Christmas Service 2020Read More
Merry Christmas! If we haven’t met, I’m Matt VanCleave, one of the pastors at Blue Oaks. I just want to say I’m so glad you chose to join our online Christmas service to celebrate Jesus Christ – the light of Christmas.
Now, I realize you may be watching this service today for a number of reasons:
You may be watching out of tradition. It’s the traditional thing to do – “We do church on Christmas Eve.”
You may be watching because you’re part of this church and you just love it.
You may be watching because you were begged by a close friend or family member.
It doesn’t matter why you’re here. It’s not by accident. God wants you to be here.
Because I believe God wants to light up your life this Christmas.
You know, light is a major theme in the Bible.
In the beginning, when God created the world, he said, “Let there be light” and (snap fingers) there was light. Light was the first act of creation.
John wrote, “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.”
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” – which is the very reason for Christmas.
Jesus was teaching a crowd of people, and he said:
I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer wander in darkness. (John 12:46)
Lights were important in the first Christmas. The angels put on an amazing display of light in the sky and the shepherds went to Bethlehem and they announced, “Behold born this day in the city of David is a Savior, Christ, the Lord.”
The wise men saw another bright light in the sky – a star – and they followed it to where the Savior was born.
Light plays a major role because Christmas is a celebration of God’s light entering our world.
December 21st, Monday, was winter solstice, which is the longest night of the year and the shortest time of daylight in the year.
It’s interesting that while we’re in the darkest part of the year, Christmas pierces the darkness with light.
Maybe for you, 2020 has been a dark year.
Maybe you lost your job this year and you have some major financial difficulties.
Maybe you live alone and this year has been especially painful for you.
Maybe you’re in the middle of a relational crisis with a family member or friend and you’re headed into a challenging family dynamic at a gathering later tonight or tomorrow.
Maybe you’re carrying illness in your body.
Maybe you’re going to have an empty chair at your table this Christmas because a child is gone, or because of divorce, or because you buried a loved one this year.
Maybe for you, there are other reasons that have made it a very dark year.
Well I believe God has you wherever you are, listening to this message, to light up your life at Christmas.
And if you will just listen for what his Spirit wants to teach you, I believe you can enter 2021 with a new level of brightness and clarity and understanding that maybe you didn’t know was possible.
Maybe your financial life will start moving in a new direction because you’ll be able to see your finances with more clarity.
Maybe God will shed light on a new job opportunity that you didn’t see before.
Maybe you’ll find more meaning and significance in your relationships because God is shedding his light on those relationships so you can understand them better.
Maybe you’ll find you worry less about your health because you know God can see everything clearly and he has you in his care and control.
So before we go any further, I just want us to say a little prayer. The prayer is this: “God, I don’t know why I’m watching this service today, but I ask you to shine your light on a dark area of my life. Shine your light so that I might see better.”
That’s the goal today. Our goal is that God would shine His light on us so that we might see everything more clearly.
The prophet Isaiah writes about walking in the darkness and the condition of the human heart in Isaiah 9:2. He writes:
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
The human condition described here is: We walk in darkness.
Apart from God, apart from His presence and goodness, we walk in darkness.
Darkness is spoken of around 200 times in the Bible. It’s a picture of life apart from God – apart from His direction, apart from His wisdom, apart from His love and care.
And when we live in darkness, we can’t see. So we make foolish decisions. We’re confused. We flounder around. We hurt people. We become afraid. We lose hope.
It’s a dark world.
And the reality is – darkness is inside each of us.
John 3:19 says:
This is the testimony, that the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light; because their deeds were evil.
That’s just the human condition apart from God.
And the hope that we have this Christmas is that God knows all about our darkness, and God cares, and God says, “I’m going to do something about it.”
That’s why he sent his son, Jesus. That’s why Jesus says, “I am the Light of the world.”
It’s quite a staggering statement when you think about it:
I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12)
God says, “I know all about your darkness. And that’s why I’ve sent my son – to rescue you from the darkness.”
Maybe you need to hear this today. This light is for you. You can step into the light today.
No matter what darkness you’re living in, you can just come to God and tell him, “God, I want to live in the light. I understand that Jesus came to be the light of the World. I understand that He died on the cross for my sins, and I want to give myself to You and receive Your forgiveness and step into the light.”
You can live in the light. That’s God’s promise. People walking in darkness can find there is a light in the darkness. That’s the hope of Christmas – there is a light in the darkness.
Alright, what I want to do now is look at several ways Jesus came to be the light of the world. He came to shines in our darkness, and I want to talk about why Christmas is really for our benefit, your benefit and mine.
The first thing I want to talk about is how Jesus came to enlighten us.
Have you ever had a flash of insight and said, “It was like a light bulb went off in my mind.” That’s called an enlightenment.
All of a sudden something you couldn’t figure out finally makes sense. The light goes on and you’re enlightened.
All of a sudden things got clear and you went, “That makes sense. Now I know why that happened in my life. Now I can see what God was doing.” You understand it better.
Well Jesus wants to light up your world.
He wants to light up your world so that you can see yourself better; so that you can see God better; so that you can see life better.
