Four Reasons Why Jesus Came on Christmas

Believers Will Never Be Alone Because Jesus Came At Christmas.

Dan Franklin
Dec 19, 2021    39m
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Think of a time when you have felt alone; you may even feel alone right now. Christmas is not simply a time to revel in food and family; it is a time when we celebrate the reality that, in Jesus, God came near. Jesus came at Christmas to defeat Satan and assure those who believe are never alone. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Dan Franklin: [00:00:18] I know for a lot of us, and for those of us who are believers in Jesus, and even if you're here as a guest and you're not a believer in Jesus, Christmas time is often a time where we feel a little bit torn and where our focus is. We feel on the one hand, like, there are lots of options for where our focus can be during the Christmas season. We can be focused on family, and on the great times to have together. Some of you are back from college, or you're here for a vacation, or you're going to be visiting family, or family is going to be visiting you, and it's easy for that to grab our focus during Christmas. Or, just all the fun events, and the lights, and the decorations, and all of that, sometimes for some of us, that really captures us. And then frankly, for some of us, the presents, even if you're not a kid, the presents still feel like they're a big focus for the presents you're going to be receiving, and the presents that you're going to be getting.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:10] And for all of us, as we think about Christmas, we also know that at the end we're really meant to be focused on Jesus. That the main focus for us in the Christmas season is not the star, and not the lights, and not the presents, and not the reindeer or those sorts of things, but our main focus is the manger, which symbolizes that God came near. That at that first Christmas Day, the Son of God took on flesh and became a human being. And so sometimes we feel like we're in this battle where we're enjoying the lights, and we're walking around, and we're seeing the decorations, and we're buying presents, and we're excited about that. But then we feel like, well, I'm really supposed to be focused over here, I really should be thinking not about the tree, but I should be thinking about the nativity scene, and the animals, and Mary and Joseph, and the shepherds, and the angels, and the wise men all gathered around that, and we feel that pull, we feel like that's where our attention needs to be.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:08] But for some of us, that still feels very vague. It's like the family stuff, we know what that's going to be like, and the presents we can get excited about those, because those are tangible. But when we think of the manger, we think I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to be thinking of. And am I thinking of sort of this warm feeling that I get when I see the nativity set, which is kind of weird because it probably wasn't warm in that cave when they were all gathered around, but it might make us feel nice, and nostalgic, and there are angels, and it's something about God being close to us, which is a good thing about God being close to us. But when it's kept vague, and what it's kept general, it can be hard to figure out what it looks like for us to put our focus where we all kind of know it's meant to be.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:53] And so we wanted to take this Sunday, right before Christmas, to be able to talk about what it is that we're celebrating when we focus our eyes on that symbol of the manger. In other words, we're going to be asking the question, why did Jesus come? And we're going to go through a passage that's going to give us four answers to that question, and four reasons why Jesus came on that first Christmas, so that when we give our focus to him, our focus can be on solid ground.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:28] And we're going to be going through a passage that maybe isn't typically a Christmas passage, you might think all right, it's close to Christmas time will be in Luke 2, we'll be in Matthew 1, maybe we'll be in Isaiah, we'll be going through some of the classics. And hey, if you come on Christmas Eve, we are going to go through all the classics, but we're going to go through Hebrews chapter 2 verses 14 through 18. So if you have a Bible, you can start to turn there now, and prepare for our time through this. And if you're familiar with the Bible, this might not strike you immediately as, yeah, that's a Christmas passage, but I'm going to tell you it is a Christmas passage. I'll show you real quick a couple of reasons why it's a Christmas passage.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:05] Here's how this passage begins, Hebrews 2 verse 14 says, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity." This is a passage about the eternal Son of God taking on flesh and blood because the people that he came to save had flesh and blood. And then later on in verse 17, it doubles down on this idea. Verse 17 says, "For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way." What we celebrate at Christmas is that the eternal Son of God took on flesh and blood and started his life the same way that every human being starts their life, as a helpless dependent baby. But what this passage is now going to tell us, is it's going to tell us four reasons why Christmas happened, four reasons why Jesus came.