The the Christmas Story Teaches Us about God: God Saves Us

Sunday Sermon Series What the Christmas Story Tells Us about God Christmas

The main theme of the whole Bible is God’s intention to save us. The Christmas story reveals some things about God’s salvation that we did not clearly see before then.

  1. Christmas reveals the nature of God’s salvation:
    God saves us from our sins (Matthew 1:20-21; John 3:17-18). … The very name of Jesus means “God saves”. The angel tells Joseph to name the baby Jesus to show the character of God. The angel also told Joseph whose sins the people needed to be saved from: their own, not their oppressor’s sins. Our biggest problem is ourselves. My biggest problem is me and your biggest problem is you. Our sins, not others’, are what condemn us to Hell, but Christ came to save us from our own sins so that we may have a way into to Heaven.

  2. Christmas reveals the method of God’s salvation:
    God saves us through His Son (1 John 4:14; Matthew 20:28). … It was possible to keep the law and make it to Heaven before. God tried to reach the world through the Israelites. They failed Him over and over again. Eventually God decided to go Himself, to send His Son. They used to teach “reach, throw, row, and go” in lifeguard classes. The first option to reach in and help is the safest but isn’t always possible. The last one, going out to the person who needs help, is the most dangerous and can result in the deaths of both the original person in need and the one who went to help. God sent His Son knowing that He would have to die to save us all.

  3. Christmas reveals the scope of God’s salvation:
    God extends His off of salvation to the whole world (Luke 2:10-11, 29-32; John 4:42). … Luke emphasizes in his Gospel that Jesus is the savior for all, not just the Jews. Jesus is the Savior of the World, not just the savior of the Jews or the savior of my family or your family. He is the Savior of the World. What this means for us is that the best gift we can give to others is our testimony in Christ and the offer of salvation through Christ.

What the Christmas Story Teaches Us about God: God Loves Us

Sunday Sermon Series What the Christmas Story Tells Us about God Holidays Christmas

How do we know God loves us? 1 John 4:9-10 shares two ways you know God loves you:

  1. Christmas (1 John 4:9) … The Greek word here used for “sent” is the same root word we get the word “apostle” from. The term for “one and only son” was previously translated as “only begotten” but that, while a good translation at its time, is not completely accurate. God did not “beget” or create Jesus. God and Jesus are one and the same. Jesus has existed forever. They are of the same “genetic makeup” in human terms. … Jesus was sent to the world because God loves us.

  2. The Cross (1 John 4:10) … Jesus was not only sent, but He was sent as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. … The crazy part of this is that our sins that Jesus is the sacrifice for are against His law. Our sins are against God. Yet, Jesus, who is God, has paid the price for our sins. … It’s similar to a police chief pulling over a car for speeding and the driver is his wife. The police chief writes the ticket and then pays it himself because it was for his wife. … We know God loves us because he sacrificed Himself for us.

John 3:16 tells us that God loves the world. … The term translated “so” can have two meanings. It could refer to degree (“so much” or manner (“in this way”). John is known for using phrases with double meanings, so it is likely supposed to be both.

Here is a four-part summary of John 3:16 by Max Lucado:

  1. God Loves

  2. God Gave

  3. You Believe

  4. You Live

The initiative is with God. God loves us and gives us the chance for salvation. All we do is believe and are granted eternal life.

What the Christmas Story Teaches Us about God: God Is with Us

Sunday Sermon Series What the Christmas Story Tells Us about God Holidays Christmas

Today we look at two terms that help to describe God. They are very different terms, and both are important aspects of who God is.

Transcendent means God is far away; God is different from us, He is holy.

Immanent means God is near to us; God is present in our world, He is like us.

Which of these is emphasized in the Old Testament? Transcendent (Isaiah 55:8-9; Isaiah 6) … In general, the Old Testament gives us a sense of God’s holiness and greatness. God is a being that no human can wrap their mind around. … However, there are times that God makes his closeness known to His people in the Old Testament, such as in Isaiah 7 which also happens to be a prophecy of the birth of Jesus. The prophecy there has a fulfillment in the same chapter, but also another (and greater) fulfillment later (Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:18-23).

Which of these is emphasized in the Christmas Story? Immanent (Matthew 1:18-23) … This is the greater fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 6 and 9. God came to Earth. He walked with humans, ate with tax collectors, conversed with prostitutes, and forgave sinners.

