Winnie and I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Thank you for being with us today, as we celebrate this special season. This has been a blessed year for us. We were able to be with all the children for our anniversary. Karen was here for my birthday. Chris and Christy were here for Winnie’s birthday and Thanksgiving, and now, David and Vickie will be with us for Christmas. So it’s been an unusually special year for us.
Let me begin today, with the proclamation of the angels on that First Christmas which made this celebration the greatest event on earth since creation....God reinvented Himself and took on flesh.....
It begins with Luke 2:8 “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watching over their flocks at night. v9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. The angel said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior is born to you, He Christ, the Lord.”
I think I would be safe to say that there are many, when Christmas has come and gone that would say they’re glad Christmas is overand things can settle down to normal. They’ve had it with putting it all up and taking it all down and putting it all away for another year. It's done and you’re glad we are all moving on. Unless you’re a Christmas junkie....
I know it takes me several days to get up the will power to put it all up and take it all down again... But most children would love for Christmas to last forever because they don’t have to do the work of Christmas. I am reminded of the family that had a great Christmas morning diving into the presents with squeals of joy, and laughter filling up the room. Tommy was really happy. He got the new drum set he wanted so much and immediately began to pound away on his wonderful gift. As a matter of fact, he spent most of the day banging on those drums. He was one happy camper, but the family was glad that Christmas was almost overand they could put Tommy in a sound proof room.....
As I was writing this sermon for today, and as I began, I was inspired to write a poem I’ve titled it “Christmas Has Found Us”
Christmas has come once again
All efforts to stall are only in vain
So persistent so deliberate it comes
until it has found us...
Quietly at first, in store and main street,
Traces here and there, now entreat
But other things are on our minds
Until it finds us
Christmas anthems with familiar strains,
Workmen and merchant in tandem again,
The countdown begins.
Christmas has found us
We were here all along, busy with living,
So much taking, and so little giving,
Busy with the business of life.
Till Christmas found us
Then comes the awakenings of Yuletide cheer,
The spirit of giving, of folks drawing near.
The season has shifted us, lifted us,
Christmas has found us.
Oh, that what is found here, might last for all time,
Family, and neighbor, and friend would all find
We can live here and stay here, truly we can
And keep this season around us
When Christmas has found us
A lot of folks need to learn how to spell Christmas. Because without Christ, there is no Christmas. It is the “Christ mass”, the time when we give thanks as we acknowledge God’s gift of (the Christ) the Savior of the world. The Mass means, to come before Christ with faith, devotion and worship. He came gift wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. This offends a lot of folks, who have tried to brainwash others into saying “Happy Holidays”, in order to avoid the real message of the season, which would cause them to confront the Christ of Christmas. In order to say Christmas, the name of Christ must come from your lips!
All of you have or will, wrap your gifts that you place under the tree at Christmas. Everyone that the gift is for, will look at it and even see that their name is on it. They may pick it up and feel it and shake it, but it’s not time to unwrap it yet. It’s theirs, but theyhaven’t unwrapped it yet. Oh my, God has so many amazing gifts which He has prepared for us. And they’re wrapped with our name on them. Some folks are still checking it out, sizing it up, butthe time of unwrapping is coming. Habakkuk 2:3-4 “For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.”
So God wrapped His gift up and it took 30 years unwrapping the gift as he grew under Mary and Joseph’s guidance and nurturing. Remember that Jesus was 2 years old by the time the wise men arrived to worship Him. And this gift unfolded and unwrapped as He went from baby to child, to manhood. At 30 years old, Jesus is baptized by John and God announced and began to unwrap his gift from heaven. The wrapping is coming off and the word begins to go outwith those who were witness. Let’s read it... Matthew 3:11 John said “Truly, I give baptism with water to those of you whose hearts are changed; but he who comes after me is greater than I, whose shoes I am not good enough to lace up, he will give you baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire, 12 In whose hand is the instrument with which he will sift the grain, he will put the good grain in his store, but the waste will be burned up in the fire which will never be put out.
13 At that moment, Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be given baptism by him. 14 But John would have prevented him, saying, It is I who have need of baptism from you, and do you come to me? 15 But Jesus made answer, saying to him, Let it be so now, because it is necessary for us to make righteousness complete. Then he baptized Him. 16 And Jesus, having been baptized, came up from the water and the heavens opened, and those standing there saw the Spirit of God coming down on him as a dove; 17 And a voice came out of heaven, saying, This is my dearly loved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to Him”. Matthew 4: 17 “From that time Jesus went about preaching and saying, Let your hearts be turned from sin, for the kingdom of heaven is near”.
Howard Thurman wrote....
When the song of the angels is stilled,
And the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
And the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart
Two men were walking along a beach where hundreds of starfish had been washed up by the tide. They came across a little boy who was picking up starfish and throwing them back into the water. As he tossed one back to the sea, one of the men said, “What’s the point of doing that? There are too many starfish on the beach to save them all. What difference can you possibly make?” As the boy threw another starfish back into the sea, he said “It makes a difference to that one!”
