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2021 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - Christmas and the Dragon

Levi Lusko - Christmas and the Dragon

Levi Lusko - Christmas and the Dragon
TOPICS: Christmas

Well, thank you for being with us at Fresh Life. You can have a seat, all the way across the church, Polson and Missoula and Bozeman and Billings and Whitefish and, they're in the O'Shaughnessy Theater in Whitefish this Christmas. It's really great. And then, of course, in addition to Salt Lake and Great Fall Lake, like I said, all those locations, we have people who join us every single week for church all across the country and world. So would you help us greet those who are taking part in the Fresh Life experience online? It's a privilege to have you with us, and I love that we're taking this worship experience and we're, as soon as this last one's over, putting it up on demand so Christmas Eve and all day Christmas, people can enjoy this any time they want to.

So we're really glad that you've chosen to spend a few minutes of your Christmas holiday and this whole season just with us here at the church. And as we kind of consider and come around this idea that we've been enjoying throughout the night, Christmas and the Dragon, some of you might be like, you know, I did not notice those characters in the nativity set, right? I mean, because I got, like you do, I got a nativity set at my house, and we've got all the normal pieces, all the usual suspects. We got our manger, our stable scene where the manger goes. It's pretty great. This is a Fisher Price one. Who has a nativity set at home? OK, a few of you. Who doesn't have one? But you're like, I wish I did, I wish I did. Amazon. At this point, it'll be here January 20. So nothing like that. I love how they just say, this will arrive after Christmas, and you're just like, ugh. So, should have thought ahead. Then we, of course, have, we have a camel. I almost said donkey, but that's not the donkey. This is the donkey, right? Although I've been asking at every service, what do you think? You think this is more donkey or more horse? More donkey. We're thinking about, what makes it so donkey?

I think that could be a horse. Right? The nose. The nose. The ears. The ears. I think it's, what do they call it when a donkey and a horse has a baby? Mule. Mule. Maybe it's a mule. You never know, right? But it's really unstable, whatever it is. This donkey keeps tipping over. They don't make it like they used to. All right. So then what else do we got? We got the sheep, right? The donkey was greeting the sheep. He was like, hello, man, how you doing? Then, of course, we have, we have a Wise Man, right? Because you've got to have the Wise Man. They brought Jesus, what'd they bring him? Gold and frankincense, myrrh. It's a weird gift. Weird gift. You look into it. It's a weird gift. It's what they used to use to embalm dead bodies. So that's a weird gift. That wasn't on the baby registry, it's what Mary would have said. She said, we did not register for that. Then we got we got a shepherd. There's the shepherd. We got a, oh, lost the other Wise Man. You have to have three Wise Men because there was three different kind of gifts. That's why we think there were three Wise Men.

There actually might have been 300 of them, we just know there were three different gifts that they brought. Maybe they work together. Oh, that's upside down. Sorry, we're going somewhere here. We're making sure Christmas is, we're having the picture set up right in our minds, right? So we've got Mary, who looks remarkably fresh for just having had a baby. And she's there to greet all of the guests that have shown up at the stable, because nothing really helps you along in the postpartum process like a bunch of strangers visiting you in your cave, which is probably what it was. I know we think stable or shed, but it was actually probably a cave because that part of the world, that's what they put the sheep in at night when it was cold. And then, of course, on the top, what do we got? We got, we got an angel. We got a little angel guy who shows up. And then he was joined by a bunch of angels, and they were all in the sky singing and stuff, right? Although we don't know they sang. Because actually, it says that they said, "Glory to God in the highest".

At some point, we got to thinking that they were singing, but we don't know for sure. So that's the thing. And there's no dragon. You're saying, Levi, there's no dragon, so you're ruining our nativity set here. We can't have a dragon at Christmas. But we can. We can because God's word helps us to see not just what was there that the human eye could see but also what the invisible eye can see. And if there's anything I could hopefully encourage you in this Christmas and this next year, whatever it brings for us, I hope 2021 is a wonderful year. I hope 2021 is a great gift, and I hope lots of good things for your 2021. But if 2021 is like 2020 and 2019 and '18 and '17 and every year that's ever existed in human history and there happens to be brokenness and pain and division and difficulty and sorrow and sadness, if by chance 2021 has anything difficult coming our way, then this will be a useful skill. And that useful skill is not just seeing what's in front of you but also being able to apply a lens of faith that you can get from God's word. And that lens will then allow you to see not just what's physically there but what's invisibly there that the human eye can't see.

