Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Merritt » James Merritt - Exceeding All Expectations

James Merritt - Exceeding All Expectations

  • Watch
  • Audio
  • Donate
  • Shop
    James Merritt - Exceeding All Expectations
TOPICS: Expectations

What I want to share with you today is there is a third dimension of Christmas, and what the third dimension of Christmas tells us is not only did God keep His promise, He more than kept His promise. And what He gave exceeded all expectations, and for that third dimension, we're going to turn to a very unusual person. I want you to listen to a Jewish Rabbi. As a matter of fact, he was a Ph.D. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. For the biggest part of his life, from the time he ever heard about Jesus, he hated the very name Jesus. He didn't buy any part of the Christmas story. He did not believe He was born of a virgin. He did not believe He lived a perfect life.

He did not believe He died for our sins. He certainly did not believe He was raised from the dead. He didn't buy into any part of the story of Christmas at all and hated the very name of Jesus, but he experienced this third dimension we're going to talk about today personally, and it radically changed his life and because of us and because of that, he's going to allow us to see Christmas in 3D. He does that in a letter he wrote to a little tiny church. It was in a Roman province called Galatia, and if you own a copy of God's word or if you have an iPhone or a tablet or an iPad, whatever it is you use, I want you to turn to book in the Bible called Galatians. It's not too hard to find. It's in the New Testament. It's in a cluster of books, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. This is the very first one.

I want you to turn to Galatians 4. Now, while you're turning, I want you to think about this. Some of you are probably going to do this. Maybe after the service is over, you're going to catch up on your Christmas shopping. You're going to go to the mall, and you're going to do some shopping. If you were just to meet a stranger, you're in the mall, and you were to ask a stranger this question, can you tell me the story of Christmas as you know it, here's what you would hear. You would hear probably angels. You would hear about shepherds. You would hear about mangers. You would hear about wise men. You would hear about stars. You would hear about this heavenly host, and you would hear all of these things, and if they know anything about the Bible, what they would probably tell you is, look, if you really want to know the whole story, there are two men that wrote about it.

One's name is Matthew and one's name is Luke, and they actually wrote two books of the Bible, and if you'll go to Matthew and you'll go to Luke, you'll really read all you need to know about Christmas. You'll find out when it happened. You'll find out how it happened. You'll even find out what happened on that very first Christmas. so it was written probably about 50 years after Jesus was born. About 30 years after Jesus died. This Jewish rabbi by the name of Paul, he comes along, and he says I'm not going to do what Matthew and Luke did. I'm not going to talk about the historical story of Christmas. I'll let them deal with when it happened and how it happened and what happened.

I want to deal with the theological meaning of Christmas. I want to tell you why it happened. I want to tell you what happened as a result of it happening, and I want to tell you why Christmas is even a bigger deal than you even realize it is and even most people realize that it is. And it's this third dimension that explains why the first Christmas was the greatest Christmas of all. So, if I could just kind of summarize this third dimension of Christmas in a sentence, this is what it would be. Jesus came as a child of an earthly mother so we could become children of a heavenly Father. That's Christmas. That's the third dimension. Jesus came as a child of an earthly mother so we could become children of a heavenly Father, and what I want you to understand is this.

We're going to go beyond Fifth Avenue, and we're going to go beyond the mall, and we're going to go beyond Amazon, and we're going to go beyond all of the online and offline shopping, and I want you to see why Christmas really does go beyond the material, and it really does go beyond the financial. It really goes to the spiritual, and it really goes to the eternal because what Paul is going to tell us is he says let me tell you what happened to you and what can happen to you as a result of that very first Christmas.

Now, watch this. This is so good. Number one, Paul says because of Christmas, I can enjoy spiritual freedom. Now, we're going to pick up in Galatians 4:4. Here's what Paul wrote, "But when the set time," that's important, "when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son. Born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those under the law that we might receive adoption to sonship". Now as you well know, we don't really know the exact day that Jesus was born, and I don't have time to go into detail why we chose December 25th. It's kind of an arbitrary date, but here's what we do according to what Paul said. We don't know the exact day He was born, but whatever day it was, it was a day that God had already marked on His calendar because he said that God sent His son at a set time. At an appointed time. It was the right time.

