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This Will Be the Sign For You



"In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
 And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
Good Morning my beloved,

We welcome you to worship in the name of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m thrilled that you are here with us today.  
There’s much to be said about signs, signs are designed capture our attention, to shift our focus away from something toward something else; there's stop signs, exit signs, there's are signs to tell when you're entering or leaving a state, there are signs to warn you of impending danger, such as high water, a road closure, or a bridge out, there are signs telling you that the speed limit has increased or decreased, particularly near a school zone or construction zone, which if you do not pay attention to, you will be facing the wrath of an angry police officer, whose lights flashing in your rear view mirror will soon be a sign that you're in trouble. And, as some of you probably know, that's a very uneasy feeling.
The more you read and study the Scriptures, you'll find there are signs when God wants to get your attention, signs to remind us He still there and in control, signs intended to draw us closer to Him when we've become distracted, overwhelmed by day to day life, most often because we're focusing on the wrongs things, things we've put ahead of God, Who should be at the forefront of our minds every waking moment. I have learned from my own personal experiences, becoming very aware of the fact that God is always watching over us, every single moment of our day. I can recall several times in my life, when God decided to intervene in my life, altering the outcome of the circumstances I found myself in, teaching me to let go of the need to control the outcome and to trust God in all things, especially when things are not going the way I had hoped they would. I've also learned our disobedience to obey God, refusing to change our ways, not only affects us, but everyone around us.

As I was studying the text for our message today, one thing that kept playing over and over in my mind is, there will be a sign given for you, and it became crystal clear, this is certainly fitting for the age in which we're living today, God is giving us a multitude of signs, signs to warn us of the impending final Judgment and nobody seems to be paying attention to what's going on, sadly, even many in the church. In man's reason, he rebels against the idea of the existence of a holy God, or the reality that his unprofitable pursuit of immoral pleasure, will ultimately result in God's eternal punishment. In the campaign for sexual immorality, some have even suggested that God now accepts sexually immoral behavior, if that were true, He wouldn’t have so profoundly condemned it, in both the Old and New Testaments. To imagine that God isn't angry with those who reject His clear revelation, is the greatest expression of man's fallenness. 
Galatians 6:7-8, teaches "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." This warning extends to all kinds of behavior, and certainly applies to the most heinous expressions of sin. I believe the most unloving thing you can do is tell someone who is headed to Hell, facing His eternal punishment, that God is fine with their sinful behavior. If you really love them, than you’re going to have to tell them the Truth, God hates all sin, and those who reject His command to repent and turn away from it, will face the consequence of his own sinfulness! Because of man's fallen nature and his ever-increasing compulsion to sin, he cannot restrain himself, often driving him to the depths of sins horrifying staggering end, death without God's forgiveness.

Scripture has much to say about those who have rejected God's plan, for example, King Saul refused to accept God's appointment of David as his successor, and he spent the next fifteen years trying to kill him. Let’s not forget one of the best known examples found in the Bible, the Jewish religious leaders in Jesus' own day, who strayed far from God's plan, failing to pass on His message of salvation, and refusing to accept God's own analysis of their sinful condition, they hardened their hearts, even going as far to demand the crucifixion of His Son. As far as they were concerned, they had done their religious duty. And because they rejected the clear message, in 70 A.D., God destroyed the temple, ripping the temple veil in two. I don't know about you, but that would certainly get my attention!
It is no less important for us to speak the Truth today to those in a desperate spiritual condition, than it was for Christ, affirming what God says about sin, whatever the consequences might be. In John 15:20, Jesus tells us, "Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also."

