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Levi Lusko - The End Of Christmas


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All right. Well, if you have a Bible, would you grab it and join me in Matthew, Chapter 2. As you are finding your way there, we do want to say hello to every location, all 12 of them. So help me welcome everybody at every single Fresh Life Church, church online, podcast, on the Christmas day DVR, where we're putting the service up on demand all day. We're happy to have you as well. And that number 12 is awesome, but it's soon to be 13, because we recently announced that we're opening up a church inside Deer Lodge State Prison. Yeah. It's pretty exciting.

So 2019 is going to be a big year. We're going to need all those prayers and all that power from the fast, because opening a church inside the largest penitentiary in the state of Montana, that'll be a big challenge but one we're up for. We've gotten the green light from the Department of Corrections to do that. So we're fired up on that. 1,500 inmates in that prison. And we can't wait to reach them with the life of Christ, the love of Christ, tell them their best days are in front of them. And then, of course, we're going to hopefully, by God's grace, break ground on our Whitefish campus buildout. We're excited about that. And then our broadcast campus in Kalispell, we'll be breaking a bottle of champagne on that sucker real soon. Cannot wait. And it's going to be real good.

But Matthew 2. The title of my message, because I really wanted it to be like really festive and holly, it, like, just tastes like eggnog. So write this down: The End of Christmas. That's my title, "The End of Christmas". And I'm not talking about December 26, although sometimes that can feel like, we can make it, hold together, hold it together, hold it together, right? Like, we can make it. Sometimes, honestly, Christmas does feel a little bit like that. I think probably because it used to be just 12 days of Christmas. And there were drummers drumming, and you know, five golden rings, and you know, that's nice, but now how many days of Christmas are there? Well, it starts, like, right after Halloween, so it's a longer season. So I think sometimes we're just like a little bit like, ugh, where's that spiked eggnog at, trying to make it to the 26th. Why is that? Why do we feel that way sometimes?

Here's why. Here's my theory anyhow. It's because Christmas is complicated, isn't it? It's complicated. I mean, it's messy. There's family in close proximity. All right? It's like sometimes it's just like, oh, my gosh, Christmas is just, it's a lot. It's a lot, with all the drama, and they're coming, and these two don't get along, let's not seat them next to each other. That'll go terribly, right? It's like they're going to be yelling about Trump this and Trump that the whole time. And he's for a wall, she's against a wall, she wants to save whales, he hates whales. Like, what, how is this going? Christmas is complicated. And it's expensive, isn't it? Man. And that's why I think it's so cool that we, as a church, get to do the Merry Market. Isn't that great? Man, come on. It's expensive.

And I think for a lot of people, the expectation of what your Christmas should look like and here's what we see broadcasted out from Madison Avenue, here's what Christmas is and needs to be. And for a lot of people, that's impossible. And so what a cool thing for us, as a church, to be the head and not the tail, and be able to say, hey, you know, we want to provide some gifts for you. And the way it's done, and I just got to give some major shout-out to our Fresh Life Outreach team, because the way they built this thing, I know you guys were excited to clap a minute ago and were like, we gave away 1,500 gifts and all that, it's great, it's great. It's just year one, honestly. But the way they did it was so cool, because every family that came in, and we worked with local organizations to find out families who are in financial distress.

They got an invitation with a ticket to be able to come to this event that was set up like a pop-up shop/market/boutique, where, as they arrived, they were assigned a personal concierge. They were shown where they could check their kids in if they had no other options but to bring their kids with them. Then they were taken to an environment where there were hors d'oeuvres and some drinks, and it was all really classy. And then when it was their time to enter the market, they went through. And all brand new toys, in box, sections of by age. They got to go with a shopping cart, shopping for their child. And for every child they had, they were able to select three presents at this market, all of which, of course, was free. But the best part of it is that before they picked up their kids, they took these gifts to a wrapping station, the gifts were wrapped. Then they were allowed to put the gifts into the trunk of their car before they went to pick up the kids, so the kids had no idea that it happened.