So, in other words, Paul is saying but from the very time that God hung the first planet in space, from the time He lit the first star up, from the time He put breath into the first woman, God had Christmas marked on His calendar. It was on His iPad and on His iPad He had written three words, birth of Jesus, December 25 about the year 3 or 4 B.C. It was already written on God's calendar. In other words, Paul was saying the word had a divine appointment, and when God makes an appointment, God won't be late. God will show up. He will be there. And God had a divine appointment 'cause remember we told you two weeks ago for hundreds and thousands of years the Jewish people had waited on a messiah. The world was waiting on a savior. The universe was waiting on a lord. And at Christmas, the wait's over. The Lord has come. The Savior has come. The Messiah has come.

And how does God do it? He goes, oh, look, I get it. God sends His Son born of a woman. Why did he say that. He says I want you to know this baby that came, this Son of God that came, He was just like us. He came to this world just like you did. Every one of us came into this world the same way. We didn't get here by FedEx or U.P.S. We came through the womb of a mother. Right? Same way Jesus came in. Paul is letting us know He is just like us. The son of God came as the son of man.

Now, here's what I want you to understand. For a Jewish rabbi to write this and believe that, for a Jewish rabbi that had basically taught, oh, yeah, there will be a messiah, but there wasn't one Jewish rabbi that said, oh, by the way, He's going to be God. He's going to be God in the flesh. He's going to be born of a virgin. Even Isaiah most likely didn't even understand what he wrote down when he made that prophesy and the amazing thing is you've got a Jewish rabbi that's now saying I buy this hook, line, and sinker. I believe it. I believe He was born of a virgin. I believe that God came to planet Earth in human flesh. Now, we all know that. We've heard it a million times. We say, oh, yeah. That's what Christmas is all about. Paul says, oh, no, no, no. It's much deeper than that. There's another dimension. Why did this baby come?

Now listen to this. To redeem those under the law. Well, number one, what law is he talking about? He's talking about the law of God, not the law of men. He's talking about the law of God. Number two, who are those under the law? Well, contrary to what some believe, he's not talking about just the Jewish people, he's talking about all people because everybody on this planet is born under the law of God. We're all under God's law whether you believe in God or not, whether you like it or not, whether you know what they are or not. It doesn't matter. Every single human being that's ever been born on this planet is born under the law of God, and just like there are physical laws that we're all under, right? We're all under the Law of Gravity.

There are also spiritual laws that all of us are under. However, here's the problem. Even though we're all under the law, and we were meant to stay under the law, we don't stay under the law. We all have broken the law. Nobody's ever perfectly obeyed the law. And at one time or another, we all break God's law, and what we call breaking the law or God's law, the Bible calls or God calls sin. Now, let me just stop right here and just kind of say something. I don't want to be offensive, and I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings, and I hate to burst your bubble, but that's why it's just kind of foolish when people say when you ask somebody, now tell me how you have a relationship with God? Tell me how you think you're right with God? And people will say, well, I believe I'm right with God because I just try to keep His commandment, and I try to keep His laws.

Now, with all respect, let me tell you why that's foolish. We can't even keep our own laws. We break laws all the time. Right? But sometimes we get caught, and when you get caught, there's a little old saying. It's not in the Bible, but it's true. If you do the crime, you pay the... That's right. You do the crime, you pay the time. So, you get caught breaking the law, what do you do? You owe the law. The law says, okay, you owe me. So, you either have to pay a fine or you to go to jail or you have to do community service, but you've got to pay for your crime. Now, what's true in our world is true in God's world. When we break God's law, we owe God a debt. You do the crime. You pay the time. We owe God perfection because God's perfect, but we're not perfect.

So, every day from almost the time we're born we start piling up this sin debt, and before you know it, the debt is so big you can't pay it. You can't even bail yourself out. The best lawyer in the world can't help you. And it doesn't matter, by the way, which law you've broken. It doesn't matter how many laws you've broken. It doesn't matter how many times you've broken the law. James, the brother of Jesus, give this indictment. Listen to this. James said whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. Now, you're talking about a strict standard. You know, when we were in school, if you took a quiz and there were ten questions on it, if you only missed one question out ten, somebody help me. What would be your grade? It would be 90, right? God's given us ten commandments.

Here's what God says. If you break one commandment, what's your grade. Zero. Not 90, zero. God says, hey, if you've broken one law, as far as I'm concerned, you're guilty of breaking all of it, and see in God's eyes, there are no misdemeanors. They're just felonies. So, when you owe a debt that you can't pay, there's only one thing you need to get out of it. You need redemption. He says God sent His son to redeem us. You know what that word redeem literally means. It means to pay a debt completely off. Here's the beautiful thing about Christmas. Why did Jesus leave planet Earth, be born of a virgin, and get laid in that manger? Not to bail us out, not to pay for a good lawyer. He came to pay off our sin debt completely and to free us from spiritual bondage once and for all.

