These are my notes for my sermon at the Chapel service at Wheeler Mission for the homeless tonight. Enjoy and Merry Christmas.
How often have we cried: “I waste away, I waste away. Woe is me.” Isaiah 24:9
Lyrics: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.
But there is hope, there is rescue, there is restoration in the hands of God.
We see this in the first verses of the Bible that God is the first responder in the time of crisis. Look at the 1st characteristics of God mentioned in the Bible: It began with Creation. God created heaven and earth, they were good. Then something went wrong. Between Genesis 1:1, when out of His goodness God created the heavens and the earth, and Genesis 1:2, something happened. We are informed that what was created became “formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep” (Genesis 1:2). This was when Lucifer was kicked out of heaven with a third of the angels. A war and a catastrophe. From the beginning of time, however, we see the marvelous, compassionate way that God responds to catastrophes. After realizing that what He created was now covered with darkness, God didn’t decide to just abandon it. No. He refashioned this planet that had lost its original beauty.
Matthew 5:3: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.
Luke 1:33b: Of his kingdom there shall be no end.
This story of restoration at the end of sin’s winding road is neither the first, nor will it be the last. From the beginning of time, history has demonstrated that there is hope for the one who has fallen.
Our failures are no surprise to God. He knows, with greater understanding than we, the creation He made. And this One, who sees our sins, also knows His purposes for us.
In the Bible, God left us the complete stories of spiritual giants through whom He worked—Moses, Elijah, David and many more—just as they were, flaws and all. He did not touch up the negatives or use Photoshop to present them in a better light. There was no cover-up.
Look at Moses. What an incredible life story is his—forsaken at birth and then rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter. He was raised in a powerful family of influence. As an adult, Moses’ heart was burdened for his people, and he spoke out against the cruel slavery inflicted upon the children of Israel. Unfortunately, he “ruined” what he felt God had called him to do by killing a man and subsequently spent 40 years hiding in the desert. Remember that Moses was a real human being with the same feelings as you and I. Forty years is a long time to contemplate failure. When the Lord eventually came to offer him hope and unfold His rescue plan, Moses responded that God was making a mistake and that He should look for someone else (see Exodus 4:10, 13).
Elijah—the great prophet of God—was one who, in a time of terrible discouragement, simply said, “I want to die” (see 1 Kings 19:4). Talk about singing the blues!
David is another classic example. This shepherd boy turned king seemed to take the worst fall of them all. This national hero who began so well, anointed by God and considered a man after His own heart, fell into adultery and then murdered the woman’s husband to cover it up (see 2 Samuel 11). Does it get much worse than that?
Why does God show us the failures of these great leaders? Could it be He wants us to know that in spite of our fiascoes, He can still make something glorious out of our lives?
The list of names in Hebrews 11 underscores this truth. In this passage, men and women of great faith are noted—ones whom God Almighty approved. One might be shocked, however, to discover how many of them were restored spiritually following failures such as deception, drunkenness, adultery, idolatry and murder.
Consider Jacob. From birth, God gave him a remarkable promise that he would be blessed and his older brother would serve him. With this kind of divine assurance, it would seem like Jacob would turn out to be the perfect saint. Instead, he became a crook who lied to his own father, stole his blessing and lived a life full of deceit. Jacob ended up wasting 20 precious years of his life. I consider his biography one of the most interesting of them all. Here is why: Numerous times throughout the Bible, God reminds His people that He is “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:15). In fact, in this same verse, God says, “This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” Toward the end of Jacob’s journey, God changed his name, which means “deceiver,” to Israel, meaning “Prince of God.” So, why doesn’t He say, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and . . . Israel”? How strange! How come He associates His name with a cheat who wasted two decades trying to do things his own way? Through His name, His very identity, God wants to say to you and me, “I am still the God who makes failures into princes of God. I remain the God who takes broken lives—people with multiple divorces, sick in body because of sin, in prison for decades, labeled as losers, crazy folk nobody wants, outcasts with no hope—and turns them into something beautiful.”
