Not Just Another Gift

Luke 1 and 2

The Real Focus – Consider the Gift!

At the countdown to Christmas, let us focus on what is really most important.  Too many, including many Christians, miss it by way of their actions and attitudes.  The Gospel of Luke points us to this goal as it challenges us to consider the gift.

The Wrapping

Luke 2:12 – And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

This Child, this gift you are to look for, will not be surrounded by external splendor and outward glitter and glory, but instead by common wrappings.

The Trimmings

Luke 2:13-14 – 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, goodwill toward men!”

Loud heavenly choruses announce this gift of God’s peace.  But do not miss where the choruses resound; not at the manger scene but in the distance fields where the shepherds are gathered.  At the manger, the trimmings are virtually non-existent and quite ordinary.

The Tag

Luke 1:30-31 – Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.

This name, Jesus, is no accident.  The full name in Hebrew is a sentence name:  “Yahweh” or Lord saves!”

The Contents

Luke 1:32-33 – He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

  • His excelling greatness!
  • His absolute exaltation!
  • His supreme power!
  • His eternal reign
  • His perpetual kingdom!

The Purpose

Luke 2:29-32 – Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word;   For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

To bring salvation to all peoples, including the Gentiles!  This gift is available to all, the invitation is to everyone, but the benefits are only for those who will act.

The Conclusion – Unwrap the Gift

The gift of Jesus Christ is God’s present to you.  Simply acknowledging the gift exists, or simply noting its presence does nothing for you personally.  You must unwrap the gift.  If you have, why not share the gift with others?

Seeing Jesus

John 9:8-41 –

Therefore, the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is not this he who sat and begged?”  Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.”  He said, “I am he.”  Therefore, they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”  He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.”  Then they said to him, “Where is He?”  He said, “I do not know.”  They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees.  Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.  Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”  Therefore, some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.”  Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.  They said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?” 

He said, “He is a prophet.”  But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight.  And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”  His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.”  His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.  Therefore, his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”  So, they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.” 

He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”  Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?”  He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?”  Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples.  We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.”  The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!  Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.  Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.  If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”  They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.  Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”  He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”  And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.”  Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.  And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”  Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore, your sin remains.

Seeing Jesus as a man – The blind man was

  • Confronted by Jesus
  • Commanded to do something
  • Was obedient to the commands of Jesus
  • Was delivered from darkness and given light

The healed man knew that it was “a man that is called Jesus” who had healed him.  He was blessed by Jesus despite an inadequate understanding of Christ.  His heart was right toward Jesus.  It was tender and willing to do what Jesus said.  A man must learn about Jesus before he can learn of Jesus, before he can ever come to know Jesus personally.  The blind man could have stopped at any stage and failed in his spiritual journey. 

Matthew 11:28-29 – Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Seeing Jesus as a Helper or a Healer – The blind man still saw Jesus as a man, but as a man who had done a great thing by helping him and healing him.  Many confess Jesus was:

  • Great teacher
  • Great moralist
  • Great teacher
  • Great example

But this concept of Jesus still falls far short of the truth. 

Luke 4:22 – So all bore witness to Him and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

Luke 4:32 – And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.

Seeing Jesus as a prophet – The blind man recognized Jesus as a man chosen by God, but still only a man. 

Matthew 16:13-14 – When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”  So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Matthew 21:10-11 – And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”  So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Matthew 21:46 – But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitudes, because they took Him for a prophet.

Seeing Jesus as the Savior

The man who had received his sight now confessed the immortal words, “One thing I know, I was blind, now I see.  He was confessing his personal experience; he was blind, but now he could see.  He could not answer the theological question – Is Jesus a mere man as all other men, or is He of God?  But he could answer one thing – his own personal experience.  He saw that Jesus was more than a mere man.  Like a child, he did not know the theological terms nor how to express the nature of Jesus, but he did know one thing – Jesus had delivered and saved him from blindness. 

John 3:17 – For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

1 Timothy 1:15 – This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

Seeing Jesus as being “of God”

This was the man’s final answer to those who questioned him.  He confessed that Jesus was “of God.”  He knew that the works of Jesus were proof that He was from God. 

John 7:28-29 – Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.  But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.”

John 8:42 – Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.

Seeing Jesus as the Son of God

Matthew 14:33 – Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

John 1:34 – And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

John 3:16-18 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 10:36 – do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

1 John 4:15 – Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

Believing Jesus to be the Son of God and worshipping Him

John 5:24 – Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Romans 10:9-10 – that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Jesus Passed By

John 9:1-7 – Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.  I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.  And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So, he went and washed, and came back seeing.