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:09] And the first reason is in verse 14, the first reason that we see for why Jesus came, is that he came to defeat an enemy. Let's read verse 14 as a whole, it says, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil." Jesus came, Christmas happened, to defeat an enemy. And according to the passage, who is that enemy? That enemy is the devil, called different things throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament, called the devil, called Satan, called the accuser, and sometimes called the enemy. Because he is the ultimate enemy of God, and the ultimate enemy of everyone and everything that God loves.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:08] But here's an important thing to make sure that you know about the devil, the devil is not God's equal and opposite. The Devil is not as strong as God, he is not a creator, he is not at the same level as God, there's only one God, the devil is a fallen angel who lives and exists to oppose everything that God treasures and everything that God holds dear. And in this passage, what the author says is that the devil holds the power of death. And again, in some ways, this is weird, because we might say only God holds the power of life and death, the devil doesn't have the power to decide who lives and who dies. But I think the reason why the author of Hebrews says that the devil has the power of death, is because the devil was involved with introducing death into the world.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:04] If you go back to the beginning of the story of humanity, and back to the beginning of the Christian story in Genesis chapter 3, you see the devil in a serpent, who's later identified as the devil, tempting the first man and the first woman to rebel against God and be their own gods. And when they listen to him, they bring death into the world. And not just death for them, but death for all of us, for everyone who would come after them. Death became the destiny of every person, and the devil holds the power of death in this way, he introduced death into the world, and he uses death to terrorize all of us. In fact, we're going to talk more in the second reason why Jesus came about just how the devil uses death to terrorize all of us. And what we read is that Jesus came, the Son of God came, Christmas happened, so that Jesus could defeat, could break the power of the devil. And breaking the power has to do with abolishing his power, bringing his power to nothing. Quick question, on your own, what chance do you think you stand against the devil? The odds are not good; we need a savior to come and defeat an enemy that we could never defeat.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:27] A couple of years ago, a movie came out that set all kinds of records at the box office, it was called Avengers Endgame. Don't pretend you didn't see it, everybody saw it. You guys are like, I don't watch movies. Yeah, you do, you watched at least this movie. And if you don't remember, if you don't know the whole background to the Avengers movies, what's happening in this final Avengers movie is that an enemy has snapped away, has eliminated half the human beings on Earth, including half of the heroes that we're looking to fight and protect the world. But the remaining heroes go on a quest, and they do something that they think is going to bring everybody back, is going to restore order to the universe, and is going to end up saving the world. And right at the moment where it seems like they have victory, where they've accomplished their task and they're going to bring everyone back, the enemy attacks them and decimates them. And the entire hero order is either incapacitated, that there's three of them that go out to fight Thanos, the great enemy. And eventually there reaches the scene where every hero is out of commission, except one, Captain America is left limping around with a broken shield, bloodied, and wounded. And in this great scene, and something that only Captain America can do, he looks out at Thanos, the enemy, he looks out at all of the hordes of the armies that he's facing, and he tightens his broken shield and goes out to take them all on. It's amazing, and it's beautiful, and it's totally futile, there is no way he is going to win, he was going out to his death, he is going out to defeat. But then things start to happen, and portals start to open up, and the heroes start to come back. And eventually, Captain America is standing before this enemy army, but surrounded by an army of heroes who came at just the right moment to take certain defeat and turn it into possible victory.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:25] Here's what I want you to know, we faced certain defeat at an enemy we could not take on, and then a portal opened up and an army did not come through, one man came through. One great hero, the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ came through, and he came not to bring us from certain defeat to a possible victory, but to bring us from certain defeat to absolutely certain victory. Jesus came to break the power of an enemy that we could never defeat, and don't miss that the author tells us how he broke that power of that enemy, by his death, and what's implied by that is, also by his resurrection, Jesus took the best shot that the enemy had to give, he himself died on that cross, and when he rose from the dead, he had taken death's best shot and won the victory. When we celebrate Christmas, when we celebrate what happened in that manger, we are celebrating that we had somebody come to defeat an enemy that we can never win against.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:46] Now, here's the deal, some of you were saying like, all right, that's good, but according to the Bible, Satan is still around, he's still around prowling around like a roaring lion. And maybe you're even looking around in your life and you're like, I'm pretty sure he's still around, I'm pretty sure he's still having an impact on the world and on my life. So how do we live in that victory that Jesus brought?