God is both transcendent and immanent. If we view God as one and not the other, we get a wrong view of God. … If God is immanent and not transcendent, then we lose fear of God and start worshipping everything because God is in everything and everything is good. There is no reverence for God. … If God is transcendent and not immanent then we have no personal relationship with God and risk believing God exists without living like we believe in the God the Bible tells us about. God is just out there and doesn’t care to be involved in our lives.

The incarnation means God became a human (John 1:14; Hebrews 2:11-18; 4:15-16). … Jesus lived as a human and has gone through everything that we have or will go through. Jesus has faced the temptations that we face. Because of this, we can go to Him for help when we face issues we struggle with.

Look at the passenger side mirror the next time you get in a vehicle. It should say “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” So is God. Sometimes God can seem so far away that it feels like He couldn’t understand what we go through, but He is always near and has gone through temptations the same as us.

What the Christmas Story Teaches Us about God: God is Father and Son

Sunday Sermon Series What the Christmas Story Tells Us about God Holidays


The Christmas story has a bunch of colorful characters: a young engaged couple, an elderly couple, an evil king, angels, shepherds, and wise men. But the main character is God. This week we start a series where we will look at the Christmas story and see what it reveals about God.

The most basic thing we learn about God from the Christmas story is that God has a Son (Luke 1:26-35). … An Angel revealed to Mary that she would give birth to God’s son, Jesus.

When Jesus grew up, He spoke of God as His Father. He said there is a unique relationship between the Son and the Father (Matthew 11:27; John 3:35; 10:30). … Here we start to see what it means for Jesus to be the Son of God. They have a unique relationship where they are one and the same.

John explains in the introduction to his Gospel that the Son was with God in the beginning and the Son was and is God (John 1:1, 18). … John gives us an interpretation of what the Father and Son relationship means. They are the same and yet distinct, something that is difficult to imagine and explain. … Side note: yes, we are also sons and daughters of God, but Jesus is the unique Son of God.

The Old Testament hinted that there was some kind of multiplicity to God even though there it also states there is only one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Genesis 1:26; Isaiah 6:8).

What analogy does the Bible give to help us understand this two-in-one God? Marriage (Matthew 19:5-6) … In marriage there are two individuals who work together and often function as a single entity. … Here’s a couple more: scientists regard light as waves and particles. And then there’s pants, a pair of pants. Pants are a single garment even though they are also a pair.

As the Bible continues to reveal God, we learn that He is three-in-one--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--which we call the Trinity (John 14:16-17). … Jesus Himself tells us there is a third person who is part of this one true God. The Holy Spirit first appears in the Bible in Genesis 1:2.

What analogy does the Bible give to help us understand this three-in-one God? A body (1 Corinthians 12:12) … A body has multiple parts that work independently and together at the same time. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s the best we have and it helps us to see how the church should be too. … Sometimes people try to use water as a way to explain the Trinity because it has three forms: water, ice, and gas. But this comparison falls short and leads to the error of modalism where God is only one of the three at a time instead of all three all the time. … It’s not really possible to fully understand the nature of God, but what kind of God would He be if we could fully understand who and what He is?

What does this mean for our lives? God is relational. … God wants a father-child relationship with all of us. For those of us who grew up with good fathers, this is probably easier for us to accept than for those who grew up with a bad father or no father at all.

Pouring Out Water and Raising Up Stones

Sunday Sermon

Sometimes our pastor likes to change up how he teaches us. There’s always the auditory aspect, but sometimes he uses low-tech visual aids because they can help many people learn and there’s examples of prophets doing the same in the Bible. Singing worship songs and the Lord’s Supper are examples of interactive worship. In 1 Samuel 7, we see another example of interactive worship.

In 1 Samuel 4 the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines. Then in chapter 5 we see that whichever city held the captured Ark faced devastation, so they returned in chapter 6.

Now we get to 1 Samuel 7 and learn the Ark was returned to Israel and stayed at Kiriath Jearim twenty years (1 Samuel 7:1-2a). During that time Samuel was raised up as a prophet.

The Israelites realized they were a mess and turned back to God. Samuel encouraged them to turn to God with all their heart and to rid themselves of the idols and false gods they worshipped, promising deliverance from the Philistines if they did. And so they did as Samuel encouraged (1 Samuel 7:2b-4).

Then Samuel gathered everyone together and led them in an interactive worship experience. They drew water and poured it out before God and fasted and confessed their sins. They poured out their hearts to God and made a break with the past--when you pour water on the ground, you don’t get it back (1 Samuel 7:5-6). .. Our pastor invited us to do this during the invitation. … Is there anything you need to confess to God, anything you need to cut ties with and leave in the past?