Spiritual Sight – man is spiritually blind and his eyes need to be opened.  The mission of Jesus is to open the eyes of man.

Jesus “saw” him.  He had concern and compassion. 

It was a common belief that a man suffered because of sin, his own or his parents’ sin.  Jesus said the man’s suffering was not because of sin, but to demonstrate God’s power.

Man suffers…..

So that God canSo that man can
Have an opportunity to workGive God an opportunity to show what He can do in a life
Show His compassionLearn to trust God more and more
Prove His powerDemonstrate a special strength and endurance
Demonstrate that He does care and look after menSet forth a dynamic example of God’s care and power to a lost world
Lead unbelievers to trust HimBetter learn and know that he lives in a sinful, corruptible world and desperately needs deliverance

Jesus carried the discussion beyond the man’s blindness.  The disciples were perplexed over this man’s situation, wondering and asking questions about the problem of suffering and sin.  Jesus picked up the question and moved it to His world-wide mission as the Light of the world.  He dealt with the problem of suffering and sin throughout the whole world.  His very mission upon earth was to work the works of God.

Jesus Christ’s mission

  • The work of seeking man – Jesus took the initiate with this man, reaching out to help him. 

Luke 19:10 – for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

  • The work of caring for man – Jesus cared that the man was blind

Matthew 20:28 – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

1 Peter 5:7 – casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

  • The work of love and compassion

Hebrews 4:15-16 – For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

  • The work of delivering from darkness and giving sight

Colossians 1:13 – He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.

Urgency of mission

  • The word ‘must” means compulsion and necessity.  There are no questions, no suggestions about the matter.  The works of God must be done.
  • The time for work is limited.  Only so much time has been given.  Whatever is to be done must be done today, while there is still time.

John 9:4 – I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.

Ephesians 5:16 – redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Jesus is the Light of the world.

  • If man wishes to be delivered from darkness, he must come to Christ.  He is the only One who can give sight to man and his world.

John 1:4 – In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John 8:12 – Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

2 Corinthians 4:6 – For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual sight comes by faith and obedience

  • The man’s faith needed to be aroused.  Jesus used two things to awaken the man’s faith.
  • He used a point of contact – he anointed the man’s eyes with clay.
  • He instructed him to go wash his eyes.  He “sent” him. 
  • As the man obeyed Jesus, he was given sight.

Man can be delivered from the darkness of sin, death and corruption by coming to Jesus Christ and obeying Him.

Romans 4:20-22 – He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.  And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Psalm 31:119 — Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!

Psalm 37:5 – Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Verily, Verily

John 5:24-25

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.  Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

The King James Version of the Bible uses the phrase, “verily I say unto you”, a total of 115 times.  Out of the 115 times, 78 times are in the Gospels.  John’s Gospel is the only book in the Bible that uses the words “verily, verily, I say unto you”, twice in succession and it does so twenty-five times.   That word stands out.  In other Versions, a similar word is used.

  • New King James Version – “assuredly, I say unto you”
  • New International Version – “I tell you the truth”   
  • Amplified Version – “Truly I tell you”
  • Contemporary English – “I Promise You”
  • Message Bible – “Listen to this carefully”
  • God’s Word Translation – “I guarantee this truth”
  • Holman Christian Standard – “I assure you”

In everyday language we would probably say something like:

  • Listen Up
  • Pay close attention
  • Hear this
  • Listen very carefully
  • Listen to me now

All of these draw special attention to the statement that follows the word “verily” or “verily, verily” or whatever phrase they use.  But John, alone, used the word twice in succession.   Perhaps the era in which he lived, he felt that extra emphasis was necessary to get people’s attention to the truth that followed.  He lived longer than many of the others who were close followers of our Lord and influenced more people because of that long life.  Remember, John is the one who, in Revelations, Chapter 2 and 3 used the phrase “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches” seven times.  He may have been following the example of Jesus, and followed closely Jesus’ use of that phrase “verily, verily.” 

John was the writer of a unique Gospel and a unique Revelation prophecy.  His Gospel is topical, dealing with specific details, not primarily chronological like the other three Gospels, and the same topic is not always covered in other Gospels.  His Gospel revolved around seven miracles and seven “I am” statements of Christ.  His purpose is crystal clear.  It was written to spark believing faith in the reader.   Four of the miracles in John’s Gospel do not appear in any of the other three.  Only John spoke about Lazarus being raised from the dead and has more to say about this particular miracle of Jesus than any other in any Gospel.