Dan Franklin: [00:12:04] Well, the second reason why Jesus came is going to give us insight into that, because he came not only to defeat an enemy, but he came to liberate slaves. Verses 15 and 16, say this, "And free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants." Let's just start with verse 16, start with the second verse there, because it's a little bit of an aside. And what the author is saying is that when the Son of God came, his purpose was not to give aid to angels. He didn't come to get angels out of a bad situation, he came to get human beings out of a bad situation. And it says he came to help the descendants of Abraham, which if were taken literally, we'd say, well, that's Jews, that's Jewish people that he came to help. But the New Testament, and in particular, Galatians chapter 3, make clear that the true children of Abraham are those who put their faith in the God of Abraham. If you're a believer in Jesus, you are a descendant of Abraham, and Jesus came to help you. And specifically, what we're told is that he came to set you free. He came to set you free from slavery to the fear of death.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:32] I want you just to pause and think for a minute, how many times just in the course of a week do you make different decisions that you would normally make because of fear? Because it's not even always fear of terrible personal injury, sometimes it's fear about financial ruin or just financial discomfort. Sometimes it's just out of fear of social awkwardness or being uncomfortable around someone. Sometimes it's over the fear of what people are going to think of you, or of how your career is going to unfold, or how your friendships are going to unfold. How much of our lives are driven and limited because of fear? And what's brought up here is that the ultimate fear is the fear of death because death is the end, and so it makes sense to avoid death at all costs.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:27] And if you look at the way that we've lived as human beings for our existence, you know, people are willing to do all kinds of things that they would never otherwise do just to avoid death. People betray their families, betray their countries, betray all their principles, just to stay alive. And some of you, you probably watched some movie where this happens, where there's like a battlefield and one's going to stay and fight, and another is going to run away. And the one who runs away says, hey, better to live as a coward than to die as a hero, and they run off to preserve their life. And sometimes that's sort of how we function also, we say, like better to be cautious and live, than to be brave and die. Here's what you need to know, your two choices are not die as a hero and live as a coward, your two choices are, die as a hero, or die as a coward, the coward still dies. We all die eventually, the choice that we have is, are we going to live in slavery to fear?

