“Exalt Him Through Worship”
December 24, 2006
We give Him our best because He gave us His Best.
I. Are you awestruck? (Luke 2:8-9)
II. Are you worshipping Christ as Lord? (Luke 2:10-12)
III. Are you giving Him your best? (Luke 2:13-14)
MessageA elderly lady named Mrs. Snow was teaching Sunday School to the four and five year olds. Her lesson was on the building of the temple. She was teaching the students that when the temple was finished, the presence of the Lord filled the whole temple, then Solomon and the people worshipped. Upon hearing this one little boy’s eyes became real big. Then he said, “Will He fill our church with presents.”
That is a cute story, but causes the question, “Is your life focused on worshipping the Lord or are you distracted toward other things?” Maybe this Christmas season you have focused on presents and not worshipping in His presence? What about your life in general? Is it all about the worship of Christ the Lord?
As we continue our series focused on our vision statement as seen in the Christmas story we land this morning on the core of our vision, worshipping Christ. So this morning we will watch the unfolding of the announcement of Christ’s birth, the one we worship.
The context previous to this morning’s tells us that Jesus had been born in Bethlehem. Mary had wrapped Jesus in swaddling cloths and placed Him in a feeding trough.
Now let’s turn to Luke 2:8.
3And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
God surprises us again by having angels appear to the shepherds. Shepherds were considered social outcasts of their time. They were considered hill-billies, who couldn’t keep the Mosaic Law. They had a hard, dirty life that did not allow them to keep the finer points of community and religious law. Shepherds were considered to be ritually unclean – their travels across the countryside brought them into contact with unclean things. Often they didn't wash before meals.
Because the shepherds were watching their flocks at nighttime some have suggested that this could not have happened on December 25th. The argument is that during this time of year the sheep were kept corralled and did not roam in fields. Further they say it was too cold for the shepherds to have their sheep grazing out in the fields.
However, others point out that sheep not being in the fields this time of year is far from historically conclusive. There always was a need for unblemished lambs for daily sacrifice, so it seems very possible that there could have been shepherds with their sheep in December. Also, winter in that part of the world can be quite mild in December. The climate is similar to Houston. And if these shepherds were from Buffalo, NY they probably didn’t even wear a hat and gloves.
So, am I saying Jesus was born on December 25th? No, it is not conclusive. Many prefer a date in September, but as I have researched this I find decent arguments for His birth to have taken place around December 25th.
I also would like to say that from my historical research we cannot determine if the choice of December 25th was purely motivated to compete with the pagan holiday that worshipped the god Saturn. It appears to me that the date may have been chosen because some people thought there was good evidence for December 25th being the actual date of Christ’s birth.
In any event I believe Christians have the liberty to celebrate December 25th as Jesus’ birthday or not to celebrate Christmas at all. I believe this fits with what Paul taught in Romans 14:5-6 regarding disputable matters.
5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
So if you are not fully convinced that is ok for you to celebrate Christmas, then don’t do it. Yet be careful not to make your conviction law for someone else. If you are fully convinced it is ok celebrate it, just don’t criticize those who don’t.
Now let’s look at what happened to the shepherds in Luke 2:9.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
At first one angel from the Lord appeared to the shepherds. Along with the angel of the Lord was the glory of the Lord. Now what was the glory of the Lord? I imagine Luke leaves it somewhat vague because it was indescribable. Yet the text does say that the glory shone around them. So it seems there may have been some great light.
In any event the shepherds were terrified. Their adrenaline levels were through the roof. The Greek text says the shepherds had phobov megan. They had mega phobia or we would say “great fear.” In contrast to what is generally believed in our culture, God is awesome, terrifying, and worthy of our fear. That is why the writer of Hebrews described God as a “consuming fire” when he wrote about the glory of God on Mount Sinai at the giving of the Ten Commandments.
Therefore, should you shrink back in terror of God? Yes, if you have not trusted His Son, Jesus, to be the One who took God’s wrath and terror in place of our sins.
In The Chronicles of Narnia, an allegory by C. S. Lewis, he has two girls, Susan and Lucy, getting ready to meet Aslan the lion, who represents Christ. Two talking animals, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, prepare the children for the encounter. “Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie,” said Mrs. Beaver. “And make no mistake, if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then isn’t he safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you!”
Jesus is good, but not safe to those who reject Him. If you have trusted the Son to save you, “Do you worship with a healthy fear of the Lord?” If you do you worship God because you understand His grace towards you. If you don’t you will see your sin as no big deal.
Now let’s move on to see what the angel told the shepherds.
Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
God’s messenger tells the angel not to fear. In the Greek it says not to have mega fear. They don’t need to have fear because the message he brings was of great joy. The word translated “great” in the Greek is megas. So the angel said that mega joy is for all people.
The message of Christ, the most joyous message in the world, is for everyone in the world. The rich, the poor, the mighty, the weak, the old, the young, Christ came to give everyone joy.
Now the angel explains this joyous message in Luke 2:11-12.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
The message is that in the town of David, Bethlehem, a Savior has been born to the shepherds. Now what does the angel mean by “Savior?” Well if you do a search of the Old Testament, God proclaims over and over that He is the Savior and there is none beside Him. For example in Isaiah 43:11:
I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.
Thus the baby Jesus in a feeding trough is a Savior. Isaiah 43:11 teaches the only Savior is the Lord, God Himself. What does the Savior do? He saves. God saves from sin, punishment, danger, death, hopelessness, and everything we need to be saved from. Furthermore Jesus is the Christ. Christ is not Jesus’ last name. No, He is the Messiah, the anointed one who in the Old Testament was promised to come. Moreover, the angel calls this little baby, Lord. The Greek word for “Lord” is kurios. Kurios is the Greek word that Jesus and the New Testament writers us to translate Yahweh and Adonai in the Old Testament. Yahweh and Adonai were Hebrew names for God. Hence, Jesus is Lord and He is God.
When the apostle Thomas saw Jesus resurrected from the dead he rightly proclaimed, “My Lord (kurios) and my God (theos.)
This is a very serious matter that we believe that Jesus is Lord and God.
Romans 10:9 says,
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Jesus said in John 8:24,
“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am (He), you will die in your sins.”
So you must trust Jesus to be God, who died to take away your sins and rose again.
And also we must believe Jesus came in the flesh with a real a body and was not just some ghost or spirit. The apostle John said,
1 John 4:2-3a “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.”
Is this the belief of your heart? It may be hard to wrap your brain around this nonetheless it is true. I have been very grateful to see Larry Walters emphasize Christ’s deity/humanity when he presents the good news to others. Larry always stresses Jesus as the perfect God/perfect man as the only One who can save people from theirs sins. Now you may say, Larry does this because he is smart, after all he graduated from U.T. Those things are both true, however I think it is that Larry is simply trying to present what the Scriptures say about Jesus—so should we when we share Jesus.
Now let’s go on to verse 13.
Luke 2:13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
I think we can say for sure that none of these shepherds had heart problems or pacemakers. Because now they receive even more shock and stress, yet the don’t have a heart attack. I imagine their heart rates are breaking the charts as they see the army of angels. This heavenly army does what they do best—praise and worship God.
This is similar to when the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord in a vision he saw angels cry out to one another:
Isa. 6:3 And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
Yet amazingly enough, as Hebrews 1:14 says, God sends these angels “to minister for those who will inherit salvation.” God uses these angels to minister to us, who are saved.
Now let’s read what the how the angels minister to the shepherds.
Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
The angels proclaim that all glory, that is all the credit and honor, goes to God. These heavenly spirits give the honor and praise to God for this most amazing miracle, the Word became flesh and dwelt among men. God the Father gave us His very best, He gave us His Son. Moreover the angels say that peace comes to men on whom His favor or grace rests. Of course His favor rests on those who believe in His Son.
So what were these angels doing? They were exalting Christ through worship. They were doing exactly what the core our vision statement at Trinity says we must do. Exalt Christ through worship. But what is worship? Some might respond that worship is when we sing praise to God during church on Sunday. However that is only one form of worship. Worship I think can be defined as “sacrificially giving God your best.” Worship involves sacrificially giving God your best in every area of your life. It is not how we earn eternal, no it is our love response to God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness in our lives. I think Paul explains it very well in Romans 12:1-2:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The center of Trinity’s vision wheel is worship. The four spokes are the ways we worship Christ. Now let me ask, “Are you sacrificially giving God your best in each of these areas in your life?” Do you sacrificially give him your best in immersing yourself in Scripture? In casting yourself on Him in prayer? In doing life with other believers? How about in taking risks to share the gospel with the lost? How about taking a sacrificial risk with the church plant?
I want to close with a clip that draws an analogy with to our worship of Christ. When you watch this clip on encourage you to envision yourself as one who is carrying the cross on your back while obeying the encouragement of the Holy Spirit to worship Christ, by obeying the four spokes of the wheel. When we are done I would like everyone to bow their heads in silence and pray silently for a minute. Pray that God will help to do your very best since He saved us by giving His very best.