Martin Luther King used the same tactic when he gave that speech titled “I have a dream” and he used that phrase over and over.  Most public speakers do the same kind of thing when speaking.  I, myself, quite often do so also.

Are the statements you make around your family, around your friends clear to those you are speaking to and do you use words or phrases, like John did that will get their attention?  Are you following Jesus closely or afar off?  Are you making a difference in others’ lives?  

John 5:24-25 – Most assuredly, (or verily, verily) I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, (WOW, WHAT A TRUTH) and shall not come into judgment, (ANOTHER GREAT TRUTH) but has passed (NOTE “has passed” IS PAST TENSE) from death into life.  Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 

Shortly after this statement Lazarus was raised from the dead.  What God promised, He fulfilled.

Life and judgment are through the Son – Verse 24 speaks of life, everlasting life.

  • If one has heard the Word of the Lord
  • If one has believed in the Father who sent the Son
  • If one has asked forgiveness of the Son through the Father
  • If one has come to the foot of the cross
  • If one has made peace with their past
  • If one has placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ
  • If one lives faithfully for the Lord

Then judgment for those sins that one has committed has already taken place; that one has everlasting life.  Though that one may go by way of the grave they are dead in Christ physically, but alive spiritually.  That one shall hear the voice of the Son of God when He comes in His glory at the sound of the trumpet. 

John 3:16-18 – For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.  For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.  He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation–he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ’s name.]  (Amplified Bible)

John 6:47 – Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

John 6:47 – I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, he who believes in Me [who adheres to, trusts in, relies on, and has faith in Me] has (now possesses) eternal life.  (Amplified Bible)

1 John 3:14 – We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.

Seven Reasons to Praise the Lord

John 4:23-24

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

If a young lady went up to Johnny Cash and said, “I worship you!” what would she mean by that?  Would it mean that she had every one of his albums or that her walls were plastered with his posters?  Would it mean that she followed him around to all his shows?

Worship is such a difficult act to define, but it is that – a verb.  It requires us to be active.  Worship is directed toward God, for God and about God.  It must honor HIM!

What’s the definition of worship?   Since worship is a spiritual act, let us look at a spiritual source – the Word of God.  Scripture helps define it for us.  There is a very distinct difference from what Scripture says and what we often see in church.

Too many people take their cues about what is acceptable in worship from their experiences in church as children instead of from what the Bible says.  We often substitute our traditions – “this is the way we’ve always done it” for the clear mandates of the Word of God.  So what does the Bible say about HOW we should worship?

Here are scriptures that describe how we should worship.  This is not a complete list.

Psalm 46:10 – Be still and know that I am God…

Psalm 47:1 – Clap your hands, all you peoples, shout to God with a voice of triumph!

Psalm 66:12 – Shout for joy to God

Psalm 95:1-2 – Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise glorious!

Psalm 95:6 – O come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

Psalm 96:1 – Oh sing to the Lord a new song…

Psalm 134:2 – Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!

Psalm 149:3 – Lift them praise His name with dancing

Psalm 150:3-5 Praise Him with the trumpet sound…the lute and harp…tambourine…strings and pipe…cymbals.

Our worship requires action and is solely for God, not ourselves.  It is to Him alone we give glory.  He desires and deserves that glory as we gather for corporate worship in His house, but our entire life from moment to moment should be spent glorifying Him.  Sometimes that means we need to evaluate what we are doing and how we do it.  Other times, we need an attitude adjustment.  When we submit to Him in our daily lives, our actions, our thoughts and our attitudes will more and more reflect Him and bring Him glory!  Have you noticed in a lot of the prayers that your Pastor prays, he asks that our thoughts, our words and our actions always be to glorify Him?

Seven reasons we should praise the Lord:

  • We are commanded in God’s Word to praise Him

Psalm 150:1 – Praise the LORD!  Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament.

  • God is enthroned in our praise

Psalm 22:3 – But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel. 

Psalm 34:3 – Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.  

Psalm 99:9 – Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at His holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.

Psalm 107:1-2 – Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.  

  •  There is power in praise

Psalm 21:13 – Be exalted, O LORD, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power.

  •  It is good

 Psalm 92:1 – It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;  

 Psalm 135:3 – Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant.

  • God is worthy of our praise

Psalm 48:1 – Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain.