The nation of Israel was betrothed to God. Yet she cast her beauty before every possible lover she could find, forsaking her true suitor. What does God say about her? “ ‘You have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me,’ says the LORD” (Jeremiah 3:1, NKJV). Instead of deserting Israel because of her countless sins, He declares that there is hope, saying, “I will win her back once again. I will lead her out into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope” (Hosea 2:14–15, NLT). Today there is a gateway of hope. God is the original and ultimate rescuer. And for all who want to be rescued, He is able. There is no sin too great, God cannot forgive it.
Psalm 80:7: Restore us God Almighty, make your face shine on us that we may be saved.
God so loved He gave us the greatest gift of all to us while we were sinners, a gift we did not deserve. In this man is life. Not religion. No merit here.
John 10:9-11, 28,29: I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Acts 4:12: And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
I Timothy 2:1-4 (Amplified): For there [is only] one God, and [only] one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
Mohammed is not a mediator between God and man; Buddha is not a mediator between God and man. Krishna is not a mediator between God and man. They absolutely cannot reconcile a man or woman to God and bring them into intimate fellowship with the Father. It is impossible. Only one road, only one way leads to God and that is through Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 53:3-6: He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs (sicknesses) and carried our sorrows (pains); yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him.
I John 5:9-12: If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
There is no LIFE in any of the gods of all the religions on earth other than Christianity for Jesus Christ is the LIFE. If you do not have Jesus Christ, you do not have eternal life and you do not have the very life of God. The Life only rests in him.
They know the whole Bible, but somehow they miss Jesus. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39–40).
So, I encourage you, when you read the Bible see if you can find Jesus. Don’t study just to know how to do something. Don’t study to find another rule you can follow. Some people are not really following Jesus; they are following the teachings of Jesus. Go deeper and see, experience, know and love Jesus first.
In everything, at all times, look to Jesus. Come to Him and remember Him. I can say this to you because I have learned from my own experiences how easy it is to wander. How easy it is to get so caught up in all that happens in life, becoming sidetracked and losing our focus. But our hope and our life are in seeing and knowing Jesus.
Revelation 1:5-8 (KJV): And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.7 (Amplified)Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth shall gaze upon Him and beat their breasts and mourn and lament over Him. Even so [must it be]. Amen (so be it). I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Why are all the tribes of earth beating their breasts, wailing, mourning and lamenting when they see Jesus Christ if there are many ways to heaven, many mediators and many paths to God? Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end and every person on earth will one day stand before His Judgment Seat.
We have nothing to offer. He is all there is.
Ephesians 2:1-10-The indictment, the evidence, the gift and the verdict for all eternity: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a]and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
New Citizenship and a new family household:
Ephesians 2:19: So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
Look at the incredible privilege God has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God and we are (I John 3:1,2)
The goodness of God has its ultimate triumph in the Lord Jesus Christ. Evil has its sentence of doom and ultimate destruction in the Lord Jesus Christ. What Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary is so magnificent, so awesome and so astounding, that it permanently crippled Satan’s kingdom and one day will obliterate every remnant of it from off the face of the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ broke the curse of sin and death that hangs over the world like a dark cloud. He regained everything that Adam and Eve had lost on that tragic day in the Garden of Eden and so much more. He paid the price for the complete redemption and salvation of the soul of every person who comes to Him. Through Jesus Christ, righteousness is restored to a person so that they can stand in the presence of God without any sense of fear, shortcoming, guilt, or unworthiness. The ability to have deep fellowship and communion with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has been recovered and given as a gift to all those who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The Court of God has wiped our slate clean; we are as white as snow, as our redeemer has paid the ransom and penalty for our sin. We no longer have to live in bondage to sin, fear, worry, sickness, disease, poverty, misery, hatred, selfishness, and ignorance, for we reign as kings in life through the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a super-conqueror; you are a new creation; you are a glorious son or daughter of God with all the dignity that comes with God’s calling through Jesus Christ.
Colossians 2:14,15 (Message):
When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive-right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants of the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.
Verse 15 (Phillips):
And having drawn the sting of all powers ranged against us, he exposed them, shattered, empty and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act.
This is the magnificent of Christmas!
In Christ all depression ceases. In Christ all fear and worry melt away. In Christ all oppression is crushed. In Christ all addictions are shattered. In Christ all the chains of bondage are loosed. In Christ all condemnation is obliterated. In Christ we are made free from all the forces of darkness that plague mankind. No religion, idol, and god whether Islam. Buddhism or Hinduism can set a person free from the exercised kingdom of darkness and the clutches of sin and death. Only in Jesus Christ is our redemption, salvation and liberation finished.