So the point is: the big reveal is on Christmas day, it wasn't from Fresh Life. We allowed mom and dad to have the dignity of giving the gift out from them. And I love it, because charity can actually make people feel small. So to empower them and have this be not at all from us. They went shopping and for all the kids know, they bought those gifts. And I think it's phenomenal. And when they told it to me, I was, like, crying, just hearing about it. I was like, yes, please, let's do it. But I assumed they wanted to do a test market, a pilot run in one of our cities. But they were like, no, let's do all 12. I'm like, you guys are doing all the work, so please, go ahead, that's awesome. And sure enough, our impact team rallied, and it was beautiful. Year one. Year one. And the stories coming in will break your heart. And you just wait till next year, because we're already scaling it, and figuring out ways to make it a bit better and bigger.

And I think a lot of local businesses will come on and want to sponsor the event and get behind it. And we're actually already in dialogue with one of the major bicycle manufacturers in the United States. And they've volunteered to give us bicycles at cost. So next year, in addition to the three gifts per child, we'll say also, how about a brand new bicycle with a bow on it as well? We'll be making that purchase this summer out of our outreach grant spending. And we'll have all these fleet of bicycles, brand new, sitting in a warehouse, ready for next summer. I'm just telling you something, church. This is what we were born for. This is what we get to do. And this is how we change the world. So really cool. But I say all that, because Christmas is expensive. And it is. And it's messy. And there's drama. And there's people. And Kevin, look what you did, you little jerk, and I'm going to feed you to my tarantula. And all of that. Right? And that's not even what I'm talking about, because all that stuff is our own fault. That's what we've done to Christmas.

So all that complicated nonsense that's just our own fault. Right? If we allow ourselves to be taken advantage of in that way and taken for a ride, we have no one to blame but us. When I say Christmas is complicated, I'm actually talking about the OG Christmas. I'm talking about the one where Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem to pay a tax bill in person. Can you imagine if you weren't allowed to e-file, if you had to go to Washington, DC and hoof it over there to pay your taxes? Like, it's bad enough to pay taxes. Like, oh, no, no, you have to do it in person. Oh, you have to do it in the city you were born in. That's awful. Right? Can you imagine? No Uber. No Delta Airlines, right? This is just straight-up Mary's pregnant, ultra pregnant, like pregnant and all that. And man alive, Christmas is complicated. And you know what? God made it more difficult than he needed to as well. Like not booking a hotel room. Like, that he could have. He had thousands of years to plan.

So it's not that he didn't know it. It didn't surprise him. Oh, no! Right? It's like, he knew. Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, somebody? Like, this was the plan all along, and yet the plan was no reservation? And all these prophecies. You know that the Bible's full of prophecies, which is God's way of saying, eight ball, corner pocket. So when it happened, you knew he didn't just accidentally bank shot it in the hole and, like, be, oh, wow, yeah, there it, no, he spelled out exactly how he was going to do it. For the birth of Christ alone, it's been estimated there are over 300 unique prophecies. Really, really, really specific stuff about how it was all going to go down. Like weird stuff. Like unnecessarily weird stuff, where, when God's calling his moves out, you're like, you know, you don't need to bounce the ball off the wall, off the moose antler into the hole. You could just sink it, right? It could just be corner pocket. No. God's like, hey, my son, when he's born, he's going to have four cities on his birth certificate. And I bring that up, because most of us just have the one, right?

Like, I was looking at my birth certificate the other day. It just says "Pueblo, Colorado". No, he said, this was hundreds of years out in some cases, there's going to be four cities connected to my son's birth. There's going to be one of them that's an international destination. There's going to be one of them where he's actually from, but he won't be born there. And there's going to be one where he's born there to fulfill a unique criteria, but it's not going to be where he's actually from. Oh, and there's going to be another area where there's going to be a bunch of weeping women when he's born, not in the place where he's from and not in the international destination where he ends up living for a brief time.

