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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - The War of Christmas

Craig Smith - The War of Christmas

Craig Smith - The War of Christmas
TOPICS: The Promise of Peace, Christmas

Well, hey, today is the second week of Advent and traditionally, the second week of Advent, the theme is peace. And so, I decided to mark this occasion by bringing you a message that I’m calling the War of Christmas. And I’m actually just gonna stop there for a second because some of you just got excited because you misheard me. You thought I said the war on Christmas, and you’re excited because you think I’m about to go off and all those Grinches out there who are trying to kick Christ out of Christmas or try to kick Christmas out of our culture.

And listen, is there a war on Christmas? Yeah, there is. You know, are there companies that tell their employees they have to say happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas? There are. Are there holiday evergreen lots instead of Christmas tree lots? Yeah, those exist. And yeah, you know, some people put X instead of Christ in Christmas to say Xmas. But honestly, Christians invented that one hundreds of years ago actually, that’s not really on them even though we sometimes get upset about it. It’s just interesting. Like, yeah, there is sort of this war on Christmas, but I am not all that triggered by it. I don’t know about you. I know some people really are.

I was in line at Walmart several years ago, Christmas time, and the woman in front of me, the cashier was ringing her up. And when the cashier was done, she looked at the woman, a big smile on her face and she said, “Hey, happy holidays.” And the woman, like, blew up. Like, freaked out. I mean, she was yelling at this poor girl. And, like, the nicest thing she said to this woman was, “You are a minion of Satan, in league with all the liberals who are making war on Christmas.” That was, like, the nicest thing she said to this girl, right. And, like, it was uncomfortable. Everybody else was like, “I think I’m gonna go to the self-checkout instead. I mean, this is just…” But it’s so uncomfortable.

And then finally she left and this poor girl…I got up to her. And listen, I don’t know if Walmart told her she had to say happy holidays. I don’t know if she’s just trying to be politically correct. Maybe she just wasn’t even thinking about it, right. All I know is I got up there and she rang me up and she looked at me with these haunted eyes and she goes, “Have a nice day.” Right? Like, Christmas spirit broken, right?

And I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. I’m not sure the best way to deal with the Grinch is by becoming a Scrooge, right. I’m just not sure that’s the best way to do it. But yeah, is there a war on Christmas? Yeah, yeah, there is a war on Christmas. But do you know when it began? About 2020 years ago, actually, because we have an enemy who hates Christmas. We have an enemy who really, really wants to see Christmas go away. And I’m not talking about the Grinch. I’m talking about the Grinch’s spiritual forefather. That creature we know as Satan, as the devil. He desperately wants to see Christmas go away. He’s been declaring war on the Christmas from the very beginning.

But what we often forget is that God started it. God fired the first shots. And in fact, what we often forget is that the first Christmas was an act of war. Do you know that? The first Christmas was an act of war, God declared war with the first Christmas. We forget that a lot. And I think partly it’s because all of our songs about Christmas are so…they’re so peaceful, right? You know, when we sing, you know, “The cattle are lowing.” I have no idea what that means. “The poor baby wakes, but little Lord Jesus…” How does it go? “No crying he makes.” It’s just so peaceful, right? And we say, “A little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.” It’s all peaceful.

But the reality is the first Christmas wasn’t peaceful. Jesus’s entrance into the world wasn’t an act of peace. In fact, it’s interesting. This is the way that Jesus describes his entrance into the world, his purpose in ministry. He says this, he says, “Do not suppose. Don’t think, don’t imagine that I have come to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” He said, “My arrival is an act of war, I came to bring war.” And yeah, and this is so interesting. This is also the same Jesus who looked at his closest followers and said this, he said, “Peace, I leave with you. My peace I give to you.” Which feels like a contradiction, right? I mean, which is it? Did he come to bring war? Did he come to bring peace? And the answer is both. But what we have to understand is that God couldn’t provide peace until he had waged war against what makes peace impossible. God couldn’t provide peace until he had waged war against what makes peace impossible. And that’s why I said the first Christmas was an act of war.