Dan Franklin: [00:15:36] I want to ask for a show of hands, but some of you like to play video games. Some of you, maybe you're not big gamers, but you know what it's like you've played video games before. And one of the really cool things about video games is you get a taste of experiencing something where your ultimate goal is not just to stay alive. And in fact, if you're playing video games with a friend and you're like, all right, I'm going to take my character over here and I'm going to try this, and fight this bad guy, and your friend is like, if you do that, you might die. You'd be like, meh. And then you go, and you try it, and you do it, and you die, and you'd be like, oh, too bad. How fun is that, that you get to have the experience of saying, hey, I might die and it's going to be OK? In fact, imagine if you played video games, imagine if you played Halo or Call of Duty or something like that, and your only goal was to stay alive. You would be bored, you'd be hiding behind some barrel, I'm really good at this game, just back here, never getting wounded. It's no way to play a game, and it's no way to live, to make the ultimate goal of your life just staying alive.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:44] And thank God, we get the message that at Christmas, Jesus showed up to liberate us from the crushing fear of death. The message here is not that you go, and you drive the opposite way down the freeway, and if your friend says you might die, you say, meh. That's not the idea at all, it's not about recklessness, but it's about the idea that we actually get to be about something bigger than just preserving our lives. We actually get to be about a mission. We actually get to be about God's work. We actually get to do risky things that could possibly end in our death because death doesn't get the final word. Through his resurrection, Jesus has broken the power of death, which doesn't mean that we live recklessly, but means that we can live courageously.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:35] And, you know, during these last two years, I think we've got a front row seat to just how crushing the fear of death can be for us, and just how self-limiting we can be because of the possibility of the fear of death. I'm going to say something, and before I say it I want to be clear, what I'm about to say is not anti-mask or anti-vax. We at our church, we have really tried to cultivate a unity around these things, these are disputable matters. Some of you are wearing masks, God bless you that you believe that's what God is calling you to do right now, some of you aren't, we are unified as a church, that's not what defines us. Some of you are vaccinated, some of you are not, it's a disputable matter. We foster that we're able to live together in this way, that's not what defines us. So what I'm about to say is not about that, but it is about this, how many of us over these last two years have put severe limits on our lives because the possibility of death is out there? And for the vast majority of us, not a very high possibility of death, a pretty low possibility of death. I want to make sure you know this, Covid did not introduce death into the world, people have been dying for a long time before COVID showed up. This is not the first time in our history that we've said, if I do that, I might die, that has been the history of humanity. And what I'm saying is not to go ahead and be reckless, but what I'm saying is, we, as Christians, are set free from the crushing fear that death could happen to us. Unless Jesus comes back first, death will happen to you. The question is not are you going to live as a coward or die as a hero? The question is, are you going to die as a person of over-caution, or are you going to die as a person of courageous faith?

Dan Franklin: [00:19:35] We get the luxury, we get the joy of living, not wanting death, but recognizing death doesn't get the final word. And every time we look at that manger, every time we look at the reality that the Son of God came on that first Christmas, we get to remember that the reason why he came was to liberate slaves. We face the possibility of death with courage, and we face the reality of death with hope because of Christmas, because of Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:11] And there's a third reason we all need to know about, about why Jesus came and why Christmas happened. Jesus came to defeat an enemy that we couldn't defeat, he came to liberate slaves from fear and from death, and then thirdly, in verse 17, Jesus came to forgive the guilty. Verse 17 starts, we've already read it, it says, "For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people."

Dan Franklin: [00:20:51] Jesus was made fully human in every way, we're going to talk about that more in the fourth reason why Jesus came when we got to verse 18, fully human in every way so that he could be a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. A high priest connects people to God, so that's what Jesus is doing, Jesus is connecting us to God. And it says there are two things you should know about him, he's merciful and he's faithful. Jesus is merciful. Amen? Do you know what mercy is? Mercy is when you don't get what you deserve. If God was merciful and there was no other quality to talk about him, we could still praise God and thank God until the days were over. God has been merciful; he doesn't give you what you deserve to get. And Jesus is merciful towards us, that as a high priest, even though he knows everything that our sins deserve, his goal is not to get us everything that our sins deserve, he's merciful to us, and he's faithful.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:57] And the faithfulness is primarily pointed towards God, he's merciful to us, he's faithful to God. Because if he was just merciful to us, he might look at all of our sins and might shrug their shoulders and say, let's just forget it. But he's merciful to us, and he's faithful to God, which means that he doesn't shrug his shoulders at sin because God doesn't shrug his shoulders at sin. And you may wish he did, you may say, like, I kind of wish that God just looked at sin and said, no big deal, but what you probably mean is that you wish God looked at your sin and said, no big deal. You probably don't wish that he said that about all sins, you probably don't wish that God looked at the holocaust and said, no big deal, slavery, no big deal, rape, murder, no big deal, deception, abandonment, all that, no big deal. Who cares about those things?

