Born is the King of Hope

Matthew 2.1-12

A tale of two kings…a tale of two hopes. Herod, an earthly king, living in Jerusalem, seeks to build a name and a kingdom for himself. Jesus, a heavenly King…but not just a heavenly King, but also an earthly King who came to reconcile heaven and earth, born in Bethlehem, has already been given a Name and a kingdom.

Herod’s hope is a very earthy hope…a hope for his own kingdom, a hope for power, prestige, position, pleasure. A hope that was very selfish and self-serving. A hope that did not save him because it could not. The scribes and the chief priests seem to have a similar hope, but slightly different. While they were not in the position of king, they still were building their own little kingdoms and hoping in an earthy king who could not save.

But the magi’s hope was in Someone far greater…His arrival was announced by the heavens. A star pointed the way. The magi’s hope led them to go to crazy, incredible lengths to see Jesus, and seeing Him, they couldn’t help but worship Him, bringing Him their costly gifts…a picture of their submission to Him (service). In Him, they found an object worthy of great pursuit…chasing after Him with ardor, zeal and perseverance…their hope was in Jesus, the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, the Warrior-King from the line of David, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Hero of the story and the only One who could rescue them.

What are you hoping in this Christmas? Who are you hoping in? Is it causing you to be selfish and self-serving? Is your confidence in people or things that are destined to disappoint? Or are you hoping in Jesus, the only One who can save and deliver and rescue…not just in an eternal sense, but also here and now? Is He your hope every day? Do you live that way…going to crazy incredible lengths to be in His presence, to worship Him, to serve Him with the same passion and diligence that the magi did? Are you living as one who has realized their hope in Jesus? Are we as God’s people making much of Jesus this Christmas, or are we caught up in the hustle and bustle of building our own little kingdoms?

“May Jesus the King be our one true hope this Christmas season.”

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our Advent series, Born is the King. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

Born is the King of Joy

What is the greatest news you’ve ever received? I’ve had plenty of good experiences. I’ll never forget the day my wife said “Yes!” Or the day I found out I was getting my dream job. I remember hearing that a sick loved one was healed. I remember getting accepted to college. I cherish game 7 of the 2001 World Series and every Lakers’ championship.

Happiness is the natural response to good news. And not only that, but happiness is something we all want. According to a recent study, 84% of adults in the US, and 66% of practicing Christians, agree that “the highest goal for life is to enjoy it as much as possible.”

The good news for us is that happiness is a gift from God. The gospel of Jesus is good news of great joy for all people.

Sometimes life’s circumstances try to rob us of our joy, and the temptation can be to try and find happiness in a new circumstance: a relationship, or a shiny new purhase, but those are only temporary fixes.

Jesus is the only gift that can make our hearts sing. The Ellen Show may give amazing gifts for 12 days of Christmas, but Jesus has new mercies for us every day, all year long. Jesus is the one worth talking about. He is the ultimate treasure.

Joy is possible. In fact, anyone who has actually understood and embraced the gospel of Jesus is guaranteed to have joy that surpasses circumstances.

Jesus brings joy because His advent is the best news in human history. In Jesus, God bends down from heaven to bless lowly shepherds. Jesus alone brings rescue and forgiveness. He is perfectly loving and good. He is our God and King; He has all power and perfect justice. Jesus is the answer to every human struggle – He forgives our sins, comforts us in our suffering, changes us from the inside out, sets all things right, and grants us eternal life.

Make Jesus your most valued treasure this holiday season, and be amazed at all the reasons He gives you to rejoice!

Born is the King of Love

Advent theme of Love through the eyes of Mary…

So today we’re going to talk about love…true love, God’s kind of love, a love that is foreign to the world we know today. Love that is action and not just emotion…notice I said “not just emotion” because love is not emotionless, but it is not primarily emotion. The love that the Bible talks about is a choice. God chooses to love us, not because we are so lovable…we’re not. We’re rebellious…we broke the good world He created and rejected Him in the process. But God chose to love us and He acted… “For God so loved the world, He gave…” Love asks the question, “How can I best serve you?”, not “what’s in it for me?” That kind of love is very different then than what our culture defines as love. You see, culture has what I like to call, a Walt Disney view of love. It’s actually a view of love that goes way back to the ancient Greek philosophers like Plato, who believed that at one time, we humans were two people in one body…4 arms, 4 legs, 2 heads, etc.…and because we became arrogant, thinking we could replace the gods, Zeus split us in half, rendering us less powerful and condemning us to spend the rest of our lives yearning for our other half to complete us. It’s where the idea of soulmate comes from. Somewhere out there there is a perfect match for me, my soulmate, the one who completes me. For you gals, it’s your prince charming. For the guys out there, it’s our Cinderella. When I find my soulmate, then we will live happily ever after. So when the happily ever after isn’t so happy, when the frog you kissed turns out to be just a frog and not a prince, then you have every right to throw him back and kiss another frog. When the glass slipper doesn’t fit, try it on someone else. Love lasts as long as I am happy, as long as my needs are met. Love is really about me. Now granted, that describes a particular kind of love between a guy and a gal, but the selfish aspect of that kind of love infects all of our relationships. I’m friends with those who somehow make me fill good… 

Mary didn’t know what she was getting into when she said, “Yes” to the Lord (Luke 1.26-33) and began the indescribable adventure of both parenting and following Jesus. She couldn’t have predicted the great joy and the great pain that it would bring. But she believed in God’s great love for her. She trusted that He was concerned about her good and was working things out to that end. Surely not what she had expected…but she didn’t regret saying, “Yes.”

What’s the great adventure He’s calling you to? What do you need to say “yes” to Him about?

 Saying “yes” assumes that you know God loves you…so, do you know that God loves you? Not just intellectually, but do you really know, do you believe that God loves you? He has gone to the greatest lengths to prove it. Sending His own Son to die so that we, you and I, might live. 

How are you experiencing God’s love? What does it look like in your life? Can you see His fingerprints in your circumstances? Are you learning to listen to His voice? You can only experience God’s love when you believe He loves you. 

 If other folks loved God the way you love God, and if they loved others the way you do, how would the world be different? What would that look like? More or less selfish. Remember love is a choice.

 “May we experience and share the love of the King this Christmas season.”