Summary: He calls us to follow.
Presented December 18, 2011 at
Shelbourne Street church of Christ, Victoria, BC, Canada
Based on Radical Christianity: Peace and Justice in the New Testament
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor,
so that you through his poverty might become rich. – 2 Corinthians 8:9
In my own life, I’m trying to move more in the direction that God does act, than that God does not act. If asked to speak again, I want to invite you to send me your ideas to include in the message, because I believe God gives ideas and thoughts to his people that can be encouraging to the whole community of believers. So as you hear these words today, listen for thoughts, ideas, and feelings God may be bringing to your conscious awareness.
Some Christmas Stories
Anthony is about 35 years old staying in a homeless shelter this Christmas. He is dressed in black clothes with a hood pulled over his head. At age 11 he left the foster home and began living on the street. He became addicted to crack cocaine and speaks with a kind of harsh voice because his vocal chords are damaged. Anthony fathered several children over the years and keeps contact with them. He has difficulty getting work because of a criminal record. When I asked him what people don’t know about him that he would like them to know, he said through tears, “That I’m not as tough as I look. I am really a very kind and caring person, and I want to support my family.” When I asked him what he wants for Christmas, he listed his children’s ages and chose items for them. You can read his story and hundreds of other homeless people and their Christmas wishes at homelesspartners.com
As some of you know, our daughter Phoebe contracted cerebral malaria in Mozambique and had a medical debt of over $84,000. God answered prayers to save her life. On Thursday, after many daily prayers since June, we received word that the Aventura Hospital in Miami has forgiven her debt. I remember the persistent widow. "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." Luke 18:1
Let’s pray.... God thank you for answering prayer. Help me disappear so that you may appear to bless those gathered here today. In Jesus name, Amen.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son............John 3:16
What are you aware of right now as you hear those words? What ideas, thoughts, and feelings are coming up inside you when you think that God loved you and gave Jesus for you?
How Did God Love Us?
A favourite old song says, “Why did my Saviour come to earth, and to the humble go? Why did He choose a lowly birth? Because He loved me so!”
God saw that humanity is hurting....and so in love reached out by first entering our existence as a helpless unborn child in the belly of an impoverished unwed mother living in the despised region of Galilee. The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The one who made all things, the Lord of all Creation, came into the body of an unmarried virgin teenage girl. When we hear the words “unwed mother,” a part of you may feel a sense of shame about it. Who wants their own unmarried daughter to get pregnant?
Yet God chose this way to come into the world, and I remember when Peter said, “Surely not, Lord!” the Lord replied, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
The Angel Comes to Mary
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he approached her, and said, Be filled with joy, you who are highly favoured, the Lord is with you. But she was very upset by what was said, and wondered what kind of message this might be. And the angel said to her, Don’t be afraid, Mary: for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive and deliver a son, and you will call his name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David: and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel, How will this happen, since I am a virgin? And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you: and for this reason the holy thing that is born will be called the Son of God. And behold, Elisabeth your relative, she also has conceived a son in her old age; and she who everyone thought was infertile is six months pregnant. For no word from God shall ever be without power. And Mary said, Now I am the servant of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word. And the angel left her. -Luke 1:26-38