Sometimes when you get right with Lord, your worldly circumstances change for the worse. When they gathered together at Mizpah for that interactive worship, the Philistines took it as a sign of aggression and gathered their army together to go against Israel. The Israelites feared the Philistines because they’ve lost in battle to them a few times before this and now they are about to battle again. So they asked Samuel to keep crying out to God so that God might rescue them. So Samuel offered a sacrifice. As he offered the sacrifice, the Philistines drew close to attack, but God caused a great thunder that threw them into a panic and the they were defeated (1 Samuel 7:7-11).

Now we come to a second act of interactive worship. Samuel set up a stone to commemorate the event, to immortalize the Lord’s help (1 Samuel 7:12). Our memories aren’t always very good and sometimes we forget what God has done for us. Samuel didn’t want this to happen to the Israelites, so he raised up that stone as a way of offering Thanksgiving to God. … Our pastor invited us to go write something God has helped us with on a stone during the invitation. … Has God done anything in your life you need to remember forever? Has he answered a prayer, helped you beat cancer, helped you with anxiety or getting over a loss of a loved one? Make a monument somewhere you will see it and be reminded about God’s goodness everyday.

What Christians Believe About People: All People Have a Body and a Soul

Sunday Sermon Series What Christians Believe about People

3 John 1:2 is a greeting that wishes good health for body and soul and is a great summary verse for this sermon.

It is wrong to have too low a view of your body (1 Corinthians 6:13, 15, 19-20). … Having a low view for the body leads to us hurting our bodies and treating them with disrespect. Doing those things leads to sin such as sexual immorality. Paul tells us to have higher views and gives reasons why we should have a higher view of our bodies. One of these reasons is that our bodies are temples where the Holy Spirit resides.

It is wrong to have too high a view of your body (1 Timothy 4:8; Matthew 16:26). … Going to the other extreme is dangerous too. We like to look good and often put in time to make sure we do. We are told that physical training has some importance but that “godliness is important in all things.” Working hard to be in great shape might lead to you being the next great athlete and making millions of dollars, but that value is nothing compared to the value of your soul. Don’t forfeit your soul just for material; gains.

Materialists believe the body is all there is, but Christians believe every person has a spirit or soul (Psalm 42:1; Matthew 10:28). The Bible uses these two words interchangeably. … The Bible is clear that we have a body and soul. Jesus warns us that we should fear the One who can destroy both instead of only our body.

When you die, your soul leaves your body (John 19:30). If you have believed in Jesus, your soul goes to Heaven (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8). … Jesus “gave up His spirit” when He died on the cross. His soul left His body. The criminal who believed in Jesus also had his soul go to Paradise when he died. This tells us that the soul leaves the body upon death and does not wait for the second coming.

God will save our bodies as well as our souls (Romans 8:23; Luke 24:36-43; Philippians 3:20-21). … God will resurrect our bodies. Our bodies will be redeemed. These imperfect bodies that are prone to sickness, cancer, aging, injuries, and other troubles will be raised in a glorified form. This is what happened to Jesus and is what will happen to us upon His second coming. Jesus had a physical body; He had hands and feet and He ate and drank. One day He will return and our souls will return to our bodies, now in their glorified form.

Do you find yourself on either end of the spectrum? Do you neglect your body or treat it with disrespect? Or do you make it an idol and do everything you can to perfect it at the cost of your soul? Do you fear those who can only destroy your body or the One who can destroy both body and soul more? Do you know where you will go when you die?

What Christians Believe about People: All People Are Sinners

Sunday Sermon Series What Christians Believe about People

Do you think people are basically good or basically bad? There was a man and woman who quit their jobs to travel the world for a year in order to prove that evil is a make-believe concept and that people are basically good. Sadly, they were killed in Isis territory.

The concept of sin is disappearing in our society and not just in secular society, but also in the church. Joel Olsteen, the most watched pastor right now, admittedly never talks about sin. The term ‘sin’ appears nearly a thousand times in the Bible. It is obviously a big deal. It is not something to be taken lightly or forgotten.

In Genesis 2:16-17 God gave a commandment, and ultimately a choice, to Adam. Adam could choose to obey God or disobey God.

What is the origin of our sin problem? Genesis 3:1-19) … A talking serpent---the fallen angel Satan--tempted Eve by questioning what God said. The devil likes to make us question what God has told us with His commands and promises. Eve gave in and Adam didn’t stop her, but also ate of the fruit. As a result, sin entered the world and broke the world. With sin came pain and suffering. With sin came evil.

