River Church NOLA
Christmas Eve The Christmas Story
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        December 11, 2021 - 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
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        December 1, 2021 - 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM
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        September 26, 2021 - 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM
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        December 5, 2021 - 10:00 AM - 11:15 AM
        Christmas Peace
  • O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)
  • Joy To The World (Antioch)
  • Joseph's Song
  • It's Christmas
  • O Holy Night
  • Happy Birthday Jesus
  • Today, I want to read the Christmas Story. The reason is that I want to do this is that we can go through the whole season and realize we never heard the Christmas story. Too many people wake up the day after Christmas and realize that they did not hear the Christmas story.
    They drive by nativity scenes in front of houses and churches but did not just sit down and read the story of Jesus birth. When I was growing up – the Nativity Scene was a big thing for me.
    Talk about growing up doing the nativity scene. - pics
    So today, I am taking the accounts of Jesus birth from all 4 of the Gospels and reading them, as best I can, in order of the narrative. Each Gospel gives us different pieces of the narrative puzzle. Matthew and Luke - include the baby part. Mark and John don't.
    Mark is the most direct. he starts
    Mark 1:1 NIV84
    1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
    He just gets right to it. He never mentions Mary and Joseph and all of the parts of the story we are used to hearing. Then he is off and running with an account of John the Baptist's mission to prepare the way for Jesus.
    John doesn't tell us what happened at all. He tells us the why it happened. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He tells John to look after Mary like she is his mother and tells Mary to look after John like a son. So, tradition says that John took care of Mary for many years even though she had other children. There is actually a place in Ephesus where you can visit where John actually lived with Mary and took care of her in her old age. We don't know for sure this is the case, but we know John knew Mary so well that he knew the birth narrative.
    John said,
    John 1:1 NIV84
    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    In other words, God was making an appearance.
    John is an old man and he is looking back, knowing what's the most important thing to know, writes
    John 1:14 NIV84
    14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
    He is saying, Look at this… in case you don’t read the whole thing – this is what’s important.
    God showed up in a body and He lived among us.
    John 1:9 NIV84
    9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
    He went right past the what to the why... He was saying that on that first Christmas God gave us all a gift. The true light that was the gift was for everyone. The true light that was for everyone was coming into the world. He came to light up everyone's lives, which as we grow in our relationship with Him means that we begin to understand things in our lives and our world in a different way than ever before. We can understand things that people before Jesus did not understand.
    For us it means that as we read scripture, we go, Oh wow... I didn't see that before. or I didn't know we were supposed to...
    This is the thing that makes John's Gospel so different - he gets personal...
    John 1:12 NIV84
    12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
    To all - that includes you and I.
    Then he goes, to all who would RECEIVE HIM. He tried to explain. How do you receive someone you have never met? How do you receive a baby or an adult that's gone on to heaven?
    John does something that had not been done with words to get attention…
    In our culture when someone uses a word or phrase that no one else uses, it causes people to stop and go huh? That probably happened here. It got attention.
    He wants people to understand so he takes 2 Greek words that had never been used before and says To those who BELIEVE IN... it's more than believe that ... it means to trust in the Jesus Name.
    He is saying that to anyone who believes in... who trusts in the name of Jesus, He gave the right to become a child of God.
    It's like John wants you to know this is more than a story... this is personal. If you want to know the why behind the what, behind the birth narrative... John has the answer. He writes it at the end of his book. Here is they why for what he writes...
    John 20:31 NIV84
    31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
    John wanted you and I to know that these things really did happen, but more than that, He wanted you and I to have a personal relationship with God. He is saying that yes, God loved the world, but God loves you and you and you....
    John made it personal... It's a personal decision each of you have to make … to Believe IN Jesus, the Light and Life of the world.
    Listen, it took all of the disciples, Jesus followers and family three years to figure this out. They thought throughout his ministry that at some point, he would step up and rid Israel of Rome. He never planned to do that... it's not why he came. Here is why it's important for you and for me to know the WHY. They had the wrong agenda… we do the same…
    We often have the wrong agenda when it comes to God... to Jesus. We want him to bless us… to do for us... to heal us...
    We have to realize; Jesus did not come to be a culture warrior. He did not come to heal people. He came to be the Savior of the World. He came to be your Savior and my Savior.
    If John were here, here is what he would ask. Do you Believe? Not do you believe that... but do you believe in Him?
    John would say, if you are struggling keep asking, keep knocking, keep seeking... it took he and Peter and the others a while to get it...
    John would say, don't get confused as to the point of Christmas. God sent Jesus here to earth to be YOUR personal Savior and my personal Savior.
    On to the Narrative...
    Luke 1:1–3 NIV84
    1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
    Luke took what all the others had written and wrote his account.
    Luke 1:26–33 NIV84
    26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
    Mary was afraid because in the OT, whenever God showed up... bad things happened... a lot. She must be thinking... I must be in trouble... like when your boss calls you on a Friday or when the principal called you to the office...
    We know that what the angel told Mary would happen because we have this kingdom called the Church for the last 2000 years.
    Let's look at Matthew for a minute. Here is how he starts.
    Matthew 1:18–19 NIV84
    18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
    This was bad. You did not get pregnant outside of your marriage in this time. They would kill you. Joseph had to make a decision. He could accuse her of adultery and she would have been killed. I'm sure his mind was racing... I mean who is going to believe that Mary was pregnant and did not break her purity vows.... it doesn't happen. Joseph decided to try to play it down as much as possible and divorce her quietly. Then...
    Matthew 1:20–21 NIV84
    20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
    Jesus - OT name for warrior - deliverer. (Joshua / Yeshua) They were expecting God to send a Messiah to rid them of Rome and make Israel great again. Think about it... They were expecting someone wiser than Moses and a military leader like Joshua... Joseph is thinking ... wow, we are part of the fulfillment of the Prophecy. I’m sure his mind was racing and then the Angel said
    ... that's not what they were expecting.
    The agenda they all had for the Messiah was to conquer Rome and make Israel great again. The angel said to Joseph, Mary will have a son and he will save his people from the thing they most need saving from... their sins.
    Matthew 1:24 NIV84
    24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
    I mean think about it. If an Angel appeared to you... wouldn't you do what it told you to do? That's what Joseph did. People looked at them different. There was shame to being an unwed single mom or even a couple who were pregnant but not married...
    so back to Luke
    Luke 2:1 NIV84
    1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
    Caesar Augustus was the first Roman King or Emperor. Before him, Rome was a Republic. But Augustus changed all of that.
    Luke 2:3–19 NIV84
    3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
    John 3:16–17 NIV84
    16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
      • Mark 1:1NIV

      • John 1:1NIV

      • John 1:14NIV

      • John 1:9NIV

      • John 1:12NIV

      • John 20:31NIV

      • Luke 1:1–3NIV

      • Luke 1:26–33NIV

      • Matthew 1:18–19NIV

      • Matthew 1:20–21NIV

      • Matthew 1:24NIV

      • Luke 2:1NIV

      • Luke 2:3–19NIV

      • John 3:16–17NIV

  • Silent Night (Stille Nacht)

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