Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Message for Sunday
Merry Christmas! 
Happy Birthday, Jesus!
Some people think, why has Christmas become such a big deal?
Why do we see Christmas trees and decorations wherever we go?
Is it just so people can sell things and make the start of winter feel a little better?
I believe God has a purpose in it.
God has made Christmas a big deal because Jesus is a big deal.

Now you might laugh and say, “Well, that’s silly.”
“Is Jesus really a big deal in Japan?!”
The only place where he is celebrated is in a few tiny churches.
Only 1% of Japan pays Jesus any attention today.
So how can Jesus be a big deal?

Jesus is a big deal because he is precious, because he is like a diamond hidden down low, away from the proud.
This diamond, this treasure, is for all.
But only those who lower themselves will see and believe it.
Already many in Touhoku have been lowered and humbled and many are finding God’s love in Jesus Christ.
Stories are coming back of lives changed and people filled with joy.

When Jesus was born an angel came to lowly shepherds and said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
This great joy of knowing Jesus and his salvation from sin and hell is for all people -  and all peoples in the world.
And the great news is that Jesus is not some tribal deity, He is the Creator and sustainer of the entire world.
He is giving us breath right now. He is keeping our hearts beating right now.
And he loves you and was born into the world to know you and be known by you.

“Suddenly a great company of heavenly host appeared (to the lowly shepherds) with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”

Look at that last part, “peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

God’s favor doesn’t rest on just good people of the world, because no one is consistently good in their thoughts, words and actions.
God’s favor rests on those who rest in Him and in His work for us.
Those who have experienced the emptiness of the world can find true rest and peace and joy in Him.
The shepherds are great examples for us.
When they heard the news of the Savior announced by the angels, they left their sheep and went in joy to find the Christ child.
They left everything and ran to find Him.
They recognized that He was the best Christmas gift they could ever imagine.
This long-awaited promised Savior and King had finally come, for them!

Do you believe God cares for you?
Do you believe He cares enough to come and rescue you from all pain and evil?
Do you recognize Him yet as your own personal treasure?

Not only was Jesus born for us, he died for us, in our place, for our sins.
He did it so that we could experience heaven forever with God.
God loves you this much.

It is not just the relgious or educated people who will find this precious gift from God.
You don’t have to know much to find him and his salvation this Christmas.
You only have to know enough to receive Him as a free gift.

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born the king of the Jews?” We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him. When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”

While the Magi, the wise kings came from foreign countries because they recognized the sign of the coming Christ, most, including King Herod and all of Jerusalem, were only disturbed by it.

Though they knew so much, they couldn’t just simply receive the gift from God.

King Herod did not want Jesus, he wanted to remain the only king.
Oh, yes, he knew the Creator God was real and that he wasn’t really in charge.
In fact, he even knew that he was just a puppet king to the Roman authorities.
Still he foolishly tried to kill Jesus so that he could remain the only king.

The chief priests and teachers of the law assured Herod and all of Jerusalem that the long-awaited Messiah, the Christ, the King, would come from Bethlehem.
It was clearly prophesied in the book of Micah.
He and all of Jerusalem knew the prophecies and even saw the star that was a great sign in the sky.
And yet they were simply disturbed and chose to ignore Him rather than to rejoice in Him.

Please don’t do that today.
Don’t ignore your own peace and eternal life.
God has shown himself true in the Bible – by his fulfilled promises, prophesies and faithfulness.
He is to be trusted fully.
By his grace, trust in Him, believe in Him today.
You will know and enjoy fullness of peace and love in Him.

This is the hope of the world.
Only Jesus Christ can take away all of your sins and guarantee heaven for you.
This is why Christmas is such a big deal.
Jesus is like that bright Christmas star on top of Christmas trees –
He is leading us with his light to truth, to love and to heaven itself.
Rest in your God, who loves you more than you can imagine.

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