Dan Franklin: [00:22:46] You probably don't think that that's how God should be, and you're right, that's not how God should be. God takes sin that seriously because sin brings utter destruction, it's not only an offense to God, it brings utter destruction to all of us. God does not turn a blind eye to sin, God takes sin more seriously than the most passionate social justice warrior alive today. God hates sin, and sin must be punished, and so we have a high priest merciful to us, faithful to God. And that leads into what he did to be merciful to us and faithful to God, and that's that he made atonement for the sins of the people. Make atonement, that's sacrifice terminology, it means that he paid a price, through his death, he paid the penalty for our sins. he was our substitute as a sacrifice.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:46] You know, there's debate right now in Christian circles, and in particular kind of Christian scholarly circles, about what exactly are we meant to think about what happened when Jesus died? And there's kind of a group of people that's really focused on something that's called Christus victor, which means the victory of Christ. And what this is focused on is the idea that when Jesus came, when Jesus died, he defeated the enemy, he defeated Satan and broke his power. Didn't we already hear about that? That's verse 14, praise God, Jesus came, and Jesus died, to break the power of Satan, to win a victory over Satan, Christus victor. But sadly, a lot of the people that are really championing the idea of Christus victor, what they ignore is that there's something else that was also going on when Jesus died, he was not just winning a victory over Satan, he was paying for the sins of every human being. He was our substitute, he was our sacrifice, and he paid in full for each one of our sins. Jesus is the ultimate victor over Satan, and Jesus through his death is the ultimate sacrifice to bring us forgiveness of sins. This requires mercy towards us, and faithfulness toward God.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:14] Have you ever felt yourself haunted by sin and guilt? Some of you are still dealing with this on a regular basis, you're haunted by sin and guilt, whether it's current, whether it's past, you feel like at some point you're going to have to pay up. Like I know, eventually, everybody has to pay up at some point, and you feel that haunting. And it's tough because the way that our culture is, the way that we talk about dealing with guilt, is we basically say, when you feel guilt, your goal should be to figure out how not to feel guilt. So just talk yourself out of it, convince yourself that what you did was not all that bad, do whatever it takes to get away from that guilt. And there's no doubt that there are times, sometimes, where we feel guilty over things, we don't need to feel guilty for, that definitely happens. Some of you have a propensity to that, that you feel guilty over things that there's no reason for you to feel guilty about.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:04] But with that said, do you know the reason most of the time, why we feel guilty? Yeah, you guessed it, because we're guilty, because we have real sin and guilt before God, and we have that haunting feeling at some point I've got away with it so far, at some point I'm going to have to pay up. Here's what I want you to know, somebody already paid up, somebody already paid the price. And not just for the kind of bad stuff that you did, but for the worst things that you did. And not just for the things that you did 20 years ago, for the things that you did this morning, and the things that you're going to do tomorrow. Three words, paid in full, Jesus came to forgive guilty sinners.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:01] And I want to take a pause here, we've got a fourth reason we're going to talk about, we're not getting to the close, don't get your stuff, and don't get ready yet. But here's what I want us to know, there's some of you here, especially on a Sunday like this, you know the last Sunday before Christmas, there may be some of you here that you sort of you came because grandma or mom or somebody was like, come to church with us. And you're not a normal churchgoer, but you're like, sure, I'll go to church. Or it was just the closest Sunday to Christmas, and you thought all right, it's probably a good time to show up on Sunday. And frankly, you might think right now, you might think, well, the reason why I'm here is because I was asked, or even kind of coerced into coming, and I felt guilty, and that's why I'm here. But here's what I want you to know, you are here because God loves you desperately, and God wants you to hear the gospel. God wants you forgiven of all of your sins, and to be in the family of God. And if you're here just to sort of wait out the clock until the service is over, what I want you to know is that you are here to give your life to Jesus. If you're haunted by sin and guilt, you can try to take the world's way, and you can try to just talk yourself out of it, just tell yourself that what you did wasn't that bad, or