Christmas Sunday at LBF Church

The Birth Of Jesus Foreshadowed The Humility With Which He Would Live His Life.

Dan Franklin
Dec 25, 2022    28m
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The circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus remind us that He came to the world in the most humble way; this would foreshadow the humility with which He would live his life. When we place our faith in Jesus, He will lead us into a life marked by humility. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Life Bible - Christmas Sunday at LBF Church
Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:20] It is so cool to see so many of you. I know as Phil was saying coming, at least for me, coming to a church service on a Sunday, I didn't grow up doing that, or no, I did grow up coming to church services on Sunday, but I didn't grow up coming to church services on Christmas Day unless it was a Sunday. And even then, for some of us, it might feel like a weird thing, but I'm excited that so many of you are here. I'm excited for all the kids to be in here with us and we're just going to have a real simple service as we celebrate the newborn king together.

Dan Franklin: [00:00:53] In fact, I listened to a podcast a couple of weeks ago, and the title of the podcast was this, it was, Pastor, This Year at Christmas, Don't Be Too Clever. And I was like, no problem. But just to say, we're going to have a simple service, we're going to get to celebrate Jesus through song, we're going to get to celebrate him, and I'm going to lead us through Luke chapter two verses one through seven.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:17] And here's kind of how it will go, just so you can be prepared. I'm going to be up here and I'm going to talk for about 15 minutes through the first three verses of Luke two and look to bring some things out of that. And then after that, Andy and Kate will be up here to lead us in a couple of songs for us to be able to respond in our hearts. And then after that, I'll come back up here again, and I'll lead us through verses four through seven and talk more about those. And after that, we'll have a time where again, Andy and Kate will be up here leading us through a couple of songs. But during that time, we'll be taking communion together. And you can probably see we've got a communion table set up up here and up here, and the way that we're going to do it is instead of passing the elements, we're going to invite you at any point during those two songs just to get up out of your seat. If you're here on your own, you can just get up on your own. But if you're here with a family or with a group, you can get up all as a group and come forward, receive the elements. What you'll want to do is, if you come and get the elements there, you'll want to get off to the side so that other people can get in and get them. Or you might just take the cracker and take the cup and all come back to your seats and then sort of receive them there. But there won't be a point where any of us gets up and says, now we're eating and now we're drinking. We want to allow this to be a time where we get to respond personally, move our bodies, and to be able to move towards this and take the elements.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:36] And so just another note on that, because I know some of you have real little kids in here and you might be saying what sort of protocol with real little kids and communion. As a church staff, we don't regulate this. Obviously, we're not going to be kind of watching you and what you do, but we're just going to say if you if you believe that your child has come to the point where they have a real faith, the real cognitive heart, faith in Jesus, then they are welcome to take communion because they are in the family of Jesus and they're part of this church family. If your kids are younger than that, then we would just say, go ahead and hold off on that. Have them still participate, if you get together and have a little prayer before you take the elements so that they can still be present for it, but they can wait and they can hold off until the time when they've placed their faith in Jesus. But just as an encouragement when we get to that time, which we'll still be in a little while, you can keep it real simple. You can just sort of like cluster up as a group, and have somebody, I'd encourage if you're all together, dads, take the lead with this, but just somebody to say something as simple as it could just be the body of Christ given for you, and then you take. And then the blood of Christ shed for you, and then you drink. Some of you might feel led to do a little bit more and say a prayer over the family or have multiple people pray, do whatever you feel like the Lord has called you to do. But we're looking forward to that as one of the cool elements of what we'll do.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:00] So with that, I'm going to go ahead and I'm just going to read Luke two, one through three, and then we're going to talk through this beginning of the Christmas story, "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while a Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to their own town to register." Now, for a lot of us, we've heard that before, we're familiar with that being a part of the Christmas story. But I just want us to pause and say that is a weird beginning to the Christmas story. We know what the headline is with the Christmas story, the Son of God is born, he's taken on flesh, he's born in Bethlehem. That's the headline, but it starts with all these political inner workings and a census and a governor and all of these things happening. I want us to take in the strangeness of the Christmas story beginning that way.