The work of Christmas continues, long after the tree and all the decorations are put away and the gifts are in the toybox or the closet.
We must keep on unwrapping the great gift of Christ-Mass to all that will be willing to take a look beyond the wrapping... It was 2000 years ago, that Jesus gave us theincredible gift that would change the world forever, and we are still trying to unwrap it, because in this one gift, everything we need is supplied, everything we desire is offered and simply needs to be unwrapped and received.
A mother was Christmas shopping at the mall with her twotoddlers in tow. All day long they had been pestering her to buy everything in the store. They’d been running around like maniacs, touching everything, and knocking over displays. Then they wanted to go see Santa AGAIN!.
Finally she was at her wits end. She crammed herself, all her shopping bags, and the toddlers into a crowded elevator.
As the doors closed she said out loud, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should receive a sound beating.”
From somewhere behind her she heard, “I believe they already beat Him and then crucified Him.” WOAH... Wake up call!
Mark 8:36 “For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul, or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
There is a commercial that says “Diamonds are forever”, it’salso a 007 movie, and a Santana album, but a lot of folks are giving diamonds this Christmas, but my friends this gift that God has given us, will outlast all the diamonds. (even though I’m sure the ladies would still like one) Another commercial says “Diamonds are a girls best friend” but there’s a friendship in Christ that is far more valuable and longer than diamonds.
Winnie told me, forget the diamond, just tell Santa to get me a real good electric razor for my legs.... But I’m sure Santa could force a diamond on her!
Someone said that men in stage One: believe in Santa. In Stage Two: they stop believing in Santa. In Stage Three: They look like Santa and in stage 4 they are Santa.
We didn’t plan on it, it just happened!
There will be some folks who will take a good look at the gift of Christmas, they will handle it. They will shake it. They will guess at what’s inside. They will ask questions about it. But, if you tell them that the gift will require something of them, and It will cause them to live different, act different, speak different, even think different, they will never unwrap the gift, even if it is the thing they need the most and will let them live the life they desire, with peace, joy, and fulfillment.
But, praise the Lord! There will always be some who will unwrap this great Christmas gift and will experience the power of God in and upon their lives and they will want to share it with everyone they know.
I watched a movie once about a mom and dad who gave their child a very humanoid robot when it was born. (One of these is a robot, and one is the real deal. Can you tell which one is the robot?) They actually have these now. Anyway, The robot would be there whatever the child did and wherever it went, for the rest of it’s life, from cradle to grave. To keep it safe, to make sure it was provided for, to give it the benefit of it’s vast store of knowledge. What a gift to be able to give! And yet, that’s exactly what God did at Christmas, and it’s the gift everyone has available to them if they will just unwrap it and receive it.
Matthew 28:20 He said, “I will be with you always, even until the end of the age.”
Isaiah 58:8 “The glory of the LORD will surround you. v9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer you will cry out, and He will say, “Here I am”.
Someone has said “What we see will clash with what we know unless what we know expands so we can see."
I’m thinking here of how Mary and Joseph had to be willing to have what they knew transformed, in order to unwrap their Christmas miracle.
We are inspired with Mary’s words about what she has been told by the angel, because it blew her ever loving mind. And she says “Let it be unto me according to your words.”
Some of you are like me sometimes, “Ready, fire, aim”.... You do or say something, and then you have to deal with what you just said...
Well, after Mary has given this answer to the angel, it goes on to say, that Mary was "greatly troubled". Other translations describe her as "deeply confused", "perplexed", and even "thoroughly shaken". If I wrote a translation it might say, "Mary was freaking out."
Sometimes we must process places we’ve never been....Mary was trying to unwrap Christmas, because she had never been there before. Little could she know how many she would affect as she processed all that was crashing into her world. And the whole world waited with anticipation, as she walked through this mind blowing adventure! Our Lord has promised to go before us and prepare the way before we ever get there....
Our Lord has been where we’re going, that’s the beauty and power of the incarnation....Mary had to unwrap a lot of stuff, but God was there with the answers as she stayed open and receptiveand Gave God the benefit of the doubt.
Are there some things you’re struggling to unwrap about life, about the twists and turns you’ve experienced that were not on your “to do” list?
When there is uncertainty and challenge in our lives, we can choose to play out the worst case scenarios in our heads. We can let all the fear and anxiety take hold of us and allow those emotions to undermine what we know deep down to be true of God and His plan for us.
Or we can ponder and consider what we know to be true. We can ponder all the ways He has loved us, protected us, and comforted us when we didn’t even know or realize it, over the entire length of our lives. But for the grace and mercy of the Lord, where would we be?
Christmas isn’t about our search for Him, but His search for us.God sent His answer for our here and now and for our tomorrowsat this Christmas season, with this gift that He laid in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, in the village of Bethlehem, 2000 years ago.
Many folks identify too much with the wise men of Christmas who set out in search for the Lord, when the truth is, that Christmas is about the reality that God has come all the way from heaven, in search of us.
Christmas finds us, every year, throughout the year it finds us—in good years and bad years and all the in between. Christ comes into the world where we live, to bridge once and forever the great void between God, and us.