The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:33:
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
So let me put it this way – is there anything in your life that’s confusing you right now?
Are you confused about your future? “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next year?”
Are you confused about a relationship. “I don’t know how to get on with it. I don’t know how to get out of it. I don’t know what to do about it.”
Are you confused about your finances?
Are you confused about your health?
Jesus said in John 12:46:
I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer wander in darkness.
Jesus said, “I don’t want you to be in the dark. I don’t want you to be confused about life or your problems.”
That’s one of the reasons he came – to enlighten us.
Another reason he came is this: Jesus came to tell us the truth.
John writes in John, chapter 1, verse 17:
Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Jesus came to tell you the truth. Some people think it’s being judgmental if you tell the truth.
Let me give you an example of this. You go to a doctor because you injured your arm. The doctor examines your arm, does an x-ray and says, “I hate to tell you this but I have to tell you the truth. Your arm is broken and you’ll need to be in a cast for two months.”
Is that doctor being judgmental? No. He’s telling you the truth because he cares about you.
When he tells you the truth it’s not to hurt you, it’s to help you. It’s not to harm you, it’s to help you find healing. He’s not doing it in judgment, he’s telling you the truth because he wants to help you.
And he says, let’s put together a plan to heal your arm.
When God talks to you about your life he doesn’t always say things you want to hear. But He always tells you the truth and it’s always for your good.
So Jesus came to enlighten us; he came to tell us the truth; another reason is
Jesus came to give us guidance.
He says, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
He says “I want to direct you through life, I want to be your guiding light.” You know why?
Because God can see farther than we can.
Some of us are afraid of next year because we don’t know what’s around the corner. What if 2021 is worse than 2020? Our lives can be changed in an instant. With a flip of the switch, the light can go out.
That’s why it’s scary because we can’t see down the path.
And Jesus says “If you follow Me, I am the light. Stay close to me and you’ll be able to see. And for the things you can’t see, don’t worry, I can see farther than you can.”
A lot of our fears happen because we can’t see clearly. We feel like we’re in the dark.
Well when we’re in the dark, you know what we need? We need a guiding light. We need God’s guidance.
You know what most people do when they come up to a problem that they can’t control on their own? They don’t turn to God.
They typically try to find their own light so they can see their way through their problem, instead of turning to God for the light to see clearly.
They pull out their own light. Maybe it’s the relationships light. They start shining it.
“If I could just get married, my life would be great.”
“If I could just get unmarried, my life would be great.”
“If I could just have kids, my life would be great.”
“If my kids would just grow up and go off to college, my life would be great.”
We think relationships are going to make our life great.
I’m sure you could probably tell a story on this one, about how a relationship is not going to fulfill your life.
So we pull out another light. It may be the career light.
“If I could just change jobs, then everything would be peaceful. Everything would be wonderful and I could see clearly. I’m just in the wrong job. That’s going to make it clear.”
But it doesn’t work.
Or we pull out the escape light.
One of my favorite stories comes from a child psychologist. It’s about a four-year-old who is having a bad day. He keeps getting in trouble. He keeps spilling stuff and breaking stuff and crawling on stuff where he’s not supposed to be, and he keeps getting “time outs” and worse. It’s a very unpleasant morning.
Finally, his mom sees him standing at the picture window in their living room. He’s behind the curtains and looking outside. He’s mumbling to himself under his breath. She’s intrigued and wondering, “What’s he saying?” So she sneaks up behind him, and she hears him saying, “I’ve gotta’ get out of here!”
There’s something about a four-year-old kid just standing there looking at that world and saying, “I’ve gotta get out of here.”
You may just want to get out of here. You want to escape.
You think if I could just move to Montana, then everything would be great.
And the only problem with that is when you move to Montana you’re taking you with you. The problem is not the location.
Or you think, if I could just escape, even for a moment through drugs, or alcohol, or divorce or a website.
But then there’s just more pain behind that.
The escape light doesn’t work.
Or we pull out the possessions light, or the success light, or the money light.
We think, “That’s it. If I could just make more money then I could see everything clearly and it would be smooth sailing.”
You know what, you don’t have the light to see clearly. I don’t have the light to see clearly. We need the light of the world.
So let me ask you a question: What is it you can’t figure out right now?
Maybe you’re in the dark and you’re saying, “I just can’t see it!” You’re saying, “I’m in a dark day. I need a guiding light. I can’t see it. I can’t see how it’ll work out.”
What do you do when you can’t see how it’ll work out? What do you do when you can’t see?
You flip the switch. You turn on the light. God’s light.
I want you to think about a switch for a moment. If you think about the average light switch in your home. There are wires running to those switches with electricity running through those wires. When the switch is in the off position, it’s like there’s an opening in the circuit that prevents the electrical current from flowing to the light. When the switch is in the on position, the opening is closed, and allows power to flow through the switch to the light.
So what’s the switch that turns on God’s light in your life?
The switch is called faith.
You flip the switch on when you say, “God, I don’t know what I’m going to do this next year. I can’t figure it out, but I’m going to trust You.”
That’s when you flip the switch and turn on the light.
