Worship Service - Sundays, 9:45AM - 311 W. Yale Loop, Irvine, 92604
  Sermon information & Archive

Worship is a response! God has accomplished great things!

Worship is a priority! God and His will must be first!

The worship of God -- which reflects our love for the God proclaimed in the Scriptures, our longing to participate in the sacraments whereby we remember our spiritual union with Jesus Christ and fellow believers, and the desire for total discipleship as members of His spiritual kingdom -- THESE are important to us! Worship requires us to bow in humility so that we can lift all of our attention upon the creator, sustainer, and redeemer of the universe. You are invited to join us as we seek the face of our great God and Savior.

Below you will find the contents of a Sunday morning Order of Worship. Many of the songs listed below are linked to sites to assist in hearing the tunes (provided as a reference, but many times, not exactly as we play them, and sometimes with images that we don't endorse!) The Scripture references are also linked and can be heard online. Past worship folders are accessible by linking to the PDF archive file on the right (along with some past sermon quotes). Please read beyond the following Order of Worship listed below to read about our “philosophy” of worship. Beyond that are some notes from a recent sermon. Thank you for visiting!

IF you have more interest in learning about our ENTIRE Sunday morning service, please link here: SUNDAY MORNING SCHEDULE

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Order of Service - 12/23/12 - Rev. Kent Moorlach Preaches

We welcome you to our service today! It is a blessing when God's people gather to worship Him in spirit and truth! We trust those visiting for the first time will sense our desire to follow a pattern of worship revealed in God's word; the priorities of which are outlined in this order of worship. Bibles and Prayer Cards are available at our Guest Book table. A “Welcome Bag” has also been prepared for our first time visitors.
Each Sunday we participate in a sacrament instituted by Christ (as defined by the    Westminster Confession of Faith) to express our communion with him, one another, and to remember Gospel truths. When coming to the Lords Table, participants are stating that they are: water baptized in the Name of the Triune God; active members in 'good standin’ from creed confessing churches; and profess Christ alone as their savior.
We encourage “family worship,” Families with young children who practice this at home are encouraged to stay in the service. Above all, this time is set apart to focus attention upon God’s attributes and actions! Please minimize "distractions” by utilizing our “childcare room” which can be staffed by volunteers.
May God be glorified and honored in all that we do in His name today!

Preparation for Worship with Prayer and Songs of Ascent

*Opening Hymn — Christ is Born! (Highfield)

To a far Judean hill – through the silence sweet and still,
Came a shining angel from the court of Light;
“Fear ye not,” he softly said, to the shepherds, sore afraid,
“Unto you the Christ is born this holy night.”

      Fear ye not that skies above are glory filled;
      Angels hail the Savior’s birth, “Peace and joy shall fill the earth;
      Unto you in Bethlehem a king revealed,
      Glory, glory be to God who reigns on high!”

O’er the far Judean plain — sounded out a glad refrain,
“Glory, glory be to God,” the angels sang!
Telling of Messiah’s birth, bringing gladness to the earth,
All the heav’nly angels with sweet music rang.

      [Refrain]

Christ, the Lord, is born a king — joy and hope and faith to bring,
“Glory, glory be to God who reigns above;
Peace on earth, good will to men!” Tell it o’er and o’er again,
All the world shall know the fullness of His love.                      

[Refrain]

 *Call to Worship
Psalm 45:6—7

ElderYour throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness; You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.

AllTherefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;

 

*Confession and Cleansing

   Prayer of Adoration      &      Confession    &     Assurance of Pardon

Father, You reign in righteousness and truth. Every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is Lord.  Receive our prayers of   confession: that we are fallen, mixed, and prone to wander from Your law.  Forgive us and remember the life, righteousness, and intercession of our     Savior, Jesus Christ, who has brought us new life through the Holy Spirit...


Song Joy to the World!


Joy to the world! The Lord is come: let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare him room,
      And heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing,
      And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing!

Joy to the world! The Savior reigns: let men their songs employ!
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains,
      Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy,
      Repeat, repeat the sounding joy!