He comes to us again and again and He delights in our being found and He wants us to live in a forever Christmas, as the people of eternal hope.
I remember when Karen was just a wee thing (that’s her little bald self In the middle) and she wandered out the door, down the street, trying to get to the church, where she knew we were. We went into full search mode. The police and everyone we knew were out searching. And when the police called and told us a neighbor had saw her in the street and took her into their house. We had a lot of rejoicing, as we hugged and kissed on her. We weren’t going to stop until that which was lost was found!
How much more is our Heavenly Father doing the same. He came all the way from to heaven to a silent, holy night, in Bethlehem, to put on flesh, experience life as we know it, then give His very life, to show us how much He loves us and wants to bring us home to Himself. That baby in a manger is declaring that He has found us, and saying MERRY CHRISTMAS, is asking the question, have weaccepted the gift!
My kids have bought me clothes for Christmas that was a waste of money... didn’t fit, not my style, or the last thing I needed.... Wouldn’t it be great to just pick out one gift that fits everyone, or is exactly what they need and that they will appreciate......
Well, we have found the universal Christmas gift..... We give them money for them and their family... They have never brought it back and said it didn’t fit..... I’m glad that I can report to you, that God has chosen the universal gift to give at Christmas..... It has something for everyone... A Savior, (for all have sinned); A Provider, (we all have needs); A Healer, (you can live a long time if you just stay healthy); As a matter of fact when He called Himself the “I Am, that I Am”...He was telling us, I am what you need when you need it.
His gift never wears out, (it’s eternal). It’s never out of style, (it’s always up to date), and it’s always new....(it’s new every morning, great is His faithfulness) But it does no one any good unless you unwrap it and receive it.....
I want to take this time, to lead us all in a prayer, to unwrap the greatest gift of Christmas. .....(Would you pray with me)
Father God, I have come to this moment, where I am ready to unwrap Your gift to me. Thank you Jesus for your gift of salvation that you offer to me. I receive your forgiveness, and I reach out and take you as my savior.
You said If I believe and receive, my sins would be forgiven and wiped clean. Come into my life. Thank you for saving me and forgiving me, In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
He’s the gift that keeps on giving, and He doesn’t mind if you regift what He’s given to you, as a matter of fact He insists on it!!
Give and it shall be given unto you, full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.....shall others give, (or regift) unto you....
My title comes from the story that took place on December 17, in 1903, after the Wright brothers were successful in getting their ''flying machine'' off the ground, they telegraphed the message to their sister Katherine: ''We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.'' Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, ''How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas.'' Theeditor totally missed the big news—that man had actually flown,in a heavier than air flying machine! It’s no different with Christmas. People get so involved in all the many things that are associated with Christmas, that they forget the big news is that Jesus Christ, God's miracle Son was born. It was no different in the days ofJesus’ actual birth. Back then, taxes were the big news. In the crowded town of Bethlehem, among all the hustle and bustle,very quietly, in a cow barn, the real story of the ages was taking place. As it was then, so it is now, people miss the big news of Christmas.
Iran, China, Russia, the coming 2022 congressional election, and the Supreme Court decision on Roe vs. Wade, are being pushed as the big story, but Jesus outshines them all.....
I need to address something here, as I begin, that we need to be very tuned in to as we move through this season. At a time when we celebrate the birth of the savior of the world, the king of kings, and lord of lords, behind the greatest story ever told, there is another story developing. We are living in a world where ourgovernment wants to legislate death.... I’m talking about the fact that during this Christmas season, it has been once again handed to the Supreme Court of this nation, the task of making the decision of either reversing the legalization of Roe Vs. Wade in this country or continuing to refuse the right to life to millions of unborn children. Deuteronomy 30:19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life ordeath, blessings or curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live v20 so that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life (It’s very source), and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give you....”
Just like the people of Deuteronomy, our nation once again is choosing life or death. The implication here is that if we fail to choose life, then our life will be shortened and God’s blessing would no longer be upon our land.
We need to be doing some serious faith prayers and declarations over the nation’s Supreme Court as they make their deliberations.And I am told that the issue hangs possibly on one swing vote from one Supreme Court Justice who could go either way.
God is the source of life, and our constitution was not written in order to justify the killing of unborn babies, it was written to guarantee all men, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I am told, that if we had not killed millions of unborn babies, we would have enough doctors, scientists, engineers, conservative politicians, apostles, evangelists, pastors, prophets, and teachers to radically change the world we all live in for the better.....
I want us to take a moment and decree life, when death is wanting to continue to haunt and stalk every child in the womb....A decree must come from a higher power and in this case our decree comes from the constitution and the word of God.
DECREE..... We decree according to the Constitution of America, and God’s own word, that all human beings have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our decree is based on the truth that every child is a precious and a sacred giftfrom God.
The sanctity of every human life must be protected, cherished, and defended. We declare that according to God’s word, each person is ‘wonderfully made and a baby in the womb, is a reflection of the majesty of God’s creation. We take our place as the voice of the voiceless, born or unborn, who are made in the holy image of God.
