VANTAGE POINT: GOD, THE FATHER
Vantage Point Christmas—Part 1
Introduction to the sermon series.
Introduction to today’s sermon.
OUR FATHER LONGED TO PLAN THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, Galatians 4:4 (NAB)
OUR FATHER PREPARED THE SPIRITUAL ENVIROMENT
Judaism Strongly Emphasized Monotheism
Jews Steadfastly Hoped In A Coming Messiah
Judaism Provided a High Moral Standard
The Jewish People Preserved The Old Testament Scriptures—collected into one volume
Jews Provided the Institution of the Synagogue
OUR FATHER PREPARED THE CULTURAL ENVIROMENT
The Greek Language Was The Universal Language
Greek Philosophy Discredited Polytheism and Left a Spiritual Vacuum
Hebrew Scriptures translated into the Greek language
OUR FATHER PREPARED THE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT
The Roman Empire Provided Unity Under a Universal Law—Suppressed Criminal Acts
Security Provided By The Roman Army Allowed Freedom of Travel
The Romans Developed an Excellent System of Roads
The Romans Developed a Fine Postal System
The Roman Army Spread Christianity All Over The Empire
Time of Silent Prayer/Meditation
Song: While I’m Waiting (Song begins without introduction after 90 seconds of prayer)
4. Our Father Even Prepared The Celestial Environment
Roll Video “Bethlehem Star”
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to his own town to register.
 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)
What seemed like just another taxation and census for the Roman Empire was actually God the Father on the move, preparing the way for his perfect Christmas.
"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Mark 1:15 (NIV)
OUR FATHER LONGS FOR US TO KNOW HIM
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, Hebrews 1:1-3 (NIV)
Jesus is the audio visual God. He shows us the exact representation of God. God wants us to know him in an unfiltered way—He does that at Christmas.
1. Our Father Wants Us To Know Him as Father.
"This, then, is how you should pray:
" ’Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Matthew 6:9 (NIV)
2. Our Father Wants Us To Know The Depth of His Love
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)
3. Our Father Wants Us To Know He Offers Hope
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7 (NIV) Hope in suffering.
"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27 (NIV) Hope in stress
OUR FATHER LONGS TO CHANGE THE TRAJECTORY OF OUR LIVES
Our Father will not allow the devil to blackmail the universe forever. Satan’s Fortress Earth is about to be invaded. It will be a massive assault that will forever change the trajectory of human history--as God the Father changes the trajectory of human beings one life at a time.
1. My Father Longs To Repair My Broken Spirit
God doesn’t just offer to forgive us. He offers to heal us. He doesn’t just offer us a place in heaven. He offers wholeness.
The bible is filled with great “comeback” stories. Men and women who had broken hearts and were down for the count, but God restored them to wholeheartedness.
Joseph—sold into slavery by his own brothers, falsely accused by his boss’s wife, forgotten by his friends in prison, but God restored him
Peter—Jesus identifies him with Satan’s forces, makes big promises to Jesus, his courage evaporates when it’s needed the most, he feels like an utter failure, but God restored him
John Mark—abandons his friends at a crucial moment, Apostle Paul writes him off as a shirker and a coward, but God restores him.
For some reason, this offer from our Father has been lost to much of the Christian world. Perhaps it’s our pride, which keeps us from admitting “I’m broken.” Perhaps we fear getting our hopes up, it seems too good to be true.
God came not just to pardon us, he came to restore our glory.
2. My Father Longs To Transform My Heart
The phoenix rises from the ashes. Cinderella rises from the cinders to become a queen. The ugly duckling becomes a beautiful swan. Pinnocchio becomes a real boy. The frog becomes a prince. Scrooge becomes a generous and good man. The Cowardly lion gets his courage. Rocky Balboa becomes the heavy weight champion of the world. It’s the best story line in human history. In hope beyond hope, they are all transformed into the very thing they never thought they could be.
Popcorn Testimonies—What would your life look like had God not changed the trajectory of your life? (If Time Permits)
We love those stories…tales of transformation. Why? I can’t think of a movie, or novel or fairy tale that doesn’t somehow turn on this. Why is it the essential part of any great story? Because it is the secret to Christianity, and Christianity is the secret to the universe. Jesus said, “you must be born again.” You must be transformed. Keeping the law, following the rules, polishing up your manners—none of that will do. You must be changed into a new and different person.
Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, ’Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
 "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.  He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
 "When he came to his senses, he said, ’How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’  So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
 "The son said to him, ’Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
 "But the father said to his servants, ’Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:11-24 (NIV)
The Prodigal Son becomes the Welcomed Son. Zaccheus the trickster becomes Zacchaeus the Honest Guy. Mary the promiscuous becomes Mary the Last of the Truly Faithful. Paul the self-righteous murderer becomes Paul the Humble Apostle. Augustine the immoral becomes Augustine the virtuous. John the slave trader becomes John the writer of hymns. CS Lewis the atheist becomes CS Lewis defender of the faith. Lee Strobel the doubter becomes Lee Strobel the Faithful Follower.
Invitation To Receive Christ
Offering/Send Out Song