Revelation 4:11 – You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”

  • We were created to praise Him

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

  • He inhabits the praises of His people

Psalm 92:1-5 – It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your loving kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night, on an instrument of ten strings, on the lute, and on the harp, with harmonious sound.   For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands.  O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep.

Psalm 96:1-4 – Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.  Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.

What is worship?

  •  Praise and Worship is conversation between God and man, a dialogue that should go on constantly in the life of a Christian.
  • Praise and Worship is giving to God and involves a lifetime of giving to Him.
  • Praise and Worship is our positive response when we realize who God really is.  Each act of our daily life should be an act of worship.
  • Praise and Worship is an outcome of the fellowship of love between God and man.
  • Praise and Worship is our heart’s expression of love, adoration and praise to God recognizing His Lordship.
  • Praise and Worship is an act by a redeemed person toward His Creator involving his will, mind, emotions showing reverence, honor and devotion to Jesus Christ.
  • Praise and Worship means “to feel in the heart.”  It is expressing in some appropriate manner what we feel.
  • Praise and Worship is “awesome wonder and overpowering love” in the presence of God.
  • It is the ability to magnify God with our whole being – body, soul and spirit.
  • It is the unashamed pouring out of our inner self upon Jesus in affectionate devotion.
  • It is the response of God’s Spirit in us bearing witness to His Spirit whereby we cry out “Father.”
  • It is the ideally normal attitude of a rational creature properly related to His Creator.
  •   It is extravagant love and extreme obedience. 

Real worship defies definition; it can only be experienced.

Habakkuk – 3:17-18 – Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls— Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Psalm 57:9 – I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations.

Psalm 66:8 – Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard.

Psalm 66:2 – Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise glorious.

Worship our way:

  • God is the conductor
  • Pastor/Worship Leader is the performer
  • Congregation is the audience

Worship God’s way:

  • Pastor/Worship Leader is the conductor
  • Congregation is the performer
  • God is the audience

The Gift

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God gave us the best gift of all – His son and the gift of eternal life His son’s death and resurrection provided us. 

God also gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit to teach us, give us power to witness and live for God.

Luke 11:13 – If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

As we accept that precious gift of God, we need to understand that, along with life in His Son, God has also given us gifts to use for His glory.

Gift – “charisma

  •  A free gift of grace given by God such as salvation to the believer
  • Special gifts bestowed upon the believer by the Holy Spirit

Matthew 10:7-8 – And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Romans 12:3-8 – For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 – There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

Gifts God gave to the church

  • Apostles
  • Prophets
  • Evangelists
  • Pastors
  • Teachers

Purpose of these gifts

  • To equip (prepare, arm) the church for the work of ministry of God
  • To edify (to educate, improve) the body of Christ
  • Until we mature (are established, developed) in God’s Word and become like Him
  • That we do not act like children – unstable and constantly being deceived by false teachers
  • Until each one of the body of Christ does its share and cause the body of Christ to grow in love

Ephesians 4:8 – But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore He says:  “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”  (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,  for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,  till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

What are your gifts?

How well are you exercising the gifts that God has given you?


John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Isaiah 9:6-7- For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.  Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

2 Samuel 7:16 – And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.

Philippians 2:5-11 — Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Royal Throne Room – The stable

True, a stable is for animals, so a few may have been nearby on the night Jesus was born, although they may have been kept outside.  Still, the smell more than likely included the normal stable scents.  It takes a great deal of time and cleaning for those smells to disappear.  Another distinctive contrast is the construction materials, namely stone and wood.  Definitely missing are marble columns, precious metal inlays and carpets from the Orient.

Yet, this seemingly insignificant location becomes the grand throne room of the promised King, the awaited Messiah.

The contrast continues.  There is no special nursery cradle of expensive materials.  Instead, Mary lays her baby in a rough-hewn manger designed to feed animals.  Totally missing are the fine fabrics of a royal household.  He is bundled in the bands of cloth commonly used for babies of that culture.  Also absent are the attendants who would attentively serve the family’s every need and want.  Only humble shepherds, the lowest in the social structure, came on the night of his birth to celebrate this special occasion.

So once again the question arises, “How can this stable be the throne room of a King?”

The answer lies in the person of Jesus rather than in the stable where He lies in His manger bed.  He IS royalty.

Human Royalty

When thinking of royalty, our attention may be drawn to contemporaries like Queen Elizabeth II of England, Prince William or other European royalty.  In the process of remembering historical royal figures, we may think of Queen Victoria, Richard the Lion-Hearted or Henry VIII.  In the process, we may easily overlook the reality of Jesus’ royal status.