We will pray, declare, decree and speak into the rights of the unborn until we see Roe Verses Wade overturned. Until that day comes, we declare according to God’s word, that a hedge of protection be over and around all unborn Children so they might live and fulfill God’s plan for them. In the name of Jesus, according to God’s holy word.
If it were left up to the liberal thinkers of our day, Mary would have been sent to an abortion clinic, since she was having a baby out of wedlock, which back then was justification for a woman to be stoned to death if her fiancé so desired it.
Luke 1:26: In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27: to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28: And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." At that instant, as the words came forth, “The Lord is with you”, the seed of God went into Mary to perform a miracle) God is with you right now friend.... a miracle is with you and in you right now, because the Lord is with you. Emmanuel means “God is with you”, in the same way that Gabriel spoke it to Mary. It’s the name that declares “a miracle is in you”.
Luke 1:29: “But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30: The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31: And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus”.
Gabriel said “and now”...... the moment the angel spoke it, in the now, Mary was pregnant!
The moment the Holy Spirit quickens the Word of God in you... you become pregnant in your spirit, and something supernatural begins to grow in you, but you must declare it... nurture it and feed it....
I found out something.... Conception begins the moment the egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube, forming a one cell entity called a zygote. The zygote gets 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 from the father. Which in this case is God! These chromosomes determine the baby's sex, and basically who it will be to a large extent. This child is still in the fallopian tube and it’slife is pretty much determined biologically.
Listen, what God told you, what He promised you, may still be in the fallopian tube, it may still be just a zygote, but all the ingredients that constitute the full manifestation, are already in you!!!
The zygote travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. At the same time, it will begin dividing to form a cluster of cells resembling a tiny raspberry called a Morula. The rapidly dividing ball of cells — now known as a blastocyst — has begun to burrow into the uterine lining (endometrium).
This process is called implantation. When implantation occurs, the Morula begins to create it’s own invironment, and starts influencing the body of the woman who is it’s host or mother. The mother’s body starts to change inside and out to accommodate the human being that is now implanted anddeveloping within her...
James 1:21 Uses the process of implanting, in referring to God’s word.....”Therefore, get rid of all moral corruption and every practice of evil, and humbly accept the word implanted in you, which can save your soul. v22 Be doers of the word, and not hearers only”.
How many can see the spiritual parallels that are evident here.....As the word is implanted in us, we allow the word to begin creating a spiritual environment to accommodate the spiritual things of the kingdom, that are developing in us. We allow God’s word to begin to influence our thinking, our actions, and ourenvironment to line up with the things of the spirit.
As an example, tithing is a very spiritual exercise, and implants blessing into our finances and rebukes the destroyer from our lives. It becomes a force that injects God’s blessing into every area of our personal and family life in ways that have a domino effect which influences many other areas in our circle of life.
So, getting back to the word spiritual. It’s one of those words we use all the time, but did you know there’s no word for spiritual in the Hebrew language? Hebrew is the language of the first three forths of the Bible, or what we call the Old Testament. Look up the word spiritual in Genesis to Malachi which is the Bible used by Jesus. You’ll find It’s not there. Why? Because in a Hebrew worldview, all of life is sacred and spiritual.
Even when you get to the New Testament, the word spiritual is mostly a term which is used by the apostle Paul. In the writings of Paul it means... “all that is animated by the Holy Spirit.” And as far as Paul is concerned, every facet of our life should be spiritual. That’s why Paul says “all things work together for the good of those who love God and His purpose, or intentions toward us”.....
I think if you could ask Jesus about His spiritual life, He would have looked at you very confused. My guess is He would have asked, “What do you mean by My spiritual life? All of My life is spiritual”.
Jesus didn’t buy into the sacred vs. secular thinking. Not one bit. To Him, the God He called Father is as close as the air against our skin. To Him, life is a seamless, integrated, holistic experience where the sacred is all around us. As it was for Jesus, so let it be for us, God wants to be involved in every square inch of our lives, because everything is spiritual to our God.
The word Spiritual in the Greek is “pnuematikos” It’s from the root word pneuma, where we get the word pneumatic, which is a driving force. It is a driving, empowering presence in us to do what God calls to do as we “occupy until He comes” back to thisEarth.
We can see spiritual examples in all creation around us. My wife loves to watch the Pelicans as they skim the water and dive for fish. But I found out something very spiritual about Pelicans. Since medieval times, legend has it that when a pelican’s chick has been bitten by a snake, it will strike its chest with its beak until it bleeds and then it will let the chick drink it’s blood which contains the antidote to the snakevenom. How spiritual is that!
If this is done by the pelican for it’s chicks, imagine all that God does and will do for us. We are his children, His most precious treasure, and He has shed His own blood so that we might receive the antidote to sin and death.
When the serpents of this life reach out and bite us. They inject their poison of doubt, worry, fear, and unbelief, into us but they cannot overcome the Blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God that washes away the sin of the world and the sting of death. Don'tpanic if the serpent surprises you and gets in a bite, just make sure that the Lamb's Blood is flowing through your veins.”