So the point is, when Jesus came and all of this stuff was fulfilled methodically and meticulously, we know that God is doing exactly what he said he would do. But back to my first kind of point, Christmas is complicated. Oh, yeah, and while all this is happening, while God's fulfilling every divine prophecy from the Old Testament in the New, there was also somebody who was actively antagonistic and wanted to stop Christmas, wanted to put an end to Christmas. The end of Christmas, that was what was on his mind, and he was the most powerful person in that country at this time. And so it's hard enough to do something that's this complicated if there weren't someone who is trying to stop it the whole time. Now, you may or may not have ever read this before, because the part of the Christmas story that I'm going to read to you, most pastors never read it out loud in front of a group of people. But it's right after the wise men left, OK?

It's Matthew 2, Verse 13. "Now when they had departed", that's the wise men. So they just left. Rum-pa-pum, right, them and their drum. They just bounced out. Gold, frankincense, silver, great. And now they're out the door. "Now they departed. Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, arise, take the young child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and I want you to stay there until I bring you word. For Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. And he was there until the death of Herod. That it might be fulfilled" i.e., what was prophetically spoken, "by the Lord through the prophet", which prophet? The prophet Hosea. So this is a little piece of Hosea we're about to get. "Out of Egypt I called my son". So that's the international destination on his birth certificate. "Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men". Because he had told the wise men, when you find him, tell me where he lives, so I can worship him. I mean, murder him. That's what he wanted to do. OK?

And he was mad that he was deceived by the wise men. "He was exceedingly angry, and he sent forth and he put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then it was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the Prophet", another prophecy, "saying, a voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more". I can hear some of you saying to yourself right now, now I understand why pastors don't normally read that at Christmas Eve. Ugh! This is like a deleted scene from, like, Game of Thrones or something. It's like this lunatic king sending his soldiers to the countryside, trying to kill all these baby boys lest they ever potentially be the one that was prophesied to be born, who would grow up and take the Iron Throne from his hands.

I want to explain what God was doing in all this, because, believe it or not, in all this, God has a plan. And that'll be our second point. Just two-point message. I'm doing that for you. Normally I'll preach, like, five points, four-point sermons. But I know. I know. I have a job. I have a job. My first job is to be encouraging, and I've already failed at that. And that's why I got moose on my sweater, to just kind of have this uplifting kind of, like, you know, thing. And my other job is to be quick, right, because you've got stuff to do, you've got presents to wrap. You'll shoot your eye out to watch. Like, you got a whole day planned, and I'm just one tiny piece and component of it. So I need to just give you your little three points and a poem, and get you on your way. So I'm going to do that. I'm going to make up for the fact that I'm not being really encouraging with this "all the babies died in Ramah" message and try my hardest to be quick.

So God's plan's going to be the second point, but first, let's start with Herod's plan. Herod's plan, that's the first point, which was, well, it was very simple, wasn't it? The death of Jesus. Herod had a very simple mission, and his mission was to put an end to Christmas, because he didn't want a competing king running around. Why? Because Herod was the king in Israel. Now, in truth, he was a puppet king, because Rome wasn't in charge. But they liked to install little kings in these areas that kind of could sort of run plays that Rome forced on them, like the tax thing, but then also allow them, of course, the luxury of sort of ruling the area that they were from. And Herod took power very seriously. You could say he was on an enormous power trip, which was all the more exacerbated by the fact that history tells us he was a very short man, all right? And so he's the ultimate kind of Napoleon complex kind of person. He liked to call himself Herod the Great. And there were a lot of Herods, and this one is about the most jacked up of all the Herods. But he actually had a preferred nickname. Herod the Great, of course, is fine, but his favorite way to refer to himself was the King of the Jews.