No more let sins and sorrows grow— nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow,
      Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found,
      Far as, far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace— and makes the nations prove,
The glories of His righteousness;
      And wonders of His love, and wonders of His love
      And wonders, wonders of His love!

Consecration by the Word

Old Testament Law Deuteronomy 32:1 — 18

(A song Moses teaches the sons of Israel to remember covenant blessings and consequences.)

Old Testament Prophet Isaiah 59:15b — 21
(“My Spirit that is upon you, and...shall not depart out of your mouth, or...your offspring,”) 

Reader — The words of the Lord.       CongregationThanks be to God.

Psalm — 89:19 — 29                  (It Came Upon A Midnight Clear)

In visions once You spoke this word unto Your godly ones,
“I’ve helped and raised a mighty one, one from the people drawn.
      My servant David I have found, poured holy oil on him;
      With him my hand established is; My arm will strengthen him.

“No foe shall tribute take from him, nor wicked cast him down.
His adversaries I will crush; strike haters to the ground.
      My faithful love will be with him, in My name his horn raised.
      I’ll set his right hand on the sea and over rivers’ waves.”

“’You are my Father and my God, my Rock of Help,’ he’ll cry;
I’ll also make him my firstborn, above all kings most high.
      My love for him I’ll ever keep, my covenant secure.
      His line and throne I will set up to last while heaven endures.”

New Testament Gospel John 3:31 — 36

(“... for he gives the Spirit without measure…”)

New Testament Epistle1 John 5:10 — 13

(“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit.”)

Reader — The words of the Lord.       CongregationThanks be to God.

*Song — O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here; until the Son of God appear.

O come, Thou Day—spring, come & cheer, our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

            Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
            Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save, and give them victory over the grave.
    
  Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
      Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease, and be Thyself our King of Peace.
     
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
      Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.


Sermon:                      “You Are Anointed!”

(Message by: Rev. Kent Moorlach; Text:  2 Corinthians 1)

 

Coming Together as the Church

Affirmation of Faith      Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary,      suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried, (he descended into hell.) The third day He arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

Congregational Prayer & The Lords Prayer

Communion Through the Sacraments

Sacrament of The Lord’s Table & Prayer

The presiding minister will give direction for participation in this meal.
{Wine is located to the right of the pastor. Grape juice is on the left of the pastor.)

*Song of Preparation — Choruses: Angels We Have Heard / O Come Let Us...

Glo- - - ria! In excelsis Deo! Glo- - -ria! In excelsis Deo!
O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him —
Christ, The Lord!

Commissioning of the Church

Offering & Prayer                                                                                       
[Please pass the offering baskets through your section toward the back. Thank you.]

 

*Song of Simeon; Benediction & 3-fold “Amen”

Lord, bid Your servant go in peace, Your word is now fulfilled.
These eyes have seen salvation’s dawn, this child so long foretold.
      This is the savior of the world, the nations’ promised light.
            God’s glory dwelling in our midst, the joy of Israel!


*Those who are able, please stand. CCLI #2831635

We have rented the facility for one extra hour for the purposes of expressing our thanks for all who have blessed Communion Presbyterian Church over the years! Please enjoy our common fellowship and enjoy refreshments.
For those helping with our "packing & moving" project, please see Stephanie about items for transfer and drop-off locations!
  

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Think of all that God has done; think of who He is! Creator and sustainer of the universe; Provider and Protector of His people; Righteous judge and loving Redeemer! If these concepts have any connection with our souls, we will lift up to God our thoughtful praise and offer to Him all that we value – for it all rightly belongs to Him alone.

The simple truth of worship is this: everybody is doing it! Even those who never attend church spend their time, devotion, money, planning, and daydreaming on earthly pursuits – and for what purpose? To possess something of value, something significant, something that will provide purpose for living. Worship of earthly pursuits equally illicit a response – but the focus of human worship is, “Look at what I have accomplished,” rather than, “Thank God for what He has done! From beginning to end, thank God for His purposes. His purposes are greater than mine!”