Let me show you what I mean. I wanna take you to the Bible’s third account of the Christmas story of the first Christmas. A lot of people don’t realize there’s three accounts. Most people think there’s only two. In the Gospel of Matthew, we have one of the Christmas stories, we have one set of details about the first Christmas, the birth of Jesus. In the Gospel of Luke, we have another set of details about the first Christmas and a lot of people think that’s the only two accounts, but, in fact, the Bible has a third account of the first Christmas, a very different set of details about the birth of Jesus. And we find it in a place that nobody expects to find this. It’s in the Book of Revelation. If you wanna join me, we’re gonna be on Revelation chapter 12, starting at verse 1 today.

Revelation 12 contains an account of the first Christmas, but it’s from a very different perspective. See, here’s what you need to understand about the Book of Revelation. It was written by a man named John. John’s the same man who wrote the Gospel of John, and it’s interesting in the Gospel of John, we don’t have an account of the first Christmas. But later in his life, John received what we call an apocalyptic vision. And in that apocalyptic vision, he was given actually a vision of the first Christmas. And so, he gives us another set of details about the birth of Jesus.

Now, the interesting thing about apocalyptic visions, we hear the word apocalyptic, and we naturally think, “Oh, that means catastrophic.” And so, like, an apocalyptic vision would be a vision of the end of the world. And there’s a little bit of that in Revelation but there’s so much more than that. And we miss out on it because we don’t quite understand what Revelation is. See, scholars talk about apocalyptic vision, and what they mean is its basically, it’s an uncovering. That’s really what the Greek word apocalypt, apocalyptus or tos or toe means. It means kind of an uncovering, a revealing, it means you kinda pull the curtain back, and you give people a glimpse behind the scenes of what’s going on, right.

See, in some ways, history is a little bit like a play. But there’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes that we don’t necessarily see. But an apocalyptic vision actually pulls the curtain back and lets you see behind the scenes, what’s really going on in that realm of the world that we don’t always have immediate access and what we see in Revelation 12, is that John was given a vision of a past event, because again, we think Revelation’s all future, but it’s not. It’s got past, present, and future stuff. John’s given a vision of something that’s happened in the past. He’s given a vision of the first Christmas, but God pulls the curtain back and he says, “Hey, I’m gonna let you see what was really going on in that first Christmas.”

And so, we get a very interesting perspective on the first Christmas in that Revelation 12. This is what John says, he says, “A great sign appeared in heaven. And a woman clothed with the sun and with the moon under her feet, and a crown of 12 stars on her head.” So, he sees a woman. Now, what we need to understand is that in the Book of Revelation, we have a lot of symbols. And what symbols are, is they are pictures that represent things. They might represent people, they might represent governments, they might represent events in history, again past, present, or future. But they’re pictures that represent things. Now, so John sees this woman. The question, of course, is what does she represent? Well, I’ve already told you that this is a Christmas story. So, you see a woman and what’s the woman that we normally associate with Christmas? Mary, right? And I do think that this woman represents Mary, but…and here’s where the Book of Revelation can get pretty complicated.

A lot of the symbols in Revelation actually represent more than one thing and actually often layers of them. And in this case, the thing that’s going on…we partly know that because this woman that he sees, has some things around her that aren’t associated with Mary. She’s clothed with the sun, she’s got the moon under her feet, she’s got a crown of 12 stars. Well, that’s all language we find in the Old Testament related to the Nation of Israel, to God’s people. And so really, what’s happening here is this woman that John sees, the woman represents both Mary and God’s people. Okay. This woman represents both Mary and God’s people, first the Nation of Israel, but later on in the chapter, she becomes really a representative of God’s people, the church, okay. But this woman represents both Mary and God’s people.

Okay, so what does the woman do? So, she was pregnant, and she cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Now, she’s about to give birth, of course, to Jesus. It’s a Christmas story. But the most important thing we’re supposed to focus on here is the fact that she cried out in pain. That’s what God wants to make sure that we don’t miss, that she cried out in pain. Now, as this is Mary, and she’s literally in labor, it’s not surprising she’s crying out in pain, right? I mean, I’ve never given birth, but I watched my wife do it a couple times. And my impression is it is mildly uncomfortable, right? Is that not even close? Yeah, it’s a pretty painful thing, obviously, right? So, we get that Mary’s in pain, she’s in labor and so she’s going through this pain, but how is the Nation of Israel, how are God’s people in labor? They’re not about to give birth, are they? Well, actually they are.