maybe deal with it by doing some good things that are going to offset that, or do that by showing up to a church service a couple of times a year just to sort of work that out. Or maybe you're like, well, more than twice a year, I'll show up more, and I'll show up more frequently, and that will fix things. None of that fix’s things, you need somebody to pay the price for what you've done. We are all desperate sinners in need of a savior, and Jesus came in that manger as a baby, not to stay a baby, but to grow up into a man who would take on the sins of the world so that we could have salvation through placing our trust in him So that we could have forgiveness, not by showing up at a church service, or by doing some good things, or by making sure our sin doesn't get that bad, but so that we could be brought into the family of God through putting our trust in Jesus, Through calling on his name as Lord, and giving him our hearts and saying, I'll follow you wherever you go.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:12] Like I said, we've got one more thing we're going to talk about, but I want to take a pause here, I want to ask you just to bow your heads right now. As I said, some of you might be hearing this as people that aren't regular churchgoers, maybe some of you are regular churchgoers, but if you're honest with yourself, you're saying, you know, I've kind of thought that God will forgive me because I've been pretty good, and because I'm involved in church. today is the day for you to give your life to Jesus, today is the day for you to put your trust in him. And if you want to do that, I'm going to invite you just to pray along with me in your heart as I pray now. God, I recognize that I can't save myself, I've got an enemy too big to defeat, I've got sin that's too much for me to make up for. I recognize that you sent Jesus, not just as an example, but that you sent Jesus as a savior. I place my trust in him, I come to you with all of my sins, and I ask for your forgiveness. I proclaim in my heart that Jesus is Lord, and I want nothing more than to have him in my life, to have him in my heart. God, please bring salvation, please bring forgiveness, please welcome me into the family through Jesus. In his name. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:47] Before we get into reason number four, let me just say this, if today was your day to say it is time to put my trust in Him, it is time to, as the song Joy to the World says, it is time to receive the king that was set for me. If today was your day, don't leave today without talking to one of our pastors, or elders, who after the service is done, is going to be upfront to pray with them and to have them celebrate with you.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:14] But like I said, there's a fourth reason why Jesus came, he came to defeat an enemy, he came to liberate slaves, he came to forgive the guilty, and finally, in verse 18, he came to help the struggling. Verse 18, "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." Now, be honest, look at these words, defeat, liberate, forgive, help, does it feel like a kind of weak ending? Like those are big words and help feel kind of wimpy compared to all of that. This is not a wimpy idea that we get here, he has come to help the struggling. And the reason why he's able to help the struggling, according to this verse, is because he himself was tempted and he suffered when he was tempted.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:09] Verse 17 already talked about the idea that he was made like us, he was made fully human in every way, and that means his temptations, his struggles, his suffering wasn't just on the cross, and it wasn't even just in Matthew chapter 4, where he's brought out into the wilderness to be tempted, his temptations, his struggles, his sufferings was his entire life. Jesus was fully human, that means he got hungry, he got thirsty, he got tired. Let me ask you a quick question. How are you when you're hungry, thirsty, and tired? A little cranky, a little touchy, a little more likely to snap at people, and be frustrated, and at the end of yourself? I'm going to give you a comforting thought, when you are hungry and thirsty or tired and you're snapping at people and then you come back to Jesus and you're like, I can't believe I did that, I'm so sorry that I acted that way. Jesus is not at the right hand of the Father saying, what's your deal? Jesus is at the right hand of the Father saying, I remember what that was like, I remember what it was like to be hungry and thirsty and tired and at the end of myself. When you're tempted to get angry, or impatient, or when you're tempted by lust, or by jealousy, or by pride, or by any of those things, and you come to Jesus, you're just like, gosh, I'm so sorry, I'm so in the battle, I wish I wasn't in the battle with this, I wish I was past all this, I'm not as mature as I think I'd like to be, I am so sorry for this. Jesus is not at the right hand of the Father saying, get your stuff together. Jesus is at the right hand of the Father saying, I remember how fierce the battle was, he is there to help us.

