Dr. Ed Young - The Resume' of Christmas
Emmanuel means God with us. And that's Christmas. I love to quote and I do every Christmas Phillips Brooks' words. On that first Christmas, he said, "God came down the stairs of heaven with a baby in his arms". That's Emmanuel, God with us. So, in this service, this Christmas Eve, every time I say, "Christmas is," you answer "Emmanuel". Christmas is. Christmas is Emmanuel. How we need to nail that down in our understanding of Christmas. Think about it, thousands of years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the prophet Isaiah was spoken to by God, and he issued a prophetic word. He said in Isaiah chapter 9 that those who walk in darkness will see a great light. He was anticipating Christmas. And he said, "Those who live in a dark land, light will shine upon them".
And that light, of course, is Jesus. And therefore we say Christmas is? Most of you forgot. Christmas is? We have almost 1,000 in overflow for this service. I bet they're louder than we are. Christmas is God with us. A great light comes to all of us. Wherever you are in this service, you may feel insignificant, you may feel broken, you may feel empty, you may be going through a crisis in your life of many sizes, shapes, and descriptions. But the bottom line, we know that Christ comes and puts light upon us. Light is a very important thing, ladies and gentlemen. Read it in Genesis, "God created the heavens and the earth". And then God describes the earth as without form. It's void, it's inanimate. It is cold, it is dark. But then in that dramatic moment, God said, "Let there be light".
And in that moment, light came, and we have a morning and an evening. And we had light, and with light came warmth, with light came life. We could not exist without light. And the sun, S-U-N, is a good illustration of that light. It is the sun that lights the world. It is the sun that causes crops to grow. It is the sun who makes earth life possible. And the sun not only is warm and healing, but it's beautiful. Have you ever looked at a sunset and not say, "Man, it's beautiful"? Have you never seen a sunrise and not said, "It is magnificent"? It is light that makes a difference. Light cast out darkness because we know darkness is the absence of light. Therefore, when Jesus came in the world, he came as Emmanuel, but he came as light. He will light up any life. Also, you notice in our passage it says a simple word that those who live in a dark land, light will shine upon them. I think most of us know we live in a dark land.
In fact, December the 25th in the Mediterranean world and in Europe is the darkest day of the year. It's interesting that that was the day that was selected most likely for the birth of Jesus. Because we know that Christmas is? It's the birth of Jesus, and it says that a light will shine and light up a dark land. Our world is dark this Christmas. In my opinion, darker than it's ever been. You can crisscross the world and all the countries and you see tragedy after tragedy. Someone who had recently traveled through all the Mediterranean countries and all the countries in the Middle East, they said the thing that struck them most were the young people, no light in their eyes, no purpose in their steps. And we could talk a lot about the problems we have in the United States. And we can go on and on and on in every arena.
But let me tell you something that has just bowled me over in recent days. The report came out several months ago by those who study demographics that if you are 48 years of age and older, you have a extended life expectancy in the united States. We've heard this for years. Life expectancy gets more and more, 70, 80, even 90 will become a normal age for those who are 48 and over. But these who study population of America have discovered that those who are under 48, listen carefully, their life expectancy is steadily falling, falling, lower and lower. Some even anticipate it may be in the early or middle 60s is all the average life expected will be for this younger generation. Is that striking? Is that startling? Is that hard to believe? It's not when you see where the generation is now.
You see where it is, drug addiction, sexual transmitted disease, confusion as to who they are as far as gender is concerned. We see all the violence, we see all the conflicts, we see all of this whole generation. And therefore, so many things are speaking to the decrease in age expectancy of those who are born now and those who are 48 and under in America. We have become lower in some cases in third world countries who have no or little medical assistance, why? Decadence, disease, mental problems, emotional problems, devastated families. So, we see we live in a dark land. But Christmas comes and Christmas comes, and Isaiah said Christmas would bring a great light that would shine on that land. Have you noticed you listen to news lately, I've heard it over and over again saying that we're divided.
Look at the politics, we're divided. Look at education, we're divided. Look at all the different things that divide us. Race, background, economics, all these things that you hear, "Oh, what in the world will bring America together? We're so divided". Let me tell you something, ladies and gentlemen, you look at this place of worship and the 40,000 plus who will be just a part of our church this Christmas Eve, you don't find division. We're united from every background you can name from nations around the world that gather with us and worship with us. We're one because of Jesus Christ. You're looking for answers, it's found in Christmas because Christmas is? And then the rest of the story, the rest of the story. Isaiah said his name will be called wonderful counselor. That's the characteristics of this... he's a wonderful counselor.
What is a wonderful counselor? It's somebody who's put on your shoes. It's somebody who has been where you are, and Jesus is that somebody. Therefore, we want answers for life. We want answers for that which is troubling us. We want answers for that which is sickness, and poverty, and wellbeing, and inconsistency, and we want answers for that. He is a wonderful counselor. "Well, what's he going to say to me"? Read Matthew 5:6 and 7. Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount says, "Hey, you want to know how to live? There it is". "Well, I can't live up to that". Oh yes, the Holy Spirit empowers us to let those principles begin to radiate through your life and through my life. Jesus, wonderful counselor, mighty God, mighty God. God with his feet on the ground, with flesh covering him. God coming from eternity and becoming finite.
Oh, mighty God can do anything, accomplish anything. That's who this Jesus is. That's what Christmas is all about. Wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father. Do you know the greatest hunger in the world and especially in America today is for a father? There is a father hunger. So many of us come from broken homes. So many of us come from fathers who are immutable or non-existent. Boy, there is a hunger for a father who models, who is a man, a father who leads spiritually, a father who listens, a father who loves with amazing grace and boy, everlasting Father, Christ the light of the world enters your life and my life. We have an everlasting Father. And finally, says he's the Prince of Peace.