Isaiah’s prophecy of Christ states, “He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom.”  (Isaiah 9:7).  This is a confirmation of God’s covenant with David, made nearly three centuries prior.  Though David is not allowed to fulfill his desire to build a temple for the Lord because of his bloodshed as a man of war, God gives him a very special promise.

2 Samuel 7:16 – And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.

Centuries later, we see the fulfillment in Jesus.  Joseph, the legal father, and Mary, His blood mother, are both descendants of King David.  He is royalty!

Though He was born in a stable and laid in a manger, was raised in humble circumstances, and ministered as an itinerant does not change reality.  Jesus is the descendant of an earthy king.  He is human royalty.

Divine Royalty

Without the reality of Jesus’ identity as divine royalty, the Bethlehem story and His life are nothing more than an unusual human-interest story, and His teachings and claims would be no different from many other charlatans who deceive for personal greed and egotistical ends.

Jesus came to earth as the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) and the “Son of God” (John 3:16).  This points very specifically to His position of divine royalty.

When reviewing this aspect of Jesus’’ identity, we are reminded of His two natures.  He is the God-man.  Although He takes on human flesh, He retains His divinity.  He allows the human aspect to become a limitation, however, thus enabling a true identification with us humans.

Philippians 2:5-11 – Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Royal Identity

Only a few men and women are born into royal families with their titles and inherent privileges.  Yet in marked contrast are the believers throughout the ages and around the world, who because of our belief in Christ, are born into the family of God.  And that means we too are royalty!

Our physical parentage, economic status, education attainments and personal abilities may vary greatly.  But it does not matter.  These things are not the substance of royalty.  We are royalty because we are the children of God, the King of kings.  Spiritually, His royal blood flows through our veins.  As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are heirs of the heavenly Father.  Our inheritance is one not just for the future, however.  We enjoy all the privileges of being in His royal family today, even now.

Royalty!  That is anyone who accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Inferior to Superior

John 2:1-12

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.  And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”  Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”  Now there were set there six water pots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.  Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.  And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.  When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.  And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”  This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.   After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.

  • The water made wine
  • The ordinary made extraordinary
  • The plain and simple made special
  • The inferior made to be superior
  • A life of sin, no hope within.
  • Struggling alone, no hope, no joy


  • A light turns on, the Spirit calls
  • We receive Christ, old habits gone


  • Outcast, chained, in bondage torn
  • Tired and lonely, no friend to call our own.


  • We cry out to God, we bow our head
  • We weep in sorrow for what we have done
  • New hope dawns


  • He broke my chains and set me free
  • His banner over me is love


Psalm 25:4-5 – Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.  Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you.

When we find Christ

  • The crooked way is made straight
  • The difficult becomes manageable
  • The storm gives way to sunshine

Inferior to Superior!

Job 13:15 – Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.  Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.

Yet will I trust God anyway. When darkness gives way to light, I have assurance – Even though I’m tried I shall come forth as gold.

When we are in Christ and Christ is in us, we have His promise.  He will be with us.  There will be difficult times, but He will be there.  He is a shelter in the storm. 

John 16:33 – These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Psalm 23:4 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.


Psalm 23:6 – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Dwell in the house of the Lord – that’s superior

We live in the inferior now – but the superior awaits!

What Do You Seek?

John 1:35-39

Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples.  And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”  The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.  Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”  They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”  He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

What do you seek? – What are you looking for from life?

Come and see

Matthew 11:28 – Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

What do people seek for?

  • Riches
  • Houses and lands
  • Education
  • Fancy cars
  • Jewelry
  • Fame
  • Are you seeking for meaning, purpose in life?
  • Are you seeking for self-improvement, fellowship, friends?
  • Are you seeking deliverance from trials, trouble, suffering?
  • Are you seeking approval and acceptance with God?

Isaiah 55:6 – Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

Matthew 6:24-33 – No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.  “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Luke 11:9-10 – So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Matthew 16:24-26 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul. Only He can change your life and make you whole. He’ll give you peace you never knew, special joy and heaven too. Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

Jesus said, “What do you seek?”  Then, “Come and see.”

The Word Became Flesh

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.  For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

The John of the Gospel of John was a disciple of Jesus, brother of James.  Along with Peter, these three made up an inner circle of disciples.  John and Peter witnessed the figuration.  It was these two who healed the lame man in front of the temple who was begging for alms.

Jesus had died, risen and ascended into heaven approximately 33 A.D.  John wrote this Gospel approximately 85 to 90 AD. – Some 50 years later.