Dan Franklin: [00:33:54] And no doubt the greatest way that he helps us is he brings us forgiveness, but that's not all he does. He is, according to the Gospel of Matthew, he is with us always even to the very end of the age. And the primary way that he is with us is through the Holy Spirit, and he is interceding for us at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is walking with us in our struggles, he hasn't just promised us heaven, but when he came to be God with us in that manger, he started a new reality where he would be with us in all of the struggles that we face.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:33] Where, right now, are you just struggling, struggling with sin and frustrated that it's still an issue in your life, struggling with trials, struggling with marriage, struggling with finances, struggling with school, struggling with work, struggling with anger, struggling with lust, with pride, with jealousy? Where are you struggling right now? And I don't think this is true of everyone, but I think that there's probably a lot of you that you're struggling, and you're like, God's mad that I'm struggling, and I got to figure this out before I go to him. God's not mad that you're struggling, and you will never figure it out before you go to him. He came to defeat an enemy, he came to liberate slaves, he came to forgive the guilty, and he came to help you in all of your struggles. And maybe the greatest way that you can celebrate Christmas is when you place that manger, when you place Jesus, at the center of your Christmas celebration. You have the opportunity to bring all of your failures, all of your frustrations, all of your struggles, all of your difficulties, all of your failures, and all of your flaws to him, and know that he's with you, and know that he's helping you.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:52] Jesus came to defeat, to liberate, to forgive, and to help. And the question for all of us is, will we put Jesus at the center? Not just of our Christmas celebrations, some of you, right now, are like our Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, what are we going to do? Are we going to read the Christmas story? Yeah, that's good, think about all of that. The most important way to put Jesus at the center, is not just to put him at the center of the month of December, but to put him at the center of your life, that he becomes the one that you most trust, that he becomes the one that you most love, and that his commands and guidance go from being burdensome to being the path to life. Jesus is with us in the battle, he is with us in the struggle, and the greatest way that we can celebrate Christmas is by receiving our king and taking him up on what he's offering.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:48] There are several ways this morning that we're going to get to respond in putting Jesus at the center. But the first way that we're going to get to respond in putting Jesus at the center is that we are going to get to celebrate communion together next. So if you're going to be helping with distributing the elements of communion, you can head to the back where Tom will give you the lowdown on what you're going to be doing. But let me just say this, we celebrate that baby born flesh and blood, we celebrate that God is with us, and when we celebrate communion, we celebrate the symbol the bread representing the broken body of Jesus, the cup representing the shed blood of Jesus for our sins. And when we take those elements, it's a physicalizing, it's a physical reminder that we live only because of the sustenance that he gives. We remember the sacrifice that he made, and that sacrifice began not on the cross, but in the manger.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:46] And again, let me just also say this, if you're here and you're not a Christian, what we're about to do with communion, it's not something magical that gets us in good with God, it's a symbol to represent a reality that's already happened in the lives of believers. So if you're not a Christian, just go ahead and let the elements pass by you because this is not something that's meant to be an initiation into the family of God, it's meant to be a celebration for those who have already, by faith, consume the life that Jesus brings us. The servers will pass the elements during this next song and hold on to them and will experience them together afterward.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:24] And let me pray for us as we prepare. Father, thank you for sending Jesus, thank you for Christmas. And we do thank you for Christmas, for all of the things that we experience like lights, and decorations, and family, and presents, we thank you for all of those great gifts you've given us. But thank you for Christmas, because at Christmas you gave us the greatest gift in Jesus. Thank you that he came to defeat an enemy that was too much for us, and that he came to liberate us when we were in bondage to fear, and that he came to bring us forgiveness for all the guilt we faced, and that he came to still be our help in all of our struggles. May we receive our King in a new way this morning, and may Jesus receive all the affection and all the worship that we have to give? We pray this in His name. Amen.



Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848