Now, that should trigger something in you. You're like, man, I feel like I've read that before. Where did I read that before? Well, it was written in three languages on the sign above Jesus as he hung on the cross, because the Bible prophesied that Jesus was actually the long-awaited king of the Jews, which now tells you why Herod got so mad when he heard that someone was born that is being heralded as the King of the Jews, because in his mind, it's Forrest Gump status seat's taken. You know what I'm saying? There's no room for you on my throne. There's only one king of the Jews, and it is moi. So his desire was to kill anyone. And if he has to kill every baby in Bethlehem to make sure that this little baby does not live, fine, so be it. He would be glad to do it. Now, you might be thinking, there's no way someone would do something that sick, which just tells me, you have no idea how twisted this maniac actually was. Look into it.

Josephus the historian tells us he butchered two of his sons, his two eldest sons, in cold blood, because he thought that they were trying to sort of hasten the line of succession. That wasn't dying fast enough, so they've kind of had this prodigal son thing going, wish dad was dead, so they could take, that's what he thought. He was just crazy suspicious, and he was right now afflicted with a disease that would eventually take his life. He ruled from 37 BC to 4 BC, and by the end of his life, he died of bloody ulcers in his stomach that caused his breath to be purified. And he died in agony. And he became more and more suspicious.

The funny thing about the King of the Jews is he wasn't even a Jew at all. He was actually an Edomite. And he married a Jew and liked to think of himself a Jew. And he built this great, big temple in Jerusalem along with a number of other enormous buildings, the likes of which you can still walk through the archaeological remains of them today. His paradise, a mountaintop he built called Masada. He had one place installed, one of the earlier forms of air conditioning that we found in the ancient world that allowed his place to be cool even when it was hot outside. He built these enormous, big things. They were all big ego trips to himself. And some of them trying to curry favor with the Jews. But then eventually, his Jewish wife, who gave him cred in Israel, he had her put to death as well along with her brother-in-law, because he thought that they were going to try and take his throne. And then he also had his mother-in-law put to death as well, which led to an expression in Herod's day that went like this, "it would be safer to be Herod's pig than to be his child".

And so this guy was twisted and sick. Killing these babies like he did here, it wouldn't even have been a footnote in his diary that day. That would have been just a commonplace day in this tyrant's mind. And little did Herod know what he was doing here in trying to end Christmas and put Jesus to death, his whole plan, it wasn't original with him at all. In fact, it had been going on, has been going on since the Garden of Eden when man first fell and the first Christmas card was ever sent out. Yeah, I know we read Christmas in Matthew 2, but it shows up back in Genesis 3, back when Adam and Eve fell and God was doling out the punishment. He spoke a prophecy about what he was going to do to fix it. And the answer was his son Jesus coming. And he even hinted at the virgin birth when he said, this man is going to be born of the seed of woman, because if you remember sex ed, that's not what woman contributes to the process. She has an egg, the dude's got the sperm. But if he's going to be born the seed of woman, that speaks of the miraculous conception, that this was going to be done through a woman. Thus it was going to be a human that would come, but it was also going to have a fully God, it was going to be God and man.

That's Christmas. That's the incarnation. That's Emmanuel. That's God with us. That's back in Genesis 3. Then he turned to the snake, who was the one who deceived woman, and he said this. He said, check this out. Of the Messiah, "you will strike his heel," snake, "but he's going to crush your head". Listen to me. The heel being struck means the serpent's going to strike the heel of the Savior. But he's going to deal with a snake like a snake needs to get dealt with. Mama's going to knock you out. Huh! Right? That's what he said the Messiah was going to do. And that prophecy was all the way back in Genesis 3. Now listen to me. I get weird text messages, because you know, you get on these weird companies' lists, and you get these ran, you ever get those? You just go to the contact and block them? I get one about, like, 20% off all vaping accessories. I'm like, I don't vape. I get it every day. Block. It comes from another number. Block. It comes from another number. Block, right?