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:02] And here's why I want us to be able to take this in, I want us to be able to take it in because the Christmas story begins with historical details that were not in any way under the control of Joseph and Mary, and certainly not under the control of Jesus, who was still in the womb at this point. And I also want us to take in that for Mary and Joseph, all of these goings on, all of these political things that were going on behind the scenes, that would not have been a welcome thing for them. Anybody who got news that you had to go to their own town to register because of this census would have been in a place full of groans and frustrated sighs, we've got to travel, we've got to go somewhere, and for some of them, they had to go a long distance. And Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem while Mary was in the later part of her pregnancy. Quick question, convenient? No way, this is not something that's welcomed, this is not something that Joseph and Mary would have heard the news, we've got to go to Bethlehem while you're ready to pop and say, great idea. Nobody was happy about this, it wasn't under Joseph's control, it wasn't under Mary's control, and yet they had to do it. And that's how the story begins to unfold, by an inconvenience that was thrust upon them by people who didn't know them and didn't care about them.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:30] But what we know is that even though the people who made these choices had nothing to do with Joseph and Mary and didn't care anything about them, what they did with these choices behind the scenes led to prophecy being fulfilled. Let me read one of the most famous prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament, this is from Micah chapter five, verse two, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans a of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” In Micah, hundreds of years before Jesus showed up, there was a prophecy that the Messiah that God's chosen, anointed King for Israel would come and would come from Bethlehem. And this was not something that sort of after the fact, people said, oh, maybe that's what that prophecy means; beforehand, they believed this is what this means.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:35] In fact, if you've read in Matthew chapter two, there's a story of the Magi coming eventually and finding Jesus. And before they find Jesus, they stop by and see Herod, King Herod, and they ask him, alright, where is the place that the King of the Jews is supposed to be born? And Herod consults all the scholars and experts, and they all say, well, we know where he's going to be born, he's going to be born in Bethlehem, because of Micah 5:2. They didn't have chapter and verse on that day, but they said because of this prophecy and Micah, we know where he's going to be born, and that's why the Magi headed off on that way. The prophecy here was fulfilled not because Joseph and Mary said, hey, Micah says this, so we better hightail it over there, this happened because people that they didn't know who were in positions of power chose to do something that to them had nothing to do with Joseph and Mary but ended up leading to the fulfillment of a promise.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:28] And I just want us to pause and take that in. I don't know how frequently you feel this way, but does anybody feel like you are frequently, your life is frequently controlled by the whims of other people. It can be very frustrating. If you're a kid, you probably feel this way a lot. You're just like, everything, in fact, you're like, right now, like, this was not my choice. I would have been home with cookies and presents and Charlie Brown on the screen, but I'm here because my parents said I'm coming here. And by the way, before going on, if you're a kid and you're a little bit annoyed that you're here right now, here's what I want to say. Your parents did not bring you here because they wanted to annoy you. The fact that you have parents that are saying on Christmas Day when it's not terribly convenient, we are going to show up at church, is saying that your parents are doing one of the best things that parents can do for you, they are communicating that Jesus is more important than anything else in their lives. You have a gift if you have parents that have brought you here. But I recognize also that you're sort of like, this is my life, I just do, my parents decide what I'm going to do, and I just do it because I have to go along. Some of you feel this way with your teachers, and you're like, my teachers just make decisions and I have to adjust to them. Some of you feel this way about your employers, they're like, they just decide they're not consulting me, they're not asking me what I want. They just decide and I have to adjust to them. Does anybody ever feel this way about government officials? Just no, okay. We're just like, they didn't ask us, they just decide what they're going to do. Or even if it's not government officials, sort of like the experts in life who are just the medical experts or the economic experts, they're doing things and we feel like we are just at their whim, we just have to adjust to whatever they decide. And it can be very frustrating because you can be going through that and you can feel like my life is highly affected by people who don't care anything about me, and I just need to adjust. In fact, sometimes we might even be tempted to think my life could be ruined by the decisions of other people who are in positions of power and don't know me.