You say, "I don't understand. How did He do that"? Real simple. He did the one thing that none of us have ever been able to do. He perfectly kept the law. Jesus Christ never broke one law of God. Not in fault, not in word, not in deed. He perfectly kept the law. He didn't owe a debt He couldn't pay. So, He paid a debt He didn't owe for those of us who owed a debt we couldn't pay. And He completely paid off the sin debt that we inherited, and what Paul says is because of Christmas, we can enjoy spiritual freedom. When that Christmas baby becomes your Lord and your Savior, you become spiritually debt-free. So, here's what that means. That means every morning when you wake up if you all of a sudden think about, oh, oh, I did this yesterday, and I forgot to tell you. Hey, I did this yesterday, and I forgot to mention it to you. You know, I kind of messed up yesterday. I'm sorry I forgot to tell you about it. Please forgive me. You know what God says to you? It's okay. You don't owe me anything because Jesus paid it off.

See, because of Christmas, because of Christmas, we can enjoy spiritual freedom. Now, frankly, I could close my Bible and say let's all go to mall and have lunch and shop, and you'd probably be good with that, but we're not going to do that. Because Paul says, oh, no, no, no, we're just getting started. It gets deeper than that. He goes on to tell us because of Christmas, I can enter a supernatural family. Now, I want you to watch this. This gets better and better and better because, listen, he says, look, Jesus didn't just come to free us from spiritual bondage and forgive us. You hear that all the time. It gets better than that. He says this is what Jesus also came to do.

Now, what this. That we might receive adoption to sonship. Now, that word adoption would have really resonated 2,000 years ago. Let me tell you why. Normally, when we think about adopting, we normally think of what? Adopting a little baby or adopting a small child. That's what most adults or that's what most parents adopt. If you're an adoptive parent, most or most of you, the vast majority of you adopted someone when they were in their infancy. They were a baby or they were a small child. With God it's different. Yeah, God adopted us, but here's the difference. When God looked at us, we weren't good. We were bad. When God looked at us, we weren't worthy. We were unworthy. When God looked at us, we weren't righteous. We were sinful. And yet God looked at us and said I'll take you home. I'll adopt you. I'd love to have you come be a part of my family, and you're going, me? Yeah, I'm talking to you. Me? You. I'll adopt you.

Oh, and by the way, I'm not just going to take you home. I'm going to give you the title deed to the whole place. Are you kidding me? Me? Yeah, I'm talking to you. Now, if you're an adoptive parent here this morning, you really can understand more than anybody else just how wonderful this is. Let me tell you why. Adoption is always intentional. When somebody adopts somebody it's because they want to adopt them. Now, I've never heard of anybody adopting 'cause they have to. They adopt because they want to. I've heard, for example, I've heard of unplanned pregnancies. I've heard of unwanted pregnancies. I've never heard of an unplanned adoption. Adopted kids just don't show up at your house, and you go, oh, really, I didn't know you were here. It's not unplanned, it's not unwanted, you do it because you want to.

But listen, God's adoption process goes even deeper than that. Here's what God does. God says let me tell you something. I love you so much. Here's what I want to do for you. I not only want you to come live with me. It gets better. I want to come live in you. I want you to take me with you everywhere you go. Not just when you're in my house. I want you to have the same intimate relationship with me that I have with my own Son, Jesus. So, listen to this next verse, because you are His sons and because God's adopted you, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts. The spirit who calls out, Abba Father. Now this is absolutely incredible. Paul says when you become a child of God, here's what God says. God says, okay, I know you're wondering what to call me. So, I'm going to tell you what I want you to call me. Call me Abba.

Now, that may not mean a lot to you. Abba is not a Greek word. Abba is an Aramaic word, and by the way, Jesus didn't speak Greek. Jesus spoke Aramaic. So, whenever Jesus would talk to His heavenly Father, He would call Him Abba. You say why is that such a big deal? You know what the word Abba literally means? It doesn't mean father. It means daddy. It is the most intimate term a little child can use for his father. Jonathan doesn't even realize this, so I don't want to embarrass him, but Jonathan doesn't even realize this. Every now and then I'll talk to Jonathan and I'll tell him I love him, and he still, we called him Jon Jon when he was little boy. Call him Jon, now. That will tick him off. But we called him Jon Jon as a little boy. Every now and then he'll say I love you too, daddy. He doesn't realize how that warms my heart, but every time he calls me daddy I think back to that cute little fellow I had at three or four years old. Just the love of my life.