The purpose of our worship then is to honor and glorify God by gratefully offering back to Him all the good gifts, and all the knowledge of His greatness and grace. It involves praising Him for who He is and desiring His glory above our own.

This kind of worship however is not merely a personal invention. Even though we are awestruck in wonder of God and long to participate in a grateful celebration, our zeal is also accompanied with the knowledge that God alone has proscribed the type of worship that is acceptable to Him.

“The basis of worship is the covenant relationship whereby God has bound himself to those whom He has saved and claimed. This was true of Old Testament worship as it is now of Christian worship. The spirit of covenant worship, as the Old Testament models it, is a blend of awe and joy at the privilege of drawing near to the mighty Creator with radical self-humbling and honest confession of sin, folly, and need. Since God is holy and we humans are faulty, it must ever be so in this world. As worship will be central in the life of heaven (Rev. 4:8-11, 5:9-14; 7:9-17; 11:15-18; 15:2-4; 19:1-10), so it must be central in the life of the church on earth, and it should already be the main activity, both private and corporate, in each believer’s life (Col. 3:17).” – John Piper (Worship: God Gives a Liturgical Pattern)

Our worship is dedicated to God as an act of service to the One who has ordered all of life. To that end, our “liturgy” includes: prayer; singing; the reading of Scripture; preaching of the Word; and the administration of the sacraments. From the beginning of the Christian church, these elements have been regarded as an appropriate response to the saving work of the Triune God.

Families, including young children, are encouraged to worship together in the main service. We recognize God's gracious activity of saving whole households documented in the Scriptures; therefore, we place a value on entire families participating in our service. However, we also acknowledge that some of our youngest need special attention during an hour long service! For those who wish (or need), there is also a wonderful childcare facility available.

The ARPC Book of Worship encourages family worship, and so do we! From the Book of Worship, Chapter 2: "Family worship should be biblical and instructive: made interesting and inspiring to high ideals of Christian living and service. Participation by all should be encouraged. Subjects to discuss, materials to use, and activities of this worship period may be suggested by any member of the group. Ordinarily, the head of the home should assume the leadership responsibility."

And again, from the ARP Book of Worship, Chapter 3, section B: "Equally necessary for spiritual growth is daily worship, privately as an individual, and as a family in the home. There should be the reading of Scriptures and prayer. Other materials and activities may enhance the worship experience. Christian families should set aside some time each day to worship God. The Head of the home should see that this is done."

The Lord's Supper is celebrated at most services--signifying the primary importance of Christ's atoning work to present us holy and acceptable unto God. The Lord’s Table is open to those who claim Christ as their Lord, having been baptized, who have expressed a desire to repent of their sins, and who are not under the discipline of a Bible-believing church. Children may partake if they can clearly express their faith and their understanding of the Table as approved by an elder board. If visitors to our church wish to partake in the Lord's Supper, we ask that they listen carefully to the admonitions of our presiding pastors. Those seeking to participate in the "full communion" of our church through membership should seek out an elder to discuss this process.

A detailed guide to the ARP's purposes for public worship can be found at this link:
http://www.arpsynod.org/pdf/Standards/Directory%20of%20Public%20Worship.pdf

May God be glorified in our praise and service of Him.

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"Refresh" for the correct date!

Fourth Sunday of Advent;
&
CLOSING SUNDAY SERVICE
for
COMMUNION PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

December 23
, 2012
Advent series: Day of The Anointed
Rev. Kent Moorlach Preaching


This really is a simple sermon series!  We simply plan to demonstrate that the themes established in the Old Testament – those which anticipate a hopeful future for the children of Abraham – are consistently replayed again in the New Testament; but with an eye on both fulfillment in the gospel of Jesus Christ and anticipated again with his final advent.