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:32] And what I want to let you know is that that is not true at all, they can do nothing to ruin your life. Even if they were trying to ruin your life, they can do nothing to ruin your life. And do you want to know why? Because of the great promise that we get in Scripture. In fact, what I think is the greatest promise in the Bible is because of Romans chapter eight, verse twenty-eight, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." In all things, in every inconvenience and every sickness or injury and every financial frustration in every way that somebody mistreats you in everything that happens, God is working all things together for your good. Which means that even if somebody in power was actively trying to harm you, which usually they're not, usually they just don't care. But even if they were actively trying to harm you, they would be unable to do so in an ultimate way because God will turn that away and work it all for good.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:44] In fact, I want you to remember that it wasn't just in Jesus' birth that people in positions of power highly affected him. It was also in his death. When Jesus was put to death, it was because authorities among the Jews and authorities among the Romans conspired together and decided to execute Jesus. In doing this, they were doing the worst thing that anybody had ever done, the most sinful thing that anybody had ever done. And by doing it, all they did was accomplish the salvation of everybody who would put their faith in Jesus. Nobody can thwart God's will for you.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:23] Now, I'm not trying to downplay it, people can do things that can be very frustrating and very hurtful and can make you grieve and can bring pain into your life. But what I want you to remember is that when the governor and the people in power decided on a census, Joseph and Mary probably groaned at that, but it ended up leading to the fulfillment of God's promise. So maybe some of you right now, you're dealing with some frustrating things, and you're saying, I wish things weren't this way, I wish I had more control over my life. But what I want you to know is that the God who sent his Son for you works all things together for your good, and no enemy or no person in a position of power can do anything to thwart that. Because in his birth and in his death, God brought about the greatest good from the decisions of others. Is that a God worth celebrating? That's what we celebrate at Christmas, we celebrate in part that even when other people thought that they were doing something for their own interests, they ended up fulfilling a prophecy that led to our savior being born.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:30] So I'm going to read verses four through seven now of Luke chapter two, and we'll talk about those. It says, "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. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them." And I just love, you got to love Luke, who writes this and just says very matter of factly in verse seven, "She placed him in a manger because there was no guestroom available to them." Again, this is something we're used to, we're like, yeah, of course, we've seen the nativity set, we know what happens here.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:26] This is a real shocking scene, and we'll talk more about it. But it's something that from the beginning of Jesus's life shows a life and an entrance into the world that's marked by humility. And in fact, one of the things this always breaks up sometime around Christmas time, somebody will bring up the fact that we don't celebrate Christmas on December 25th because we know that's Jesus' birthday. We do it for other reasons, and people debate, they say there's no way he was born in December because shepherds wouldn't have been outside during that time, so it's probably more like the spring or April. And then other people do research, and they say, no, there were some shepherds that were year-round shepherds, so it could have been in the winter and it could have been in December. But here's the thing that always strikes me when this debate breaks out, the thing that strikes me is the son of God was born, and we don't know when, we don't know his birthday. It's shocking to think about this.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:19] In fact, one of the things, last night to close our Christmas Eve service, we sang Silent Night. And I think in the past, there were times that I was like, was it really silent? I mean, the angel is declaring the glory to the shepherds. Is that the right descriptor? And it's like, okay, that's true, that happened, but that was to a pretty small group of people who then went on to experience this. All of Bethlehem was not gathered in that cave around Jesus. All of Israel did not know what was going on. To most people, it was sort of a silent night, but it was a holy night because God was doing something. And how striking that 2000 years later, we don't know when exactly it was that Jesus was born, but we know that he came. And he came, and he was placed in a manger, which once again we kind of sanitize because we're used to this when we think about our nativity sets. But as the Sweeney girls reminded us yesterday, it was stinky, that this was not a pristine environment.