In Genesis 2:15-17 God told Adam, that “if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, He would surely die.” God didn’t say that He would kill him! The moment they ate in disobedience, their bodies began to die, but most important, their relationship which they enjoyed before with God died! A separation, the wedge of sin came between them. When Karen was little, she would open the doors under the sink, where all the cleansers were kept. And I would tell her, “honey, if you drink the Drano, you will die!”.... I didn’t say I would kill her, I just told her of the consequences of those actions!
So they tried to hide their disobedience from God, which lets us know that they had some messed up theology. It was a mix, like a lot of folks today which messes them up. Then God teases them and says “Where are you”... It’s like when the kids were little we would play hide and seek, and I would see their head sticking out from behind the couch and I would still say, “Where are you?,but I could see them all along.....
The thing is that Satan told them that if they ate the fruit, they would get what they already had, but didn’t understand what that was. They already had eternal life, because death hadn’t happened yet. And they had all knowledge, because God told them to name everything and that’s the name it would have and besides, God was there to tell them everything.
If we would get our theology right, Satan wouldn’t stand a chance, because we would be enjoying everything we have been given in Christ!
Take a quantum leap forward from the garden and take another look at Mary, which is another name for “second chance for mankind”..... As a matter of fact, one of the meanings for the name of this young virgin, is “The hoped for one”.... (We know that’s true for Alan anyway)
Mary was the most popular girls name until 1946 when Linda took first place away from her.
In those days, a 13 year old was already promised by her dad to someone or espoused to them. Whoever offered the best dowery, of sheep, goats, or camels, or money.... got the girl. In this case, Joseph was an older man who had a solid business as a carpenter, which her father Heli felt was a good bargain and he probably built them a house as part of the deal.
Why did God choose this 13 year old who was a virgin... still a kid!
Because she was available to God. Mary’s first words were “Do unto me according to thy word”....
She was saying “God use me, however you will, whenever you will, where ever you will”....That will get God’s attention every time!!
He’s still looking for that kind of folks to work miracles through today!
Listen, if you were 13, and had never been with a man in that way, and you are just told that you’re pregnant, your first question will not be should I go with swaddling clothes or disposable diapers....Is it a boy or a girl?.....should I name the baby after my father according to custom.... No.... none of that mattered at the moment.... Your first question is “How can this be”.....which means, This doesn’t’ make any sense!
How can Zechariah and Elizabeth be having a child because,they're too old and she’s barren... How could Abraham and Sarah be having a child because they were too old and she too was barren.....
How’s this going to happen.....Well, you better listen to Gabriel’s answer.. “The Holy Spirit is going to come upon you”.....
We don’t have to make Christmas special, magical, spiritual or super natural.... That’s the Holy Spirit’s Job.... We only need to be available! Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord!
John 14:17 “For he [the Holy Spirit] dwells with you and shall be in you”.....You do as He tells you and then get out of the way, because the next thing that’s coming out of your mouth is “How can this be”!!!
I was sick but now I’m healed.... I was poor but now I’m rich.... I was blind now I see.... I was lame but now I walk.... I was dead but now I live....
The best thing we can do is what Isaiah said.... “Here am I, send me, use me, Here I am”!!!
I’m here to tell you..... The news behind the news is.... it wasn’t supposed to happen, It should have been bad news, It shouldn’thave been possible, but He’s the same yesterday, for Mary, Elizabeth and Sarah. He’s the same today, for this pastor who received a new heart with no scars, and He’s the same forever, for all who will make themselves available to the miracle working power of the blood of the lamb, that holds the cure and that breaks the power of the curse.
Now in spite of all this supernatural, miracle stuff going on, angel choirs singing, Gabriel showing up.... wagging tongues wag, pointing fingers point, and Mary and Joseph are put in a tight spot. Mary is stigmatized by the community for being single and pregnant... Joseph is being encouraged to put her away....which means either stone her or get rid of her.... But even in all of this, when the pressure is on, and the cards are all on the table.... They are able to hear from God and keep their spirits open to him....
Listen to me..... sometimes your hardest time is just before your break-through... just before the manifestation of your miracle... All hell is breaking loose around you and it seems that everything is the opposite of what you’re believing for, and what God has spoken goes against common reasoning.... That’s when you press in even harder.....get over into fasting along with praying and use the two edged sword.... God said it shall be, and every other voice is a liar....
All things are still possible if we will believe and say “here I am”
I believe we need to declare and decree some miracles in this place..... All things are still possible no matter what the circumstances look like....
Let’s get in position for some supernatural manifestations..... In 2 Chronicles 36:22 God used the son of Esther, King Cyrus, to send forth the decree, that the Jewishpeople would be released from Babylonian captivity, and be given everything they needed to return home and restore the city and rebuild the temple....
It says “But in the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus to make this proclamation throughout his kingdom, putting it into writing: “All the kingdoms of the earth have been given to me by the Lord God of heaven, and he has instructed me to build him a Temple in Jerusalem, in the land of Judah. All among you who are the Lord’s people return to Israel for this task, and the Lord be with you.”
