Jentezen Franklin - Christmas Candlelight Service
Merry Christmas, everyone. We're so glad that you've joined us on Kingdom Connection today. This season, it is our prayer that Jesus would be honored in your home. And that God would pour out His goodness, His love, His grace on your house, on your family. He's the reason we celebrate. And I want to wish you a very, very Merry Christmas. Let's go into this Candlelight Service, celebrate Jesus is Lord.
I have a crazy little thought I wanna give you. Over in Marietta, Georgia. It's down the road. There was a mother who had two daughters, true story, and she used to tell them a story about an elf that she made up. She made a little doll, a little elf like this, and she would set it up on a shelf, and she told them the story that elf is always watching them whether they're good or they're bad. And while they sleep, he takes a nocturnal journey to the North Pole and tells Santa Claus and comes back, and when he comes back, he's always in a different place than when they went to sleep and when they wake up, they're amazed. You say, "well, why do I care about that"? Well, just hold on. I'm the preacher. You're not. Just hold on.
And she had this idea, told the story to her children every Christmas as a family tradition. Every morning they would wake up and sure enough, the little elf, and that was proof that he had gone on a journey and come back, and to make a long story short, it became a phenomenon in 2005. A little mother down here in Marietta hit it big. The two daughters grew up and become business-minded entrepreneurs. They built this little package with a book and everything in it called “The Elf on the Shelf”, and to make a long story short, it sells $10 million a year since 2005 off of that. Turn to somebody and say "I wish you were that smart to come up with that". Would you do that? $10 million a year off of “The Elf on the Shelf”.
There's no elf watching you every day and with you every day, but you do have self with you every day, and I wanna just talk about how that the world is all about self and maybe what could happen this Christmas is you could put self on the shelf, and you could find out that there's so much more to life than self, living a life of just all about self. The world tells us that it's about self-esteem. It's about self-awareness, self-confidence, self-image. All these things are fine, but when you begin to make all life about self, self-improvement, self-interest, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and if that wasn't enough, selfies. But the Bible talks about self-pity and self-conceit and self-importance and self-will and self-destruction. Religious people have an issue because they think it's all about self-righteousness, self-justification. I'm good. I've done this. Therefore, I deserve. But God's word says that it's about self-control, self-denial, self-examination, and self-sacrifice.
And so many words I wanna change it just a minute and say that really Christmas is about put self on a shelf and let Jesus take the throne of your heart. Galatians 6:3, “For if a man thinks himself to be something he's deceiving himself.” If you're eaten up with your own ego, your own pride, and you think that everybody has a problem and self is great, the Bible said if you think yourself to be something when you're not, you're deceived. Romans 12:3 said, “Don't think of yourself more highly than you ought.” Put self on the self. Humble yourself. You need a Savior. You need forgiveness. You need God's help. You need God's life in your family. You need Jesus. Put self on the shelf or you'll live a selfish life. 2 Corinthians 10 says, “We dare not compare ourselves among ourselves.”
You want a miserable life? Compare yourself all the time with other people. Compare yourself with what they have. Compare yourself with what other people are doing at Christmas and what you're not doing and what you don't have, and you'll live a miserable life. That's why need to put self on the shelf and put Jesus as the center of everything and then purpose and meaning and true, true, true destiny kicks in when Jesus is Lord of your life. Luke 9 said, and it sums up everything that I wanna say here in this last five minutes of my talk. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself”. Put himself on a shelf. Put his will on a shelf. Put his dream on a shelf and let me be Lord. When you say, “Thy Kingdom come,” you're saying my kingdom go, and you put self on a shelf, and you die to your will. That's what it means to know Jesus.
That's the message of Christmas is if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. Give up like Moses did. Empty yourself like David did. He emptied himself. Like Noah did, he emptied himself. Like Mary did at that first call of God. She said, “Not my will but Thine be done. Nevertheless, be it unto me according to your word,” and she put self and self-reputation and all the plans of her life, she put it on a shelf, and God used her mightily for His glory. Self is in charge when Jesus is not the center of your life.
I would like to say to Christians, put self on a shelf when it comes to your standing with God. Don't judge yourself. Don't write the end of your story because you mess up because this has never been about us performing perfect and if I work so hard, I deserve God's love. When it comes to receiving salvation, you have to put self on the shelf. I've got all these issues, and I still have these problems in my life and these things, but it's not about me earning salvation, so you put self on a shelf, and you receive the finished work of Jesus Christ and the Blood that He shed. It was precious Blood because it washes away all of your sin. When you understand that, it sets you free. Don't make it about what people think of you. Don't make it about what you think of you. Put self on a shelf. All that matters is what Jesus thinks of you. And when you understand what I'm preaching about, the apostle Paul said, “Every day I die daily.”