So, here’s what we need to understand. We have actually a consistent pattern in the Bible. And what happens is the Bible often uses labor to symbolize the pain of waiting for God to move. Let me say that again. It’s important to understand, the Bible often uses labor to symbolize the pain of waiting for God to move. And sometimes, we have to wait for a while for God to move, right. I mean, I don’t know. Has anybody here had the experience that every time you want God to do something, he just does it before you can even ask him? That every time you want God to do something that only he can do, that you’re desperate for him to do, it happens so fast your head spins. I’m not seeing a lot of people going Amen. I don’t see a lot of hands going. Anybody had the experience that you’re asking for God to move and he just seems to be taking his own sweet time?

And we know in faith, God’s good and so his timing is perfect. And whatever God’s causing us to wait for and whoever it is that he’s causing us to wait that there’s a good purpose, there’s good things that he’s doing in that. But the reality is that waiting for God to move can become very painful. And you may be in a place right now where you’re asking for God to move and he hasn’t moved yet in the way that you expect it or in the timing you expect it. And it’s hard. And it’s interesting that the Bible acknowledges that, it recognizes that but it uses a particular analogy to help us think about that pain of waiting. It uses the analogy of labor.

And the point, is to remind us of a truth that we often forget. It’s a truth we’d really like to not be a truth, but it is. Have you ever heard the old phrase “Good things come to those who wait?” Any of us heard of that phrase? Yeah, the Bible’s version of that phrase is actually, good things come to those who push through pain, not just those who wait, but those who trust God and push through pain that they keep moving forward in faith, trusting God. That’s the biblical truth that we’re being reminded of here, that’s the power of the labor. Now you have to push through it to get to the good thing on the other side.

The Bible says the good things come to those who push through pain. And we know this. We know this thing to be true, just on the basis of our everyday lives, right? I mean, when was the last time you got stronger, physically stronger, without working out and having to endure the pain of aching muscles? When is the last time you got emotionally stronger without going through something painful? When was the last time, you just got better at something without the boring, repetitive, often painful process of doing it over and over and over again?

Like, we know from everyday life that good things come to those who push through the pain. In spite of that though, in spite of that, when we encounter pain, our natural reaction is to reverse directions. Our natural reaction is not to push through the pain, it’s to look for a way to get out of the pain, to go somewhere else where maybe we think the pain will be less. Our natural reaction is not to push through pain, it’s to escape it.

And I think that’s always been a human tendency. I think humans have always kind of reacted to pain in that way. But I do think it’s worse in the modern world. I think we have a harder time remembering today that good things come to those who push through pain. Because we live in a world where so many things that used to be hard, they used to be everyday reminders of the need to push through pain to get to good things, we live in a world where so many of the things that used to be hard have now become really easy, right? We don’t have a lot of the daily painful things to deal with.

Like, if I want bread, I go to King Soopers, I got bread, we’re done. Like, I don’t have to harvest wheat. I don’t have to pound wheat into flour. I don’t have to find yeast. I don’t even know where I would find yeast in nature. I know what aisle it’s at at King Soopers. But if I had to find yeast, I don’t even know where I’d start looking. You gotta get yeast, you gotta mix it into flour, you gotta let that rise. You gotta get a bunch of firewood, you got to start a fire. And I’m sorry, Bear Grylls is lying. It is not that easy. Starting a fire is a really hard thing to do if you don’t have matches. And then I gotta put it in an oven that I built by hand, right, so I don’t burn down my house. Like, that’s a lot of work, that’s a lot of pain to go through to get a piece of bread. We don’t have to deal with that anymore, right?

Or I think about communication, talking to somebody that doesn’t live anywhere near you. What do we do now? We just send a text. It’s received instantly. There’s no pain in that. In the past, you had to write a letter. You had to get a piece of paper and a pen and you had to scratch on the letter until you wrote what you wanted. And then you had to fold that thing up, and you have to put it in an envelope. And you had to lick that stupid envelope, which means that best-case scenario, the worst is gonna happen is you’re gonna have a nasty taste in your mouth for half an hour. Worst case scenario, you get a paper cut on your tongue, the pain lasts for days. Then you gotta find a stamp and put it in the mail and you gotta wait. It was a major pain.

