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Watch 2022 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - The Thousand Mile Tree

Levi Lusko - The Thousand Mile Tree

Levi Lusko - The Thousand Mile Tree
TOPICS: Christmas

Open your Bibles with me to John chapter 3. John chapter 3, I have a message this Christmas that I'm calling the 1,000 mile tree, the 1,000 mile tree. Came across that phrase in my research that I did months back for our series, the golden spike, the year end journey towards Christmas, this time of intentionally getting our hearts right for Christmas worship. Where like the wise men, many of us in the church have been preparing a gift and traveling so far to bring, many across the church. I believe all 50 states, we've seen generosity come in from, and people continue to each moment pound their spikes, drive their spikes, believing God for expansion in 2022, and all the way up until New Year's Eve, honestly. We'll see people really just hear the Holy Spirit. And that's all we've ever asked with the year end giving, is that you would ask God what he would have you do, that I'm not telling you to do anything.

But that I'm just saying, would you ask God what he would have you do. And that's what we've seen God do with people with an open hand say, I believe for increase. I believe for a golden spike. I believe for new opportunity. That's all amazing. But while I was researching for all that, I came across this photo. It's an ancient photo taken in the year 1869 by Andrew Russell of a tree with a sign hanging from its branches that says, 1,000 mile tree. This was taken about four months before the golden spike was driven. And what the story behind it is beautiful, that when they realized they were 1,000 miles from Omaha, the Union Pacific team were coming west, they looked at their maps and they went, wait a minute, can you believe we've made it 1,000 miles? I mean, there was a day when no one ever thought it would even ever happen, the transcontinental railroad. But they go, we've made 1,000 miles into our journey.

And amazingly, one of the workers realized that at the exact spot of 1,000 miles, there was a 90 foot tall pine tree. And so someone just had to mark the occasion. And they got a piece of wood, and they wrote 1,000 mile tree on it. And they hung it from its branches. And that remained for something like the next 30 years. And for all of that time, the Union Pacific it would stop the trains there and let people get out and have picnics, and enjoy the moment, this beautiful scenery of Weber Canyon. If you ever find yourself in Salt Lake City, it's about an hour away from the airport where this spot is. And my daughter, Clover, and I a few weeks back had a layover. And so we thought, dang, let's go find that 1,000 mile tree. Here's what happened. OK, you guys. It is 8:42 PM. We've driven about 45 minutes. Yes, we had some tasty In-N-Out.

We found some friends to take a journey with us. And here we are at what seems to be potentially, a deal breaking dead end. All right. So We followed Google Maps all the way to the 1,000 mile tree. And it told us to turn left. But we have a no trespassing one, no trespassing two, no trespassing three, no trespassing four. Look, I will break the occasional no trespassing sign doing the Lord's work on occasion, but not with four signs. This is a thick plot, my friends. Going to have to keep searching for the 1,000 mile tree. But at this moment, we're busted. OK. You guys, we found the tree. We found it. It's right over there. There's the tree. There's a little fence around it. Problem is, we're on the highway, and it's private property to get to the road that will actually take you to it, and there's a river. So we're left with a few options.

Option number one, we go wading through this river onto what is probably private property. There are semi trucks blazing by at breakneck speeds. We've come to see the 1,000 mile tree. Look, we are exactly at this spot, 1,000 miles away from Omaha, Nebraska, where the Union Pacific set out. They reached this tree in 1969. They realized they were exactly 1,000 miles away. And someone, one of the workers who was working on the railroad, you might even say he was working all the livelong day, he hung a sign on the tree that said, 1,000 mile tree. And when he did, everybody said to themselves, we'd done did it. We made it 1,000 miles from Omaha. They only had 86 more miles to go to reach the golden spike, but they had come so far. They had worked so hard. The original tree died in the year 1900. It's very sad. That was a moment of silence for the tree, the 1,000 mile tree.