And Paul, in 2 Corinthians Chapter 4 implores us to use this skill. And let me tell you this, it's most important to use this trick when it's the most difficult to do. When the last thing you want to do is do it, that's when you need to the most. When you are feeling ready to give up on a relationship or give up on a marriage or a situation, you're tempted to write over it hopeless or you're tempted to allow a situation to cause you to despair, that's, listen to me, when it's the most important. And this is important for those of you who are in your senior year of high school and you're just about to go into that season of everyone wants me to go to college and what do I do here and I'm in my 20s now and I'm not really in my parents' household but I'm also not really established in where I'm going to be and I really just don't know, any of you who are in any kind of difficult situation, this is the thing to do, especially when it's the most difficult to do so. You do what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4. "We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal".

So if that's true then, then we can also apply the same thing to this Christmas story we've heard 1,000 times. We can look at it and see not just what is seen there, what is visible there, but God's word will help us to unlock what is unseen there and see what human understanding can't on its own. So where do we turn for that? Well in this case, we look not just in Matthew and not just to Luke and not even just to Philippians, which has a powerful telling of the Christmas story, but we also look to the Book of Revelation. And kids, listen, this is so cool. The Book of Revelation kind of gives you X-ray vision combined with a time machine. How great is that? Think about if you could get into a time machine. What event from the past would you be most excited about witnessing? The signing of the Declaration of Independence, perhaps, or to be there when Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, or when they were building the Panama Canal, whatever it is for you that you'd want to see. Like, I'd want to go back and see dinosaurs.

This is amazing because the Book of Revelation sort of allows you to do that. You're able to go to the past, but you're also able to go to the future and see events that are coming soon. And that's what Revelation does for us. And there's a part of it when it gives us a glimpse into Christmas using the apocalyptic imagery that the Book of Revelation is so known for and also so terrifying because of. All right. So here's what it says. Revelation 12, see if you find some similar ingredients here. "She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven, an enormous red dragon".

Now, I apologize, because our dragon is black. But he does have red toenails, and that was the best that we could do. But entering into the story is this dragon who is there, present and waiting and watching. Now, the she is not Mary that Revelation is talking about, although she's a part of it. It's speaking about the Nation of Israel. And when the dragon is there poised and waiting, and I'm not going to read to you verse 5 because verse 5 says, "The dragon watched as the baby was born and was ready to gobble up the baby," and I didn't think reading a verse about a dragon eating a baby would be super appropriate with this Christmas. So you have to use your time on your own to read that verse, because I'm just not going to read it to you. But basically, what we find in the Christmas story is the dragon trying to pounce upon, trying to stop the baby, who is the knight, the hero in the story promised, who was going to come to destroy him.

Now, to really understand this, because as we read about it, we're even given more details. We're even given details about things that happened even before our time began here on this earth, even before God created the world. We're told that this dragon was even causing problems before then, because look at verse 7. Skipping over dragons eating babies. Verse 7 says, "And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough," the devil was not strong enough, "and they lost their place in heaven". So "The great dragon was hurled down, that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray, he was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him". OK, so now God creates the world, and Adam and Eve are put in this garden, a perfect place to live in relationship with God and to do the things he's called them to do. They had a pretty amazing job. They got to name animals, and I love that.

And I was just telling someone about this yesterday, because they were telling me that in their family they had an animal that they loved died, and it was the first time they had to struggle with talking to their child about why death is a part of our story and how to communicate this. And one of the things I told them was, I said, look, the fact that we grow sorrowful when an animal dies proves our love that God put into us at creation. And our very first job as mankind ever was to give names to animals, and things are only given names that have value and worth and relationship. And so if you care about animals, that's from God in your heart. There's a reason you feel the way that you do around a mule or a deer or a horse or, there's something about it that there's a unique connection, and that's God given. But in this relationship that they got to live in in the garden, there was an enemy. And we read it as a serpent a minute ago, but really you could just put the word dragon there. And for all we know, when we've encountered the dragon, the serpent, in the garden, it might have had wings and feet and crawled around, because only after that story did God say, as your punishment for what you've done, you'll have to slither around on your belly for the rest of your life.