You know I've always had a problem with the word "prince"? I really have. To me, a prince is somebody in tights who kind of struts around and they've inherited everything, a position. But that's not the word of the Bible. The word "prince" means somebody who is a commander, somebody who is in charge, a prince. A prince of Peace, what is peace? What is shalom? It's not the absence of conflict. Shalom is an active filling the holes, the gaps in your life. The word "shalom" means complete. We have peace when we're complete in and of ourselves through Jesus Christ. And this is the message of Christmas because Christmas is? Christmas is?
Turns on the light, how important that is. I listen to the quotation of Scripture and suddenly there was in in all the rest of it. And it talks about there in Luke chapter 2 an amazing thing. It says, "Suddenly, lo an angel came upon them, the glory of the Lord shone round about them. They were so afraid. The angel said, 'Fear not, I bring you good tidings, good news, great joy which shall be unto all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, you should find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, laying in a manger.'" And then it says, "Suddenly," second suddenly, "suddenly an angel, now suddenly there was with the shepherds a multitude of angelic hosts, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest. On earth,'" there's our word, "peace, shalom, goodwill among men".
Does that strike to you as a little strange? If the New York Philharmonic Orchestra got on I don't know how many buses it would take to transport them, and they went from New York City and they drove all the way into Arkansas, and went all the way up the top of one of those mountains in the Ozarks, and they went down a dirt road for, say, 40, 50 miles and they come to a house, a small little hut there, and you find sharecroppers who are raising pigs, and there's a father and a mother and a son and the daughter and they're sitting on the porch, they're unlettered, they're illiterate, and they're seated there, and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra comes up and sets up stage way out there in the middle of the boondocks on the top of a mountain of Ozarks and they play Handel's "Messiah," and that little pig farmer family have never even heard of Handel, let alone the Messiah, does that seem a great waste to you?
I mean, what in the world? The expense, the grandeur to a little pig farmer family who they don't get it. A multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and say to shepherds? Of all people, shepherds? Shepherds was the lowest in the economic structure of Israel. Shepherds were unclean. They couldn't worship in the temple. They were not religious. Shepherds' witness was not accepted in the court of law. They were the nothings and the nobody of the first century. And here we have this angelic host praising God, announcing the birth of Jesus. What in the world is going on in the backside of nowhere? You see, because Christmas is? God is no respecter of purpose. Everything is level. And to God, those shepherds was the audience for the grandest, most magnificent announcement the world has ever known. See the boundless love, the boundless grace, the boundless extravagance of Lord God Almighty. This is what we see in the light of Christmas.
As we come to the end of the year, I want to say a special word of thanks to you for your continued and faithful support of "The Winning Walk". Because of friends like you, watchers, we have seen God work in amazing ways this year. Thank you for your financial support during this important time so we can finish the year strong. Let me remind you of something. Every penny that is given to support "The Winning Walk" on television and radio goes only to television and radio. No one, no entity gets one penny of the funds you give to this ministry. The money you give is used to buy time so we can teach God's Word and introduce people to Jesus Christ. We now have more watchers and listeners than we've ever had in our history. In fact, millions more. Because you have given, it opens up cities, it opens up countries. We're able to go and simply open that book and let people look in upon us as we worship the Lord week by week in the church. "The Winning Walk" continues to make a difference for the kingdom. As lives are impacted in the month and years ahead, you can be a part of that as you give. As God leads, as God has blessed, pray for us, and at the end of the year I trust you will think about "The Winning Walk" and say, "I want to be a part of what God is doing with his Word in Houston, in Texas, in New York and Chicago, in the United States, in fact all over the world". Thank you for praying for us and giving as we seek to be found faithful in our ministry that we call "The Winning Walk".
When we look at a Christmas tree, we see the ornaments and lights, and most of us are probably more concerned with presents under the tree than anything else. But it's not the presents that you'll receive and the presents I'll receive. We wonder about that present we got for our wife or our husband, or the presents we got for our kids, will it really meet their needs? Will they really be excited about it? You see, the perfect gift expresses the personality of the giver and meets the needs of those who receive it. God did that in Christmas. He gave his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus perfectly expressed the personality of God. What is God like? Look at Jesus. Also, Jesus met your needs and my needs. He came in this world, lived a perfect life, died on a cross for your sin and my sin, so now we have an entry to God. We can have relationship with Almighty God because Jesus died on the cross for you and for me. Would you like to know that you have that relationship? It's a simple thing to do, but it's life-changing. As the Lord is leading you, would you like to know that you're in God's family, that your sins are forgiven? The provision is there, the opportunity for you right now to enter into a relationship with God because of Jesus Christ. He has been the mediator between you and God. Accept that, invite him in your life. If you'd like to do that, would you pray this prayer? Right where you are, answer these words right after me:
My heavenly Father, thank you for meeting my needs. Thank you for coming into this life and dying for me. Right now, I confess all my sin, I turn from all my sin. And right now, I invite you to come into my life. I give you all that I am and all that I'll ever be. Thank you for salvaging me. Restore me to the purpose for which I was made. Thank you for giving me. This is a great Christmas. And I thank you for inviting me into your family. Thank the Lord for that in Jesus' name, amen.
Now listen, if you've prayed that prayer with me, call the number on your screen. We want to rejoice with you in your decision. We have some materials we'd like to send you to help you begin your brand new winning walk with Christ. And from my home to yours, I want to wish you a blessed, celebratory, merry, merry Christmas.