Clover, come here. We're having a moment of silence for the 1,000 mile tree. It died in 1900, 31 years after it was proclaimed to be the 1,000 mile tree. But listen, in the year 1982, the year of my birth, coincidence, I think not, someone planted a new 1,000 mile tree at the exact spot. So the 1,000 mile tree lives on. It can't be stopped. It is so cold. Look at my lighting crew, very professional. So for the last 39 years, this has been the replacement 1,000 mile tree, the false 1,000 mile tree. It's not the real 1,000 mile tree. But it still is 1,000 miles from Omaha, Nebraska, 86 miles from Promontory Summit, the site of the Golden Spike.

Levi Lusko reporting to you from the site of the 1,000 mile tree 2.0. All right. So it didn't go so well. Here's a photo of what you were seeing across the river. Here's a modern picture of the fake 1,000 mile tree that is not the real one, but is still there at this moment. Come on, let's hear it for the new 1,000 mile tree, which since 1982 has been growing. I think it's over 40 feet tall. And I did find out later it is indeed on private Union Pacific property. You have to get escorted onto it by the railroad. But you can also jump across the river. And if I'm ever in that city in daytime again, I'm coming for you 1,000 mile tree. All right.

The reason I wanted to bring our hearts and minds to this story of a tree being built is, because in scripture, we are told there is a tree upon which hangs not a sign, but our salvation. And that Jesus refers to in John chapter 3 starting in verse 13. Jesus speaking to Nicodemus, "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life". Read this next verse out loud with me off the screen. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

Can we thank God together for that promise and that truth? That is our hope. That is our salvation. And then he finishes the thought in the final verse of the paragraph. "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved". And so, Jesus, we ask that as we anchor our thoughts not on eggnog, or drummers drumming, or pipers piping, but on your gospel, which is strong enough to handle the weight of our sin, strong enough to handle the weight of our shame, and strong enough to handle the weight of our souls. We don't flippantly trust in you. We do so confidently because of what you have accomplished through your coming to this world, so as you put it, we could leave this world ascending to heaven. And we ask for that miracle to take place in our midst today, that miracle where eyes are opened, that miracle where the kingdom of heaven becomes more real than the kingdoms of sand that men erect on this Earth.

May we trust in you and experience the peace that passes understanding as a result. We ask this knowing that it's only possible through your Holy Spirit, which blows mysteriously like the wind. In Jesus's name, Amen. There are so many incredible trees on the planet, incredible trees like the 1,000 mile tree that to me, would be worth the investment of time and resources to go and see because of the story attached to that tree. I spent some time this past week or two looking into other trees that are interesting. I mean, and what struck me as I thought about it was, how many trees there are involved in bits of history, right? Like the tree that Isaac Newton was sitting under. We have a photograph of the tree. You can go and visit and sit under the tree that Isaac Newton had the epiphany about gravity while sitting under. Of course, it's an apple tree. Then of course, there are trees that are more myth than reality, like this one depicted in this story from George Washington's life, where he's finally fessing up and coming clean to dad.

And I chopped down the cherry tree. The only bugger about this one is that never happened, right? So old George Washington's integrity, this tree is a bust. You cannot go and visit it. Then there's like the biggest tree, right? What's the biggest tree on Earth? That's a complicated query. Because when you say biggest, do you mean tallest? If so, then you would be looking for the 379 foot Hyperion tree. This Hyperion tree is an absolute beast that towers above the rest. It's taller than Big Ben. You can see it in Redwood National Forrest. But if by biggest you mean largest by volume, then you'll need to continue on to Sequoia National Park to see General Sherman. Because though shorter than Hyperion, it's technically bigger when you're describing mass. But we can't really celebrate and put the gold medal on General Sherman quite yet. It would be premature. Because the largest tree on Earth probably technically, should be awarded to the Pando Colony in Utah, a colony of Aspen trees.

Aspen trees, Levi, you would say? Your plural is inappropriate, though technically, it's not. Because what you are looking at in these 47,000 trees is one single organism, 110 acres, 6,000 tons if you were to put them all on a weight, but only one root system. It is estimated that this is the largest single organism on Earth, the Quaking Pando, Latin for I spread. The Aspen, this particular one in fact, is probably the largest tree on Earth. And I also do love that as a part of our golden spike offering we once again doubled down on our giving to the Pando Project, which puts tablets into the walls of prisons all around the country, I spread, to think about this Christmas season. And we do greet you in Deer Lodge.