That’s not the world we live in anymore. And in so many ways so many of the things that used to be so hard have now become so easy, that it’s gotten really, really easy to forget that good things come to those who push through pain. And so, God reminds us with this analogy. And I would encourage you to take a moment right now, to think of a place in your life where there’s pain, a place where you’re facing pain, maybe a place where there’s so much pain that you’re kinda starting to look around for escape hatches, ways to get out of it because it’s hard and it hurts. Maybe it’s in your marriage. Maybe it’s in a dating relationship or maybe you wanna be married and you’re not or maybe you wanna be dating and you’re not, maybe that’s the place of pain. Or maybe it’s a struggle with a friend or maybe you’re having a hard time interacting and relating to your parents or to one of your kids. Maybe there’s a struggle there. Maybe there’s a struggle at work. Maybe you’re struggling in school right now. Maybe you’re struggling with anxiety and maybe you’re struggling with depression or fear or anger. But where’s that place of pain?

And the reason I want you to think about that is because I want you to picture what God wants us to picture which is that God is calling us to push through the pain to other much better things on the other side but things that we won’t get to if we don’t push through the pain with him. That’s the beauty of this labor metaphor, right? At the end of the day after having pushed through the pain, Mary got to hold her baby boy. At the end of the pain of waiting for God to move, but pushing forward and being faithful to him, Israel got to see the Messiah come, they got to see the arrival of Jesus. And I promise you on the other side of your pain, there’s peace, and there’s joy, and there’s good things. But good things come to those who push through the pain, who trust God and keep moving forward with him and not constantly reversing course, not reversing direction, or looking for some way to get out from underneath it.

Re-think, reframe the pain that you’re facing in the way that God calls us to do here, which is, it’s labor. And we have to push through it to get to the other side and the good things are on that other side. That’s the first thing that John sees, as he saw that first Christmas, this reminder that good things come to those who will push through the pain. And so, what I wanna do actually is I wanna encourage you to think about this and maybe start praying a new prayer. And think of that pain and the need to push through it. I want to start praying this incredibly simple, but powerful prayer. And some of you, you’re listening to this message because you just needed to hear this and you needed to start praying this on a daily basis.

And the prayer is just this, “God, give me your strength to push through this pain in faith that what’s on the other side of it is so much better.” Can you just start praying that? “God, give me your strength to push through this pain.” He gave it to Mary and he gave it to the nation of Israel and they got to see so much on the other side they would’ve missed if they hadn’t pushed through. This isn’t the only thing, of course, that John sees. Here’s another detail of the first Christmas, verse three. He says, “And then another sign appeared in heaven. An enormous red dragon with 7 heads and 10 horns and 7 crowns on its heads.

And I don’t know about you but I have never seen a Nativity scene with a seven-headed dragon in it. Have you? Most of them, they’re so peaceful, right? I mean, you got a baby Jesus, you got Mary and Joseph, you got a Magi or two, some shepherds, maybe you got a donkey, a sheep, maybe a camel, right? How much cooler would it be if there was a red dragon? Like, that would be sweet. There should totally be a red dragon in our Nativity scenes. That would be awesome. And so, here’s we’re gonna do, okay. I’ve got an assignment for you. This is for the men out there, okay, I want you to do this for me, guys. I want you to…maybe your wife or maybe your mom or somebody has put up a Nativity scene. I want you to go and I want you to find a dragon, an appropriate-sized dragon. And I want you to add it to the Nativity scene, okay.

I’m totally serious about this actually. In fact, I want you to remember this throughout the Christmas season. So, if you’ll do this, if you just take a picture of it, post it on social media, tag me on it so I see it…my social media tag is Dr. Craig A. Smith. I hate putting the doctor there but there’s a lot of Craig Smiths. So, Dr. Craig A. Smith, put the picture up, tag me in it. And if you’ll leave it up for the whole Christmas season, I’ll trust that you’ll do that. You just send me the picture, tag me in it. I’ll send you a gift, actually. Totally serious. People are already doing it. I’ve already found a bunch of them, getting the gifts ready to go out. Okay, I want you to do it because I want you to remember this, okay. It’s powerful.

