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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - When You Don't Feel Good Enough for God

Craig Groeschel - When You Don't Feel Good Enough for God

Craig Groeschel - When You Don't Feel Good Enough for God
Craig Groeschel - When You Don't Feel Good Enough for God
TOPICS: Fear Not, Christmas

Well, today we're concluding a message series on fear. 'Cause there's a lot of things to be afraid of in the world today. And we've been looking at the story of the birth of Jesus and amazingly, three different times, an angel of the Lord appears during the story of the birth of Jesus and each time the angel appears, he starts his message with the same thing. Do you remember what he says? The angel says, "Do not be afraid". That's the NIV angel, but the King James version angel says, "Fear not". Which is really, really comforting that an angel would appear and tell us to fear not because there are so many things that are unsettling in the world today. How many of you agree? Type in the comments section, "I agree".

I mean, there's like economic fears and there's relational fears. Is my marriage gonna work out? There's the direction of the country fears. There's direction of our kids fears. There's worries about our health or the health of someone we love. In fact, let's just do a little Christmas survey. I'll ask a question and you can raise your hand. How many of you are a little bit of afraid of your January credit card bill? Raise your hand, right? You can type in the comment section, "I'm terrified", right? On a more serious note, how many of you are afraid ever of losing a loved one? I've been afraid of that every time Amy's running late, which is every time she's coming anywhere. I always get afraid did something happen to her. And then I get more afraid because I think with six kids no one would ever married a guy like me. I'm gonna be alone for the rest of my life and I'm gonna miss my best friend. Irrational, but I get afraid.

How many of you are ever afraid of like going broke. A few of you. Even though I may have a lot, I also have a lot of financial fears and worries. Unusual things. Afraid of heights, afraid of heights? James, raise your hand up high. Yeah, you can type in the comments section, "I'm afraid of heights". Anybody afraid of flying? Flying? How about spiders? Spiders? Oh, big hand up goes up in the air. There's odd things. This is crazy, but I actually know two people that are afraid of pickles. Anybody afraid of pickles? That's a weird thing. Like afraid of pickles. That's weird. It's actually a thing. I looked it up. It's called dillophobia. Be free of dillophobia in Jesus' name.

There's also people afraid of clowns, which makes more sense to me after seeing the movie "It". Pastor Craig, did you see the movie "It"? No, I wouldn't watch that movie. Maybe a little bit of it. Pennywise scared me to death. Clowns is a real thing. It's called coulrophobia. It's a real thing. I wanna talk today though about one fear that a lot of people have that it doesn't actually come up a lot, it's often below the surface and it's the fear that many people don't acknowledge until maybe they're at a funeral or there's a scary health issue or they find themselves in a close call.

But it's the fear of people wondering where do they stand with God. If something were to happen to me, where would I spend eternity? Would I spend eternity with God in heaven or would I be separated from God in hell? And this is really, really scary when we think about it because we know what we've done wrong. We know all the bad things that we've done. And sometimes people may not feel close to God and not sure where you stand with God. So if maybe you're coming back to church for the first time, or you're new at the church, or maybe you've been around for a long time and you have, when you pause and think about it, a little bit of concern, where do I stand with God? I'm gonna show you a text today that I'm praying will build your faith. When an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and said, "Do not be afraid". The title of today's message is When you Don't Feel Good Enough for God. And let's pray.

Father, thank you for your Word and for the presence of your spirit. We pray God, that you would show us the true good news. And by putting our faith in Jesus, we could know that our sins are forgiven and that we are loved and that we are new. We pray this in Jesus' name and everybody said amen and amen.

Are you ready for the Word today? If you're ready, say, "I'm ready". Are you ready? Type it in the comments section if you're ready. We're gonna look at Luke 2, starting at verse eight. And here's what scripture says. "And there were", what? Say it with me. "There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them", and they were freaking out. That's what the word means in the English language. They were terrified. "But the angel of the Lord said to them, 'Do not be afraid.'" What do the angel bring to them? The angel said, "I bring you good news". And what will it cause? "It will cause great joy" for how many people? "For all the people". Don't be afraid. Fear not. I am going to bring you the best news you have ever heard. It is the good news and it is for everyone who will ever live. "'Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, he is the Lord.'"

