel reading for today comes from the first chapter of John, vss. 10-18.
    John 1:10–18 ESV
    He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
    This is the Gospel of our Lord,
    Thanks be to God.
    The opening words to this passage have to give us pause.
    “He was in the world and the world was made through him...”
    Wait, we think. We remember God speaking the world into existence way back in the beginning of the Bible. Back in Genesis, “God said…and it was...” And now here we see, “the world was made through him.” It is the mystery of the trinity being shared with us right here. God and God’s Word are one. Jesus, we read earlier in opening of John’s Gospel, was in the beginning, with God and He was God. All things were made through him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.
    And we can think back to the beginning of the Bible and we remember God walking in the garden calling for Adam. Think of it, God walked and talked with His creation. And now, fast forward to John speaking of Jesus and he says, “He was in the world...”
    If there was ever a statement of the Christmas miracle, there it is. Sadly, it is followed by another profound statement:
    John 1:10 ESV
    He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
    “the world did not know him.”
    John goes on to let us know that even though Jesus came to his own people (that would be the Jews), they did not receive him. (v. 11).
    Verses 12 & 13 pronounce the Good News for all of us:
    John 1:12 ESV
    But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
    To receive Jesus implies not merely an intellectual agreement with some facts about Jesus, but instead a genuine welcoming and submitting to Him in a personal relationship. Believed in implies a personal trust.
    In verse 13 we read:
    John 1:13 ESV
    who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
    This makes clear that is not by our physical birth, nor our ethnic descent, nor even our human effort that makes any of us children of God, but it is by God’s supernatural work. This is truly the Good News for all of us who are not of Jewish descent.
    It is not by our own efforts, it is not by our heritage (ethnic or otherwise), but it is by the grace of God that we are given the right to become children of God.
    Eugene Petersen famously translated the opening of vs. 14 like this:
    John 1:14 The Message
    The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
    “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
    In the ESV it’s translated “dwelt among us.” The greek word used (Gk. skēnoō) literally means “pitched his tent”. It reminds us of God’s dwelling among the Israelites in the tabernacle, and the temple. Now God takes up his residence among the people as the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.
    If we back up to the journey of the wisemen we spoke of at the beginning, one wonders if they were more aware than anyone that this was indeed the Word of God in the flesh. They came from the east, and tradition represents them as each being of a different skin color representing the people from around the world.
    The truth is, He is Lord of all.
    Philippians 2:9–11 ESV
    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.
    As we gather here this morning, there is something profound that is happening whether we acknowledge it or not. We are gathering, we have hopped out of bed, gotten dressed, made our way to this place to gather with others, and together we worship the Lord.
    We have come here professing Christ as Lord,
    we have come here still echoing the celebration of the Lord Jesus’ birth,
    we have come here calling ourselves Christian.
    Have you ever given much thought to what it means to be Christian? What does it mean? Literally it means “little Christ’s”.
    And yet…what concerns me is how poor a representative I am. I know that I often do not reflect the image of Christ. I know that too often in my own life and in my own words I’m far more ready to judge and condemn rather than forgive, and let go.
    Too often we as Christians are more ready like James and John to want to call down fire on someone, not because they didn’t receive Jesus, but because they didn’t do what WE wanted. Does that describe you?
    To borrow and alter a phrase from a famous sermon: Sunday’s here! But Monday’s coming!
    Yes, today we got dressed, put on our good behavior, switched to our saintly vocabulary, came to worship, in a few moments we’ll all celebrate communion...
    But what about tomorrow? or the next day, or the next. What will we reflect then? Will people see Jesus? Or will they see judgment and condemnation.
    When James and John asked (and I have to say, at least they asked), when they asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and burn them up?” Jesus rebuked them. (IF you’re looking for that passage it’s in Luke 9:54).
    There are no part-time children of anyone. I don’t say I’m a part-time son to my mother. NO! It’s all or nothing. I either am her son, or I’m not. The same is true in God’s Kingdom.
    John 1:12 ESV
    But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
    We are children of God. We’re not perfect, but our aim should be to continue to grow in faith and stature with God and with men, as Jesus did.
    This morning I began with am epic journey, and that’s what we’re on. We have come to this place in history and time, and we have chosen to be here in worship this morning. To fall down in worship is to understand who it is that we have come to worship - the Word of God made flesh, the Lord Jesus.
    Let us receive Him. Let us believe in His Name. Let us live as children of God.
    Amen.
      • Matthew 2:11ESV

      • John 1:10–18ESV

      • John 1:10ESV

      • John 1:12ESV

      • John 1:14ESV

      • Philippians 2:9–11ESV

      • John 1:12ESV

  • Let Us Break Bread Together
  • Go Tell It On The Mountain

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