Now, just so you’re clear, you’re probably gonna get some pushback, okay. Your wife, your mom, they might push back. They might be like, “I have searched Pinterest and this is not how it’s done.” And you’re gonna go, “Well, I’ve searched the Scriptures, okay, and the Bible beats Pinterest every single time. And apparently, there was a red dragon there.” Okay. So go ahead and do that. I’ll send you a gift.

Okay, it is a strange thing though, right? He sees this red dragon. Like, what does that have to do with Christmas? What has everything to do with Christmas? Here’s what you need to understand. The dragon represents…first off, the dragon represents the devil. Okay, we know the dragon represents the devil because a little bit later in the passage, you’re gonna drop down to Revelation 12:9. That’s made explicit. It’s made really obvious. He says, “The great dragon was hurled down, that ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” So, no question about it. We know that the dragon represents Satan.

However, like the woman who represents more than one thing, there’s layers to that. The dragon represents a couple other things as well. And we see that with the language of the 7 heads and the 10 horns and the 7 crowns. That was the language we find throughout the Bible to represent governments that Satan was basically using to persecute and oppress God’s people. Okay, and some of those are probably the Nation of Rome in particular. Rome had seven hills around its capital. And so, the sevens probably refers to Rome, which at that time, was the nation that Satan was using to oppress God and to persecute his people.

But really what’s happening is this, is the dragon, he represents the devil and his human instruments. Does that make sense? The devil represents…I mean, the dragon represents the devil and his human instruments. In this case, Rome, but in the future, it’ll be a different government. In the past, it’s been other governments as well. So, it’s the devil and its human instruments. But maybe the most important thing we wanna make sure we don’t miss here is the sequence of events. Why does the dragon show up? Why does the devil show up? Why does the devil suddenly come on the scene looking angry?

And the answer is because of what God has done. God fired the first shot here. God started this whole thing. He sent the woman, the woman’s in labor, the Messiah is about to come. And it’s in response to what God is doing that Satan shows up on the scene. So, God really is the one kind of starting the hostilities. And you get this picture that Satan kinda shows up and in his, you know…he’s got this question like, “God, what are you doing? What are you doing here? This isn’t your territory. This is my territory. What business do you have here?” And this is what he does, we’re told that he swept a third of the stars out of the sky. And he flung them to the earth. He swept a third of the stars out of the sky, and he flung them to the earth.

Now, in my opinion, the stars represent the angels that rebelled with Satan. We actually see that language of stars representing angels at several places in the Scripture. And so, the fact that the devil, the dragon sweeps a third of them out of the heavens is probably talking about those angels that rebelled with Satan and became what we call demonic spirits, or demons, okay. But it’s interesting, he didn’t just sort of sweep them out of the heaven. He didn’t just collect them. It also says that he hurled them to the earth and that word’s interesting. It’s the same word that you use for hurling a spear or for slinging a stone. In other words, he’s kinda sending them to earth as weapons of war, right? He’s basically saying, “Hey, get out there and get busy fighting this battle.” And you have a little bit of an image, it’s almost like the arrival of Jesus kicked the hornet’s nest. And the hornets are mad and say, it’s like, “Get busy, get out there, start fighting.”

And it’s interesting. You know, obviously, there were demons, and Satan was on earth before Jesus came before the first Christmas. But it’s interesting. If you read through the Old Testament, you don’t see that many mentions of demons or Satan. I mean, it’s just a handful of times that demons or Satan, you know, come up in the entire Old Testament. But in the gospels, there’s demons everywhere. Seems like every other page, Jesus is having an interaction with demons. Satan’s really active. Why is that? Well, what John’s giving us here is the reason why that is because the first Christmas started a whole lot more activity in the spiritual realm, in the demonic realm. It kicked up the battle, it kicked up the conflict several notches. And that’s what we see here, that Satan is hurling the demons to earth. Now why? Why is he so worked up about the first Christmas? Because Satan saw the birth of Jesus as an act of war. Do you understand that?