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Listen to sermons online!
Please visit the following links:

Our most recent sermons are found here:
http://sermon.net/communion
A host of archived sermons are found here:
http://www.sermoncloud.com/Compres/

PDF of Worship Folders:
Our Sunday morning liturgy is reflected to the left
(burgandy colored) and below (PDF files). The reverse side of each Worship Folder (not posted) contains a cover, a Family page, and a list of ministry contacts with our calendar of activities and GIFT Group meetings.
We hope you will visit us soon for a Sunday Worship service.
Click on a date below to sample a PDF file:

January 1, 2012 (Rev. Chris Coleman)

February 12, 2012

March 11. 2012

April 08, 2012 (Resurrection Sunday)

May 15. 2011

June 12, 2011

July 17, 2011

August 28, 2011

September 11, 2011

October 30, 2011 (Reformation Sunday)

November 20, 2011

December 25, 2011

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Sunday Morning Readers:
Click here for our reader's guide!

Quotes from past sermons:

The simplest theological term for how the Holy Spirit connects us to the holiness of God is the word, “applies.” The Spirit applies to us the very life and law-keeping of Christ. The Spirit applies to us the finished work of Christ upon the cross, the Spirit applies to us all the promises of God to us in Christ – so that in every possible way, in God’s sight we are regarded as holy, righteous, beloved, and free from condemnation – we are cherished by God as God cherishes His own Son, Jesus Christ – and the Holy Spirit makes it all "stick" to us; and no power in the universe can steal it from us because it is all the work of God upon us, and not the work of our hands.
These are encouraging words in light of what Jesus also promised for us in John 16 – trial and tribulation! We will go through times of heartache, persecution, and loneliness. It is at these times that we will be most tested and tempted to turn our backs upon the will and purposes of God.
But to the one truly converted and connected, the Spirit will continue with this one and persevere with them until the very end. How important this promise is to the success of the church – because in our lifetime, we will not all display the morality we know to be right, or the behavior and attitudes which speak to the transforming work of the Spirit – but God will not give up on His plan to make us truly pure and devoted in following Him.
And in our life, we will not all display the doctrinal precision we know we should possess; the diligence to study, the discipline to train our hearts and minds - which also speaks to the evidence of the Spirit working in us – but God will not abandoned His project to convince us of His truth, and His love in our mind, body, and soul.

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...But something happened to John the Baptist; he had serious questions about whether Jesus really understood the goals of the Kingdom – and while Jesus reassures John about his ministry; Jesus eventually gathering his followers, AFTER HIS RESURRECTION in Acts 1:3 …appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
And thus reveals a major component of Jesus’ Kingdom and rule – the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s kingdom will be a spiritual kingdom that has an impact upon all earthly kingdoms. Jesus commissions his followers in Matthew 28, 18 …, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
Jesus wants this world transformed by making disciples. Jesus’ plan for growing his Kingdom is by making disciples. This church is about making disciples -- we are about discipleship here. What is a disciple? A disciple is a learner, a pupil, a follower. We want people to learn how to follow Jesus. How do we do this? We will baptize them, and we will teach what is commanded – and all of this under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.
If you are a follower of Jesus today, a serious disciple, you will be observing what Christ has commanded and you will be baptized into the name of the Triune God.