We do greet you in every single prison on the Pando app as the inmates around the world get to experience the spreading news of the gospel going forth and increasingly so, because of the faithfulness and generosity of the good people of Fresh Life Church, of which I count it the honor of a lifetime to be a part of this Aspen column with you guys, this colony of Aspen trees with you. I love that we are many quaking trees, but only one organism that is the body of Christ. I love that. There are also trees that are just celebrated you could go visit because of how old they are, like the Methuselah tree. It's estimated that the Methuselah tree is over 5,000 years old. It has been called the oldest tree on Earth. There's also the most photographed tree in North America. That's an interesting distinction. That honor belongs to the Lone Cypress on the 17 Mile Drive of Pebble Beach there in Monterey, California.

There's also the most resilient tree. There is the tree that survived the fall of the World Trade Towers in New York City, a pear tree, which after the rubble was cleared, amazingly, astoundingly was still defiantly standing in just absolute protest of the treachery that had taken place all around, and even on top of it. Then of course, we think about trees that are famous. We cannot help but come to Christmas trees. There is one tree above all others, I mean the tree at the Capitol building is impressive. The tree in front of the White House with the 50 little trees around it, absolutely beautiful. But when we think about Christmas, and we think about trees, we cannot not talk about the Rockefeller Tree.

Of course, Kevin went and visited it. Elf went and visited it, or I got his first kiss in front of it. Even Spider Man flew in front of it in the new No Way Home. It's not a big spoiler if you haven't seen it yet. I could give you a lot worse than that. But I won't, because I'm a Christian. And it blew my mind. That's all I'm going to say to you this Christmas week. But when we think about Christmas, and we think about trees, we have to ask the question, how did this all happen? Because we all have them, some fake, some real. I won't get into that, because I don't want to split the church. I realize that is a real cantankerous divide to get into it. I have sort of switched teams later in life. I was always of the fake Christmas tree, fake Christmas kind of guy. And then I realized how much they itch, and make me itch. And just got on that pre-lit express train to a better evening quite honestly.

So no more Griswold, you know, Daisy with blue lips, and all the rest for this guy. But why the tree? Why do we put trees into our homes at Christmas time? If you look back into the annals of history, you will see that the Evergreen tree has been for a very long time a pagan symbol. But it was Martin Luther who first brought it into the story of the worship of Jesus for his birth. The story goes in the year 1536, he was walking through the woods. And as he did, he was pondering the Christmas sermon that he had been working on so long there in Germany. And as he looked up, he saw the stars shining so brightly, the kind of scene that you feel like you could almost reach out and take hold of them. And as he did so, he noticed that there were snowy trees, evergreen trees all around him. And he could almost see the stars reflecting through the trees. And it looked like the stars were hanging from the branches of the trees. And he realized that was with a great sense of solemnity, that Jesus, the star, the light of the world had come to, the bright morning star had come down. And the light had come down. And so he just wanted to involve his children in the experience. And so he cut down a small tree, brought it into the home.

And here's a depiction of what happened next. He put candles all over the branches. Yes, you heard it right. I mean, people will lose their lives every single year from regular Christmas trees burning down. I can't even imagine the thought of candles on the tree. But he brought, look at his little instrument there, his children around, and they worshipped. And he was trying to recreate the scene. And it is from this moment that you have set up a tree in your home this year. But when it really caught fire, bad pun, was when Queen Victoria got in on the celebrations. She of course, having married Prince Albert, a German, was told about the custom that had gone all over the place in Germany. But when she gathered her family around, and had this depiction done, and this image really shot like the shot heard around the world, it ricocheted. This is when it really took off in America.

Oh, the queen is doing it, right? Which is just hilarious to me that it became super popular in America for us to put lights. And they used to back in the day actually hang the toys from the branches. So when the kids came down, they would have to actually reach in and untie the branches from the tree. It's just amazing to look into the history of it all. Why are we knowing this, Levi? Well, it's awesome first of all, right? Isn't it? Secondly, there's a connection. Because according to Jesus, our story of hope, it's connected to a tree, his coming, and interestingly enough, a snake. Which I couldn't help but Google the words snake tree Christmas, and you would be shocked by what you would find. You would find the family in Florida who found a 13-foot long Burmese Python in their swimming pool on Christmas morning, right? What do you get the family that's got everything, they probably thought. Who's playing a trick on us?