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:20] In fact, I don't know if this is how it happened, but each Christmas Eve we, as a family, watch the Nativity Story movie that came out several years ago. And the way they do it in that story is they have Joseph bringing the manger over to Mary. And I just imagine that scene happening, and I'm like, if that happened in real life, if Mary's there holding Baby Jesus, and Joseph comes and gets the manger and sets it down, you know, the first thing going through her mind was going to be, really, like, this is your bright idea. And he's just like, this is the best we've got in this situation. It shows an incredible humility in his origin. In fact, you may know later on in Luke two, when the angel does appear to the shepherds, the angel tells the shepherds, here's how you're going to know that it's the baby I'm talking about, he'll be wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. That was a dead giveaway because that wasn't going to be a frequently found situation. If this was based on old Christian art, they might have just said to the shepherds, look for the baby with the halo. Look for the baby that just has this brightness above his head, that's how you'll know which one it is, but they didn't say that, the angel said, go, you'll find him because he's going to be lying in a manger. And you can imagine the shepherds thinking, like, if we find a baby lying in the manger, we know for sure that's no accident. We know that this is the baby that the angels are talking about, because when do you find a baby laying in a manger? And it was a sign of humility from the very beginning of Jesus' life. In fact, it was a sign of his suffering that would mark his life.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:54] And this is part of what we get to remember at Christmastime, we get to remember that the suffering of Jesus did not begin with the cross, the suffering of Jesus began with his birth. And the other thing about this is for us to remember, and this is hard for us to remember, but Jesus never suffered anything that he didn't choose. None of the suffering of Jesus had to happen, he chose it. In fact, in John chapter ten, he makes it very clear, he says, "No one takes my life from me, I give it up of my own accord." And Jesus, when he was being arrested, also said to his disciples, don't you think that I could call down legions of angels to take care of this for me if I wanted to get out of this? Jesus chose the suffering, and as the eternal Son of God, he even chose the humble birth to be laid in a manger in one of the most humble situations that anybody could ever face. He chose the manger for us, and he chose the cross for us.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:56] In fact, one of the greatest Christmas verses, I think in the Bible, although it may not be frequently considered a Christmas verse, is Second Corinthians chapter eight, verse nine, which says this, "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." While the life, the physical human life of the man Jesus began in that manger, the life of the Son of God has always been and will always be. He was rich and he became poor so that we, through his poverty, might become rich. And so we're talking a little bit about his poverty, and that's good, it's good to remember this was poor, this was smelly, this wasn't what anybody had in mind. Joseph and Mary probably felt like failures when they were in a cave, having the child Jesus. It was a humble beginning, and it's worth it for us to remember that he, who is rich, became poor.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:01] But let's not miss the other part of that equation. He, who was rich, became poor so that we, through his poverty, might become rich. And so if you're a believer in Jesus, I want to make sure that this Christmas, all of us remember we are rich. You have all of your sins forgiven. And if you're like me at all, then the follow-up question is, all of them? All of your sins are forgiven, past, present, and future, they're wiped clean, and you will never end up having to answer for them, and you will never end up having to atone for them or make up for them or explain them away. All of your sins are forgiven because the one who was rich became poor, so that you, through his poverty, might become rich. If you're a believer in Jesus, you are fully adopted into the family of God. You are a full son or daughter. No one's ever going to take that away. Nothing can ever change that. You are welcomed joyfully, not begrudgingly, into the family. If you're a believer in Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, God Himself, illuminating you and guiding you and teaching you and leading you and empowering you, you are rich. And if you're a believer in Jesus, you have an eternal inheritance, you have eternal life waiting for you. And whatever trial and whatever difficulty you go through here, it is all going to be wrapped into God's perfect purpose for you, that He is working all things together for your good. As a believer in Jesus, you are rich, and you're rich because he was made poor so that you, through his poverty, might become rich.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:43] And here's what I want to do, I want to talk, hopefully, these have already become clear, but I want to talk about just two, I think, very important implications of the humility of Jesus that we see in his birth.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:54] The first one is real simple, it's this, when we place our faith in Jesus, we're choosing to follow him, and so when we follow Jesus, he is going to lead us into humility. The best kind of humility. this is a pro-tip, the best kind of humility is chosen humility, and the hardest kind of humility is when God humbles us, and both happen. You can try to get out in front of it, you're going to be like, I'm going to make myself so humble that God doesn't have to do it. There is still going to be discipline, there is still going to be sharpening, it's still going to happen. But the best kind of humility is chosen humility, when God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, just edges off all the sharp edges and all the pride and all the selfishness that's so much a part of us. If we follow Jesus, we're going to follow him in humility because we recognize that we did nothing to save ourselves but God from eternity past rescued us from sin and death.