There’s a spirit of liberty and freedom here this morning, to release you into your miracle....
Where does our right to declare and decree come from?.....
You are God’s family through Christ. . .you are the child of the King. . .and empowered by His blood and His Word to make decrees.
God wants you to be an agent for change here on planet earth. . .yes, to even make decrees that will alter the course of things as we know it. We have a mandate to occupy until He comes. A decree is not just what we say, it is a decision to do somethingthat will activate spiritual things in the natural world around us....by making yourself available to Him....
Are you ready? Then, Let’s Decree!......
Today I decree that I shall receive sudden answers to prayer. Ideclare that the Holy Spirit that is on me and in me is releasingmiracles at this very moment. I declare that I am entering aseason when things that have taken years and months will manifest in hours and days, even at the sound of my voice.
I prophesy that I am supplied with daily supply and provision! Ibreak the power of every hindrance and blockage from the enemy in Jesus’ Name! I bind the power of every attack that would come to defeat my faith and confidence. I bind weariness of mind and I release hope, fresh inspiration and renewed zeal.
I declare a season of open doors, successes, blessings, favor, promises manifested, opportunity, and increase resting with andupon me! I declare an end to decrease in every area and I call forth answers, break through, creative ideas, and divine connections. Let it be loosed and break forth on every side beginning now! In the name of the King of kings and Lord of Lords, Amen!
Now, let’s spend some time praising Him for it, if you believe it!!!!
I want to share a modern parable with you today. As you know, Jesus used parables throughout his ministry. These were stories which were about things, people and places that most of thelocal population were familiar with, and Jesus used these things to extract and present a Spiritual truth from them.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a Big Si-Fi fan. And one of my favorite Si-Fi movies is Avatar! I am one excited camper about the fact that Avatar 2 is coming out in December 16, 2022. Then #3, #4, and #5 will be released every other year until 2028. My goal is to see the 3-D version which has so far eluded me, but I have hope! I say that Avatar is much more than a movie, because I see it as a major revelation about living the Christian life. It is a revelation of our true identity and our reason for believing that all of us are much more than we can see. But once we get the revelation, we will never be the same.
In the movie, we are not told what the very first Avatar was, but we are told that the Avatars were biological life forms, which were produced in the likeness of the native inhabitants of the planet Pandora who are called “the Na-vi”. These biological life forms would allow the humans to interact with the local inhabitants and learn their ways and customs, when they entered these genetically altered bodies.
My scripture as we begin, is a real life record of the first Avatar.... Genesis 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed man (a biological life form) from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life (His own Spirit life) into his nostrils, and the man became a living being”.
Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in His own image; (He breathed His own life into them) in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.” The word incarnate is what happened when the Spiritual life breath of God entered into the lifeless biological form of man.
I’m sure you know what incarnation means? If you've ever had chili con carne, or you remember what a carnivore is, then you know. Chili con carne is chili with meat. A carnivore is a meat eater. In-carnate is literally "in the meat." or God in the flesh,with His life in us.
Wow, man had it all, and his mandate was to subdue the earth and have dominion over it, but he gave the power that was his to Satan who had appeared to Eve as a beautiful, beguiling serpent. Now, because of this, mankind became the slave of sin through disobedience to God. God said “thou shall not eat of this tree”... but Satan’s argument was that God was holding out on them, and they could do as they wished, no matter what God had told them..... (sounds a lot like the avatars of today, doesn’t it)
But God already had a plan to give the human race a second chance. Once again He formed a biological life form in Mary’s womb who had never been with a man. This Avatar would not fail to accomplish what Adam and Eve had failed to fulfill. That Avatar would be known as Jesus. The angel told them “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins (or their willful rebellion and disobedience against God)
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shone in darkness; and the darkness could not understand it
(skip to verse 9) He was the true Light, which sends light (Divine life) into every man that is born into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
v12 “But as many as received him, to them He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.14 And the Word was made flesh, (a biological life form) and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”.
So Jesus, became the Son of God, Son of man, or God’s Biological life form, which He could use to become one of us, in order to be tempted in every way we are tempted, and break the cycle of spiritual failure which would then break the power of the curse and take back what was lost.
1 John 3:8 “For this reason was the Son of God made manifest (given a physical body) to undo (destroy, break, and cancel out) the works of the devil”.
You see Jesus went beyond the sin of man, and struck at the very heart and soul of sin.... The first sin originated in the Devil, so that’s where it had to be stopped. Oh, yes, Satan still has power, we see that all around us, but now, power had been given backto mankind, to overcome the Devil.
In the movie, Jake Sully was crippled and confined to a wheel chair. But when he went into his Avatar, that was named “TorukMakto” he is able to do things he could never do as Jake Sully.His Avatar was 10 feet tall, and powerful. In his avatar body, He could now stop those who wanted to destroy the planet of Pandora and all the local inhabitants...