Some people think that maybe it was a dragon there hanging out in the garden that day. But whatever the case was, we know what the dragon told her. The dragon told her to not listen to God, that God was holding out on her, and to do things her own way would cause her best life to be experienced. And so she and her husband, Adam, and everybody ever since who has listened to the dragon have chosen to make our own way in the world, to not bow our knees before God but instead to puff out our chests and say, my kingdom come, my will be done. And that's how death entered the story. Why do rabbits die? Why is there cancer? Why COVID-19? Ultimately, it can point its way back to the disease and the death that crept into this world when we chose to sin, death not just physically, but also spiritually. God told Adam and Eve, the day you eat of the fruit, and by the way, we don't know it was an Apple.

I know everyone's got this picture in their mind of Eve eating an Apple. I never would have fallen for an Apple. Pineapple maybe, pomegranate probably, but an Apple would not tempt me. But we also don't know what kind of Apple it was or fruit it was. It could have been some crazy fruit we've never even heard of. But regardless, they chose to make that decision, and death entered. No, they didn't drop dead. In fact, Adam and Eve lived for hundreds of more years. So what kind of death was there besides the physical death that inevitably came? There was a spiritual death, a disconnection from the life source that is God. And they've, and we have been longing to get that back ever since. And so, of course, God promised to send a hero. Right then and there, God said, I'm eventually, out of the seed of a woman, which is an interesting phrase, because usually mankind, in mankind's history, it's the male that provides the seed. And I'm not going to get too specific, kids. Ask your parents about what that means later. You're welcome. You're like, I am so mad at you, Levi.

So Adam, come back in January and February when we start this up new series, Lucky in Love. We'll talk all about it, all right? So I'm really excited just to have a whole series based around how to get our marriages stronger; if you're single, how to get the most out of your single years; if you're dating, how to grow. And that whole process, it's going to be real fun. We're going to spend from Valentine's Day to St. Patrick's Day in a real beautiful love series. It'll be a lot of fun. But basically, this death that happened, the spiritual death that disconnected us from the life source, the solution was going to be someone who was born without the use of a human father. That's what the phrase "the seed of a woman" means. So this promise all the way back in Genesis 3 was, someone's going to come who's going to uniquely be born without a human male involved, and only a woman is going to participate in this and the spirit of God, and that person is going to crush the dragon.

So what is the rest of history? The rest of history is the dragon looking at every candidate and doing what he can to take them out, because that person would have to be perfect in order to defeat the dragon. So anybody who showed potential, you better believe he came for double time. So I think about Adam and Eve having two children, Cain and Abel. Now, Cain was a pretty surly individual. He was a crusty fellow. So no doubt, if I'm the dragon, I'm like, well, it's not that guy. He's kind of messed up, you know. So I'm going to do what I can to take out the one that does show potential, whose name was Abel. So what does he do? He inspires Cain to destroy his brother Abel. And he was, what was he trying to do? He's trying to kill whoever the hero could be. And on and on history goes. You come to Noah. Noah was the most righteous man living on the entire Earth at that point. Everybody else wicked and violent, and here's Noah who found grace in the eyes of God, who believed God. And Noah was so epic that he lived through one of the most difficult things. Builds this boat, gets made fun of for 100 years, and then is saved, him and his family, and we're like, oh, Noah's the dragon slayer. Noah's the man. But Noah liked the bottle, right?

So Noah, this is a great, it's a great little detail. It was like, man, greatest day ever, builds a boat, all the animals, amazing. Then he made a vineyard, and then he, man, he got really into the sauce, and then he fell asleep and he was not clothed, per se. And so it's like, oh, man, what, the dragon just showed that Noah was not the dragon slayer. He tempted Noah and got Noah, got under Noah's skin. And on and on we could go. Every single potential likely hero, King David, who had the most potential of all because he started out as a giant slayer. If he was a giant slayer, maybe he could be a dragon slayer, too. But David was shown to be human as well, mortal as well. Lots of good things about David, but certainly not the one who could save us from our sins. We could go on from there and point to Samson and point to any of the godly men and women throughout the years who have been good leaders and been used by God to do great things but were mortals at the end of the day. None of them could do it. But all of us as humanity, we still do tend to hope a human can save us.