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And that is the question, isn’t it – Even IF I am a member of a Christian Household – one that is spiritually “set apart” from the rest of the world which is under God’s wrath – what benefit is it to me if I can still somehow forfeit my final redemption?
I don’t want to be a "temporary object" of redemption! I don’t want to just enjoy church fellowship and potlucks here on earth if it’s not going to translate into an eternal redemption of both my body and soul in heaven!
I AGREE 100%: And this is the tension for anyone who gets baptized, whether a Baby raised in the church, or the Biker raised by a gang who has a conversion experience as an adult. ONCE they are both baptized, they become visible members of God’s Kingdom. In their baptism we claim that the washing waters puts them to death, no longer spiritually connected to the lost communion earned by Adam and Eve. They are therfore, buried and raised up to a life completely connected to the righteous life of Jesus Christ -- cleansed of all their sin, born again by the Spirit, and adopted into the family where our older brother Jesus Christ, sets the example - and as we follow our brother's example, and as we obey our Father, and will promote His kingdom.
In baptism, we declare that the baptized receives every blessings and benefit of being a member of a redeemed household. This baptism is actually a sanctifying influence for the Christian home just as it was for the Jewish household of the Old Testament, God's uniquely chosen people.
In Romans 9:4 the Apostle Paul lists the benefits that the Jews received growing up in a household of faith: They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
Paul is stating that being connected to a Jewish household gives a person a front row seat to hearing, learning, and inculcating the faith (HEY – THAT’s the definition of a Disciple!!) this is the "classroom" that God desires for His chosen people.
AND It is the same for those who are raised in a Christian household! There are tremendous benefits -- and we should call it the Grace of God -- that children in a home with at least one believing parent -- receives the influence of a saint in their life. When children are raised in a Christian home, the children will learn how to pray, they will learn the stories of God’s faithfulness, they will learn the importance of the Christian community, they will learn about Jesus who loves the little children – and all that learning contributes to discipleship!
And to mark people out as a disciple, we baptize them – JUST LIKE JESUS COMMISSIONED. In this baptism we tell them, and everyone observing, that they are an object of God’s redemption, they are now in a household that is protected from the wrath of God, that they have received God’s sign and seal of acceptance and welcome – They have now received the TRUE SIGN of a members of God’s kingdom – the church.

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Adam and Eve in all their strength could not merit their own redemption – so God provided a covering for them, and a promise! Likewise, not one of us, from the youngest to the oldest, to the strongest, wisest, or richest, could ever perform what would be required to redeem our lives – So God in His grace has provided a covering for us in our baptism – that all of the Trinity would provide for us all the righteousness of Christ and provide us with a promise: never to leave us or forsake us – this is the sure hope for all who long to be faithful disciples.

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This leads me to a primary principle. A kingdom must have a king, and a people and a boundary. For the Christian today, everything is related to these boundaries:
What are the boundaries of God’s rule, and the rule of human governments?
Where are the boundaries to be found between living for God’s kingdom and living in society,
and who enforces the boundaries of each kingdom? How does Jesus rule his people, and how should a government rule it’s people?

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And this is our real struggle isn’t it – it is against our Creator. We have chosen to not live up to what He created us to be – We are suppoed to be people who love justice and beauty and goodness and purity. BUT We love shortcuts instead of integrity. We choose earthly influence over eternal significance. We are constantly seeking after “the life;” but are hell bent on destroying ourselves as we do it.
In our very soul, we know that a King is going to return and make everything that is wrong about this world right again; but we are so focused on our tiny existence, that we never look up and acknowledge His rule over our life.
But His plan for ruling and reigning over every selfish power has already been announced in Genesis 3:15: the Lord says to the serpent: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."
This is the proto-euangellion – the first mention of the Gospel in the Bible.

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This just happens to be the Christmas story. God sending His savior king to a hostile world to overthrow the tyranny of the Devil and his seed. But Satan does not like it. Like a wicked dragon, he seeks to devour the seed of the woman – always attacking the descendants of Abraham. And finally when the King is born in Bethlehem, Herod the Great seeks to destroy this child by murdering all the young boys of that small town – but God intervenes to protect this Savior King.
And as this boy grows and lives his life, he proves himself to be a wonderful counselor, especially when tempted by the devil. Jesus does not give into his human appetites, or claim the nations as an inheritance before completing the full terms of his contract.
He proves himself to have wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and fear of the Lord.
When tested, Adam and Eve perceive with their eyes and they listen with their ears. But this is not how the Savior King will judge, for he knows what righteousness is. It is not self seeking, but it defends the weak and the meek and establishes equity upon the earth.
This Savior King is in fact, the Mighty God who will conquer the curse of death that has destined every line of humanity to the dust of the earth.
But this Savior King is also the Everlasting Father. Bringing to our lives eternal significance – our works will not perish in the dust; but will have impact in the heavenly realms. Our Savior King rules over earth and eternity and He will finally, and as we expect Him, defeat every evil force and triumph in glory over the serpent and his schemes.
And His victory as king will be final; because He will rule as the prince of peace! All fighting will end, and the burden he bears upon His shoulders of managing the heavenly kingdom will be akin to the work that Adam had in the Garden before he fell into sin – it will be a joy and exhilaration to rule over a people who only love the glory of God and desire to obey Him for all of eternity.