Listen to the beautiful words of one of my favorite Christmas hymns: “O Holy Night.”
“Oh holy night! The stars are brightly shining It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth! Long lay the world in sin and error pining Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn! Fall on your knees Oh hear the angel voices Oh night divine Oh night when Christ was born Oh night divine Oh night divine Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming Here come the wise men from Orient land The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger In all our trials born to be our friend Truly He taught us to love one another His law is love and His gospel is peace Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother And in His name all oppression shall cease Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.”
This is our song: “I belong to my beloved and his desire is for me.” Song of Solomon 7:10
Acts 14:15 (NIV): Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to TURN from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.
Ecclesiastes makes it very clear that there is no real hope in work, in progeny, in legacy or society. The Second Law of Thermodynamics applies: it all goes downhill. How can I have hope? I have reason to hope because GOD LIVES! He is not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living. When He comes to rescue He brings life with Him. Because He is alive, I can trust that He will make me alive. I don’t worship some past relic or ancient memory; I worship the here-and-now living God. God is right here and now alive…God voices our true condition-rotting away-and He proclaims our only solution, He lives! Do you realize because God lives everything else is possible? Do you not see that all that we are and all that we are meant to be is based on the living God? Put your hope there, and none else. Listen to Him, and nothing else… God wants restoration. God wants us to live! So God exhorts his sin-sick children to turn back. That is one of the most important themes in the whole Bible.
Acts 3:19 (NIV): 19 Repent, then, and TURN TO GOD, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
Times of refreshing in the beautiful healing presence of the Lord only come when we turn to God. God wipes out our sins because we have turned to God and the wonderful accomplishments of His Son who lived, died and was resurrected for us that we might be born again and live the life of our new creation.
Acts 2:37-40 (KJV): Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. 40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
To the universal cry of mankind “What shall we do?” God answers to TURN! Repent! Turn! Turn the entire thought, desires, purposes, dreams, and aspirations of your mind to God and confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will absolutely be saved. Then as a born again believer continue to keep yourself turned to God and turned away from the wickedness of our generation.
God is always only a turn away.
Joel 2:12, 13 (NLT): That is why the LORD says, “TURN TO ME NOW, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13 Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.
The time is urgent. Time is fleeting and passes by swiftly. God is crying out: “Turn to me now while there is time. Give me your hearts. Don’t let them be swept away. Return to the Lord your God.”
Mark 8:34-37: And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
The devil’s intent is that through our collapse, we will simply give up. So he seeks to discourage us to the point at which we lose all hope and even the desire to try anymore. As I look back on past experiences when I know I failed, it seems the devil always showed up promptly, trying to make my mess-ups seem worse in my mind than they already were. “You’re a hopeless case,” he would whisper, attempting to drown me in discouragement. You see, he’s “the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night . . .” (Revelation 12:10, NKJV). Don’t listen to him. He is a liar.
Today there is a gateway of hope. God is the original and ultimate rescuer. And for all who want to be rescued, He is able. There is no sin too great, God cannot forgive it. There is no loss, He cannot restore. There is no scar, He cannot heal. There is no distance you can go, His grace cannot reach. There is nothing—absolutely nothing—to stop His love and mercy for you. If there is breath in your being, there is hope. There is hope.
The thief on the cross confessed that he failed miserably and admitted he deserved the horrible death he was dying. It was all over for him—hell waited, its mouth open to devour him. At least that was what he believed. Yet because of his confession and the marvelous grace of God, he will make it into paradise with the Son of God (see Luke 23:43).
It is never too late. God is not mad at you. He is, in fact, for you. Don’t give up. Mighty to save and faithful to love is He (see Zephaniah 3:17–19). It is to the very ones who know the pain of personal failure that He comes and extends hope: He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, . . . to comfort all who mourn,. . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor (Isaiah 61:1–3, emphasis mine).