And I think this last year, we've seen a lot of people, again, in an election year, this comes out more than ever, we're hoping that someone can save us. We're hoping that someone can lead us. And half the country thinks it's going to be this person, half the country, disappointed and angry, thinks it's going to be that person. And this isn't a political message, this is just me saying there's something inside of us longing for someone to destroy the dragon. It's actually really interesting the way we all love those mythical stories and legends of which the gospel is not one, by the way. That's why I make sure when I read things like Quirinius was the governor of Syria, I don't skip over it, because that's an important thing for you to read. When you read a fable, it starts out, "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away," but not the gospel. They're willing to name names and give dates. And so when these things were written, you could have looked it up.

You could have seen is that true. You could track down people who were still living at the time and go, hey, who is governor? And they're like, Quirinius. You're like, oh, OK. Go to Bethlehem, is there someone named Joseph here? For sure. That's the shed his kid was born in. And by the way, you see what I'm saying. So it's really different. But listen to me, all the myths and fables, they point to things we long to be true about this world. What is the number one highest grossing film of all time? Avengers: Endgame. And it was able to knock off one movie, another, for a long, long time, it was Avatar. For a time before that, it was Titanic. But most of the movies that end up at the top spot on those lists have themes that point to what we hope is true in the gospel, life everlasting, new bodies, a different world to live on, and ultimately, forgiveness of sin. It was that provoking of deep emotions that led to the conversion of one of the greatest minds the world has ever known.

How many of you all have seen Narnia movies at all or read Narnia books? The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, amazing. And the one who wrote those books, interestingly enough, that spoke so much about Jesus, one of the greatest theological minds that certainly has existed in the last 100 years, perhaps in all of Church history, at one point was a devout atheist. He was a professor at Oxford University in the 1920s, and he did not believe in God. He believed everything was just a product of chance and when you die it's just blackness, end scene. And that's the show, folks. Why cry about it? But when he was alone at night, he would wrestle with the fact that, in his heart, he longed for things to be true that intellectually he did not believe could be true. He longed and was swept away by this romantic notion of good defeating evil and life everlasting, and he dreamed of these things being true. And when he would read, he said the biggest thing that aided in his conversion was, in fact, the way he felt when he wrote stories, mythical stories, legend stories, stories that he found things provoked in his heart.

So one day, I love this story, he took a walk with his friend, JR Tolkien, who is the man who wrote The Lord of the Rings. And it was 1931 and they were walking and talking, and he said, I believe things that are this atheistic worldview, but I feel things that are at odds with it, and I don't know what to make of that. And Tolkien said, you want to know why? It's because those legends point to the true story. He said, the way you feel when you watch Sleeping Beauty, maybe, just maybe it's because there really is a sense in which there's a curse that's fallen and a sleep that's settled in, and that only the kiss of a true prince can wake the world up to what it was meant to be. He said, why do you feel the way you feel even though you don't believe in God?

When you watch Peter Pan, maybe, just maybe it's because we weren't ever meant to grow up and become so self-important and serious. Maybe we are meant to actually just be child-like, which is what Jesus said is the basis of entrance into the Kingdom of God. He said, why do you feel the way you feel when you read the story of the Beauty and the Beast? He said, maybe it's possible that the reason is because deep down you know there is an ugliness that inside of us can turn us ugly on the outside, and that by the time the last petal falls, maybe someone loving us as we are can transform us from the inside out. Or, maybe it's just nothing. And with that, they went their way. And that's all he thought about for 12 days.

And then he wrote, C.S. Lewis did, a letter to his friend, Arthur Greeves, and he said in large part due to that conversation and the reality of the fact that these stories were pointing towards the true story, that in the letter he said, I have decided to become a Christian. What was it? It was the fact that there really is a hero who really did come to defeat the dragon who has been, from the very beginning, telling us to choose his way and to choose our way and not to choose to do things God's way. And I think if you're honest, you can find moments, times, feelings in your life that you can't explain for, you can't account for. You really do hope there's a hero out there. My daughter Olivia and I were in California a while back and walking down the street we saw Jason Momoa, who's the guy who plays Aquaman. And we were like, oh my god, it's Aquaman! And in my head, I knew, it's not Aquaman. But I really wanted to meet him. But I didn't want to be like that guy and be like, can I get a picture? Can I meet you?