Today I bring to you good news. A Savior is born. If that's good news, I want to know more, but it actually raises some questions. If we're being saved, I wanna know what are we being saved from. And why did God send his angels to shepherds? Which is interesting because if I'm God and I'm bringing the good news to the world and I'm sending the angels, I'm probably gonna send them to someone from the religious sect. Like I'm gonna send the angel to the priests or to the scribes or to the Pharisees. But the angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds, which is really, really weird if you know how people thought of shepherds during this time. You may not know a lot. If you research, you'll discover that they were considered on the lowest rung of society. And most people just naturally hated the shepherds. You may say, "Why? They played with sheep and sheep are so cute and adorable and they say 'baa!'"

Okay, why did people not like shepherds? Well, they used to years back, during the time of the patriarchs, shepherds were actually respected, they had status, they had wealth, and they were admired. But what happened is when the 12 tribes of Israel migrated to Egypt, suddenly there was a very different economy. The Egyptians were agriculturalists. And what do you think the sheep and the goats did to the crops? They destroyed the crops and so suddenly they hated and despised the shepherds because the shepherds took care of the sheep that destroyed their economy. And so the shepherds took on this kind of nature of being uneducated, unlovable, and they ended up being the people that everyone else avoided.

In fact, I'm gonna show you three reasons why the shepherds would've likely been so shocked by the angelic appearance and why they would've felt distant from God. In fact, as we look at them, we're gonna see some of the same reasons they might feel distance from God. And they're very similar to why some of us might feel distance from God. The first thing is they felt unworthy. I wonder how many of you have ever thought about your standing before God and felt unworthy of his love and unworthy of his goodness? The shepherds felt very unworthy. And it was because of the nature of their job. Because they were tending sheep and the sheep were known as ceremonially unclean animals, the shepherds were considered unclean. In other words, if you worked with sheep, you couldn't attend the temple for a long time. And so the message was very, very clear. You are too dirty for God. That's what they felt.

If you've ever felt that way, I can relate. I remember very, very distinctly the first time I was a little kid I got caught doing something wrong. It was the first time I stole. And the fact that I'm telling you it was the first time I stole implies that there was a second time that I stole and I'm not proud to tell you that as a pastor, but it's actually very, very true. And I was a little bitty kid. I was over at my friend's house and they had a change bowl. I don't know if they still have change bowls, but when I was a kid, you have a bowl and you'd put your change in it. Some of you don't even know what change is 'cause you don't know what paper money is, but there used to be change. And change was really valuable because for a quarter you could play Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Asteroids or one of the holy games back in the day. And there was a jar full, a bowl full of money and I went and took a handful and put it in one pocket and a handful in the other pocket.

And this was back in the day when it was popular, were very, very, very short shorts, cutoff shorts. They were so short you almost could go to hell because they were so short. And they had a little white pocket thing underneath 'em that bulged out with about 700 Pac-Man games worth of quarters. And I jingled out of the house trying to act like I had nothing when my friend's mom put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Where do you think you're going with our change"? And I go, "I don't have your change". And she like jingled down there and I got caught, and she looked at me and what she just said impacted how I felt about me for years to come. Not her fault, my fault. But she said, "You are a bad, bad, bad, bad boy".

And I'm telling you, I grew up thinking I'm a bad, bad, bad boy because that was one of many things that I did that were against the heart of God and hurtful to other people. And you may be able to relate. It may be some private sin, some secret addiction, something that you continue to do that you know you shouldn't do when you've tried to quit and you can't seem to quit. It could be a secret thought, it could be something that you did years ago and you feel incredibly guilty about it and no one knows, but you know, and it weighs on you. Or it may not be private, it may be public. You filed bankruptcy and you're incredibly embarrassed and humiliated by that. Or you cheated on your spouse and everybody knows about it. Or something that may not have entirely been your fault, but you ended up divorced and you feel like you let God down or let your spouse down or let your yourself down.

