Thursday, 20 December 2012

You May As Well Submit: Di Oliver

 Zephaniah 3:14-end, Luke 3:7-18

Good Christian Men rejoice
with heart and soul and voice
Give ye heed to what you hear
News! News! Jesus Christ is born today
He hath ope’d the heavenly door
Now ye need not fear the grave
Christ was born to save
Christ was born to save

So what’s the good news about Christmas?
Jesus: born a baby, dies a saviour, rises as Lord
So where do we get stuck?
  • If we don’t actually get the good news for ourselves we don’t stand a chance of portraying it right
  • If we do get the good news for ourselves why are we so rubbish at telling others
Johns message is one of repentance in our actions: don't just say sorry – do sorry.
  • Selfless living
  • Generous living
  • Sinless living
And it seems to me that we often start here and stop here.
We teach our kids: be kind, be helpful, be truthful
schools have standards of behaviour, communities have laws of behaviour
John the Baptist says how it should be: generosity, equity, respect
But John doesn’t stop there
The law is not enough
the task is mission impossible
– the most important bit comes next
One more powerful will come – he will baptize (= saturate ) you with the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit refines and enables

Why do we fall into the trap of preaching good behaviour? I suspect it’s partly because unfortunately that’s what we’re suckered into trying to do ourselves:
People / Christians wrestle with God
  • some because they don’t want to go on his mission
  • some because they have intellectual issues - e.g. They don’t get how God seemingly allows tragedy
  • lots who actually wrestle with God wrestle with the idea of grace – they won’t accept it! They believe they must earn or bargain a route to heaven by their good works by sharing clothes, food, money and honesty. They have to deserve it.

    They will not accept Gods Grace (when God gives us the things we don’t deserve).
    Such people need to prove their worth to God and wrestle, unlike Jacob who wrestled with God until he got his undeserved blessing, we are more likely to say,
“I’ll not let you bless me – let me go”
If that’s you – you know what? This morning you may as well submit! He's not going to let go!
Christ in the manger, came because only by his grace can you be forgiven and become acceptable to him

"I submit to Christ"
- by his grace you become free
- by his power you will begin to do things his way
It’s not
do and then get grace
get grace and doing will flow

The Zephaniah reading from the Old Testament is full of hope
I want us to learn vs 17 by heart:
"The Lord your God is with you,
    he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
    he will quiet you with his love,
    he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Hold onto that amazing idea: God is singing over you!

Final thought:
Once we, each of us, submit to Christ then we stand a chance of explaining to others
Most people out there have a sense of right and wrong; they know they’re not all right but they have no wish to be condemned especially by a church who tell them the advent message of John the Baptist and forget the Christmas birth of Jesus and his Easter death and resurrection.
They fear God watching them and condemning them; They try to do some worthy things so that in emergencies they have enough credit with God to bargain for his intervention when family are ill or friends are in danger. 

People out there think of God rather like Santa Clause – someone who knows if they are naughty or nice!
"He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been good or bad
So be good for goodness sake."
There are masses of colleagues, family, friends, neighbours who, like the population of Jesus’ time, need to hear the good news of Christmas
Watch this:

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