Sexual immorality sounds innocent enough they way it's often portrayed, "Love is love," yet according to the CDC, preventable sexually transmitted diseases impact the health of millions in the United States each year, and the overall number of reported cases has been on the rise since 2014 and shows no sign of slowing down, with infections disproportionately affecting young people under the age of 25, racial and ethnic minority groups, and gay or bisexual men. As I have mentioned many times, there are built-in consequences to sin, and not just the physical ones, there are psychological consequences to those who openly practice sexual sin, even between consenting adults. In fact, sexual sin has become so acceptable, it has even invaded the church, and because they don't want out, they are actually very content, invariably using the Word of God to attempt to justify their perversion. We must recognize that this is not uncommon, it's what people under the influence of Satan do with the Bible, it is the ultimate blasphemy. You wouldn't even believe some of the ridiculous antagonist arguments I've heard, for which there's absolutely no justification, by those who attempt to manipulate the Word of God to say something other than what Scripture clearly says, God will allow no such people in His Kingdom, and I won't go through all of them. I'll just summarize by saying, He does however, offer His wonderful grace to such people who defile themselves, where there was repentance, but what good is the Good News that produces repentance leading unto salvation, if those who need to be rescued never hear it?

Let us pray 

Heavenly Father,
Father, thank You for Your Word. Lord, help us to understand that Your Word teaches that sin is not what You desire out of Your people, that we cannot interpret the Scripture according to our sin, but we must be sensitive to rightly interpret our sin according to the Scripture. Father, I pray that no one reading this message would leave before confessing their sin, repenting and asking Jesus for forgiveness. May heart here today, receive the gift of salvation that is offered to those who believe in His death and resurrection, and confess Him as Lord. Help us who have died to sin, to be loving and compassionate in faithfully sharing the Good News. We pray this in Jesus’ name, our Savior whom we love and serve, for Your glory. 
Today's Message: This Will Be the Sign For You
Open your Bibles with me, if you would and turn them to Luke chapter 2. I invite you to follow along with me read the text to you, to set it in our minds, as we open our hearts and listen for the voice of our Lord. Luke 2:8-14.

"In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
 And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
Let's look at verse 8, "In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night." It's amazing to think of all the people God could have come to with the greatest news the world has ever heard, that the long-awaited Savior has been born for you, you might think He would have told the religious authorities ruling in Israel, instead, He chose the least likely recipients, lowly shepherds, keepers of the flock, who had no influence to speak of, because they were considered to in the lower classes of society, the bottom rung of the social ladder. From a human perspective, it doesn't make sense that God would choose to make His spectacular announcement to a group of people, least likely to be able to spread it. But we know from Isaiah 55:8-9, God's ways are quite different from ours. God revealed Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, those least deserving to hear the Good News, to shame the religious leaders. After all, isn't the same is true today? Think about the grace that you and I received, we didn't deserve it either, we were outcasts, the enemies of God, but God, in an act of His mercy, chose to reveal the Good News of a Savior to us, that we might be saved, for our good and for His glory!
Everybody knew that God required the firstborn of every family belonged to the Lord, but this child born in the city of David, was the Son of David, Son of God, predetermined to sit on the throne of Israel, where He would rule and reign forever. Of course, Mary and Joseph knew He is the incarnate God, Who would save His people from their sins. This was not the grand entrance one would expect for God to enter into the world, in fact, it would probably be pretty hard to convince anybody that this little Jewish baby, laying in a feed trough is The One, frankly it could have been any baby boy born that night in Bethlehem, and we don't know, there may have been others on that same night, but only this One would be the Son of the Most High. In our passage today, the silence ends a few hours after the miraculous birth of this child, Who would be called Immanuel, God with us. 
In verse 9, the announcement of His arrival begins to unfold, "And an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened." There’s not much good news pervading our culture today, is there? If was ever a time, the world needed the proclamation that God extends His grace to those who least deserve it, it’s right now. The shepherds were out there in the field like any other night, doing what they always did, keeping watch over their flock, when suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood before them. As we've mentioned several times before in our study of Luke, nobody had seen an angel in over 500 years, all of a sudden, Gabriel appears to Zachariah, then he appears to Mary, now it looks as though he's come back for his third appearance. And, in the dark of the night, the incomprehensible glory of the Lord shone around them. 
I don't know if you've ever given that much thought to the concept of the glory of the Lord, but the glory of the Lord is to God what the illuminating brightness is to the sun, it is the product of the invisible God's presence. After Moses saw God in Exodus 33-34, his face shone so brightly of the afterglow that Aaron and all the sons of Israel were afraid to come near him, and he only saw a glimpse of His backside, because nobody can see His full glory and live because the brightness would be enough to incinerate them in an instant. Everything you can see is a manifestation of His glory, because all things were made by Him, they declare the glory of God; from the marvelous heavens above to the smallest flower on earth. That's why Paul says in Romans 1, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, both His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Only man and the angels cast out of heaven have made the choice to sin against their Creator. Every other created thing that has ever been brought into existence declares His glory. That's why Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10, "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." That's why we were created, that we might give God His rightful place, giving Him the glory He deserves. I believe that must become the qualifier for literally everything we think, say and do, "Will it glorify God?" When Christ returns, His glory will fill the whole Earth, and there will be no choice, those who refused to give Him glory will cry out for the mountains and rocks to fall on them, to hide them from the presence of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! They glory of God is terribly frightening, that why the shepherds were afraid.
The more intently we focus our lives on Christ, the more the world will see the glory of God. They may not realize it, but the world desperately needs to see God's glory in us in the likeness of Christ! But, before that can happen, the sin that remains in our lives must be dealt with. I don't believe many Christians today really understand that's why we're all here, to be salt and light, so that our light shine before men in such a way that as we walk with Christ through the world, they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. We're called to be the unmistakable presence of Christ in the world, shining forth the brightness of His glory, it cannot be separated from the Christian life, I can't think of a higher calling than that. When Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the mountain where He was transformed, His face shone like the sun and His garments became as white as light, He was showing them Who He was and it became the point of their confidence. I don't believe that Peter ever forgot it, that's why he wrote in 2 Peter 1:16-18, "For we did not make known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, following cleverly devised myths, but being eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain."