Ephesians 4:22 Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
And what about Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your physical body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not offer your body to sin as an instrument for unrighteousness, but offer yourself to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and submit your body to God as an instrument for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
And we have to include....Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your[a] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Consider as dead what is earthly (of the old life) in you, sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, drunkenness and covetousness, which is idolatry.
6 Because of these things, the wrath of God is coming on the earth. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you have the power to put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, cursing and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old way of living with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Wow, how clear the scripture makes it, that with the Spirit of Christ in us, we have been reborn, so that we can now do what we could never do before. Our redeemed Spirit now inhabits this biological life form and makes it possible for us to overcome what we could not overcome before. You see, it’s not how much of the Holy Spirit you have, but how much of you, the Holy Spirit has!!!
My mom used to call us in and tell us to wash up before dinner. I always thought that it was such a waste, because I was going to go right back out and get dirty again. Well, now I realize it was not dirt that mom didn’t like. IT WAS OLD DIRT SHE DIDN’T LIKE.
God realizes that we all can get dirty by the world, but it’s old dirt that He is against. When there is no repentance and no desire to begin to live in the new life that He has provided. So we keep on washing, until we master the art of dealing with the old dirt! I had a friend, who would always stay clean and unspotted when we would be out playing, while I would be dirty from head to toe....I would wash it off if mom made me.... But he was already clean, and only had to wash his hands. You see, God wants to show us how to get less and less dirty so we can devote our time to helping others stay clean, instead of constantly needing to deal with our dirt and never taking charge of our own avatar (biological life form) it is then we move from living on grace and operate in the favor of God....
My mother didn’t just teach me about dirt....My mother taught me RELIGION: When I spilled grape juice on the carpet, she instructed, "You better pray the stain will come out of the carpet." My mother taught me LOGIC: If I questioned her, then I got logic...."Because I said so, that’s why." My mother taught me FORESIGHT: "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident." My mother taught me IRONY: "Keep laughing, and I’ll give you something to cry about." My mother taught me about ENDURANCE: "You’ll sit there ’til all that spinach is finished." My mother taught me about WEATHER: "It looks as if a tornado swept through your room." My mother taught me THE CIRCLE OF LIFE: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out...(Thanks Mom) couldn’t have done it without you!
In the Avatar movie, everything was connected to Eywa (Sounds a lot like Yahweh) anyway, this was the name of the tree of life, and there was a deep awareness of how sacred and connected everything in the life of the Na-vi was. To a redeemed child of God, who has taken the journey into new life in Christ. Everything is connected. There are no little or insignificant things. God has it all connected in a way we cannot imagine. Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen. For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. Colossians 1:6 For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things He may have preeminence.…
The railing on our balcony is loaded with lights (it was Chris’ idea. He wanted to help while he was here.) At night, my balcony is ablaze. But during the daylight you can’t even tell that there are lights on it. My point is this. It is in the darkness that you should really shine. That’s when God gets the greatest glory. Hey, real Christianity is not for whimps!!! When it’s all going wrong, and everything is upside down, and you don’t know how it’s all going to land. It is then we have the opportunity to really shine. It’s when our faith, our joy, our peace and our strength allows the Holy Spirit to really reveal Himself through us... That’s why we can give thanks in all things, because we believe God will work all things out for His glory and for our good, in ways we could never comprehend, as we stand still and see the glory of God revealed in it all.
Speaking of how it’s all connected...How could Adam and Eve ever imagine that the authority they gave away, would affect all mankind. That thousands of years later, people would suffer the consequences of their actions. Don’t give away your authority, which Christ has given you. We have Delegated Authority.....A manager has delegated authority. But if that manager resigns, he cannot come back on the job and tell anyone what to do. He has no more authority there . A policeman with a badge and uniform has delegated authority when he directs traffic at the traffic junction or pulls up behind you with the disco lights flashing. But if he quits the force, turns in his badge and takes off the uniform...and stands in traffic, he may qualify as road kill! He’s lost his authority. We just can’t afford to give away our authority because Satan doesn’t care who you are, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been... He only cares about WHOSE YOU ARE. It’s Christ in me the hope of Glory. Jesus said, “I have given you the keys to the Kingdom”....
Mark 11:28“By what authority are You doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave You the authority to do them?” Jesus knew the source of His authority as He moved about in the earthly body of flesh He inhabited. Satan tried his hardest to trick Him, trap Him, make Him think He was just a man, and even crucified Him to get Him to relinquish that authority.
What are the places we have given up our authority? Whatever it takes, don’t you do it! It’s the very authority which was so fought for and hard won by Christ, that allows us to have power in our new life, over the devil. Satan will not just roll over and give up because we don’t like what he has done to us... He only responds to authority, that authority comes from our decision to walk and live in our new life through Christ.