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:49] And brothers and sisters, this also means that when we look at the sinfulness of the world and in Southern California, we don't have to look far. As we look at the sinfulness of the world, it's appropriate to sort of make an evaluation of it, it's appropriate to grieve, and sometimes there's even appropriate anger when we see people being wronged. But what's not appropriate is any sense of superiority that we would feel in and of ourselves. Truly there but by the grace of God go we. We have been saved, and he leads us into humility, and he also leads us into unchosen humility where he humbles us. And so maybe some of the ways right now that your life is not exactly how you feel like it should be and what you want it to be, maybe that is God's work in shaping you into the kind of humble person who is going to shine the light of Jesus more brightly than you currently do.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:41] If we follow Jesus, he's going to lead us into humility. And here's the second implication I want to give us, and this one might be more welcome and joyful, and that's that Jesus is ultimately and finally trustworthy because he was willing to suffer for us. This is how we know love; we know love when somebody is willing to sacrifice for us. Jesus was willing to be born in a manger, to live a life of hunger and thirst and homelessness, largely, to go to a cross to suffer for us, and to be raised a final victory. You can trust Jesus with everything because he was willing to give everything for you. And so in whatever area right now, you're like, I'm not sure I can trust him, I'm not sure he's going to come through, I'm not sure if his way is good. Brothers and sisters, you can trust him. And we don't even have to look all the way to the cross to know who we can trust him, and we can look to the manger to know that we can trust him because, from the very beginning, Jesus took on humility as the Son of God.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:46] We celebrate Jesus, and we celebrate him born in the manger as the humble sufferer. And that's an appropriate lead into what we get to do next, which is when we get to take communion. When we take communion, it's a celebration, a symbolic celebration of the fact that Jesus' body was broken, and we commemorate that by the eating of the bread; and that his blood was she, and we commemorate that by drinking from the cup. And when we do these things, it's a way for us to remember what was done, the price that was paid to bring us into the family of God. When we take communion, we remember that Jesus suffered, and we remember that He's trustworthy.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:27] And I also want to throw this in this is part of God's deep wisdom. God has placed us in bodies, he knows that we're physical beings. You will die if you don't eat and drink, if we don't eat and drink, our bodies die, we need that in order to live. And so the fact that he set up the symbol of eating and drinking gives us a reminder that without Jesus' death for us, we die, but somebody else died in our place.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:58] And so I know I've mentioned this before, but let me just walk through what we can do during this time where we'll take communion, we've got a table here on this side and a table here on the other side. Andy and Kate are going to come up and lead us in a couple of songs. There are a lot of us here, so if they need to drag it out and do another song, they will. They're pros, they know how to do this.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:16] But again, I want to say, some of you, your hearts are ready right now, your hearts are full. As soon as that first chord is played, you're going to be up out of your seat coming to get the communion elements, that's fine. If you end up wanting to wait, if you want to silently pray or just take this in, or if you're going to wait for lines to die down a little bit, that's totally fine, also. At any point during the songs, you can come up and receive the elements.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:37] And again, I'm just going to ask out of politeness once, once you've gotten the cracker and once you've gotten the cup, please do try to move out of the way just so that others can get in and you can just step off to the side and receive the elements, or you can go back to your seats and receive the elements, and let's use this as a time to remember that he, who was rich, became poor so that we, through his poverty, might become rich.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:59] Let me pray for us as we prepare for this time. Father, thank you so much for sending Jesus. What a joy to celebrate him at Christmas. Thank you that we don't see a royal procession when he arrives, but we see a humble silent night with Jesus submitting to being put in a manger. Thank you for your fulfillment of all of your promises, and, Father, thank you for the baby who was placed in a manger, who grew up to be a man who would go to the cross for us. Father, we pray that you will receive all the honor and all the glory that Jesus will receive, all the love and all the affection, and that you give us all the help and all the grace that we need as we prepare to take these elements and as we lift our voices to you. We pray this in the name of our great Savior, Jesus. Amen.



Recorded in Upland, California.
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Upland, California 91786
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