So we just followed him around for a half an hour. We just, we kept a good distance. So he would go in a store, we'd pretend to be looking at magazines or something, and then he'd come up. We were just kind of stalking him around the street for a while. It was, I know he's not Aquaman, he just plays one on TV, but there's something, a little boy inside of me that leapt at the thought of being near to someone who's a hero. I believe that is the longing for God that he has put into each and every one of us. It's not Samson, who could be compared to Hulk. It's not David, Captain America. It's not the Iron Soldier. None of us can be saved by Spider-Man. What we need is a hero who didn't look anything like the knight that he truly was on the inside. When God wanted to send the one who would slay the dragon, he sent a baby. He sent this beautifully, mysteriously wrapped package, this child who was born not in an inn, not in a hospital, not in a palace, he was born in a barn, raised by these simple peasant parents, who just were willing to avail themselves to what God was doing in their lives, and on that day had finally arrived despite everything the devil did to try and stop him from coming, even the crazy Herod and trying to root out this newborn baby, this king who threatened him.

Because let me tell you something, Jesus, the King of Kings, leaves no room for anybody else on any other throne. There's only room for one to deserve the prominence of the title Lord, and that's what Jesus came to be for all of us who are willing to follow him. And so you have the one who could finally take down the dragon. That's what Jesus is. And the beauty and the power of walking in a relationship with this dragon-slaying Lord who arrived 2,000 years ago, whose birth we celebrate, whose birth the entire world at this moment is acknowledging, like it or not. Here, the world grinds to a halt. Everybody but Walgreens, right? I mean, everything just comes to a stop. There's lights up, people are off work. People who don't believe nothing for him have, can acknowledge there's something going on here in this world. What is it? The greatest thing that has ever taken place is the birth of a Savior, a Messiah, and his name is Jesus. And listen, he loves you. He loves you. And yes, you've got gifts for your friends and family this Christmas, but he's got gifts for you. He comes with gifts in his hands for you.

I wrote just a few of them down here. Words like "courage". Jesus will give you courage to do hard things. There's going to be difficult things in the coming days that God is calling you to do. Even some of you right now, you can think of some of those hard things. Maybe just what's interrupting, maybe what's separating you from the Christmas you're meant to experience is your willingness to swallow your pride and say I'm sorry and to have a challenging conversation that could pave the way for healing and beauty in a relationship. But God will give you the courage. Jesus had to exercise courage to come on this mission, this adventure story. To leave heaven, to leave glory, to put on sinful, to put on the result of sinful humanity, to come as one of us, that took courage. And everything Jesus lived out, he's willing to share with you. He'll give you courage today. What can you think of that you're scared of right now? You know, the cool thing about courage is that it's not to feel no fear. Courage is to feel afraid but to do it anyway. God will give you courage to do all that you've been called to do.

Secondly, "help". Help for impossible things. When do we cry out for help? When we're up against something that's just impossible, a weight that feels like we can't carry it a moment longer. I love the promise that whenever we ask for help, he gives it. It's so simple. It could be as simple as, God, this is just more than I can handle right now, this situation at work, this situation in my relationship. Kids, when you're up against stuff at school, I just feel like this is too much, don't have friends. I don't feel like I have my people that I fit in with, and I just don't know. Like, God, I need help. God is willing to give you help. And a lot of times, that help comes in the form of his people. And so that's why you'll hear us, if you come back in the New Year to church, you'll hear us talking about Fresh Life groups. We have groups to meet on Zoom only, groups that are in-person person only. We have student groups. We're putting an amazing student event together for New Year's Eve to end the year with a bang. But we'll always talk about that, because God often answers the prayers that we pray for help in the form of his people, the church, as we help and pray for each other. God gives us help.