“I don’t know what the problem is in my marriage. It’s not working out. But I’m going to trust You. I’m not walking out of this, I’m going to trust You.”
You just flipped the switch. And the light will come on.
“God, I’m having problems with my family. I’m having a problem at work. I’m having a problem with my health. My finances are falling apart. But I’m going to trust You in this, Lord.”
You just flipped the switch. And you turned on the light.
You ask Jesus to help you to trust Him and He will.
He’s the light of the world.
What happens when we do this?
Well, the light makes things a whole lot easier to see.
Alright, so Jesus came to enlighten us; he came to tell us the truth; he came to give us guidance.
There’s another reason we celebrate Christmas and this one is really good news.
Jesus came to heal our hurts.
Matthew writes in Matthew 15, verse 30:
Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.
Jesus came at Christmas time to heal our hurts. This is so big.
No matter where you’re hurting Jesus Christ can heal it. Resentment, worry, guilt, fear, bitterness, boredom, whatever. Jesus Christ can heal your hurt.
He’s the light of the world.
It’s interesting that Doctors have discovered the healing power in light. Today we use light in all kinds of different ways. Lasers are used in all kinds of surgeries.
I could have laser surgery on my eyes. A doctor could use a light to correct my vision so that I can see. A light could give me sight.
Which is remarkable when you think about it, because Jesus is the light of the world who came to give sight to the blind.
We need light in our lives. It’s pretty amazing what doctors can do today in healing people.
But only God can heal a broken heart. Only God can heal a broken spirit. Only God can heal a broken relationship. Only God can heal a broken dream.
Jesus says, come to Me because I came to heal your hurt.
That’s why Jesus came to save us. Jesus said in John 12:47
I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.
Jesus said, “I didn’t come to tell you what a bad person you are. I didn’t come to put you down. I came to save you.”
We need a savior. That’s why the angel at the first Christmas said in Luke 2:10
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
We hear people using this phrase – I’m saved. What does that mean? Were they drowning or something? What does it mean to be saved?
It means we’re saved to do what God wants us to do. Salvation in a word means – freedom.
Salvation means freedom. You’re set free. Free to be yourself, free to become what God meant for you to be, free to be all that God has for you.
What does Jesus save us from? A lot of things.
He saves us from a lot more than an eternity apart from him.
He saves us from hopelessness of life here.
He saves us from a meaningless life.
He saves us from fear because we can trust Him.
He saves us from worry.
He saves us from doubt.
He saves us from bitterness because He forgives us and teaches us to forgive others.
He saves us from guilt.
He saves us from the expectations of other people because we’re living for an audience of one.
He saves us from so many things – the addictions, the hurts, the problems that mess up our lives.
He wants to be our savior.
The writer of Scripture says in Psalm 103, verse 3:
He forgives all my sins and He heals me.
And it’s through the forgiveness of sins we find emotional healing.
I don’t know if you’ve realized this or not, but this world’s remedies for emotional hurts don’t work. They’re just cover-ups. Maybe they sooth you for a night. You can turn to drugs or alcohol or a relationship but the next morning you’ve got the same problem.
It didn’t resolve anything. It was a temporary solution to sooth the ache in your heart.
And we can read a lot of books that will help us get our lives in shape.
But the problem is, they don’t give us the power. We need a savior.
“A Savior has been born to you.”
We need Jesus Christ to give us the energy and the power.
You know, the fastest thing in the universe is the speed of light – 186,000 miles a second. If you don’t believe it try opening your refrigerator door before the light comes on.
I’ve tried it. I can’t beat it.
The speed of light is the fastest thing in the universe.
But there’s one thing faster. It’s God’s answer to you when you ask Him to save you. It’s instant. There’s no delay. There’s no waiting period. It’s immediate. The moment you say, “God help! I need You. Jesus Christ save me.” When you say that, it‘s instant.
Let me give you one more reason why Jesus came and why we celebrate Christmas.
He came to enlighten us.
He came to inform us of God’s truth.
He came to guide our steps.
He came to heal our hurts.
Jesus came to give us life.
Jesus didn’t come to give us religion. He came to give us life.
Unfortunately most people never learn how to really live. They’re just existing.
Jesus came to give us life.
Paul writes in Romans 6, verse 4:
Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we too may live a new life.
He says I want to give you new life. That means everything you’ve ever done wrong is completely forgiven and forgotten. He wipes the slate clean. You get a fresh start.
Everything I’ve ever done prior to when I began a relationship with God is forgiven and forgotten and wiped clean.
Jesus says, “Let’s just start over. You don’t need to feel guilty about all those things. Let’s just start over.” That’s new life.
You know, I think sometimes we take light for granted. We’re going to wake up tomorrow morning, and we’re not going to think about the sun.
We know it’s going to come out, but we take light for granted in our lives.
Think about it…
Without light there would be no warmth in the world.
Without light there would be no color in the world because color comes from light.
Without light there would be no beauty in the world.
Without light there would be no growth.
Without light there would be no health.
Without light there would be no life!
Because we can’t live without light.
And the truth is, we can’t live spiritually without light either. We can’t live spiritually without the light of the world.
Blue Oaks Church