That's the term that the Spirit of God comes into your heart and says now, this is how you can address this Creator of the universe. This is how you can address the One who could take your life just like that. This is how you can address the One that's ruler and reignor over the entire world and the entire universe. You can call Him daddy. Abba, Father. That Spirit leads you to do that. That was the favorite term that Jesus used. Over 200 times Jesus called Him daddy. You go to all the prayers in ancient Judaism read every one of them. You will never find a Jew referring to God as Abba, Father. No self-respecting Jew would ever even have thought about calling God Abba, Father or daddy, and yet this Jewish rabbi comes along and says guess what?

Once you get adopted in God's family, here's what you can call me. You can call him dad because you are a part of his family, and this is what I hope will maybe change some of your thinking right now. Some of you think when you come into this church on Sunday morning in this building, you think it's kind of like a P.T.A. or it's kind of like a town hall meeting. You come and maybe kind of like a university lecture. You sit there, and you sit still while I instill. Right?

So, you're kind of sitting there, and you're just listening. Not true. When you walk into this building, you've come into a family reunion. And if you're a believer in Jesus Christ right now and you look to the person on your left and you look to the person on your right, if they're also believers in Jesus, they're not just your friend, they're just not your buddy, they're not just your neighbor for the day. They are your family. They are your brother. They are your sister. You're going to live with them forever and ever and ever. I mean, it's so, it's just unbelievable how sometimes we miss that. We are a part of a family reunion and what we're supposed to do every time we get together is just a dress rehearsal for what we're going to be doing in eternity.

Now, again, I can say, well, end of message. Bye bye. Merry Christmas. You say, okay, I'm on my way. But it just can't stop there 'cause Paul says there just one other deep dimension to this you haven't seen. He says not only do we enjoy a spiritual freedom. Not only do we get to enter into this supernatural family, but watch this. He said because of Christmas, I can expect eternal favor. Now, here's the end result. Now watch this. Every time I read this I go this just can't be true. Verse 7, so he says, "You are no longer a slave, but you're God's child". Why? Because God's adopted us, and since you are his child, God has made you also a what? An heir.

Now, this is just unbelievable. I talk to people so much and I try to explain the difference between Christianity and religion and if you've never understood the difference of Christianity and religion, just memorize that verse because that verse perfectly encapsulates why there's a difference between Christianity and religion. It's right here in this verse. Let me tell you what I mean. Religion is all about rules. Every religion in the world is all about rules. Pick any religion you want to. There are over 350. Just pick one. Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism. It makes no difference. They've all got these rules. Do this. Don't do that. Keep the rules. You ought be right, want to have a relationship with God. Then, you know, go here. Don't go there. You know, it's all about rules. That's religion.

Christianity has nothing to do with rules. Nothing. Christianity is all about a relationship, and it's all about the relationship of a child to a father. So, if you want to know the difference between religion and Christianity, I'm going to show you in two words the difference. You ready? Religion. Go back to that other verse. Religion produces slaves. Christianity produces sons. That's the difference. If you're religious, I can tell you right now. You're a slave. You're a slave to all these rules you've got to keep. All the things you can do. All the things you can't do. All the things you have to do. If you are in the Christian faith, you are a son. Religion is all about performance. Keep the law. Do good. Don't do evil. Mind your Ps and Qs. Obey the rules.

Christianity comes along and says it's all about position. It's all about being the adopted child of a heavenly father. It has nothing to do with rules. It has nothing to do with performance. It's all about position. It's all about a relationship. But Paul says, oh, but it gets better than that. As a child of God, he says you're even more. Since you are His child, God has made you also an heir. Now, you know the drill, right? Slaves inherit nothing. Children's sons inherit everything, and here's what Paul is telling us. Christmas doesn't just tell us that the baby was born, and the baby died, and He set us free, and He not only took us home. He said Christmas is all about you get the entire estate.

When you give your life to Jesus, He gives you everything that He owns and guess what He owns? Everything. You talk about making you an offer you can't refuse. When you take Jesus, you don't just get Jesus. You get everything that Jesus has and Jesus has everything. You get, listen now. You get Jesus. You take Jesus. You get a spiritual freedom you'll always have. You enter into a supernatural family that will never forsake you, and you have this wonderful, special favor from God that will always rest upon you. You say, really? Absolutely and that's why you have to see Christmas in 3D and that's why then you'll understand this Jesus, that little baby that was born 2,000 years ago, He exceeded all expectations.
Are you Human?:*