You'll find the South African family who found the deadly boom slaying snake coiled around the branches of their Christmas tree, and had to call for venom control to come and get it. But here, Jesus says, you can understand salvation by looking at this pole, this tree that was cut down by having a serpent wrapped around it. And so we're brought once again into the major metanarrative of Scripture, which is what? From tree to tree. Genesis Chapter 2, God made trees on the Earth, specifically one tree that was the tree of life. Another tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And our access to the tree of life was predicated upon our willingness to obey his one single negative command, which was, do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You may eat from every single tree you want to on earth. And you may have unrestricted access to the tree of life. Which it seems is somehow connected to our ability to live forever physically.

And that is what we find when we get to the last page of the Bible, Revelation chapter 22, where once again, in the paradise of God, which has returned to this planet, we have once again opened up access to that tree. And we're told, you can eat it. And here's what's really cool. You'll have to look into it on your own. But apparently, the tree of life, it changes the flavor of its fruit every single month, because 12 different times a year, the fruit tastes different, which is just awesome. If you have to eat something to live forever, it's nice to have a little variety, which is the spice of life mixed in. Thank you, Jesus, you didn't have to do that.

Now, you're just showing off. You've already created the fountain of youth coming out of a tree. But you went ahead and just sort of made the flavor of it just change a little bit. I think in heaven, the water fountains are going to have Hawaiian punch flowing through them. I'm just telling you, I can't prove that theologically. But I do suspect, except on Wednesdays, when it's going to be Baja Blast, the Taco Bell flavor. And you won't even need to go Diet Baja Blast, like, the things we do, right? Like, I'll take a chalupa, but no, just diet on the Baja Blast because I'm making better decisions more of the time, ladies and gentlemen. From tree to tree, how did we lose access to the tree of life? Through disobeying the one negative command, do not eat from this tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And with that, our access to the tree of life was cut off, which in its own way, was a gift. For in our inability to get its fruit any longer, which symbolize being in the presence of the Lord physically speaking, we began to perish. Like a device taken out of its charger that eventually, ultimately, inevitably will die, because it's no longer receiving new energy or vitality, we were indeed, we are at this moment dead men walking.

You and I began to die the moment we were born. I mean, it was inevitable. We're moving towards this terminus. We're moving towards this point, this point of no return, when we will die physically. But we are still spiritually speaking eternal beings created to live forever, but disconnected from the source of life to die physically. Dead spiritually is to remain dead eternally. And so we are given the tree of all trees, the Christmas tree, Jesus said, a pole with a serpent on it. Ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you for your awe, your worship, your wonder, your Thanksgiving, and your hope, the Christmas tree. And I hope you'll never be able to see the tree in your living room the same way again. For in this depiction, we find what Jesus said is, what is our hope? For what was taken from the first tree, He was willing to be hung upon a tree, and to bear our shame, and to bear our pain, and to bear our curse. So that in the end, when it all is over, and every last word has been said, we will be once again reconnected to our God having access to that tree, the tree of life.

Is there anybody thankful this Christmas for the cross? And I want to show you that it was no last minute gift, right? We all have purchased last minute gifts. Like, you're like, oh crap, we're going to dinner, so we have to do something, right? You're looking around the house. Is there anything? Is there anything? Is there anything? We've all done it. What can I give them, right? What can I wrap up? We have to have something in our hand. And I want to show you today that the cross was no last minute idea. Like, we ought to do something. I want to show you that it was the plan all along. What am I trying to get you to see? I'm trying to get you to see five things today. Before there was a Christmas, there was a plan.