But imagine if you got a text message from a number you had never been texted from, and they said something to you, and you're like, new phone, who dis? And they said, ah, hey, so next Thursday I'm going to crush your head. You would probably spend most of the week planning a strategy by which you wouldn't get your head crushed. You'd just be thinking to yourself, I've got stuff to do, I've got to go to work today, I've got to avoid getting my head crushed. Like, who is this person who's going to crush my head? The devil was basically, I just told him to his, like, hey, my son's going to crush your head. So what did Satan do? He spent all the rest of the Old Testament, into the New, spills over into the New and on to the very end of the book, trying to avoid getting his head crushed. Right?

And God promised that it was going to happen through this line, through Adam and Eve, through the family. And he got more specific as it went on. Eventually, Abraham was called. He said, you're going to have a family, it's going to be called the nation of Israel. Out of your family is the Messiah coming. Out of your family Abraham is going to come, this deliverer, that's going to be a blessing to the whole world. So he focused his efforts on Israel. That's why Pharaoh wakes up one day and goes, what do I need to do today? I'm going to build a sphinx, I'm going to work on my pyramid, oh, I'm going to kill all the Jews. Let's throw all the baby boys into the river. Let's just do that today. It was Satan trying to not get his head crushed.

Well, why do you think, after God got more specific, it said it's not just Israel, it's going to be the lion of the tribe of, say it with me if you know, Judah out of the 12 sons of Israel? Why did, all of a sudden, he get more specific in trying to defile Judah? And then when he said, it's not just going to be out of Judah, it's going to be this branch out of the house and lineage of King David, why does Saul wake up one day and go, man, David, you've been really good to me, you killed Goliath, you married my daughter, you fight my battles for me, I think I'll kill you? Right? Like, what in the world is going on? It's Satan trying to not get his head crushed, because if David's family's dead and there's no descendants of David alive on the earth, guess what? No head crusher can show up. Why do you think, in the book of Esther, one day this maniac who worked for the King Xerxes in the Persian Empire wakes up one day, his name's Haman, and Haman wakes up one day and goes, you know what would be cool if I could do? Kill all the Jews. And it would have worked too had there not been the quick thinking of a clear-headed man named Mordecai and the fast, courageous boldness of one of the most amazing women who ever lived, Queen Esther.

If it wouldn't have been for that, this nation would have been wiped out and there wouldn't have been the promise connecting to the garden of someone who could come and crush the head of the serpent. Y'all, this is the entire Old Testament summarized. Matter of fact, looking back on it, in the Book of Revelation, God describes the nation of Israel as a woman about to have a baby. And while she's about to have her baby, notice what happens spiritually. You can't see it, but it's there. "I saw a huge, fiery-red dragon with 10 horns and 7 heads". And guess what? This "dragon crouched before the woman about to give birth, poised to devour the baby the moment it was born". You should see your faces. Merry Christmas. So that's human history: the fiery-red dragon and every attempt at anti-Semitism in the world.

Let me tell you, this wasn't novel to Adolf Hitler. This wasn't new, this desire to crush Israel, because there are still prophecies that are connected to Israel, that connect to Jesus' second coming. Why is there a nation of Israel today? Why May 14, 1948, after almost 2,000 years of not being a nation, being scattered over all the four corners of the world, the craziest man who ever lived trying to kill them once again, is there all of a sudden again a nation of Israel? And why is there constantly this dialogue? You see it on the news all the time: let's kill Israel, let's wipe out Israel, let's wipe Israel off the map. It's because the dragon doesn't want to get his head crushed. And that's why this King Herod, when Jesus was born, was in this fever-pitched, filled, urgent quest to crush Jesus. How many babies I got to kill to kill Jesus? I got to do it because the devil knew it was fourth and goal, with seconds remaining on the clock.

The Savior was almost here. The Virgin had given birth. Here was the Messiah. He had come just like God said he was going to. And the devil didn't want to get his head crushed, but his plan failed. And Jesus lived. And fulfilling divine prophecy, is whisked away to safety in Egypt. Herod's plan failed. And here are the last words spoken of Herod the Great, the would-be King of the Jews. Verse 19. "Now when Herod was dead", now when Herod was dead, he said, I'm going to kill Jesus. God said, no, you're not, you're going to die. And "when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, arise, take the young child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young child's life are dead". And where do they go? They go to Nazareth, the fourth city in connection to Jesus' birth certificate, where he would actually grow up. And he would be referred to for most of his life as Jesus of Nazareth, this one who was born in Bethlehem, but lived for a time in Egypt. And his birth connected to crying women in Ramah, but would actually be raised in his city that would be his hometown for his first 30-some years of life would be the city of Nazareth.