And there's a sense of unworthiness and shame. It could even be something as small and silly as you're at church smiling today and people ask you, "How you doing? Merry Christmas". And you give 'em that typical Merry Christmas smile. "Merry Christmas, praise the Lord, brother. We're so glad to celebrate the birth of Christ". And you almost killed a kid on the way to church 'cause you were running late. Shut up, kid. We're gonna worship Jesus. Be quiet back there before I kill you in the name of the Father, son, the Holy Spirit. And you're going, "I'm supposed to be joyful" and yet here we are in the middle of Christmas season and we're fighting like crazy. The shepherds felt unworthy. And like you, you may feel that way as well.

Another reason they might've felt distant from God is they felt very, very inadequate. They were programmed to believe that they simply weren't good enough. They were uneducated. They weren't allowed to go to the schools and so they always felt less than. They were considered very untrustworthy. Shepherds were untrust... They were not allowed to testify in court. So if a shepherd saw a crime go down, the shepherd could not testify. People wouldn't buy property from them because they were afraid the property was stolen. And so they felt incredibly inadequate. They were on the bottom rung of the social structure. They were considered equal to tax collectors, dung sweepers, that's the people that sweep the poop off the ground, to prostitutes, and if a shepherd was coming, the people were taught to take your children and walk on the other side of the road so you don't get close to them.

Some of you, you might feel a little bit the same way. You just compare, like when you look at social media, you can look at every how everybody else's life's amazing. Your life sucks, right? Just like normal comparing, you feel less than. You look at people and they seem to be better educated. They know more or they make more money, or they got more gifts under the tree or they've got more friends or more followers or more hair, you know? And you got hair, but it's all in the wrong places. Like on your back and in your nose and your ear, you know? Not on your head. You're going, "Why? I feel so completely unworthy in this way". It could be a sense of spiritual unworthiness.

In your own life, you think, "But I don't read God's Word much. And I'm afraid to pray out loud. And I'm supposed to be a mature Christian, but I recognize I'm really not that mature at all and I'm smiling in church but I really deep down feel very, very far from God". They felt unworthy, they felt inadequate. And thirdly, is they felt unloved. They felt unloved because everywhere they went, people would avoid them like crazy. They weren't welcome in the temple and they weren't welcome in the marketplace. They weren't wanted in the families. No father would want his daughter to marry a shepherd. And some of you might feel this way. We feel unworthy, we feel inadequate, we feel unloved. I mean, here we are in the middle of the Christmas season and Christmas in many ways is a magnifier. It makes the good times really good and it makes the painful times even more painful.

And some of you may feel a little lower right now when everybody else, "Peace on earth, enjoying good-will to men". You're like, "It's not so joyful at my house right now". Maybe your spouse left you and you wonder, what could I have done better? And now you're a single parent, you know, going, "I can't do it all on my own". Maybe you made some financial mistakes and then it's compounded by the Christmas pressure to buy, oh, more and more and more. And you feel like I am failing the people that I love the most because I can't provide for them in the way that I want to. You may be older than you'd want to be and not married when you thought you would be. And you're wondering what's wrong with me to be at this stage of life and still not have intimacy with someone else?

I've always wanted to share the goodness of God with someone and here I am alone again on Christmas. And it may be you sit by the tree with the people that you love and you smile, but on the inside you're really, really hurting, carrying a burden that you can't share with anybody. And you're feeling like, well, if they reject me and I know I'm not good enough and I don't even like who I am or where I am, how could God love me? How could he accept me? And an angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds, the lowest of the low, and said, "I've got good news for you. I've got really good news for you". And to every single one of you, to the one who is hurting the most, on behalf of God, I bring you good news today. There is a Savior that has been born and when you know him and accept his love and his goodness, you will never be the same.