Satan saw the birth of Jesus as an act of war. Because it was, God was invading his territory. See, from the moment that Adam and Eve sinned, and every time that we sin, what we do is we basically, we side with Satan over God, we join in his rebellion. Well, we choose to give Satan authority in our lives, every time we sin, rather than God. We take our cues from him. And the problem is because we were created to be stewards of creation, we’re caretakers of creation. When we side with Satan, we essentially give Satan authority on earth. And the Bible acknowledges that. Jesus actually called Satan the prince of this world. Paul calls him the god, little G, of this age. Because when we side with Satan, we give him authority over this place that we were supposed to be caretakers of.

And so, the reality is that the world is Satan’s territory. And then with the coming of Jesus, with the birth of the Son of God entering into the world, what Satan saw that as, he saw it as an act of war, he saw it as an invasion of his territory. He saw the incarnation as a declaration of war. He saw the incarnation as an escalation of the conflict. And his reaction is, “What are you doing here, God? This is not your place. This is mine.” And so, of course, the hornets are all abuzz. Of course, the activity kicks up. He’s fighting, he’s fighting for his territory. And Satan, of course, isn’t just sending demons. He’s active himself. We’re told the dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. Satan’s very directly involved in this.

And we know…if you know the Christmas story, we know how it is he tried to do it at the beginning of Jesus’s life. He stirred up Herod operating under the authority of Rome, by the way, to kill Jesus by killing every male child two years and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem. That’s how he tried to devour the child at the beginning of Jesus’s life. At the end of Jesus’s life, he tried to devour Jesus by stirring up some of the Jewish religious leaders to hand him over to Pontius Pilate. Again, another Roman governor to be crucified on a cross. He was attempting to devour Jesus. He was attempting to get rid of Christmas, if you think about it. This is the beginning of the war on Christmas all the way back then. Of course, remember, before there was a war on Christmas, there was God declaring the war of Christmas.

So, did Satan win? Was he able to devour the child? No. That’s how John describes it. She gave birth to a son, a male child who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter, the prophecy about the Messiah from Psalm 2. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. And that seems a little confusing because it kind of sounds like Jesus was born and then immediately taken to heaven. But what John’s doing is he’s summarizing Jesus’s entire life, beginning and ending as a way of saying, the dragon lost, Satan lost, he wasn’t able to devour the child. He says he was born and he was protected, right. I mean, we know how that happened in the first at the beginning of his life at the first Christmas. God told Mary and Joseph by a dream given to Joseph what Herod was about to do. And he provided for them. By the gifts from the Magi, they were able to flee through the wilderness to Egypt, to escape from Herod.

And at the end of his life, of course, Jesus was handed over to Pilate, he was crucified, he did die. And it looked like Satan won but then three days later, what happened? Jesus rose. He rose from the dead, and Satan lost definitively, finally, ultimately, permanently in that moment. Jesus’s resurrection was the defeat not only of sin. He didn’t just die on the cross to pay the price of our sin. He did do that. But he also defeated sin’s agent, Satan. The Resurrection was the final defeat. And then, of course, after that, Jesus ascended into heaven. It’s probably what John saw. I mean, He was snatched up. And it’s interesting that he was snatched up to God, but also, he says, “And to his throne.” Whose throne? I actually think Jesus’s throne. We’re told that because of Jesus’s faithfulness and his willingness to give his life as a sacrifice for our sins, he was raised from the dead. And then he was brought into heaven, and he was seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. He was seated on his own throne. And so, he’s displaced Satan as the ruler of earth. That is now Jesus’s role.

I love the way John summarizes this. In his Gospel at the beginning of his Gospel, he doesn’t have a birth story. He saved that for here in his Revelation letter. But he does at the beginning of his Gospel summarize what he says there in Revelation 12:5, and I love how he says it. He says this, he says, “The light shines in the darkness.” And we could say it this way, the light invades the darkness, the light declares war on the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. Satan lost. He didn’t win. He wasn’t able to devour the child. He wasn’t able to contain or maintain his position of prominence, his position of authority. So, if you think about it for a second, God started the war of Christmas and Satan lost the war on Christmas, right? God started the war and Satan lost it.