Thirdly, God wants to have a friendship with you. I love the thought of friendship being a result of Christmas. But doesn't it prove that God came near? He didn't save us from a distance. He didn't just send an angel to do it. He personally came down in the form of Jesus to show that he is the friend of sinners. Why were the shepherds the first to be told about it? Because they represented the lowest class in the Nation of Israel. They were ceremonially unclean. They couldn't come into the temple and worship without first going through a purification. So God grabbed them first of all. The people who think of themselves as outcasts, they're the first that I want at my birthday party. I get told so often when I invite people to church, if I go in that building, three people who I invited, we invited who have come to this very Fresh Life Christmas worship service told us, I'll come, but I'm really scared the roof might fall in on me when I come in through the doors. And I was like, man, I've been coming 14 years and never fallen in on me, and I guarantee I'm more broken than you are, all right?

The cool thing is, even the shepherds, even the dirty, even the outcasts, even the people who feel like, I'm not worthy to worship God, I haven't prayed in a while, I've not done things God's way, y'all, you are welcome at Christmas. You're welcome at the table. You are welcome to the house. You are loved by your Father. And he wants to be your friend. And that is just like any other friendship. Wants to talk to you, wants to live with you. That's what prayer is all about. Prayer is like a text message to heaven. That's what reading the Bible is all about. That's God's love letter to you. That's God speaking into your life, talking promises into your heart. God wants to be more than just your Lord, he also wants to be your friend. And I think, at it's the best, church is an opportunity for us to encourage each other in our personal friendship with God, and not about rules and not about heavy religion. It's all about grace and walking in the power of it.

And then lastly, Christmas tells us that forgiveness is possible, that we can be forgiven. Because, and this is the craziest part of all, the way that this baby would defeat this dragon would not be the traditional way of getting a bazooka that can shoot spears, you know what I mean, like, Lord of the Rings style to shoot that, or maybe that's The Hobbit, to shoot that giant spear thing at the dragon and that's how we're going to get Smog down. You know what I'm saying? And that's how we're going to get him. We've got to find the chink in his scales, and then we can take, no. This baby would defeat the dragon not by fighting and killing him, but by allowing the dragon to wound him, by allowing the dragon to take his life.

You see, we put Christmas trees in our house. The reason we do that is because Jesus came to die on a tree. Because the Old Testament said if anyone dies on a tree, they're cursed. And the curse from Genesis that's in this world, hello, COVID-19, that's a curse. There's a curse that this world is living under. That curse, Jesus came to take upon himself as he hung on the cross. He bore the effects of the fall. He bore the effects of Levi Lusko's sin and your sin and your sin. He took it and he paid for it. The wages of sin is death, so Jesus died upon that Christmas tree and he rose from the dead on the third day, because death could not hold him down. And like C.S. Lewis said of Aslan, he had done nothing wrong. He had died for a traitor, so the magic began to work backwards. What was written on the stone table cracked, and the lion of the Tribe of Judah has prevailed, will prevail to take down the dragon, to end his reign, and to offer life everlasting to anybody who believes. You can be forgiven, if you trust in Jesus. What does that mean? The backside of that means, you are not forgiven if you have not trusted in Jesus. He's the only way. He said that. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no one comes to the Father, except through me".

So this Christmas, I think the best application, the best way to observe, the best way to celebrate this holiday would be, if you haven't yet, to give your heart to Jesus. Now, we have all ages represented here, and I've loved, loved, loved, loved having the children here and hope you've enjoyed making a dragon out of Play-Doh and coloring and hearing all this. But I just wanted to ask you as we close our time together, would you like to give your heart to Jesus Christ? The Bible says that "If we confess our sins to him, He is faithful," 1 John 1:9, "and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". There is nothing like a fresh snowfall, especially when the grass and scenery is all dead and brown. There's nothing like seeing everything blanketed in white, and that's the promise of Christmas. God sends this snow of forgiveness to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Though our sins were a scarlet, they can be white as snow.

Jesus loves you and is willing to come into your heart and to be your Lord and to be your Savior and to be your friend and to give you courage and to give you help and help you face the anxieties that you haven't told anybody about and the panic you feel when you wake up at 3:00 in the morning or when you worry about what's going to happen to you after college. Will you even be able to find a job even though you have a degree? And will there be a person for you to marry? Will there be someone who will love you? All the fears that swirl around you and all the concerns that all of us carry, all of the normal toil of being a human being, he came to carry those things so we could participate in his life. And his offer this Christmas is, if you come to him and believe in him and follow him, he'll take that heavy load you've been bearing and give you a light yoke to carry. His yoke is easy, his burden is light, and he wants to come into your story and fill it with his glory.