Number one, jot that down. There was a plan. It was the plan. In fact, it goes so deep, it goes so far, it goes so almost into the metaverse a little bit, because the Bible actually explicitly says, the text is Revelation chapter 13 verse 8, that Jesus is, look at this, "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world". That is to say, before there was a fall, there was a Christmas in God's heart. We had not sinned yet. We had not plucked the fruit yet. We had not violated the command. Death had not entered. The serpent's fangs had not punctured yet. And he was already the Lamb slain at that moment. Meaning, that as God poised prepared within the members of the Trinity, ready to say, let there be light, the Spirit hovering above the darkness through Jesus, His power through the agency of the Spirit, through the words of the Father, those words came out. Let there be light. Which always reminds me that if you want to change what you see, change how you speak. Because when God intended to create the world, he spoke something.

And so I just always want you to remember how you need to audit how you're speaking. If you don't like in your life what you are seeing, pay attention to what you are saying. It changes what you see to alter how you speak. You can talk about your apartment as crappy. You can talk about your car as a beater. You can talk about your husband as lazy. But you're going to see more of what you speak out. You can also choose to say, I do have a job. I am grateful that I have an apartment. This car might not be a Maserati, honey, but it sure does get me from point A to point B. And I'm grateful for it. And I'm telling you, it will change what you see to alter the approach of how you speak. There is power creatively in your tongue. Not even my sermon, just good, just good preaching. And so when God wanted to see a world, He spoke the world. And so can we.

Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm not saying, Hawaiian punch, and now, nope, it's still water. But what I am saying is, life and death are bound up in the power of the tongue. Because the Bible says, we were made in the Imago Dei, the image of God. He has the power to speak and create, and so do we, which is why the Bible from Genesis to Revelation puts great emphasis on how we should be careful what we speak, what agreements we come into. The Bible says, where there's two or three in agreement on something, there's power in that. It will be done in my name. You have to be careful what agreements you come into. There are people in your life who want to speak things into you, and over you, and say things about you that you will be tempted to come into agreement with. And you need to be very careful what you accept as true, what you accept as true of your kids, what you accept as true over your potential, what you accept as true over your life. And I just am encouraged always remembering that the cross can cancel. There's a cancel culture that the world talks about a lot of times.

Like, who's been canceled, who's been canceled. Which quite honestly, I'm fatigued even trying to keep up with who's been canceled. I'm sure I am. I don't even know. But here's what I know, that our kingdom culture has a cancel culture too. And it's the fact that as Jesus hung on the cross, he canceled the handwriting of requirements that was against us. Come on, who's thankful that God is a God who cancel sin? He cancels agreements. He cancels what has been spoken about your past and over your future, and over your potential. I am telling you, impossible things can happen in your home, in your life, in your career, in your calling through our church. And before there was a cross, there was a plan. As he spoke let there be light, it was already in his heart that when he made us on the sixth day of creation, that there would be disobeying. There would be an original sin, and then ultimately, all sin. And he already not only knew it, but knew what he was going to do about it. How much does that comfort you to think about the plan in his heart when he made the world?

Then secondly, he articulated that plan, because we're told that before there was a Christmas according to scripture, there was a promise. And our God, listen to me, is a promise keeper. If he speaks it, He will do it. Jesus said, not one crossing of a T, or dotting of an I that He has spoken will ever remain unfulfilled. We have that living hope. We have that which informs our desire to go and tell it from the mountains, go and and shout it across the oceans. It informs our desire to put on what hopefully will become one of the largest youth events on the planet, and movement conference. Come on, what are we shouting from the rafters? We're saying, there is a Savior. There is hope. A generation does not need to perish. A generation does not need to be forsaken to the anxiety, and to the hopelessness, and the despair, and to the narcissism that comes from a life built on nothing but TikTok.

I am telling you, there is something the soul craves. And it's what Jesus offers. And it's what we are pointing this world to. And that's the plan. That's the promise. And then we see it in prophecy, and prophetic form. Before there was Christmas, there was a prophecy, but not just one. It would reappear, and reappear, and reappear, and reappear, and reappear. When you read the Old Testament, you find it in Isaiah 53. You find it in Psalm 22. You find just over and over again. He's going to be born in Bethlehem. Come Christmas Eve, I'm going to talk a little bit about the little town of Bethlehem. It's going to be amazing We find it in he's going to die on the cross. We find it in he's going to be buried next to rich people. We find it in he's going to die next to criminals. We find it in he's going to have his hands pierced at the moment of his death. These are really, really, really specific. You realize that?