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Prophecy cannot predict anything! prophecy cannot be fulfilled if there is no gameplan in place! More than that, the plan may be in place, but it does no good unless you have the absolute ability to carry out the plan! And this is exactly what God does! God can fortell elements of the Christmas story hundreds of years before the prophesied events happen because God has a plan for this world, and He has the ability to accomplish His purposes.

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God promised Abraham a line of inumerable descendants – and that Kings would come from his fruitfullness. But his wife Sarah was barren, The way of women had ceased in her body, she was worn out. She could still cook in the kitchen, but HER own oven had lost its fire.
Sarah was a woman, who in that culture, was actually considered cursed by God for her barren condition. AND now here she is, late in life; she’s probably doubting that her life amounted to anything at all – why had she been born, what had her life accomplished? And yet powerfully, at the end of the day, Sarah IS an accomplice to the redemption of God’s people, she helps to establish the Rule of the Messiah, and she is a patriot in defeating the power of the devil – Wow!
It was a MIRACLE that Sarah had a baby. God visits, announces, and says “Nothing is impossible.” God took that which was looked over and forgotten and beyond use, and planned to accomplish something great in her – That is Christmas!

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It’s ironic to realize that the Christmas story is carried along by two women of note: One was a woman who couldn’t get pregnant, and the other was a woman who shouldn’t have been pregnant.

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And this is where the plans and prophesy of Christmas impact our present. Dare I say, with the weight of prophetic wisdom, that there must now be certain things we can completely affirm because of Christmas!
We dare not over-look, neglect, or ever think that some person in the world has no significance or impact upon others. Who are we to determine that God has not intended to do something even though the weakest and the most incapacitated? Christmas teaches us that God uses old, barren women; unpopular and little towns; frightened and hassled young women needing shelter – these are the ones that God uses to work miracles of redemption – and our eyes and sensitivities should always be towards these and others.

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Christianity is a trip! When I say this, I mean two things primarily. (1) God is a mover! God created everything, and He likes it moving – everything in creation is spinning, or flying, or gravitating, or floating, or growing, or dying – it all has momentum, and it is going in a some direction! When we evaluate all of life from both a scientific and a Biblical perspective – we really can say with our best 60’s voice “Life’s a trip, man.”
(2) When I say Christianity is a trip, I mean that God does NOT have you where He WANTS you to be right now! – This is what I mean by that --God wants you to be going in a particular direction (and I mean that spiritually, ecumenically) – and He will take you there until He fulfills His and our ultimate destiny – and that destiny is His Glory! If you are still here on this planet at this very moment – God is without a doubt, taking you somewhere! – trippy!


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I think the details of the Christmas story again teach us the obvious: God wants to move people from their current location – and now I am speaking primarily in a spiritual context (stop moving away from California!) – and take them to a place where people will see His Glory!
Joseph and Mary had to move to see God’s glory. Shepherd’s in the field who thought they are seeing God’s glory, had go to another place to look into the face of true glory. All of this taking place as Wiseman from the east are traveling on their way…
We often look at how life moves us about, and conclude that it is actually a great inconvenience. We get upset by the trials that force us to change our plans; we voice our complaints to God for how everything needs to start over again – and we take things quite personally that the GREAT goals we had in mind, slip by us and become a waste of all our time and energy.
But think about Joseph and Mary for a moment. Two people elected by God to carry out the plan of redemption – and all they are is HASSLED! She is pregnant before her time; he is committed to a future bride who has regular conversations with “angels;” they both must pick up and travel when it was really time to settle down.
WHAT was God doing? I’m sure they each had their life perfectly planned out – but now God is moving them to ---- HIS greater glory.
SO God is also moving us – He has a goal in mind – He has a plan to bring each of us a future and a hope. And yet, we all know what it is to be HASSLED by uncontrollable circumstances; but we must hold on to the conviction that God’s view of the terrain that we are traveling is far more clear to Him – and that He has a glorious objective in mind. Perhaps we should accept then that life is more than a trip – it is actually a pretty amazing RIDE! The LORD has you, He has EVERYTHING in creation moving, and He has a destination for us all.