So you're like, man, I'm in. What do I got to do? Here's what you have to do. You have to confess that you're a sinner, like we just read, believe in him, and open your life up to him. And the way we turn our souls towards God is called prayer. And in prayer, we're able to shift our attention from Earth to heaven. It's changing from the seen to the unseen. How easy is it to live in a sea of Instagram followers and dollars and cents and logos and possessions and lake houses and boats and all the normal human things. But when we pray, we shift our gaze to heaven. We see not just what's seen but what is unseen. And the cool thing about when we do that is, then when we look back to this world, we're able to appreciate his blessings even more because we're no longer then being defined by those things. We can appreciate life and enjoy food and drink and dance and song, but we're not looking for this world to do what it can never do, fill an emptiness inside of you left from the fall, left from the dragon's talons. We instead, then, can rise up victoriously and be a blessing and bring joy to this world. So if you close your eyes and bow your heads with me, I want to give a space and time for you to make this decision.

Now, if you're a child and you're here and you're saying, man, I'm five years old, no matter how young you are, if you understand what I'm saying and you would say, I want to give my heart to Jesus, I want to tell you, Jesus wants you to give your heart to him. He loves you and will come into your life. There's no better thing you could do with your entire life than to give your life as a kid to Jesus and be marked by that love for your whole life. But on the other side of the equation, if you're here and you're 70, you're 80, or somewhere in between, and you would say, I've lived so long in sin, I've lived so long for myself, what hope is there for me? What I would like to tell you is that your life's not over yet, and God loves you and he'll save you today. He'll come into your life today and bring a richness and a passion to your life that you couldn't even dream of. So whatever the case is, if you're ready to give your life to God, I would love and it would be my honor to lead you in a prayer. To be clear, you're not praying to me. I'm not a priest. You're praying this to God. I'm just giving you language. I'm just feeding you a line. Say this and mean it in your heart, and God will hear you. Church family, pray it with us to show your support.

Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I can't fix myself. But I believe you can. Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to slay the dragon, to die on the cross, to rise from the dead. This night, I believe. I give you my heart. I give you me. Come into my life. Make me new. In Jesus' name, I pray.

Now, with heads still bowed and eyes still closed, I want to give you space and time to declare what you've done in your heart with your body. To take an action step. So what I'm going to do, and it may feel a little bit intimidating or clunky or weird, but God's going to give you courage to do it, is I want to give you space and time to take a step of faith. So I'll count to three in just a moment. And when I get to three, if you've just prayed to ask Jesus to come into your life, I'm going to ask that you step to your feet and stand up. And just standing up, I believe it'll give you a rush of adrenaline, but it's a step of faith that I believe God will bless. So when I get to three, all across our church, Polson, Great Falls, Billings, Salt Lake City, Kalispell, Whitefish, Helena, I want you to stand up to your feet all across the room you're in. 1, 2, 3. Stand up to your feet. Right there where you are. God bless you. We're encouraged by your faith. It's a bold thing you're doing. God loves every single one of you. You can be seated.

Praise God to see people taking a step of faith on Christmas Eve. I love that so much. And we have a little gift for you. We put together these ornaments as a way, I almost stepped over the dragon, as a way of commemorating this night. It's an ornament to hang on your tree, and for years to come whenever you see it and hang it, I would love for you to remember, yes, a lot of crazy stuff happened in 2020, but as the year came to an end on Christmas Eve, I gave my life to Jesus. Hello! What a wonderful way to remember this year. And so to get yours, if you just prayed to receive Jesus as Savior, just stop by the circle at your location on the way out, and we will get this to you. Or, if you're not wanting to talk to a person tonight, maybe just too emotional or for whatever reason, that's fine. You could also send a text message to 97000 and put the words "fresh life" in the text, and we'll get in touch with you about mailing you your ornament. But we would just be so delighted to give these to you.
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