The point is Herod thought that through death, he could stop Christmas. That's what Herod thought. But here's what God knew, that through Christmas, he could stop death. You see what I'm saying? Yeah. That's the power of the Christmas story. That's what God was actually doing. What the devil was trying to do was to stop Christmas and use death as a tool. What God was doing was stopping death, and he would use Christmas to get it done. Now, how would he do it? How would Christmas work? That's the interesting part. And that, by the way, explains why this, even though it seems like a gory backdrop for a Christmas sermon, is actually an appropriate frame of mind for us to enter into this holiday. Because tragically, we feel like it should be, you know, just the season of comfort and joy, and the happiest day of the year, and let's stir our heart cocoas with our candy canes, and get back to the gumdrop forest, and it's a wonderful life, and all of that. But the reality is, you just saw here, the actual first Christmas was marked by screaming mothers, grieving.

And just like to this day, many of us today, we enter the Christmas season with grief in our hearts, brokenness in our world. And all the devastation, and sadness, and evil that we see, even though we try and have a good spirit about it and all that, there's really so much pain. As the song put it, we just sang moments ago, "long lay the world in sin and error pining till he appeared and the soul felt its worth". Death is the reason there ever was a Christmas. "In the dark streets shineth the everlasting light in all the years and all the fears are met in thee tonight". So he came to solve the problem of death, and that's why it's fitting that even at his birth, there was so much death and bloodshed. Now, the question, of course, is, how would he solve such a big problem as death? And that's where it gets interesting, because we began with the plan of Herod, which was, if you need a reminder, the death of Jesus. But what was God's plan in all of this?

Well, interestingly enough, it's one and the same. God's plan was the death of Jesus. Only it wouldn't be in Bethlehem as a baby. It would be in Jerusalem, as prophecy said would happen outside of the city as a full-grown man hanging on a cross for the sins of the world. Not as a baby as though he had no say in the matter, but as a 33-year-old man who could say, no one takes my life from me. I willingly lay it down of my own accord. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. With humility, he voluntarily did exactly what Herod was unwilling to do. Jesus had the throne of all heaven, the throne of all glory, and Herod pathetically clung to his throne as long as he could. But death pried it from his fingers, as all of us will have no choice but to do one day. If our treasure's in this world, death takes us from our treasure. If our treasure's in heaven, death takes us to our treasure. And Jesus showed us what Herod was unwilling to do. He left the throne, left the glory, left the honor of heaven.

And Philippians 2 says, look what it says. It says he was willing to do so. In Philippians 2, we're told that "he existed in the form of God, but gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize". He didn't cling to that. "Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant". Stop here. "He became a human"! Leaving the glory of heaven, coming down to this world, voluntarily taking our place on the cross. You see, it should be me and you dying for our sins. It should be me and you, because all of us have fallen short of the glory of God. And the wages of sin is death. That's why we will die physically. But the Bible says we're already dead on the inside spiritually, for true death is being disconnected from our creator. And if we die physically, dead spiritually, we'll remain dead forever eternally. And that's what the Bible describes as hell. That's not what God wants for any one of us. That's why he sent Jesus to lay down his life, so that he could take up his life again. But as he would return to his throne, there would be room for you and for me at his side.