I could go on and on about the glory of God, because it's literally exhaustible, but for the sake of time, let's move on to Luke verse 10, "But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people." The glory of God is terrifying, that's why the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid." Everybody who has seen the glory of God has the same reaction, when Isaiah and Ezekiel saw God in a vision, they were terrified. When the Apostle John saw the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, he fell over as a dead man. Do you understand that even the veiled presence of God presence of God is enough to terrify the sinner? That's why the angel said "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people." This isn't news of judgment, you're not in trouble, "Behold, I bring you good news of great joy," God is going to reveal His grace. If ever you are in the presence of God and your sins aren't forgiven, you'd better panic instantly, because He sees sin. That's why in Luke 5, Peter fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!" The more that God’s Word is removed from preaching, the more Christians compromise with the world, the worse the world will become, I am convinced that we are witnessing the evidence of that today. Notice, Luke uses the verb "euaggelízō " from which we get the word evangelize. We're called to bring the Good News to sinners, to tell them of Jesus Christ, the One Who has come to forgive their sin and pay the penalty for their sins. This message didn't stop with Israel, and it doesn't stop with the Church, it is for all people who will confess with their mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead. That literally means everybody and anybody, it's not for us to decide who should or shouldn't hear the Good News. It's important to remember, the results are not up to us, that is the pervasive work of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 11, "For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Christ the Lord is not His earthly name, it's His title. It's important that we understand that He is both Christ and Lord, a position I'm often criticized for. But that is exactly what Scripture teaches, as I've noted before, He is called Lord more than 700 times in the New Testament and called Savior less than ten times. That alone should demonstrate the priority that Jesus is to have in our lives. When you confess Jesus Christ as Lord, you’re no longer free to live as you want, you are acknowledging your complete surrender to His reign and rule in your life. Jesus Himself made that unmistakably clear in Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." Yet, many people confess Jesus as Lord without having any knowledge of the implications of obedience that's required.