What is the extent of our sin problem? (Romans 3:10-12, 23) …. Paul doesn’t mince words here. He tells us sin is a universal problem. We’re all sinners. It’s a universal problem. If this were an old western, we’d all be wearing black hats. If we were all hackers, we’d all be wearing black hats. None of us would even own a white hat.

What is the magnitude of our sin problem? (Jeremiah 7:19) … We can’t fix it. The elected officials won’t be able to put an end to sin. (But you should still vote.) We can’t even fix our own sin.

  • Our sin is internal

  • Our sin is incurable

  • Our sin is irrational

What are the implications of our sin problem? 1 Corinthians 10:12) … A Biblical understanding of sin should lead to us putting up some boundaries in our lives. If we have appropriate boundaries set up and respect them even when we are at our best, it will be easier to avoid sin.

What is the solution to our sin problem? (Ezekiel 36:26-27, Acts 3:19; Ephesians 4:22-24) … The solution is a radical change. We must repent from our sins and look to God and align our desires with His. Once we do that, our old desires for sin are replaced by the desires that God has for us. … We are always going to struggle with sin, but as we grow as Christians, our old, sinful nature should continue to shrink as our new, righteous nature takes its place.

In Psalm 51 David acknowledges his sin before God and seeks mercy. He knows he was a sinner from birth just like the rest of us and needs God’s help to get out of sin.

What Christians Believe about People: All People Are Created Boys or Girls

Sunday Sermon Series What Christians Believe about People

God sovereignly gives the gift of gender to us (Genesis 1:27). … God created the first people male and female.

There are many people who identify as the opposite gender of what they were given by God. Some even identify as somewhere in between. This is something seems to be more relevant in big cities, but even in our smaller city, there are people struggling with this issue. It is something that we need to address as Christians.

What should you do if you are experiencing gender confusion? Submit your feelings to your body rather than trying to submit your body to your feelings. Jesus can help you (Galatians 2:20). … Feelings are imperfect and can often lead to misguided actions. They are not something you should use as a guiding force in your life.

We are called to love and respect everyone. Some advocates of the LGBTQ+ community will say that denying part of who people identify as is hate, not love or respect. They seem to fail to understand that we can still love and respect the individual person even though we do not approve of part of their personal identity.

Based on this gift of gender, God gave the blueprint for intimacy between the sexes (Genesis 2:4). God’s plan is for the good gift of sex to be expressed between one man and one woman in a committed relationship, exclusive relationship (Matthew 19:4-5). All other expressions of sexual intimacy are outside of God’s will.

Questions from our high school students:

  1. Will gays and lesbians go to Heaven? (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 John 3:9) … Paul addresses this issue. He lists groups of people who will not “inherit the Kingdom of God” and the list includes gays. That’s not the end though. Pauls goes on to say that it is possible for people in these groups to be saved if they repent of their sin. What about those who claim to be Christians but continue to live their sinful life as before? 1 John 3:9 tells us one of the signs of a person being born again is change. Born again christians will show evidence of their faith by living a life in accordance with God’s will.

  2. I’m still friends with gay people. Is that ok? (1 Corinthians 5:9-12) … Paul tells us that we shouldn’t associate with immoral people inside the church, immoral people who claim to be transformed christians. However, he says it’s ok to associate, to be friends, with non-believers who fall in these categories. Even Jesus associated with people who were different from Him and didn’t live in accordance with God’s will. Paul also tells us that we aren’t to judge those outside the church, but we should judge who claim to be Christians.

What Christians Believe about People: All People Are Created in God’s Image

Sunday Sermon Series What Christians Believe about People

This starts a new series that will focus on the doctrine that covers what we believe about people. Throughout Christian history we have had to defend our beliefs. Different time periods have focused more on a specific doctrine to attack. Now it is the doctrine of man that seems to be under attack more than others.

To be created in the image of God means:

  • We relate to God.

  • We reflect God’s glory.

  • We rule over God’s creation.

Genesis 1:26

This verse tells us that we are made in God’s image, all of us. Because of that, we can relate to God in a way no other beings can. We reflect His glory like a mirror reflecting an image. God put humans over all other creation, and one way we reflect God’s glory is to rule over the Earth.

Psalm 8:1-8

Psalm 139:13-14

All humans are valuable. … We are all created in the Image of God and are equal. We have intrinsic worth because we reflect God’s glory and are created in His image.

