Sunnyside Church of the Nazarene
Thusday, December 24
- O Come All Ye Faithful
- O Come O Come Emmanuel (Veni Emmanuel)
- He Has Come For Us (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)
- The First Noel
- Joy To The World (Unspeakable Joy)
- Every good story has a hero. Every good story has the hero showing up at just the right time doing the impossible and saving the day. Our passage this morning is about a hero who did just that.In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.This is a familiar passage this time of year, and no doubt many of us have heard this story many times (actually happened story). But it seems like the focus is usually on Mary (i.e. her favored status and her simple faith to accept God’s plan). Not that any of that is wrong, but it tends to make Mary the hero of the story. To elevate Mary misses the true hero of the story - Yahweh, the Most High God. God is the hero here. He is the central figure of this passage and if we’re not careful, we can overlook that fact.So how is God the hero in this passage? Four things to briefly draw our attention to.1) This story is about God’s PromisesThis is about God’s faithfulness, and His faithfulness is what makes Him the hero. Almost everything that happens in this passage has a prophetic Old Testament connection. So what’s happening is God, the hero is showing up and making good on His promises that He made centuries earlier to save the world.For example: Genesis 3, God told the serpent that the woman’s offspring would crush his little head. That’s the first promise of the Gospel - that God was going to destroy the enemy and his kingdom. 2 Sam. 7 / Psalm 89 - God promised that through King David’s offspring, God would establish the throne of His kingdom forever. Isaiah 7:14 God promised a virgin would conceive and bear a son, and his name would be Immanuel - God with us.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.“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.This passage in Luke is all about God fulfilling His promises to rescue a sinful, messy, wayward world.Questions: 1) What does this tell you about God, His promises and how He keeps His promises? 2) How might this relate to your life and the promises God has given you?2) This story is about God’s ProvidenceProvidence is the reality of God’s activity - His proactive consistent involvement, seen and unseen, in our lives and in our world.God is always active, and He’s always making the first move. We seek God only because He first sought us. We love God only because He first loved us. We can approach God only because He first approached us.So this passage is about God’s providence. How so? A) God sent His Angel. That's being proactive - that’s providence. B) God sent His Spirit. Mary conceived through the Spirit. That’s providence. C) God sent His Son. Immanuel - God with us. God in our world. Interacting, walking alongside, talking with …. Then Jesus said, “Behold, I am with you always.”Providence is God showing up - often at just the right time, and that’s what heroes do. And that’s what God did through His Son, Jesus Christ - God showed up at just the right time in all history - past, present, future.Questions: 1) What has God’s providence looked like in your life - where has God shown up? Challenge - similar to this passage, if we’re not careful, we can miss His activity in our lives. 2) Where could you use God’s providence right now or this coming year?This story is about God’s promises, His providence - and also …3) This story is about God’s ProvisionWhat provision? There are thousands of religions, beliefs, philosophies, gods in our world. As far as I know,There is only one religion with only one God who is Most High, whose Son willingly laid aside His Divinity to become a human for the sole purpose of providing what we ourselves could not.And what is that? God alone, through Christ provided the total cure for humanity’s condition. God provided, and still does what all of humanity needs - Identity, forgiveness of sin, deliverance from death, deliverance from depravity, deliverance from judgment, everlasting life, morality, adoption into God’s family, spiritual, emotional, and physical healing, freedom from spiritual captivity and oppression, purpose, peace, joy … all wrapped up in Christ. Christ is the total package - the total cure for humanity’s broken condition.Questions: When was the last time you gave God genuine deep gratitude for ____________ (provisions)? What’s one or two things you can do this week to expand your gratitude?Lastly,This story is ultimately about God’s LoveAnd this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.In other words, the person without Christ is a spiritually dead person - they’re dead now and they’ll remain dead for eternity.According to God’s Word - we have two options - life or death, Christ or death. This is important because the question always comes up - how can a loving God send all these people to hell - their death? How could God do that if He loves them? That’s a theologically incorrect question because it presumes that people don’t die until God condemns them to hell.When does a person spiritually die? The moment sin enters their heart - the moment they rebel against the moral standards of God. And who has done that? All of us. So here’s the truth: a person dies, not when they physically die or go to Hell - they die when they choose to sin, to rebel, even though they may be physically alive. This is why Scripture says we are dead in our sin and trespasses (Eph. 2). And in John 3 it says whoever trusts in Jesus has life (a different life), but those who refuse to trust in Jesus, remain in “death.”So God never seeks to condemn us or to send people to hell because we’re already condemned, already dead, already guilty - not because of God, but because of our rebellion. God never seeks to condemn the living, but always seeks to save the dying.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.What greater act of love is there - God, not taking life, but providing life. God, not condemning people who are alive, but saving people who are dead. Jesus is the ultimate hero, offering hope and life and salvation to dead people.“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.Questions: Where are you right now? In Christ, or apart from Christ? Forgiven and alive in Christ, or guilty and dead, condemned? The only cure for your dead condition is to trust in and confess that Jesus Christ is who He says He is - Lord, Savior, Sacrifice, Propitiation for your sins. God loves you so much that He wants to save you ….So, as we head into the final week of Advent, we celebrate God’s promises, His providence, His provision and His Love. This is a time to remember that every good story has a hero. And in every good story the hero shows up at just the right time to do the impossible and to save the day. Our Hero not only saves the day, He saves the World for anyone who wants saved.
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