Christianity was spreading to the entire world as they knew it.  How would John, a Jew, write about Jewish tradition, history and a messiah that only Jews were looking for?  Through the power of the Holy Spirit John used a term that all the world could comprehend.  The entire world, the learned, the scholar all knew Greek and they understood the power and might of the “word.” 

The “word” was seen as the power that enabled men to think and reason.  It was the power that brought light and understanding to man’s mind and enabled him to express his thoughts in an orderly fashion.  Here in the Gospel of John, the “word” was not just a “word.’  It was the power by which men came into contact with God and began to comprehend the deeper things of God.  John proclaimed that “Jesus Christ was the Word and the Word became flesh.”

Jesus Christ was the picture, the expression, the pattern, the very image of what God wished to say to man. 

“The Word was made flesh” God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was made flesh and blood; He became a man.  No greater message could ever be proclaimed to man.

Christ dwelt visibly among us

John the Baptist bore witness of the superiority of Christ

Men have received the fullness and grace of Christ

God’s Son alone has seen God

Incarnation – The Son of God was actually made flesh.  He came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ.  There is no doubt about John’s meaning here.  The word “flesh” (sarx) is the same word that Paul used to describe man’s nature with all of its weakness and tendency to sin.  Jesus Christ is fully God, yet He is fully man.  The word “beheld” means actually seeing with the human eye.  There is no room for saying that God becoming a man was merely a vision.  John was saying that he and others actually saw the Word made flesh.

Flesh –What does the Bible mean by “flesh”?

The flesh is corruptible.  Sin has tainted and debased the flesh.  Therefore, the flesh sins and ages, dies, deteriorates and decays.

Galatians 6:8 – For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

1 Corinthians 15:50 – Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

Christ became flesh to correct and counteract this corruption of the flesh

1 Peter 1:18-19, 23-25 – knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,  but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.  The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”  Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The flesh is dishonorable.  It is not what God created it to be. 

Romans 7:18 – For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

Romans 1:28-32 – And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;  being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,  backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;  who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Christ became flesh to correct and counteract the dishonor of the flesh

Hebrews 2:14-15 – Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,  and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Romans 5:8-10 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

The flesh is weak.  It is impotent, feeble because of sin.  It has no strength to please God nor to save itself.

Romans 8:8 – So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

John 6:63 – It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

The flesh is a natural body.  It is part of the earth; it is made up of the chemicals and substances of the earth.  It is “the earthly home,” the “tent,” which houses the human soul and spirit.  It is neither spirit nor spiritual; therefore it cannot live beyond the strength of the chemicals and substances that form its flesh.  It cannot live beyond its natural life

1 Corinthians 15:50 – Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

Luke 24:39 – Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.

Christ became flesh to counteract the natural body of the flesh.  He became flesh in order to become a “quickening spirit,” the Savior who could quicken and make alive all those who would trust Him.

1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

Romans 8:11 – But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Glory of the Incarnation

Christ was the “Shekinah glory” of god.  This work means “that which dwells” or “dwelling.”  It refers to the bright cloud that God used to guide Israel out of Egypt and that rested upon the tabernacle and above the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place.  It symbolizes God’s presence.  John was saying, “We beheld,” actually saw the Shekinah glory, God’s very presence “dwelling among us.”

John said we looked at Him and could tell He was God.  All that Jesus was in His person and being, character and behavior, was so enormously different. 

James, the Lord’s brother in the natural, even called Jesus “the Lord of glory.”  James was reared with Jesus beginning from the earliest years of childhood right on through the years of adulthood.  He had every chance to see some act of disobedience, some sin, something contrary to the nature of God.  But he called Jesus –

James 2:1 – My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.

Christ was full of grace and truth.

Isaiah 9:6 – For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

1 Timothy 3:16 – And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:  God was manifested in the flesh,

justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.

Hebrews 2:14 – Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

Grace, as applied to Christ, means far more than it does when men use it.  When man does favors for his friends, he can be said to be gracious.  But God has done a thing unheard of among men.  He has given his very own Son to die for his enemies.  Grace became the favor of God showered upon men – men who did not deserve His favor. 

Fullness and grace of Christ given to us

“Fullness” means that which fills, the sum total.  It is the sum total of all that is in God.

Colossians 1:9-10- For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

“Grace” is His blessing upon us.  Grace enough to meet all our needs, not matter the circumstance.  We cannot earn this grace.  It is a gift of God.

Titus 3:4-7 – But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Romans 3:23-24 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.