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This again is the Christmas story – distance being covered in order to reveal the glory of God. Our obvious application of the Christmas story is this – will we trust God to lead us in a direction that will reveal His glory? At the end of our “ride” will we be convinced that we will be publicly glorifying God for His grand design?
There is one direction that would seem to be the opposite, or the negation of this message, and that direction is backsliding! Backsliding is also a trip isn’t it? It is traveling in a direction. But does it go in a direction where God is Glorified? Well, Yes, and No – Surely, it is God’s revealed will that backsliding is antithetical to the Christian life of maturing and becoming more like Christ! This is the glory of salvation – that we would be like Christ – this is God’s chosen direction for His chosen people.
Unfortunately, many of us know what backsliding is – it’s the charting of our own path, it is the ignoring of God’s clearly marked boundaries, it is our unwillingness to walk difficult paths, and it is our fascination with shortcuts.
As a former backslider (…) I’d like to speak to anyone wavering off the path – God’s word is clear about His ultimate end for His people. We will either glorify God for His goodness and gracious provisions – OR – we will glorify Him for His righteous judgment against sinners.


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This has been the theme of our current Advent series – It appears that those people who have some degree of “earthly glory,” are the most threatened by the gift of God, they refuse the gift and the relationship that the gift provides.
I think this still holds true today. The person who rejects God’s gift of Jesus Christ, is the one who is apt to glorify their own intellect, or independence, or even their own sinful lifestyle – they glory in it – even a destitute bum on skid row, in his own eyes, can have too much pride to receive God’s gift. And conversely, it is the poor in spirit, the one who recognizes that they have no glory in themselves – these are the ones whom God lavishes His gift upon – and here is the greatest part of the story – If we are willing to admit that we have no glory in ourselves, then God will lavish upon us the gift of His glory!

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Jesus didn’t come to earth at Christmas time to simply offer peace and justice, He came to demand it, to require it, and to command it from every being in the universe. Jesus came to establish His dominion so that everyone would live according to His kind of peace – that's the kind of “PEACE ON EARTH” that Jesus brings at Christmas! He is going to get it HIS WAY!!
It’s this kind of teaching that makes me want to start my own T-shirt business – where the front of the shirt says, “Jesus offers NOTHING,” and on the back it will say, “He Commands, He Demands, He Requires!” (CommunionPres.org)

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And this leads me to discuss the greatest battle of all time. It was the war that took place upon the cross in the body and soul of Jesus my savior. At the cross, God went to war against every unholy sin found in His children. Every profanity, every adultery, every mockery, every vanity – you name it – every little and big thing that fell short of the glory of God was defeated and destroyed and rendered powerless by the furious wrath of God at the cross.
Every soul who trusts in the savior will know that the final death blow upon sin, and the power of death, and the power of the devil was executed upon the cross of Christ. God went out marching to war against the stench and wretchedness of rebellious disobedience and apathetic unbelief and in a gruesome, but final battle – destroyed the complete curse of sin upon the perfect Lamb of God who offered himself as a sacrifice on behalf of a dying and defiled humanity.
Jesus Christ took every one of our sins and placed them before the righteous execution of God and Jesus paid for our misery in His body upon a bloody battlefield so that we would NEVER, EVER, have to experience the threat of God’s judgment for all eternity.
Who was my enemy on that day when Jesus represented me in battle? Well, that’s the beautiful scandal of the cross. God marched out to battle to destroy me -- my sin and rebellion; but Jesus enters in as a faithful brother and took my just punishment -- ON THAT VERY BATTLEFIELD, it was the demanding God who was my enemy! God was killing me off at the cross – why me? Because I was in league with every rebellious sinner from Adam and Eve on – But look at what God did in a moment of Justice – He brought Peace…
While God came to destroy me in battle, He righteously satisfied His judgment upon sin in Christ – and gave to me the Righteousness of Christ. God took away my offense by placing it upon Christ and gave to me the righteous, pure, faithful, sincere, and selfless life of Jesus Christ and raised me up as a revived and restored humanity. God my enemy became God my savior.