If you feel it under the surface every now and then, where do I stand with God? I wanna show you the incredible, indescribably, good news of a God who loved you so much that he sent his one and only son Jesus, born of a virgin, so he would not inherit the sin nature who gave his life for you so you could be right with God. I wanna show you three thoughts on the good news of being right with God. Are you ready to hear some good news today? Let me show you from God's Word. Romans 3. This is amazing news. This is the good news of the gospel. "For no one", and this includes you, "can be made", what? Let's say it aloud. "Can be made right with God by doing what the law commands". In other words, no matter how hard you try on your own, you can never be religious enough to live up to God's standards. Well, that's discouraging.

Why do we have the law? Well, "The law simply shows us how sinful we are". Okay, great. Step number one, we suck. Where do we go from here? "But", oh, thank God for the but, "but now", that sounded weird. Just work with me. Come on, somebody. I already told you I'm inadequate. Thank God for the but. Touch your neighbor and say, "Thank God for the but". Come on, let's just go with it. Thank God for the but. Okay. But now we suck. "But God has shown us", oh my goodness, "a way to be made right with him". The righteous judge, the great I am, our heavenly Father, the creator and sustainer of the universe has shown us, sinful us, broken us, us that steals coins from the neighbor's house, us that says words that we shouldn't say, thinks thoughts that we shouldn't think, treats people in a way that we would never wanna be treated, God shows us a way "to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law".

Scripture says, "We are made right with God". By doing what? By being good enough, by being faithful enough, by never doing the wrong things? No, "By placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true", not just for Methodists or not just for Baptist or not just for Pentecostals or not just for those who try really hard or not just those who give enough money, but "this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who you are". To make it really, really simple. Lemme show you the good news of how you're made right with God. Thought number one is you cannot earn God's acceptance by observing the law. No matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, if you're better than the person sitting to your right, if you're better than the person sitting to the left, you're still not good enough.

The Pharisees, they tried hard, they had 613 laws, they couldn't live up to them. We got it easier. We have 10 commandments. If you're keeping half of those, you might be doing pretty good. Then Jesus simplified it. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. How are we doing on that? Not very well. You cannot, no matter how hard you try, no matter how righteous you are, live up to the standards of God's law. And scripture says it this way, look at it again. "For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands". That sounds discouraging. Why the law? Number two, to be very, very clear, to make sure we all are on the same page. The purpose of the law is to show you your need for a Savior. The law shows you that you're not good enough and you need someone who was good enough and is good enough.

Scripture says it this way, "For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are". Now, interestingly enough, in culture today, if I say "you sinned against God", a lot of people are gonna push back and say, "No, no, no, no, no, no. Sin is relative. No, no sin". We need to understand, even though sin may be unpopular today, sin is a very real word in God's Word and it reflects our state that when we are born, we are born from two sinners. We actually inherit a sin nature. When Adam's sinned against God, he passed down the sin nature to everyone who ever lived except for one. Spoiler alert. We'll get to that one in a minute. We've all sinned. There's a guy named Ray Comfort who's an evangelist on the street, and he asks these questions to people. I think it's pretty creative. I'll ask 'em to you in my own version. He says, "Have you ever told a lie"?

Would you raise your hand if you told a lie? Raise your hand. Type on the comment section, "I've told a lie". Leave your hands up for him. I just want you to look up. If anyone doesn't have their hand up, just point to 'em and call 'em a liar right now. Just say, "Liar, liar. Pant on fire". Okay, put your hands down. Have any of you ever stolen before? Raise your hands. Most of you. Oh, you make me... Some of you haven't. Wow, that's amazing. So you've tithed your whole life. Oh, that's a jab. Can't believe we did that. So never mind. We'll save that one for another day. Just playing with you. Okay,? So, and then have any of you ever, on this one what I want you to just do a finger like this because I don't want you to raise your hand. I don't want any Christmas fights, but just like this, so no one's looking, I'll watch you. Just put your hand right here on your chest like this. Just like that. Just like... And nobody looked to the side. Don't look at your spouse. Anyone ever lusted before?

