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Dec 23, 2021

Immanuel, God With Us

Immanuel, God With Us

Passage: Luke 2:1-20

Speaker: Matt Petty

Series: Christmas Eve Services

Category: Christmas Eve Service

Keywords: church, worship, christmas, jesus, manger, bible, immanuel, jesus christ, messiah, nativity, savior, god with us, bible study, bethlehem, christmas eve, birth of jesus, emmanuel, virgin mary, luke 2, merry christmas, the christmas story, jesus birth, christmas story, jesus born, bible stories, christmas songs, bible story, the story of jesus, burnt hickory baptist church, o come emmanuel, burnt hickory worship, christmas live stream

Its Christmas Eve, and we are celebrating the greatest gift ever given, Immanuel, God with us. Pastor Matt recounts Luke’s version of the birth of Jesus, and shows us that during this season of gifts, we should ponder and treasure the best gift. In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to their own town to register. So, Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Well, thank you for being here tonight, you know, all week this week, I've been thinking about what it is that on Christmas Eve that the Lord would just have us to look at for a few minutes. And it just seems like because this is a family service and seems like because we've got kids and we've got grandparents and we've got everything in between. There is one thing that unifies all of us at Christmas time. And it is this one four letter word called gift. It's the gifts, it's the gift of Christmas that we're here tonight to celebrate. It's the gift of Christmas that you guys are ready for me to already be quiet. So possibly you can get somewhere to get some gifts. You know, Christmas time is an incredible season where we look at this idea of gifts, and the reality is they're not all like tangible things that you can hold.

Some of the gifts are just the gifts of memories that that we have during this time of year from when we were born all the way till now. Some of it is maybe the gift of having family all in one place together. And for some of you, that is an incredible gift and some of you are just wishing it is a short-lived gift over the holidays. You know, for some of us, it's the gift of just special relationships that we have, or possibly for you, it's the gift like me of seasonal foods. Amen that we get to gather together at this time of year and celebrate. Possibly it's the gift that this is the time where that special recipe comes out every single season with you and possibly those little helpers in the kitchen that are no help at all.

It's the gifts, right, that we celebrate. And there's really and truly this season of the year is there's this gift of just a different feeling in the air. There's the feeling of friends and the feeling of family. There's the gift of a different pace that we celebrate in some ways at this time of year. For some of us. It is a little slower pace because some of our family is close, and the family trees are pretty straight up and down. For some of us, the pace is exceedingly abundant. Amen that it is everywhere, and the parties are abundant.

We have the gift of a different places that we get to visit. We have the gift of different people that are in our lives that we celebrate. We have the gift of different music. It seems like at Christmas time, we can almost unify, and everybody liked the same music, even at church. That's a gift. We have the gift of seasonal clothing that is sometimes OK, and sometimes you just shake your head at. We have the gift in different perspective that we get to celebrate. You know, I love this season and I love the gift that the Lord has given us in this season.

Because for some of us, it's a season to regroup and it's a season to possibly refocus, it's a season to just recenter our lives a little bit around the things that matter the most. But the more I thought about this idea of a gift, the more I realized real quickly that the gift of this season goes well beyond my family and your family. It goes well beyond our culture; goes well beyond just the American culture that we celebrate here. It goes well beyond our church and well beyond the roots and the traditions that we have. You see this gift that we celebrate at Christmas, it extends to the world. It extends to the world because this gift is not a thing. This gift is a person. And this gift is the savior of the world. And his name is Jesus. He's Immanuel, God with us. You know, here's the reality church. Hundreds and hundreds of man-made religions all across this planet are trying to do one thing, and that is to get to their gods.

But Hallelujah, our God came to us. That's the season, that's the gift. That's what we celebrate. That's why we get to gorge our food all weekend. That's why we get to celebrate with giving people things and having family and having time off. It's because we celebrate the fact that Immanuel is here. He's with us. And in this season, I thought it was appropriate this evening just to read the story. Of him coming.

Luke, Chapter two, starting in verse one, says this. Says in those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world, and this was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to their own hometown to register. So, Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and the line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came. For the baby to be born. And she gave birth to her first-born son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the feared fields nearby. Keeping watch over their flocks at night and an angel of the Lord appeared to them in the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Listen to this. Today in the town of David. A savior has been born to you. He is the messiah. He is the Lord. And this will be assigned to you. You will find the baby wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger and suddenly a great company of heavenly hosts appeared with the angel praising God and saying glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests.

When the angels had left them and gone and they had gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let's go to Bethlehem. Let's see this thing that had happened, which the Lord has told us about, so they hurried off. They found Mary and Joseph and the baby who was lying in the manger. And when they had seen him catch this, they spread the word concerning what had been told about this child. And all who heard it, were amazed. What the shepherds said to them. But Mary, she treasured up all these things, and she pondered them. In her heart.

You know what I love about the Bible. I love that when I know I opened this book as a believer in Jesus. It is a live document. It's the only book on this planet that the author is present every single time it is read. It's why when you read the Bible, it's why when you read the scripture, it almost seems like it jumps into your mind, and you can find yourself feeling like you're there. When I read this text over and over and over this week, I just couldn't help but to feel myself being transported back to Bethlehem to hear the Roman guards that had spoken that a census would be taken. I can just in my mind, just see them open up the scroll and read the words What had been said by Quirinius, the governor and all side around him? I can just put myself in the shoes of Mary and Joseph in the tension that was in her mind. Think about this for a minute. A lady that is nine months pregnant is about to jump on a donkey and go 100 miles.