But the real question that we need to ask ourselves, is the why question. Why did God start the war of Christmas? Why did God send Jesus to invade Satan’s territory? Why did he escalate the conflict? And the answer is because he loves you. Okay, you understand that, right? God started the war of Christmas because he loves you. And he loves you so much, he can’t bear the thought that his son or his daughter is doing life in a world where peace is impossible. Because peace is impossible apart from what God did in that first Christmas.

A world ruled by Satan is not a world where there’s gonna be peace. A world where the standard is sin and selfishness is not going to be a world where peace is a possibility. And so, what did God have to do? God had to wage war on what makes peace impossible, which is exactly what he did. That’s what Christmas is. That’s what the war of Christmas is. It’s a waging of war against that which makes peace impossible, Satan and sin and selfishness. So, if you think about it, Christmas wasn’t just an act of war. It was the beginning of peace. Not just an act of war, it was the beginning of peace because through Christmas, God began to make peace a possibility. A peace, not a peace that comes from our circumstances but a peace that comes from being able to face our circumstances with God. He is Emmanuel, Jesus is Emmanuel which literally means God with us.

And so, it’s not…and this is important to understand. When we encounter pain, and God says, “Hey, good things come to those who push through pain.” He’s not on the other side of pain going, “Come on, come on, do it, do it. You can do it.” No, no, no. He’s with us. He’s beside us going, “Let’s take this step together. I know this is hard. I know this hurts. But I’ve got such incredible things for you on the other side. So, would you take this step with me? Come on, let’s take this step. Come on. Let’s take the next step. Let’s push through it together.” And it’s because of that that peace becomes possible.

So, Christmas wasn’t just an act of war, it was the beginning of peace. But this is an important thing to understand. And this is an important thing that I think John’s story of Christmas tells us. Peace is something we have to fight for. Peace doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t just take place. It’s the result of a war. And the reality is that even though God has done the most important fighting for us, He’s already…He’s fought the power of Satan, he’s taken our sin and put it in his son’s shoulders. And Jesus died to pay the price of it. He rose from that, and he offers us forgiveness, a new life and a relationship with God. All that by faith. God has won the most important battle. But the reality is, we’re still behind enemy lines and the fight’s still continuing for us. And because of that, peace is something we have to fight for. So how do we fight for peace. How do we fight to take hold of peace?

Well, let me give you three things today. The first one is just this, we have to seize the source. We have to seize the source. Understand that Jesus is the only source of true and lasting peace. And so, if we’re gonna experience peace, we have to seize the source. So probably, it’s probably useful to ask ourselves this question, “Where am I looking for peace? Is it Jesus? Or is it something else?” Because I know from my own life, how easy it is just to stop holding onto Jesus and looking to Jesus for my peace and start looking, “Well, maybe it’s that possession, or maybe it’s that person or it’s that relationship or if I get that achievement, or that promotion, or this experience or something else. I mean, if I could just get that.”

And then we get it and we don’t have the peace we thought so we’re like, “Well, maybe if I could just get a little bit more of it, then I’ll have peace. Okay, that’s not working out so maybe it’s over there.” And we’re rushing around and there’s no peace. And all along the way, there has been the possibility of peace in Jesus, if we would just look to him. So, I wanted to encourage you to ask that question, you know, what am I looking to? Where am I looking for peace? And if the answer isn’t Jesus, then you need to ask yourself this question, “What do I need to do to seize the only real source of peace?” If you’re listening to this message, and you’re not a follower of Jesus, what you need to do to seize the source is you need to put your faith in Jesus. You need to make a decision, you can do it today, to say yes to following Jesus and all that he’s done for you. I’m gonna give you a chance to do that a little bit later today.

But maybe you’re already a follower of Jesus, but you realize that you’re looking to other things instead of Jesus and so you need to somehow refocus today. Maybe you need to identify one of those things you’ve been looking to instead, and you need to say, “I’m gonna stop looking at that and I’ll start looking at Jesus.” Maybe you even need to take a break from one of those things that you’re looking to so you can reorient your mind that that thing is never gonna provide the peace that I’m looking for. What do you need to do to seize the only real source of peace? That’s the first thing we gotta do, we seize the source.