Some of you're like... Okay, whatever. So that was really weird. Sorry. What Ray Comfort does then is he says, "If you've told a lie, what are you"? You're a liar. If you've ever stolen, what are you? You're a thief. If you've ever committed lust, Jesus actually said this, if you've lusted after another person, you've committed adultery in your heart according to the definition of the son of God. If you've lusted, what are you? You're an adulterer. So what are we? We are lying, thieving, idolatrous, sinning, selfish, hating, murdering, if you hate in your heart, you actually committed murder. We are very, very sinful people. And you're like, "Craig, like why are you telling us this on Christmas Eve? We're going to grandma's house". You know, whatever. And the reason is 'cause it's really, really important. Because if you don't see yourself as a sinner, you won't see your need for a Savior. Amen.

It's the first time in the history of preaching that I've heard someone clap for being a sinner. But it's important, because if you don't see yourself as someone who's fallen short of God's standards, you won't see someone who needs God's help. And so if you can't live up to law, I would say you don't need religion, which is following a bunch of rules, but you actually need Jesus. So you can't earn God's acceptance by observing the law. And the purpose of the law is to show your need for a Savior. And number three, so important, is we are made right with God, not by our own good works, not by trying harder, we're made right with God by faith in Christ alone. Would you just type that in the comment section and everybody say it with me. How are we made right with God? We're made right with him by what? By faith in Christ Alone.

I want you to let that sink in because this is the good news of Christmas, this is the good news of the gospel, this is the best news ever, that you are made right with God by faith in Christ alone. And Paul said it this way as directly as he could. "We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are". No matter what you've done. If you feel unworthy, you're made right with God by putting your faith in Christ, not by making yourself worthy, but by receiving what he did. If you feel unlovable, there is no proof greater that God so loved you, that he became one of you. Jesus is actually God in the flesh. And on this Christmas weekend, presents and food and grandma's house and here and there, do not forget the good news of what it's all about. Jesus was born of what? A virgin. Why does that matter? Because he did not inherit the sin nature of an earthly father. Instead, he had the spiritual nature of his heavenly Father.

Jesus was born without sin and Jesus never, ever sinned. And the shepherds would've understood this better than anyone because they knew that once a year they would take the best sheep, the one without spot or blemish, and people would pay money to buy a sheep, to take it to the temple, to sacrifice an innocent, clean animal, to pay the price, the penalty for their sins. It was a temporary covering for their sins. But Jesus never sinned. And who is he? He's called the lamb of God who was slain so we could be forgiven. And God sent an angel to appear to the lowest of the low, the unpolished, unremarkable, uneducated shepherds to declare the greatest news in the history of the world that a Savior has been born unto you. You don't need religion, you need Christ, and the good news is Christianity is not really a religion as much as it is a relationship.

God is a relational God, and he doesn't want you to join a religion, and now I'm this type of religion. He wants you to enter into a relationship where you know him and you receive his love. What is the fundamental difference between religion and a relationship? A religion is about what I do. I have to perform, I have to be good enough, I have to dot the Is, cross the Ts. Relationship is about what Jesus has done. It's about his perfect work. It's about his sacrifice. It's about his holiness. It's about his goodness. Religion is all about me. It's my effort. It's my goodness. It's my righteousness. But relationship is all about Jesus. It's his goodness, it's his righteousness. It's who he is as the son of God. And religion, if you're gonna spell it, it would be spelled D-O. It's about what you do or don't do. But relationship is spelled D-O-N-E. Jesus said, "It is finished. It is done". The perfect work and the good news is here for you.

