A Week of Christmas Past: Luke Abendroth Christmas Eve Message (2022)

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Luke Abendroth preaches the BBC Christmas Eve Message (2022)

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Well, it's good to be here tonight and see many of you.
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My name is not Mike Abendroth, like it says on your bulletins, but I'm Luke Abendroth, his son, and in town for a little bit, and it's a privilege to bring
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God's word to you tonight. Let me pray for us. Our Father, we thank you for this excuse that we have to gather even more than once this week on just the
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Lord's day, but twice, and to remember the good news of great joy about your son, the
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Lord Jesus. We thank you for him and for his birth and his life and his death and his resurrection and what that means for us, that even as sinful people like we are, we can be forgiven.
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We pray that you'd bless your word to our ears. We pray that you would help us here with faith, and I pray all these things, not based on our merit, but based on what your son has done on our behalf.
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Amen. What does Christmas mean to you? What does
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Christmas mean to you? A lot of different people have different answers to that question. Most of them, if they're, you know, many
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Christians will include something about Jesus, but often in the world, you hear answers about family or traditions or getting stressed out about all the money that you spent and wrapping your gifts in time, and there's all kinds of different perspectives on Christmas, but in this short time that we have to look at God's word,
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I want to look at the most important perspective on Christmas, God's perspective on Christmas.
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What does Christmas mean to God? We're going to look at a passage that Pastor Cooley already read,
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Luke chapter 2. We're going to focus in on verses 8 through 14, Luke chapter 2, verses 8 through 14, and I wanted to do
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Luke chapter 2, verses 1 through 20, but as I was looking through, I thought I'm not going to be able to do this in 20 minutes, so we'll just zero in on verses 8 through 20, but in the context, the book of Luke is written,
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Luke chapter 1, Luke, the author writes and says that to the recipient of the letter,
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Theophilus, that he wants to compile an orderly account, that he wants to record a history about what happened with Jesus, so that Theophilus might be certain about what he believes.
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The whole book of Luke is written that we might be certain about Jesus and who he is, and in the context, an angel appears to Zechariah and tells him in the temple that John the
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Baptist is going to be born to Zechariah's wife in her old age, and then an angel appears to Mary, and John the
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Baptist is born, and as Pastor Steve read, we saw that a great king,
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Caesar Augustus, you might know him as Octavian, the man who defeated Mark Antony in a great naval battle, ordered that all the world should be registered, and this included a little place in Palestine called
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Bethlehem, where Joseph and his wife Mary, or soon to be wife, went up to participate in this census.
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And we see the great passage that we all know and love about Jesus being born and wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger, and it's very sweet, and we see the humility of Christ that he's not, does not enter into the world with fanfare and trumpets and into a great parade and festivals, there's actually a lot recorded about Caesar Augustus and how he was born and the festivals that were honored in his name.
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Actually people called him a great savior in a certain letter and said that they wanted the beginning of time to be marked by Caesar Augustus' birth, kind of ironic based on the way that we measure time today.
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But then we see in verse 8, we see the heavenly perspective on Christmas, not the humble birth, but we see something else,
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I'm going to read verses 8 through 9. And in the same region, there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
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And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
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We're introduced to a group of shepherds, we leave the scene of the birth of Jesus and him lying in that feeding trough, and we go out into the hills around Bethlehem.
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And there's a group of shepherds watching over their flocks by night. And shepherds at the time were not necessarily the top of the totem pole in society, they weren't really the cream of the crop.
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Many records actually say that shepherds were looked down upon because sometimes it was a struggle for them to keep the ceremonial law, it was definitely a struggle for them to keep the laws of the religious leaders, the
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Pharisees that they had created, the extra laws. And so they weren't necessarily significant people, and they're doing an insignificant thing, they're keeping watch over their flock by night.
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But then we're told in verse 9, an angel of the Lord appears to them, and the glory of the
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Lord shines around them. And to us, if we're not necessarily thinking biblically, we think, oh, that's cool, angels, you know?
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It's like a little cherub, is it cherub or cherub, I don't know, cherub, you know, and it's like he's got like the arrow, and he's shooting little couples with the
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Valentine's arrows. It's like, wow, this is so sweet, those angels. Or even the glory of the
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Lord, you know, you got bright lights, and that's pretty much the extent of what we think about when we think of the glory of the
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Lord. But both of these things are very important in Scripture.
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In the Old Testament, we see that the angel of the Lord is not a cute little baby.
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Angels are messengers of God, and oftentimes, they don't really bring good news.
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When angels show up, oftentimes, it's time to turn and run. Remember, it's an angel called the destroyer in Exodus that God sends out in any family that did not have the blood painted over the door.