Second thing we do is, we have to, as we’ve already said, we push through pain, remembering that God’s strength is available to us to do that, that God wants to walk beside us through every pain that we’re facing, and lead us into the glory on the other side of that. We have to push through pain. So, I ask this question, what pain do I need God’s strength to push through? Where’s that place of pain in your life that you need God’s strength to push through? Maybe also ask yourself this question. Who do I need to cry out to? And that might sound confusing because you’re like, “Well, I thought I needed to cry out to God?” You do. That’s first and foremost what you do, you cry out to God and that’s a prayer that he will always answer to give you his strength to push through your pain.

But sometimes the way that God provides that strength is by bringing other people around us. You’ve heard Lara’s story. She had to cry to her parents and say, “I’m struggling.” And then God used that admission of need to bring other people into her life to give her the strength to push through that. And it may be that the bravest thing that you can do is to cry out to somebody else in your life and let them know that you’re struggling, that you’re going through something that’s hard and you need help. And God will use that to begin providing you that strength that you need to push through that pain.

So, we seize the source, we push through pain. And the third thing I wanna suggest that we need to do is we need to join the fight. Because we’re living behind enemy lines, even though the outcome of the war is absolutely certain, we’re still in the midst of a lot of one-off battles. And we need to join the fight for peace. It’s not gonna just happen in our lives, we’ve got to join the fight. And a couple of things that I think matter there. One of them is to ask ourselves this question, what unnecessary conflicts am I creating? Because sometimes in our pursuit of what we want, and what we think we have a right to, we’re actually creating conflict in our families, in our relationships and in our communities, in the world. We’re creating conflict that doesn’t need to be there.

We might go, “Well, but I have a right to pursue that thing.” And maybe you do. But I remember that when Jesus came to earth, one of the most powerful descriptions of him is in Philippians chapter 2 that says that even though he was in the very nature God, he did not consider equality with God something to be held onto. He had the right to be recognized as God, but he set that aside in order to serve us and to bring us peace. So, we need to ask ourselves, you know, what unnecessary conflicts am I creating because you cannot be an agent of peace, you cannot fight for peace when you’re actually creating conflict that doesn’t need to be there.

However, on the flip side of that, we also need to ask ourselves this question, what fights have I been avoiding that I need to join? Because it may be that to fight for peace, you gotta join the battle. Because the reality is, there cannot be peace where there is injustice, there cannot be peace where there is sin, and you might have a place of darkness. And you’re on the edge of it, you see it, and you’ve avoided stepping into it and being a light.

By the way, I love the fact that Jesus is called the light of this world. But Jesus says to his disciples, “You are the light of the world.” We carry his light and you might have that place of darkness. And God’s calling you to step into that place and to shine and to drive back that darkness to fight against injustice or sin. But you’ve been hesitant to do it because that’s gonna be hard. Yeah, but you’re behind enemy lines for a reason. You’re behind enemy lines to be an agent of peace. So, what do you need to do to fight for peace? Do you need to seize the source? Do you need to push through pain or do you need to join the fight?

God we are grateful. We are grateful that you have fought for our peace, that you declared war on darkness, and Satan and sin and death. I am grateful Father. We ask for strength from your Holy Spirit right now, to take whatever step forward we need to take, to fight for that peace that you made possible. Lord I know there are people listening to this message, they need to take that all important first step. They need to seize the source, they need to put their trust in you.

And if that is you and if you are listening to this and you know that you’ve never said yes to faith in Jesus, you’ve never made that decision to trust in him, to look to him for peace. Now is the time. There is no reason to wait any longer because you can make that decision to have that peace that comes from a relationship with God, right here, right now. He has done everything necessary. He sent his Son to pay the price for your sin, he rose from the dead to prove that he done it and he offers you forgiveness and freedom, relationship with him and peace just by putting your trust in him. So if you have never done that, you can do it right now, right now, all you have to do is to just have this conversation with God. You can say something like this, in your heart to him. Say:

God I’ve sinned, I’ve done wrong. I’m sorry. Jesus thank you for fighting for my peace. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my sin. I believe you rose from the dead. I am ready to put my faith in you. I am ready to seize the source. Jesus I am going to follow you from here on out. I accept your forgiveness and your peace. Amen.

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