I can put myself in the streets of Bethlehem as they rode into town, seeing the distance cousins that they possibly had not seen since the last Passover. I can put myself in the crowded streets and with the disappointment in the mind of there's no place for us to go. I can put myself seeing the shepherds, probably some of my favorite people in the whole story out in the field. And they weren't young. They weren't cuddly people. These were rough people. I can picture just seeing them in the field, sitting around the fire, watching their breath, and all of a sudden out of the darkness, this burst of light over them just shining into the middle of them and then looking at each other and hearing the message. I can just hear the heavenly host in my glorified imagination, right? Just singing over the shepherds and them having their lives changed.

There are so many things that happened in this story that got me to thinking this week. If I was there, how would I have responded? How would I have lived this out? How would this have affected me? You know, the Bible even speaks to that, doesn't it? It shows us all of the responses of all these people that were in the story, which shows us the Magi. Their response was what? They bow down and they worshiped the king. It showed us the Herod was threatened by this new king, this king of the Jews, so much so that he sent out a search party to find Jesus. We see the religious leaders as part of the story. They're not really even part of the story. They just are quiet about it because they didn't want anything to do with it. We see that old Simeon just looking at the idea and saying, Hey, I've seen all I need to see.

We see the shepherds and what we just read and how it changed their lives, what they saw. We see the people in verse 18 that we just looked at and how they were amazed at what they heard. But there's one response. That shines above all other responses in my mind. That really has challenged me this week. And it's the response of Mary. It's the response of Mary, actually, it's the response of the one in whom probably knew Jesus best, his mother.

Mary, the Bible says in verse 19 in Luke, Chapter two, the two things that I want to challenge us with this evening. Mary pondered. And she treasured. She pondered, and she treasured. Now, look, I know those aren't necessarily words that we use a whole lot. But I want you to feel the gravity of exactly what happened in Mary's heart. first of all, she punched. She treasured who Christ is. What does it mean to treasure something? Treasure just means that you put it in a prominent place in your life. You put it in such a place that if other things fail, you still hold it safe. To treasure something means that you preserve it, or you value it, or you put it in a prominent spot that is above other things.

And what does it mean to ponder? Ponder means that you think intensely. You think intensely on a level that to consider something as value and relevant. Now, when you put those two things together, it gives us a message for the season, it gives us a gift. That all of us should pay attention to. Mary pondered and treasured, what does that mean? That means even in this moment, she pondered who Jesus was, she treasured who Jesus was, and she knew that this messiah would change things. After all, is it that verse eleven today in the town of David, a savior has been born?

So, church, let me just ask you over the course of this next 24 to 48 hours. To consider the response of Mary. To treasure Jesus and give him the place that he deserves to ponder him and think through exactly who he is, because here's what I know about the Christmas story. Here's what I know about this gift. first off, it is a global gift that's given to the whole world. But second of all, it's a personal gift, and it's a gift that all of us, at some point in our lives, have to come to a point in our lives where we realize that the gift is being offered and we have to confess with our hearts. Jesus is Lord and believe he has died for me. And ask him to come into my life. So church, over the next couple of days of parties and events and stuff and all of the minutia of Christmas.

Don't forget the gift. His name is Jesus. And if you need to meet him, you can meet them right now. If you need to know him, you can know him right now. Quite simply, this. Lord Jesus. Come into my heart. Come into my life. Forgive me, my sense and be my lord. That's the gift. That's the gift that Mary knew. And no matter what the season brings, you know this, this gift can never be taken from you. Can never be taken, no matter how crazy, no matter how stressful, no matter where you walk. When he's yours, he's yours.

Lord Jesus. We know, Lord Jesus, that you have given us the gift of being ours. God, as we walk this week and as we worship this week, as we celebrate this week, let us not lose sight. And let us ponder and treasure this gift that has been given to us. Of Immanuel, God with us. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you've come to save us. It's in your name, we pray. Amen. Amen.

You know, to conclude our service this evening, we're going to we're going to celebrate a candlelight moment that quite honestly has been being celebrated since the early, early, early days of Christianity. In the first century, the Christians would light a candle and put it on their windowsill on the evening of Christmas Eve to represent that Christ is the light of the world. That is the hope of the world. That is the joy of the world. And he is the only thing that we can cling to that will give us hope. They would put it in their windowsill on Christmas Eve, it would be it would burn all evening long and it would represent not only that Christ is the light of the world, but it would also represent that there is unity underneath the body of Christ as the body of Christ, that they were not alone even being persecuted, they were not alone in who Christ is in them.

They would do this every single year to show the world what Christ desires for the world. So, this evening as we light our lives. Let us light them in just remembrance of what Christ has done for us? Let us light them in unity of that, we are all part. All of us who know Christ, who has given our hearts to Christ and have been forgiven by Christ. We are all part of the global body of Christ. And let's light them in anticipation that one day the full light of Jesus will illuminate this planet. As we celebrate this time, I just want you to know that every single light that is lit in this place. You have worth. You have value. You have a contribution to who Christ is because of Immanuel, God with us. Our flame specifically has been flown literally from the other side of the planet. It's every year a plane takes the light from the candle in the grotto of nativity. Christ, where Christ was buried. And it's brought all across the world in a representation of what can happen when one light underneath the banner of Christ is lit and how it can spread. So, we ask you this evening to light your lights to help your children, please do that and we'll celebrate this time also by singing Silent Night together.

Follow Along with the Message


Immanuel

December 23 & 24, 2021

Luke 2:1–20

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 

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