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At the end of the day, I find it hard to know peace and justice when I seem to be struggling with myself as enemy. The struggle against myself is also never helped when I hang out with the wrong people, and in the wrong places.
So I ask myself, Why do I give in to the part of me that Christ has defeated? It’s like entertaining the dead when I should really be proclaiming the gospel to them so that they would hear and see the power of life – the power of the resurrected Christ in my life!
May God forgive, and convict us for all the times that we waste opportunities playing around with the “dead and damned” when we should have been bringing them the truth, and light, and life!
These people do not know peace, and my casual entertainments with them does not prepare them for the reality of the spiritual war that is going on! We as Christians should not know peace if we never live as soldiers of the light.

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I furthermore believe that this God made me in such a way that I could comprehend Him in some way. That He equipped me with a sound enough mind that could conclude that everything existing on earth, in the solar system, in the galaxy, arrived here by more than just a random collision of gaseous clouds (Which was Carl Sagan’s answer to Why Am I Here? “We owe our existence to a random collision of gaseous clouds.”)
Carl Sagan’s conclusion as to why we exist is very unsatisfying to me. And I don’t believe that I am being proud or preferring my specie over another, because I have an awareness of my own mind, my own thoughts, and my own “soulishness” if you will, that compels me to believe that there is a powerful God who intends to be God over all life on earth.
More than that, this God has the ability to communicate with me personally. He has preserved a series of texts of His truths in the Bible that I can read and make sense of its teaching. This God can also speak to my inner conscience and motivate me spiritually to think and act in a certain way.
So here is my foundation for life. I have placed my faith on this foundation: I Am Here because God exists; and I am here because this God is going to do something with me! My mind rejects uncaused accidents and purposeless activity

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who seek Him.

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My faith tells me that there is a huge reality that I cannot see – Angels, and warfare, and heavenly realms. I don’t see it, but I believe it, and I want to act like I believe it by living boldly, offering my body as a living sacrifice, trusting that the very words of God that I speak will not return void.
All I’m saying is that if we really believed in all the things we say we believe in, we’d act a whole lot different – we’d be more faithful in following, serving, and worshipping Christ.

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This leads me to the next aspect of FAITH, it rests on a testimony. Now lots of churches love to hear people’s testimony. It is such a regular occurrence in so many churches – "Brother Bob, come here and tell the congregation your testimony!" And then Brother Bob explains how important he was, or how sinful he was, and how he had a miraculous encounter with Jesus, and how now he’s a happy, faithful follower of Christ – Now it’s wonderful to hear the redeemed of the Lord say so, But you know what? My faith is never to be placed in a mere man’s testimony. There are only two testimonies we are to build our faith upon! Do you know them?
The testimony of God’s word, and the testimony of the Holy Spirit confirming God’s word! And God’s word, and the Holy Spirit ultimately only speak of ONE THING don’t they? The man, Jesus Christ!
Here’s my testimony for you today. The more you know, learn about, read about, pray to, ponder, obey, and follow Jesus Christ – the more you do these things – the more rewarding your personal faith will be. And I say this based upon God’s word!
If your faith is ever placed upon a mere man’s testimony – no matter how stirring and inspiring it is, it is NOT a firm foundation for faith, because it is not the gospel!
Brother Bob does not call you to faith, Brother Bob does not share with you his righteousness, Brother Bob is not sanctifying you, Brother Bob is not preparing a place for you for all eternity!
Let’s not get captivated by non-biblical stories, but let’s faithfully share the testimony about what Christ has done for us in his life, death, and resurrection, and in the Spirit’s ability to confirm it in our souls. And if I can pair down 1 John 5 to make the point: … the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 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.

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