THE RED THREAD Who is the Red Thread? Jesus Christ is the Red Thread of the Bible – the thread that binds the Word of God together…You find him everywhere in the Bible, the Word of God! In Genesis, he is the promised seed of the woman. In Exodus, he is the Passover Lamb. In Leviticus, he is the high priest. In Numbers he is the star to rise out of Jacob. In Deuteronomy, he is the two laws-love God and love your neighbor. In Joshua, he is the captain of the lord of hosts. In Judges, he is the covenant angel named Wonderful. In Ruth, he is the kinsman redeemer. In Samuel, he is the root and offspring of David. In Kings, he is the greater than the Temple. In Chronicles, he is the king’s son. In Ezra and Nehemiah, he is the rebuilder. In Esther, he is the savior of God’s people. In Job, he is the daysman. In Psalms, he is the song. In Proverbs, he is the wisdom of God. In Ecclesiastes, he is the one among a thousand. In Song of Solomon, he is the bridegroom of the bride. In Isaiah, he is Jacob’s branch. In Jeremiah, he is our righteousness. In Lamentations, he is the unbelievers’ judgment. In Ezekiel, he is the true shepherd. In Daniel, he is the stone that became the head of the corner. In Hosea, he is the latter rain. In Joel, he is God’s dwelling in Zion. In Amos, he is the raiser of David’s tabernacle. In Obadiah, he is the deliverer on Mount Zion. In Jonah, he is our salvation. In Micah, he is the lord of kings. In Nahum, he is the stronghold in the time of trouble. In Habakkuk, he is our joy and confidence. In Zephaniah, he is our mighty lord. In Haggai, he is the desire of the nations. In Zechariah, he is our servant-the branch. In Malachi, he is the son of righteousness.
In Matthew, he is Jehovah’s Messiah. In Mark, he is Jehovah’s servant. In Luke, he is Jehovah’s man. In John, he is Jehovah’s Son. In Acts, he is the gift of holy spirit. In Romans, he is the believer’s justification. In Corinthians, he is the believer’s sanctification. In Galatians, he is the believer’s righteousness. In Ephesians, he is the believer’s heavenly standing. In Philippians, he is the believer’s self-adequacy. In Colossians, he is the believer’s completeness. In Thessalonians, he is the believer’s soon glorification. In Timothy, he is the faithful men. In Titus, he is the fellow-laborer. In Philemon, he is the love of a believer. In Hebrews, he is the high priest for sin. In James, he is the royal law. In Peter, he is the pastor. In John, he is as we are. In Jude, he is the beloved. In Revelations, he is the king of kings and lord of lords.
He is the doom of the adversary as promised in Genesis 3:15 and accomplished in Revelation 20:10. He is the “no night” of Revelation 22:5, of which Genesis 1:1 is night. He is the light of Revelation 21:13, of which Genesis 1:16 and 17 is the sun and moon. He is the “no more death, neither sorrow nor crying” of Revelation 21:4, of which Genesis 3:16 and 17 is sorrow, suffering, and death. He is the “no more curse” of Revelation 22:3, of which Genesis 3:17 is the curse. He is the welcome home to paradise of Revelation 22:2, of which Genesis 3:22 to 24 is the banishment from paradise.
Who is this Jesus Christ?
He is Abel’s sacrifice, Abraham’s ram, Isaac’s well, Jacob’s ladder. He is Judah’s scepter, Moses’ rod, Joshua’s rams’ horn, Samuel’s horn of oil, David’s slingshot, Hezekiah’s sundial, Elijah’s mantle and Elisha’s staff. He is Job’s prayer, Isaiah’s fig tree, Ezekiel’s wheel, Daniel’s Jerusalem window, Jonah’s sea monster and Malachi’s storehouse. He is Peter’s shadow, Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons. He is the lily of the valley and the rose of Sharon in life’s desserts. He is the pearl of great price. He is the rock for pilgrims in a weary land. He is the believer’s justification. He is the believer’s righteousness. He is the believer’s sanctification. He is the believer’s redemption. He is the believer’s knowledge. He is the believer’s wisdom. He is the believer’s all-in-all in all. He is the believer’s completely complete completeness. He is the bright and morning star, and he’s my Lord and my Savior.
He is knocking at the door of your heart right now. He is inviting you this Christmas to open the door and let him into your heart. Confess him as Lord and believe that He is alive because God raised him from the dead. Repent and turn to him and receive the power of the gift of Holy Spirit and receive the new birth. This is the greatest Christmas gift of all.