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God would send his angel in to destroy the firstborn. It's an angel who visited
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Sodom and Gomorrah to test them. It's also an angel in 2 Kings 19, when
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Hezekiah is huddled in Jerusalem, and the great king Sennacherib, of whom we know so much about even from secular history, is coming against Jerusalem.
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And the Lord says through Isaiah, don't be afraid. I'll win the victory.
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And the angel of the Lord goes out and kills 185 ,000 of the Assyrians and saves
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Jerusalem. If you're a Hebrew, and you hear about angels, this is scary.
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And the glory of the Lord is the same thing. We could go all through Scripture, but what we see over and over is the glory of the
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Lord seen on Mount Sinai. And there's lightning and thunder and fire and dark clouds.
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And the people say in Deuteronomy 5 to Moses, don't let the Lord speak to us anymore. You go up and speak to the
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Lord, and then come back and tell us what He said. When the glory of the Lord descends upon the tabernacle or upon the temple, in both instances, the people have to leave, because the glory of the
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Lord fills the temple, and something in human nature says, I've got to get out of here. And all of that is going through their minds, but I think we can all easily understand why these shepherds were afraid.
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The word here, when it says they're afraid, and it says that they're filled with fear, the root word of fear is actually used twice.
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It's like fearsomely afraid. One translation says sore afraid, double afraid, afraid afraid.
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They're scared out of their wits. And wouldn't you be scared if a messenger from God came to you?
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This is what happens, even for us. I want to focus in on the fear here, because this is our natural instinct when we think about an eternal
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God, because God is our creator and owner. He creates and owns every single person, every one of us, and He's made every one of us in His image.
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And He wants every single one of us to reflect that image, and reflect even
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His glory in the way that we live our lives. He wants us to love others, to put others first, to obey
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His commands, to do what honors Him, to avoid evil and wickedness, and to pursue righteousness.
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But if we're honest with ourselves, as these shepherds seem like they were, wouldn't we be just as afraid?
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When you think about your life, when I think about my life, I'm only 26, and already when I think about my life, there are many reasons for me to be afraid of God.
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That's why it's interesting when Paul says in Romans 3, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
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We've all failed to reflect this glory, and therefore we cannot enter into this glory. And when we see the glory, there's something about us that makes us terrified, like Isaiah, when he sees the
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Lord seated on a throne, he says, woe is me. That's the natural response in our sin.
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Because we all know, even from our conscience, that we deserve justice, that we deserve judgment from God for the way that we've lived our lives.
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Even the best of us. But that's not the message of Christmas.
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What's the message of Christmas? Well, we do see fear, and we see the fear of the shepherds, but the message of Christmas is fear turned into joy.
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Fear turns into joy. This angel of the Lord, this great ambassador of God, who often brings judgment and bad tidings.
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What does he say? Verse 10, and the angel said to them, fear not, fear not, for behold,
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I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.
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For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior who is
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Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you. You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.
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And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.
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This is the message of Christmas. Fear turns into joy. The angel says, fear not, don't be afraid.
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I have good news for you. I bring you good news. Literally it's, I evangelize to you. I have a great message for you.
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Don't run, don't hide. He doesn't say this, but it's like, yes, you should run and hide.
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You should feel guilty. You should feel the shame of the things that you've done in your life, but fear not because I have good news of a great joy that will be for all the people, even shepherds, not the religious leaders.
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And what is this good news? What is this gospel of great joy?
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That unto them, these shepherds unto you, he says, the angel is born this day in the city of David, a savior.
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There's someone here to save us. Finally, there's a savior who is born.
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The word is often used, especially in the old Testament to describe the Exodus, God delivering his people, making a way through the
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Red Sea. And it's applied all throughout the New Testament of Jesus saving us from the greater foe, our own sin.
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But how is Jesus a savior? Well, we see that he is Christ. What does that word
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Christ mean? Well, it's actually not Jesus' last name, Jesus Christ. Christ, it means anointed one.
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The Hebraized word we can use for it is Messiah. And there were three groups of anointed ones in the
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Old Testament, three people who were consistently anointed, prophets, priests, and kings.
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And all of them, all throughout Scripture, we see prophecies that there is going to be a greater prophet, greater than Moses.
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There's going to be a greater king that's even greater than David. And there's going to be a greater priest, greater than all the priests descended from Aaron.
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So how is Jesus, how is this little baby in a manger going to be a savior?
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Well, first of all, he's the Messiah. He's the king who comes.
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And his purpose is not like David to defeat Goliath with a sling, but it's to defeat
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Satan, our sin, and death itself through a cross.
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He's a prophet who doesn't bring primarily news of judgment, news of shame.
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He brings good news, a prophet who tells us things that actually make us want to smile.