And when you put self on a shelf, marriages are being destroyed because it's all about self, but when you begin to live on for another and put self on the shelf, when families are willing to reconcile only because there's been trouble in the family and fights and offenses in the family and along as self is in control, self won't humble. Self won't be humbled. Self won't ask for forgiveness. Self won't reach across the aisle. Self is always about me and how wrong I've been done, but Jesus is the model. The whole story of Christmas is Jesus was King of Glory. As a matter of fact, Philippians 2 said that, “He being in the form of God,” Verse 6, “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”
Do you understand what that means? That means he was not some God Junior and the Father, and the Holy Spirit were the top executives, and he was a junior executive. He was equal. He was God, mighty, powerful God, and He put Himself on a shelf and walked down the star-studded steps of glory to a barnyard in Bethlehem. He put all of His majesty and millions of angels and power and glory, and Colossians said that “all the Earth is held together by the power of this King's word,” and he put it all on a shelf and came down as a baby born in a manger. And when you understand what Philippians is saying, “who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation,” put all of that power, possession, position, put it all on a shelf and became a servant, took on the form of a servant, was made in the lowly likeness of man and being found and fashioned as man, He humbled Himself and became obedient.
It got worse. After being born in a stable, after being a nobody for 30 years except a hard-working carpenter. Nobody ever knew who He was. He's just so... He put self on... how long, how long? For 30 years He does nothing. No miracles. No healings. Just puts all that on a shelf so that He could feel what you feel so He could hurt like you hurt so He could feel shame and pain and anguish and fear. And then, it says in Philippians, “He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Now watch, and I conclude with this. When you put self on the shelf, when you stop living for self, when you stop making life about you, me, myself, and I, and you put self on the shelf and you make Jesus the Lord of your life, watch what happens in Verse 9, “Wherefore,” that means because He put self on the shelf and humbled Himself, watch, “Wherefore God has highly exalted Him.”
If y'all don't shout on this, I'm gonna get my money back rebate. Come on now. Are you ready? That's prepping you for a response. Are you ready? “Wherefore God is highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus,” that's it. I wanna hear it. “At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow of things in Heaven and of things in Earth and of things under the Earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father.” Now shout if you believe the Gospel. Shout if you believe the Gospel. Shout if you know it changed your life. Shout if you know everything changed when Jesus comes. The tempter's power is broken. Woo! Hallelujah! The name is written in the Book of Life. Oh, my past is pardoned. My present is powerful. My future is promise. Nothing can separate me. From the love of God.
Just stand up on your feet. You're in a Pentecostal church whether you knew it or not. We don't even have to light our candle. We've got enough fire. It'll just, boom! Come on. So, I conclude the greatest gift you could give Jesus on His birthday is yourself. The greatest gift you could give to your family is put self on a shelf and make Jesus the Lord of your life. The greatest gift you could give your parents is to put self on a shelf and make Jesus Lord. The greatest gift you could give your husband is not a Bass boat or whatever it is. That would be a close second. Some of you men are... but the greatest gift you could give your husband is put self on a shelf and receive Jesus. The greatest gift you could give you wife is she could actually walk out of here with a new man, a better daddy, and a better husband. Not a perfect person, but a person who truly wants Jesus to transform Put yourself on a shelf. Humble yourself. Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior this Christmas, and everything will change.
So, I'm sensitive tonight that there are people who are here and for many of us, it's another Candlelight Service, but for somebody it's where the light is going to pierce the darkness that you've been in. I really feel the darkness is trembling. The darkness of despair and discouragement and depression and hopelessness is trembling because Jesus is here. Emmanuel is here. God with us is here. And so tonight, as we sing these songs and we light these candles, you can whisper a prayer right where you're standing. I'll lead you in that in just a moment, but let's just worship. Let's just lift Jesus high, and I'm gonna light this candle, and I want my family. I'm so blessed to have almost all my family... Cherise, y'all come on up. You're singing good. Lift your voice everybody. Let's just worship Jesus in this place. That's what this service is about. Everybody sing it. Let's sing it to Jesus.
I want everybody to pray this prayer with me knowing that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe on Him would not perish. Isn't that great news? When we die, we don't perish but have everlasting life through Jesus Christ. So, hold that candle up and pray this prayer. If you mean it from your heart, a miracle is gonna happen in your life this Christmas. Everyone say:
Lord Jesus I believe the Gospel. I believe you came born of a Virgin. You were God in skin. You lived a perfect life without sin, but then you carried all my sin and nailed it to the cross. The Blood you shed has cleansed me. It power washes me of all my sins past, present, and future. I am forgiven. I can't earn it. I can't deserve. I just receive it. By faith in Jesus's name I believe you rose again. Because of that I have eternal life. I receive you, Jesus. I receive the light into the darkness. Let me carry the light into my home to my family and into all the world. I receive a new light in my soul. I'm a soul on fire for Jesus Christ. Amen!
I want to say from my family to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas. We love you all more than words can say and may God bless you New Year you've ever had.