So why did God announce it to shepherds? Why didn't he declare it to the royalty in a palace, instead to outcasts in a field? So that the world would know that no one is too far from God's reach and no one is too low for God's love. And no sin that you've committed is too great for God's grace. Because Jesus didn't come for the righteous, but he came for the sinners. He didn't come for those who are perfect and healthy. He came for those who were unworthy. And felt unloved. And felt like God was too far away. And so the most amazing news you could ever experience on this Christmas is this gift is for everyone who would believe. Fear not, do not be afraid. The angel declares I have brought good news that will bring great joy to all people. A Savior has been born to you. His name is Christ, Jesus Christ, and he is our Lord.

So Father, today, we worship you, during this Christmas season we're not just running and gunning and buying and opening gifts, but we're looking to you to receive the ultimate gift.

As you're praying today, those of you that are in a committed relationship with Jesus, you're not perfect, but you're walking with him and there's someone in your life that you know and love that needs the gift of salvation. Would you lift up your hands right now? Lift up your hands online. You can type in the comment section. "There's someone I love who needs Jesus". We're gonna pray for them.

God, we pray that even now during this Christmas season, that your Holy Spirit would do a work that only you can do, that you would draw people to you. God give us a sensitivity to the voice of your spirit. If you would prompt us to say anything to anyone to share the good news. We pray for those that need you. God, we pray that they would come to a place of recognizing that we're not enough and we can never be enough. But the perfect death and resurrection of your son is enough. We pray, God, that next Christmas we would celebrate many who come to know you. Of those we love God, draw them, draw them, draw them to you.

As you keep praying today without looking around, I wanna talk to any of you that feel unworthy. You feel like you don't measure up. You feel the weight of something that you did that you shouldn't have done. The shame of something you said that you shouldn't have said. And if we just sat down and had a real honest conversation, and I ask you, where do you stand with God? And if you hesitated for even a moment, then this message is for you. I bring you good news. Great joy, and this is for all people. And all people listen to me. This includes you. And I want you to hear me when I tell you, you cannot be good enough for God. You cannot earn God's favor by observing the law.

So why the law? To show you what you may be feeling right now, that you actually need a Savior. And the only way you can ever be made right with God is by receiving the free gift that God so loved the world, that he sent his only son, born of a virgin in a little manger. The lamb of God, who is slain, and yet rules and reigns today alive and well. Wherever you're watching from today, around the world, online, at any of our churches, if you wonder where you stand, what we're gonna do today is we're just gonna take a step of faith. And I'm gonna tell you, the only way you can be made right with God is by putting your faith in Jesus and Jesus alone. You say like, "That's like, that's it? That's it"?

This is why it's called the good news. Because it is not about you. It's all about him. And that's how good and that's how loving our God is. If you feel distant from God, if you don't know where you stand with God, if you feel the guilt and the weight of shame from something that you've done, from people that you've hurt, from the ways that you've fallen short, today, we're stepping away from that. And we're taking one big faith step toward Jesus, the son of God. Imagine this for Christmases to come, you'll look back and say, "That is the day when I received the gift of eternal life from the goodness of God, forgiveness, salvation, and joy through Jesus". Wherever you are today, if you say, "That's me, I need forgiveness, I want his peace, I wanna know that I'm forgiven and I wanna live for him", we're gonna step away from our old life today and we're gonna call on Jesus. And when you do, he will hear your prayer. He will forgive your sin and you will never be the same.

Wherever you're watching from today, those who say, "Yes, that's me by faith today, today is the day I say yes, I give my life to Jesus". That's your prayer. Lift your hands high right now. All over the place, lift them up. Oh come, somebody thank God for those today. They're coming to faith in Jesus. We celebrate with you. We praise God for you. Online, just type in the comment section, "I am receiving God's gift of salvation". Just "I'm receiving God's gifts". Type that in the comment section, and we're gonna pray on this Christmas weekend and celebrate the greatest gift in the history of the world. Pray.

Heavenly Father, I receive your gift of forgiveness and grace and peace and joy and salvation through your son Jesus. Jesus saved me. Be my Lord. Be my friend. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. So I could know you intimately and serve you faithfully. Thank you for new life. I give you all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray.

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