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And finally, he's a priest. It's the clearest picture of our
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Savior is that he's our priest. Just as the priests in the Old Testament, what they would do is they would confess the sins of the people onto the lamb.
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They would kill that lamb, symbolizing there has to be death for sin. Even a little bit of sin, there has to be death.
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God's standard for us is not a measurement against other people. He isn't great on a curve.
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He expects us actually to live up to his glory, and yet we've all fallen short of that. And so in that Old Testament picture, there had to be death for sin.
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But this priest, the great high priest, he doesn't offer a lamb. He doesn't offer another animal.
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He gets on the altar himself and offers himself in our place.
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That's what Jesus did. That's why he was born. Yes, he was born to show us what a life reflecting the glory of God was like.
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Yes, he was born to show us how to love one another. Yes, he was born to give us the Sermon on the Mount. But most importantly, why was
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Jesus born? He was born to obey and to obey even unto death.
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That little baby that we see, you know, in all of these nativity scenes, why was he born?
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He was born to die. That was the whole purpose that he came. And it's not just another person.
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It's not just an angel. It's who? It's a Savior who's come to save us, our prophet, priest, and king.
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And he is, look at verse 11 at the end, the Lord. That term is used already in Luke, and it always refers to God himself, that Jesus Christ is not just a man, that this little baby when he was born, that or nine months before when he was conceived, that was not when this little baby began to exist.
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He always existed. His comings forth are from of old, the prophets say. God himself became the
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Messiah. God himself became the Savior. He was born a little baby. This is especially significant for me this year because I have a little nephew,
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Amos, over here. It looks like he's asleep. But just to think, I was actually,
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I was working on my, on this today and Marty said, Hey, can you watch Amos for a minute? And I'm like, I'm working on my sermon. Then I walk over there.
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I'm like, oh, this is actually pretty good for my sermon. I'm thinking about a little baby. But just to think that God himself would become a little baby, helpless, all for us to bring us good news of great joy.
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Verse 12, it says, and this will be a sign for you. You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
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And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of in the heavenly host praising God and saying glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.
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So they're already afraid of the one angel. And then this good news is announced.
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This good news of great joy that will be for all the people. And then what happens? Suddenly there's an angel, a multitude of the heavenly host or heavenly armies praising
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God and saying, imagine that you're one of these shepherds keeping watch.
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One angel appears. You're already afraid. Then you hear this, this great news is good news of great joy.
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And then what thousands upon thousands of God's angelic armies in the heavens all saying glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.
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These soldiers of God are declaring the victory before the battles really even started.
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Jesus is still a baby and they're already saying victory. Good news.
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It's, it's a done deal. What Jesus has come to do will be accomplished. This is the real
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King and glory to God in the highest and peace with all those who put their trust in Christ.
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Let me close with this. Is this good news for you?
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Is this good news of great joy for you? Can you say unto me is born a savior unto me has lived a savior unto me has died a savior unto me a savior is risen again from the dead.
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It when you die in a sense you will experience the glory of God. You will stand before God.
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And it can be either in fear or with great joy with confidence not in yourself but in what
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Christ has done that Jesus has come down and he was born that little baby. But then he lived a perfect life and he suffered the punishment and pain and shame that we deserve on the cross so that we could go free.
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So that we could rejoice so that we could have confidence so that we can be those in verse 14 that says with us
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God is pleased. Jesus turns our fear into joy.
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That's the real meaning of Christmas. Let me pray. Dear Heavenly Father, I just thank you for your word.
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Thank you that it is so powerful. We thank you that we know the one true
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King who reigns over all even as we can be afraid of whatever is happening in the world with different powers and politicians and we can be fearful.
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We don't need to be afraid because we know your son is the one who is in control.
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The father you are working all things together for our good and to glorify your son and that one day you will come back to earth.
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We don't have to be afraid of that we can look forward to that day with longing with great joy because we know our sins are forgiven.
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Jesus lived in our place. He died in our place. He rose again and so there's nothing to be afraid of anymore.
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I pray for every person in this room Lord. I pray for anyone here who is not trusting in your son.
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I pray that you would help them to know that their conscience that is always nagging them about their sin and about their shame and the things that they've done and their regrets their conscience can be silenced in a sense by the blood of your son cleansed purged by what
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Jesus has done. There's so much joy as those of us who know the Lord know here today and knowing that it is finished.
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We have nothing else to add to the work but we can rest and rejoice and seek to serve you with all our hearts.
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I pray for all of us here who are Christians who do know you. I pray that you would help us to reflect on this message tonight and tomorrow.
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I pray that it would bring joy to our hearts. I pray that you would make us a people that are known for being joyful that rejoice in you always and I pray that that joy would spread to others and that people would want what we have that we would adorn the doctrine of God our