Verse 12, "And this will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Why was this necessary? Because there no distinctive visible marks of His deity, He looked just like any other new born baby, but not all of them would be lying in a manger. That is the identifying factor of His messiahship, God's anointed One, but there's more to it than that, the child lying in a manger is Christ the Lord. Christ or "cristós" is His exalted title, that signifies His is anointed by the ultimate authority, God Himself. Throughout the Old Testament, prophets and priests were anointed, but there is only One Great High Priest, mediator between God and man, who takes us into the presence of God. We live in a day where Jesus Christ something to be added to the life you already have, but that’s not how it works, you don't add Jesus to anything. People need to understand when you come to Christ, it's a complete and total exchange, all that I am and all that I have for all that He is. Remember the parable of the treasure hidden in a field, where a man found a pearl of great price and sold everything he had to buy that one pearl? Christ is sufficient, to have Him is to need absolutely nothing at all, everything you could ever need for time and eternity is bound up in Christ. I really don’t understand why some preachers are intimidated about proclaiming that Truth, maybe the problem is they haven't understood it themselves, because they weren't trained properly in the Word of God. The result of that is an inadequate view of Christ. Christ is not a good starting point, Christ is above ALL, because He is ALL. Seriously, what can man possibly add to that? The best that men can do is futile. You don't receive the mind of Christ by getting a degree, you get it by receiving Christ, He comes to us through His person, His Word and by His Spirit. I believe that's why we have an awful lot of philosophers coming out of seminary these days, and not many bold Bible proclaimers. Christ is the One crucified for crimes that were not His own, they were ours. We’ve all a lot done to violate God's law, in Christ, we receive complete forgiveness, because He wiped our debt away, that you and I could live free of sin, it's sad that there's so many people who really don't get that we've not only been freed from the penalty of sin, we've freed from its power. That's all-sufficiency!
That brings us to verses 13-14, "And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." That's the ultimate pinnacle of salvation, giving glory to God. We could speculate forever about how many there were and never get it right, but a multitude always refers to a large group. If one angel frightened those shepherds, just imagine what hundreds, or possibly thousands of them would do to them. And, all of them were praising God because the Savior had come to save His people from their sins. They were praising God, giving glory to Him for His indescribable gift of mercy. This is a pure, supreme act of worship being lavished on the One Who is supremely worthy of all praise. I've had many people who say to me, "I have been going to church all my life and I just can't seem to live the life that you say a Christian should." The key to effective Christian living is not to get more from God, if  you're genuinely in Christ, you've already got it all, the problem is you need to give to God all that you are. There is nothing that will be accepted by God if the soul has not already become His own. That's what Jesus said in Mark 8:36-37, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Everything else is meaningless to God if He doesn't have your soul, all your religious activity is absolutely worthless if you haven't given Him full possession of your soul. After you've given Him your soul, you must render Him your body in full total dedication. In other words, we should be so consumed with gratitude to God for the mercy He's shown us that we're willing to yield up everything we are and all that we have to Him. It's not easy, but it is essential for us to give our bodies to God, it's not a one time deal, it's a daily thing. That's what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 9 when he wrote, "I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified." If our bodies are going to be presented to God a living sacrifice, they need to be holy, we do that by killing the sin in our unredeemed flesh every day with maximum effort. If we don't, we'll eventually yield to temptation and be unfit for God and His purposes. In 1 Corinthians 15:31, "I affirm, brothers, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily." God doesn't want dead bodies, or weak, half-hearted ones either, He wants a holy sacrifice, blameless, spotless. In verse 34, Paul says "Become righteously sober-minded, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."
The last essential element to effective Christian living is we must give God our mind. Why is your mind important if you've already given Him your soul and your body? Because your body responds to your mind, your mind is what determines whether your body will act righteously or unrighteously in a Christ-less world. Romans 12:2, tells us "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may approve what the will of God is, that which is good and pleasing and perfect." A renewed mind is saturated with and controlled by the Word of God. Effective Christian living is all about being totally transformed mind, body and spirit. "And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."  We must be totally devoted to Him, that's the idea, and we should be pleased to do it, simply because it pleases God.  

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,

And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name


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