Folks ask me, “Why Me”?....“Why have I had to go! through this”... “Why has this sickness come”, “Why would God allow this to happen”.... The bible says that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD.... these things come to teach us to use our authority. My answer to anyone.... We are all training to rule and reign. No soldier says they loved boot camp! But when they’re under fire, they appreciate what they learned. God gave Adam and Eve dominion (rulership) and they lost it. Jesus came to give it back. When these things come into our lives, it is so we can learn to exercise the dominion and authority we have to operate in and then learn to walk in it. Good intentions, and a good show, go only so far. You can be Billy Graham’s son, Oral Roberts’ son, or Katheryn Kuhlman’s daughter, and it means nothing. It is only God’s empowering that turns the weakness of man into a force for God against the Devil. Fighting the devil without the impowering of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is like going into war with a knife and the enemy has automatic rifles! Well, here it is.. Acts 19:13 Some Jews who went around doing exorcisms tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were trying to drive out spirits “in the name of Jesus who Paul preaches”. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. They could have rebuked the demons with the name of Hector the cat, and it would have gotten about the same results.
Someone with 2 karate lessons is a piece of trouble going somewhere to happen. They know just enough to get themselves hurt. It’s not enough to know about Jesus, you need to have a personal relationship with Him. Using the name of Jesus without a personal relationship with Jesus, will only make the Devil mad. And you don’t want to make him mad without the power of the Spirit to overcome him! If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, it’s best to let some sleeping dogs lie, until you’re willing to believe on Jesus and receive Him as your lord and savior.
In the Avatar movie, a person could not live on Pandora unless they were able to deal with the poisonous, toxic air on the planet. But if they could be in the body of an Avatar, they could thrive in the midst of a hostile environment. God doesn’t isolate us, but He insulates us, to make it possible to deal with and movearound in the midst of a toxic and sinful world, but be untouched and untarnished by it. One pastor’s wife was very afraid to fly, so she had to drive everywhere. Her Husband askedher to pray and seek God about the Fear that was controlling her. "Just stand on God’s promises and trust Him about your fear and God will help you." He would tell her. Over time, she overcame the fear. One day, she was flying with her friend through a violent storm in a small plane. The friend was sweating it out while she was fast asleep. When they landed, the friend asked her, "How could you sleep so peacefully?" She replied, It’s because my life no longer belongs to me, it now belongs to Christ”!
Galatians 2:20 “My old life has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me. So that I live in this earthly body (my Avatar) by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for my new life.
We have all heard the "Good New!"..."Bad News!" euphemisms. Usually the next question is “Which do you want first?” Most folks say give me the bad news first, then the good news will make me feel better. A fella asked a prophet if they had baseball in heaven, because he was a big fan. The prophet said, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that they actually do have baseball in heaven. The bad news is that You’re up to bat tonight at 11:00. I have some "Bad News!...Good News!.. Best News" for you... The bad news is that you’re dying. That’s right, this very moment your biological life form is dying, but the good news is that it is being regenerated at a cellular level. The best news is found in... 2 Corinthians 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent (body) we live in is dismantled, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 For in this tent we yearn with desire, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling...
If your life is still yours, and you’re living like this is all there is, then you are easy prey for fear, doubt, temptation, worry, the cares of life, the pressure, and all the responsibilities that come daily, to wear you down and wear you out.... Colossians 3:15 - And let the peace of God (Shalom, which is completeness and wholeness) rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body (Avatar) and be thankful in all things.
In the bible, the word heart, is not about your blood pump, butthe Greek word is “kar-dee'-ah” from which we get our word Cardio... and it means “Your Center”... You wouldn’t be much without your heart... and what comes out of your center, the core of your being, will determine the quality of your life...now and for eternity....When the Devil bumps you real hard, make sure only Jesus comes out! (and you will surely get bumped!) When your life is hidden in Christ, then you can say like the old poem... What though wars may come with marching feet and beat of the drum, I have Christ in my heart. What though nations rage as we approach the end of the age, I have Christ in my heart. God is still on His throne, Almighty God is He. And He cares for His own through all eternity. So let come what may, whatever it is, I only say, that I have Christ in my heart. I HAVE CHRIST IN MY HEART!
TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR AVATAR... It’s training you to Reign!!!
Prayer......Heavenly Father, I surrender my life to You, my finances, my family, my thoughts, and my will. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by what is going on around me that I am lost for words, but you see my heart. In those times, I know that all I need to do by the power of the Holy Spirit in me, is call on the victorious name of Jesus. I present my body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is my spiritual and personal worship unto You.
I surrender my burdens, my worries and my fears. Enable me Lord, even when the pressure is on, and I am challenged on every side, that in it all I will magnify and glorify You. When temptation comes my way, I stir up the Holy Spirit within me, to give me wisdom, strength and guidance to triumph over whatever situations I face. I confess Proverbs 3:5 I Trust in the Lord with all my heart, and I do not lean on my own understanding.
In all my ways I acknowledge You, and You make straight my paths. Lord I know that You are with me always, transforming my heart, shaping me, molding me, guiding me and leading the way as I seek first Your kingdom.Help me to manifest Your light and Your truth in this world so that many may find You and discover life in You. Lord I look to You as my source, my provider and sustainer. Keep me as the apple of Your eye and hide me under the shadow of Your wings, In Jesus name, and for Your glory, Amen.