7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
- Pursuit of Christ
- Pressing On
- Power of the resurrection
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Throw off everything that hinders
- sin that entangles
- run with perseverance
Galatians 5:7-8 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.
Luke 2:15-21 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. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. 21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
- The shepherds journeyed to see what God has promised. This was a shared faith journey.
- The shepherds did not delay. They hurried off to see what had happened. The enemy is not trying to convince you that there is no heaven or hell, but rather…no hurry.
- When the shepherds saw Jesus … they told others what they had seen and experienced.
- Those who they told were amazed at what they shepherds had to say.
- The Shepherds returned home back to life….but they were different people.
2 Timothy 1:8 – So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
- I Challenge you to take the faith journey.
- The faith journey is a journey of faith…it is not by physical sight.
- We can see God’s movement or experience.
- When we see God’s movement…do we like the shepherds share with others what we have seen and heard?
Luke 2:11-14 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
- We are Invited to (come)
- We are Invited to (see)
- We are Invited to (partake /experience)
- We have a Jesus who (initiated) relationship.
- We have a Jesus who (invited) us in to relationship.
- Everything that we are searching for is wrapped up in the person of Jesus.
1. Seeing the baby would mean, prophesy was (fulfilled)
(Isa. 9) (Isa. 7:) (Isa. 52:13–53:12)(Isa. 65:17)
Romans 1:19-20 – 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
2. Seeing the baby would mean the baby was found by those searching for him.
Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
3. Seeing the baby would mean they had found the (prince of peace)
Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear
2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline
Luke 2:8-10 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 that will cause great joy for all the people.
- There is the fear of the (unfamiliar).
Ex. Joseph, the husband of Mary, had that kind of fear. An angel appeared to him in a dream with an important message. Matthew described the encounter:
“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. 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.’” Matthew 1:19-20
- Afraid of what we do not understand – what does this mean?
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The angel’s word to Joseph was, “Don’t be afraid.”
2. There was the fear that accompanied an (unexpected) encounter with God:
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” Luke 2:8-9
To Joseph, to the shepherds and to each one of us the Christmas message is the same. Don’t be afraid! Christmas is God’s intervention in our lives to bring joy, not fear. The Baby of Bethlehem is still fulfilling the angels’ announcement:
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
1. (Watch) and (Pray)
Matthew 26:38-41 Then he said to them, “My soul is (overwhelmed with sorrow) to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
2. Be (Still) and (Know)
Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” +
Exodus 14:14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
O Little Town of Bethlehem -“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their 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 guest room available for them.
- Christmas is More than a (Season)
- Christmas is More than (Stuff)
- Christmas is a (Savior)
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Luke 2:4-12 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 guest room available for them. 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 that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Why He came?
Because He wants to be close to us!
As an infant, Jesus showed up during troubling times. Jesus came to earth during a very dark, difficult time.
Matthew 2:16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
John 1:11-12 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
He came unto his own, but his own did not receive him.
Who did he come for?
- He came to (save) us.
- He came for US!
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
- He came to (sympathize) or identify with us.
- He came to (Show) us the way to the Father
- He came to (suffer) for us.
1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. 11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 55:1-13 / Invitation to Come 1 Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. 4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples. 5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.” 6 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.” James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
-Giving Thanks in All Circumstances
Quote by Thomas Merton- “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.
Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Luke 17:11-19 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
- see the (distance) that was created by this disease (They stood at at a distance)
- see the (desperation) that was created by this disease
- see the (deliverance)
(Go show yourself to the priest)
- see the (declaration) of thanksgiving
We have a God who Rescues and Reinstates us!
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
John 3:30 – He must become greater; I must become less.”
How does Christ become greater in our lives?
More of you and less of me
We spend too much time and energy ‘positioning’ ourselves. We are striving to become great, trying to make a name for ourselves like we see in Genesis 11.
Luke 9:46-48 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
- The disciples had a need for Significance
- The disciples had a need for Recognition
- The disciples had a need for Approval
Matthew 23:11-12 The greatest among you will be your servant.12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
The disciples fought over greatness
How do we define greatness? What does greatness look like according to what we have been taught?
- Social Media (Followers and Likes)
Recipe for greatness according to Jesus
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
John 14:15 – If you love me, keep my commands.
Matthew 19:27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Wrong question…What is in it for me?
Mark 8:36 – What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
Gaining the world and losing your soul
Challenge – Making Christ Greater in Our Lives
5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
- The man’s condition
Matthew 9:12 – On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
8 There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless— a miserable business! 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
John 5:7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
- The man’s community – no one would help him or let him into the pool.
Philippians 2:3-4 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
John 5:8-13 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” 11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” 12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” 13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
- The man’s continued sin
John 5:14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
- The man’s cure
John 5:15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.