So here's our choice. Do we be Herod, cling to our power, and our glory, and our sin, and ourselves, and be the captain of our fate and the master of our soul? Or do we willingly humble ourself before Jesus and find that in losing our lives we gain it. For as you're willing to leave your throne, you will find there's room for you on his as he invites you to rule and reign with him, to sit with him on his throne, to live with him in his house called Heaven, and to do so forever. That's the gospel. That's the hope. That's the shocking power of the Christmas story. You know, Christmas is not a compliment. It's not. Christmas is God saying, there's no way for you to save yourself, so I'm going to allow my son to be murdered for you. He sent you a savior, because you needed saving, because you can't save yourself, and neither can I. But no matter what you've done and no matter where you've been, if you humble yourself and come before him in need of his grace, he will save you. He'll make you new. He'll give you a brand new heart. Instead of the heart of stone, he'll give you that heart of flesh.

And I believe many of you have come just for this. You didn't know that was what you were coming for. You googled "church," because you thought, ah, well, I should go to church. But here you are. A friend brought you, and yet God is speaking to you. He drew you here for this moment, so he could make you new on the inside. So we're going to have a word of prayer and believe that God's going to bring people from death to life, even now. You see, because Christmas wasn't the end of something. Herod thought, I could end Christmas. There's another use of the word "end," and it speaks to the ultimate achievement of something. That's the actual end of Christmas is the beginning of new life for you. For through Christmas, God saw Easter. And in that cradle lay sleeping the way, the truth, and the life. And if anyone comes to him, they come to the father.

So let's bow our heads, and close our eyes, and have a word of prayer together. With all of us praying, considering where we're at with God, I first want to address all of us who are already Jesus' followers, who are in need of a renewal of our surrender. We can all become tiny, little Herods. Pride is so easy to fall into. And yet what Jesus calls us to is a heart of being a servant, for the most heroic thing we can actually do is to be servants. We don't have to cling to what is ours forever. You've promised us glory, God, so we don't have to cling to that. We can have a light touch on everything and try and serve other people. If you're here today and, as a Jesus follower, you would just say, I just want to re-up my commitment to be a servant. I want that heart to be, I want to serve my family. I want just a different tone to mark Christmas, and the holidays, and the new year. I want to be a person who serves those around me: at work, in my family, in my neighborhood. If that's you I'm describing, could I just ask you to just raise up a hand in the air. You can say, that's me, I want to be a servant this year, God, give me the heart of a servant.

Thank you, Jesus, for all these who are expressing that. Give them grace, and strength, and that attitude and mindset of servanthood, which is true leadership. You could put your hands down. Now I want to give an invitation for anybody here today watching a church online, watching the Christmas day stream on DVR, and you need to give your heart to God. You can't be saved by religion. You can't be saved by good works, only by opening the door of your heart to Jesus Christ. He's standing at the door of your heart. And if you open the door, he will come in. Make your heart his home. If that's you I'm describing and you sense the Holy Spirit, even now, you just feel like, man, everything that's been spoken is coming straight to your heart like an arrow, that's God speaking to you. And you're not guaranteed to ever have a moment like this again. Every time the gospel goes out, it's precious, it's fragile, it's temporary. The Bible says you can't just come to God whenever you want to, but you can only come as the father draws you. Perhaps for someone this is your final opportunity. I'm no prophet, I don't know what the future holds, but I know it's a dangerous world out there and we're not guaranteed to live to see another Christmas, or even the new year, or even tomorrow. Every day's a gift. That's why it's called the present.

And if this is your last chance and you're going to stand before God, are you ready to meet your maker? If not, you can be. I'm going to ask, in a moment, for you to pray a prayer with me. And by including yourself in this prayer, you're turning over your soul to God. You're letting Jesus forgive you. You're allowing him to give you the gift of resurrection, of new life, but also of peace, purpose, and power while you live here on this earth. For some of you, this is going to be a first-time decision. For others, like that prodigal son, you grew up knowing this, but you've wandered and strayed and this is your chance to rededicate your life to God. If you're ready, I want you to say this prayer out loud after me. The church family is going to say it with us to show our support. Say this.

Dear God. I know that I'm a sinner. I can't fix myself. But I believe you can. Come into my heart. Take the throne of my life. Be my king. I pray this in Jesus' name.

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