Jesus is Your Friend

We have all done it. We have seen a person that was just too different than us, too loud, or too obnoxious, and we automatically write them off. We tend to write anyone off that seems “too sinful.” It may be a friend or co-worker that from the outside appears to not only enjoy the life of sin, but brags about it as well. Tax collectors were the outcasts of their time. They were looked down on and seen as one of the worst types of sinners that existed. They cheated and stole from the Jews, showing no remorse and bragging about their financial gain. Most everyone wrote off tax collectors–everyone but Jesus. In Matthew 9:9-13, Jesus walked up to a tax collector’s booth, looked Matthew straight in the eyes, and said, “Follow me.” Jesus chose an outcast to be one of the men He trusted most. The religious people judged Jesus for associating with the “sinners.” Jesus didn’t come for the healthy, but for the sick. He came to save us from our sin. Jesus doesn’t want the good deeds of the religious; He wants the faithful following of the humble. Jesus is our friend, in spite of who we are and what we have done. We will never know the impact of one who is outcast. Jesus chose one to be His disciple. When we begin to share the gospel with others, we cannot overlook the outcast and the sinful—they may turn out to be a disciple who will change the world.

Jesus is Grace

We do not easily understand the grace of God because it is a principle so opposite to all our thoughts and ways that we misunderstand it. Grace is the full forgiveness of every sin and God doesn’t expect or demand anything in return. The grace of God is free; we do not have to earn it. In fact, we cannot earn it. To the minds of mere humans, it seems too good to be true. But it is true! Grace is a gift, unearned favor from God on those that have sinned. “In the New Testament, grace means God’s love in action towards men who merited the opposite of love. Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves. Grace means God sending His only Son to descend into hell on the cross so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and received into heaven.” (Knowing God by J.I. Packer) God is perfect; so high above us, we cannot imagine it. He awesome in every way, He knows the number of hairs on our heads. And best of all, He loves us–in spite of ourselves and our sins. And He offers us the best deal we will ever have in our lives! Grace. Perfect, God given grace. “For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange he poured God’s goodness into us!” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus is the Point

Arrows, an extended arm, a nod of the head, a sign, a compass, a GPS, MapQuest—all are methods of pointing us in some direction. We depend on these methods to find where a person lives or to find our way to an unknown neighborhood or city. We are fortunate that all they require is a correct address and the ability to follow directions. However, in the past, poorly drafted maps hindered people in finding the right destination. In Biblical times people were also hindered, even burdened, by what they had to follow—the law. While the teachers of the law made it difficult to find what someone was searching for—a Savior—the solution was simple. Those who taught the law didn’t use it to point people in the right direction because they either didn’t know or didn’t recognize one important thing—Jesus is the point of the law. Because of that one point, we are twice blessed. Today we aren’t weighed down by the law and are assured in God’s Word that a life with Him will not be a burden. We are reassured of this with Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus is Happy

If you’ve been a part of First Christian for years, there’s something you know. If you’re a first time guest, there’s something you’ll soon find out. First Christian Church is a happy place. Yes, we’re very serious about our mission of leading people closer to Jesus. And yes, there are plenty of times when we encounter bumps in the road. But in the midst of a serious task and the struggles that go along with it, First Christian is a place filled with laughter, joy, and good humor. An angel announced the birth of Jesus with these words: Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Luke 2:10 NIV Great joy came to the people Jesus healed, those He taught and those He forgave. It’s easy to imagine plenty of laughter, and maybe even some practical jokes, being shared by Jesus and the twelve guys who spent three years following Him. People who followed Jesus must have come to this conclusion–Jesus is happy. With Him as our model, we should be happy, too.

Star of Wonder: Children’s Musical

The book of Matthew tells us that a very bright star revealed the birth of Jesus to wise men from the east. Matthew 2:9-11 says, The star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. The Star of Bethlehem has become a major symbol of Christmas throughout the world. God had a special plan for that star just as he had a special plan for a newborn baby boy who would save us all from our sins. But that star that shone the brightest wasn’t the only star in the sky at the time of Jesus birth. God had placed a number of other stars in the heavens just as he has filled the world with people of all kinds in places far and wide. This morning our children will introduce us to some of the other stars in the sky when Jesus was born. Along with Superstar, you’ll meet Shooting Star, Lucky Star, Falling Star, Rock Star, and North Star not to mention all the other stars in the constellations. Through those stars we’ll learn about the meaning of Jesus’ birth as told in our children’s musical. And we’ll find out that we have much in common with all those stars. We all need a savior. God sent Jesus to be our savior. “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Jesus is Here

Graduation day is a big deal for most people. It really does not matter what you are graduating from; graduation day is a big deal. Maybe it is high school, or college, or boot camp–you look forward to graduation day. For those who are still waiting for graduation day to come, let me tell you a little secret – it is not a big deal. It is just another day. The better part is coming. The real change has yet to happen. Doors will open, opportunities will come, and that graduation will begin to make a real difference in your life. But on that day you graduate, you can’t see or anticipate the impact. The “bigger deal” of graduation isn’t the ceremony of that one day, it is completing the program. On the day Jesus was born only a few, the shepherds and the Magi, knew the significance of this birth. For most people, it was just another day. The change in everyone’s life had arrived…but they did not know it or see it. How big was the birth that day? In John 11:25-26 Jesus says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” What was the magnitude of this gift, of this birth unknown to most at the time? The answer is in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – now will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Jesus is God

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus instructed his disciples in Galilee to go forward and complete the work He had started. These passages in Matthew are often referred to as “The Great Commission,” and Jesus meant these words for us as well. We have a beautiful new facility with many programs to meet the needs and interests of all ages. We have the space and resources to implement these programs as we strive to reach others for Christ. We have access to many varied studies and lessons to help us teach the Good News about Christ and His salvation. Being settled in our new facility is only the beginning; now our real work begins. We must put others first and seek to save the lost. Living out The Great Commission that Christ gave his disciples so many years ago is what we are to do. So, are we ready to follow the commands of Christ? Jesus made it clear what we, as Christ followers, are to do. We have all the tools. Now it’s time for us to obey Christ’s words and go, teach, baptize, forgive, and make disciples.