The ingredients in the Christmas story seem kind of random: a decree from Caesar, an engaged virgin, an angelic announcement, three wise men, and no room at the inn— doesn’t sound like the narrative we’d write if we were God. Some of the circumstances we may be dealing with this year aren’t exactly what we’d write for our own stories either. In this message, we are challenged to respond to the seemingly random curve balls in our lives the same way Mary did to God’s biggest curve ball yet.
In this message we look beyond the Christmas story to the back story. When Luke goes to write the account of the birth of Jesus, he begins by setting the events in the context of the reign of Caesar Augustus. It's not an accident. Why? What is Luke trying to do? There's a reason why Luke tells us that Jesus' birth occurred during the reign of Caesar Augustus. Luke is contrasting two gospels: the gospel of Caesar (which is not living up to the hype) and the gospel of Jesus.
If you at some point in your life, when you were younger, or two years ago, or 20 years ago; if at some point in your life, you prayed a prayer: “Lord Jesus come into my heart or I want to become a Christian or God forgive me of my sin.” And you entered into any kind of relationship with God.
And then as time went by, you just kind of wandered away.
You may have had a bad church experience or your family moved and you just never went back to church or maybe you went to college and you just quit believing. Maybe you just drifted away from your faith. Or there was some tragedy that happened to you and you prayed and prayed and prayed and God didn't answer your prayer.
If any of this is true of you, would you consider coming back to church one more time? If so, we want to invite you to join us this Sunday at Next Level Church. 9:30a or 11:00a
We are a church that, not only understands how you feel, we are a church made up of people just like you. And we want to show you what changed our minds and hearts.
God cares way more about how open your heart is than whether you follow the rules. When Jesus is born, God's people are going about their business, walking right by, and then there are these foreigners who come. And out of their darkness, they find themselves in this place full of light because there they are with Christ.
And this is really good news for anybody who feels like they are in a dark place because they stepped out of bounds, because they paid attention to the wrong things, because they tried to find their way and it took them in the wrong direction. And now you're in a dark place and you're afraid there is never any light coming for you.
Maybe you're afraid you've ruled yourself out. You've made yourself ineligible for the light. And you just need to hear this, this Christmas season. That God cares way more about whether your heart is open than whether you've followed all the rules. And this is a light that keeps promising to break in.