Let There Be Light

The light of Christmas was a baby in a manager.  A baby who grew into a man who proclaimed the year of the Lord.  Jesus came to “call us back to God” (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).  The Spirit of the Lord was upon him, for he was anointed to bring Good News to the poor. He was sent by God to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come (Luke 4).

He came to release you.  He came to give you sight.  He came to proclaim to you that the Lord’s favor is available to you.

In the song “Let there be Light” (by Hillsong, album Let There be Light), the words beautifully capture the reason for Christmas:

Let there be light
Open our eyes to Your heart
Desperate just to know who You are
Shine in us we pray
Jesus have Your way
Good news embracing the poor
Comfort for all those who mourn
For the broken hearted
We sing louder
Release from prison and shame
Oppression turning to praise
For every captive
Sing louder
Restoring sight to the blind
Breaking the curse of the night
For all in darkness
Sing louder
Proclaiming freedom for all
This is the day of the Lord
Beauty for ashes
Let there be light
Open the eyes of the blind
Purify our hearts in Your fire
Breathe in us we pray

At Christmas, we are reminded that he came to us and he came for us.  Jesus, a real human being, was born into this world.  He became like you in order that he might save you.  A star that shone high above Bethlehem announcing his coming also foretold that Jesus brought with him the great light of God to shine the way back to him.  This Christmas, rejoice an say “Let there be light!” for the light has come and the light is come.

November 26, 2017: Be Excited about Jesus

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Preached by Evan Stewart (00:25)

Each year, Black Friday shopping events bring amazing deals that create excitement for shoppers. During the holiday season we get excited about stuff and events, but do you get excited about Jesus?

There were a few people that saw the birth of Jesus like some of us might see the ultimate Black Friday deal. The shepherds, Simeon, and Anna; they were the Black Friday shopper’s for Jesus. The shepherd’s spontaneously went into Bethlehem when they heard the ad for the best deal in town. Simeon came to the temple for the door buster deal. Anna camped inside the store for the once in a lifetime event. The tragedy is that they didn’t have to push and squirm through a crowd. They were the only ones.

We can become so wrapped up in everyday life that we can be like the other people at the temple that day who had no idea or care who that little baby was. The Creator of everything was in the temple and only two people noticed.

As you prepare for Christmas, listen as Evan encourages us to find ways to be excited about Jesus.  Jesus’ coming should excite you.

Scripture references: Luke 2:8-38; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

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Sending the Joy of Christmas

OCCDuring the next two weeks, Life’s Journey will offer shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.  This is a wonderful  opportunity to partner with churches all over the world to prepare shoe boxes filled with gifts for Christmas.

Every  Christmas, hundreds of thousands of gift-filled shoe boxes are sent to Samaritan Purse distribution centers which are then delivered around the globe to various children outreach programs.  Each box provides a way for children to celebrate the joys of Christmas and most importantly to learn that Jesus Christ loves them.

Get your shoe box at Life’s Journey, fill them with gifts, and return them to Life’s Journey on or before Sunday November 19.

A Funny Reminder of the Christmas Story

As you read the Christmas story in the gospel and Matthew and Luke, you might notice that our modern day plays and retellings add a few items that are not found in the original source.  This has caused some understandable frustration and confusion as many learn about the true story.  The sad part is that many people conclude that the whole story is false because Christians have added artistic license or even their own perspectives to the story over the last two thousand years.

Watch this funny reminder of what elements have been added compared to what the original stories say.  Be encouraged, the details added for the sake of easy story telling do not change the point of the story.  The old story is true, a God man was born to save the world.

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas.  The old story is true.  The peace of God is real.

Christmas isn’t just another cultural religious story made up to make the religious followers happy or convinced that their god is the real god.  The story is true.  The story has been incorporated into religious services and a lot of artistic license has been granted to holiday pageants and plays, but this doesn’t make the original story false.

The virgin birth was just as unbelievable to the Jewish community as it is for all of us “science minded” people today.  Joseph desired to separate from Mary privately so as not to bring her into more public shame.  He knew (as did the public) just as well as you and I that a child is not normally conceived outside of normal natural means.  Don’t let the festive traditions, ones that were unfamiliar to the people who experienced the birth of Jesus, deceive you into thinking that all of the Christmas tradition was created by followers of the Christian church much later after Jesus was born.  We celebrate because the event happened, just as the historic record (as recorded by Matthew and Luke) explains.  We personalize the story because we love Him and choose to celebrate his birth and his mission.

The old story is true.  The salvation of God is here.

 

December 13, 2015 – Philippians: Always Be Full of Joy

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Preached by Rod Benner (00:38)

Rod concludes his series in Philippians

The Bible instructs us to do things that are not easy to do.  Paul encouraged, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!”  As easy as it sounds, we all know joyful living is hard.  Christmas is supposed to be the season of joy and merriment, but how many are caught in stress, anxiety and depression produced by an attempt to be happy and make others happy.  Yet, God wants us to rejoice always and in every circumstance.  How would your life be different if you rejoiced always at home, at work, and while you’re in your community?  Frustrating events will always occur, but God says rejoice even then.  You will still feel frustrated and annoyed but Joy must be in charge of those feelings.  Joy can only be in charge of your emotions when Jesus is in charge of your life.  An unending joy is only possible by the power of Jesus given to his friends through the Holy Spirit. Jesus must be your King and Lord in order for you to be always full of joy.  This is not self help.  You can produce many happy moments with self help programs, but a program and positive thinking will not enable joy in every circumstance. Self help reveals the power you have, while joy is revealed by the power Jesus has.  Follow Jesus to learn joy.  Start at the cross, make Jesus your leader and you will steadily get to a joyful life.  It’s not a matter of working harder with Him, it’s a matter of submitting your work to Him.

Scripture references: Philippians 4:4; James 1:2-4; Romans 5:2,14:17

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December 21, 2014 – The Facts of Christmas

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Preached by Rod Benner (00:56).

Rod highlights the important facts found in the biblical Christmas story and some popular story traditions that aren’t found in the biblical text.

Scripture references: Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 2, Luke 2

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December 14, 2014 – For God so Loved He Gave

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Preached by Rod Benner (00:49).  Main scripture reference John 3:16.

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