  • All races are valuable. … Race does not matter. Color does not matter. “Red, brown, yellow, black, or white, they are precious in His sight!”

  • Unborn children are valuable. … We can use scientific instruments to see that the fetus in the womb is not simply a clump of cells, but a very small human. The argument in support of allowing abortion used to be that they weren’t human, but now it has shifted to “they aren’t a person.” That’s a slippery slope to get on. At what point do we decide disabled or elderly people aren’t “persons” and take away their rights based on the same reasoning that a fetus isn’t a “person”?

  • Disabled and elderly people are valuable. … Even people who might not be able to be productive are valuable.

Genesis 9:1-6

Some people advocate for animals to have equal rights to humans. Some even say that humans who have mental diffencisies should have some of their rights taken away, putting them below these animals. The Bible clearly tells us that Humans have been put over all other inhabitants of the Earth and this is not something to be changed. … Some say that because we value life so much that we should always be against war. However, the Bible makes it clear that life is so valuable, sometimes life must be taken to protect it.

James 3:9

We praise God with our mouths and sometimes we slip and curse humans who were made in God’s image. That’s something we can work on. We shouldn’t be cursing other humans. No matter what they’ve done, they are valuable and need to be respected because they were created in God’s image.

If we really want to know what it means to be made in the image of God, we must look at Jesus (Colossians 1:15).

  • He perfectly relates to God.

  • He perfectly reflects God’s glory.

  • He will completely rule God’s creation.

2 Corinthians 3:18

Even though we were made in God’s image, it is still possible to grow and become more like Him.

Do You Believe?

Sunday Sermon

John 11

With our head pastor and associate pastor both out of town, our youth pastor was given an opportunity to preach in big church this week and gave a great sermon.

Let’s start by asking the question: who is Jesus? That’s what John does. His Gospel was written to help others believe that Jesus is the Messiah (John 20:30-31).

In John chapter 11 we find the story of Lazarus, where Jesus raises him from the dead

Scene One: Jesus hears the message. … Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick and near death. Jesus says the sickness will not end in death and waits two days before going to visit Lazarus and his sisters. Jesus is going to use this situation as a way to teach others about His authority.

Scene Two: Jesus comforts. … When Jesus arrives, Lazarus is dead and has been dead for four days. Martha and Mary are devastated and grieving. Martha confronts Jesus and says that if He had come sooner, Lazarus would have lived. Jesus says that Lazarus will rise again and Martha believes Him but doesn’t fully understand. She thinks Jesus refers to the resurrection at the last day. Of course, that is also part of the meaning of Jesus’ answer, but the next scene reveals a more immediate answer. Then Mary came out and met Jesus and, like her sister, expressed that she believed that Jesus could have kept her brother from dying. Then she takes Jesus to the tomb where Lazarus had been buried.

Scene Three: Jesus raises Lazarus. … Jesus orders for the tomb to be opened. No one else thinks this is a good idea because the rotting corpse will have quite an awful stench. “Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’” so they opened the tomb and Jesus thanks the Father out loud so everyone can hear so that they might believe that He was sent by the Father. Then Jesus commands Lazarus to come out of the tomb and Lazarus gets up and walks out.

Scene Four: The plot to kill Jesus. … Many of the Jews there saw this miracle and believed in Jesus. Some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. The Pharisees held a meeting and decided Jesus was a security risk for the Jewish people. So they plotted to kill Jesus before He could gain a big enough following that the Roman government would have to act on it.

Takeaways:

  • God’s timing is always perfect. … Everyone else in this story thought Jesus’ timing was off, but His timing was perfect and gave Him the chance to show His authority in a magnificent way.

  • God’s purposes might be accompanied with pain. … Just because we believe in God, doesn’t mean we will never have pain in our lives. Lazarus, Martha, and Mary were all believers but they experience physical and emotional pain. This pain ultimately led to great rejoicing. The Lord can do whatever He pleases even if it never occurs to us.

  • God cares even if we don’t understand. … Jesus clearly cared for this family. They didn’t understand why He didn’t come sooner, but Jesus did care for them and He had a purpose in His delay. In John 16:33 Jesus tells His disciples and us that we will have trouble in the world, but to take heart because He has overcome the world. He cares for us.

  • God’s power still raises the dead. … He did it then and still does it now. We were all once spiritually dead, but those of us who have accepted Him as Savior, we have been given new spiritual life that lasts for eternity.