If you're going to make, some people think something's going to happen, and like, in your heart, you kind of want it to be like real vague, right? You don't eight ball quarter pocket the situation. But that's what God did, because he wasn't scared. And it should give you intellectual confidence. I'm telling you, one of the greatest things that throughout my high school years, and those times of like, do I really believe this, and the crises, and the dark nights, and the am I an agnostic, those moments of like, my parents always told me. This is what I was always told in church, but is it real? Can it withstand the rigors of actually looking into these things? Is this just pie in the sky? I hope it works out by and by. But I'm telling you, when you look into the thousands of years of God nailing down how it was going to happen, and then Christmas oddly fulfilling not just one, not just a few, but in the life and times of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, we find over 300 messianic prophecies explicitly fulfilled, including the virgin birth, which is really hard to fake ahead of time, or in time, or after time also.

Which is why some of the brightest in the world who have ever sought to discredit the claims of Christ, and in doing so, finally ridding the Earth of the scourge that is Jesus, whose birth divides time, no one has ever been able to do so, but many have been converted while trying. Before there was a Christmas, there was a prophecy. Then before there was Christmas, there was a precursor, precursor. If there's going to be a great seismic event those who study such things say there will not only be aftershocks, but there will also be something called fore-shocks, the less known, less understood precursor to a great seismic event is ripples on both sides of it. So if there is going to be say, the blowing of the volcano I'm standing on top of right now, right, which would probably remove Wyoming, and Montana, and Washington, and Idaho from your consideration, this thing that causes Old Faithful to erupt. Like, you could set your watch to it, which always gives me a little bit of trepidation. Like, oh wow, I'll go stand there. Like oh, that's weird, right? That's bad, right? That's a huge volcano, isn't it? If and when it does go, there will be activity before and after, as things are preparing for that, and settling back down from it.

So if we could wonder what the effects would be into our planet of someone coming into it from a completely different way, to do something completely disruptive by way of restoring access to the tree by dying of it, if there was a creator of this world who would write himself into the story, and then perish in the middle of the thickest part of the plot, we would expect not only the aftershocks, I don't know, like dead people getting up and walking around for a hot minute, then lying back down in their graves. It happened. Check it. Darkness covering the Earth at high noon. Check it. It happened. We would not only expect there to be certain ramifications of stars and planets, and the alignment, and all the things that, of course, we know took place. But there would also be on the front end, hints as to what was coming, fore-shocks you might say, precursors to the big one.

And that is, in fact, what we find all across the Old Testament, these little precursors, these little moments, including Numbers chapter 21, when these people were bitten by a serpent, and Moses was told, the only way for you to be saved from the snake bite is if you look at this metal snake hanging from this tree, this poll. And the people who are willing to look at it, all of a sudden, fine. And what do we find in that moment if it's not a precursor, a preview of coming attractions, a little one getting ready for the big one. We find it in Abraham and Isaac, and Isaac carrying his own wood. This is so interesting how they all connect back to trees. And him carrying the wood, and about to be sacrificed. But just before it takes place, it doesn't need to happen. It's stopped. Because God will provide himself a sacrifice, Genesis 22. It's interesting.

You find the people drinking bitter water as the waters were tainted and poisonous. And what is Moses told to do? Cut down the tree, and throw the tree into the water. If the tree goes in the water, what is bitter can become sweet, what is toxic can become healthy. What is this? This is God gearing up. This is seismic of things happening that are approaching. What is Noah, if not? You're about to perish. The whole world is about to perish. You don't have access to the tree anymore. But if we cut down enough trees, we can make the ship. Anybody inside of this ship will not perish, but have everlasting life. Well, you'll never read the Bible the same way again once you realize that if you cut it, William Evans said, anywhere, it bleeds. If you cut the Bible anywhere, it bleeds. It is read with redemptive truth. Or to quote the Nazarene, these are they which testify of me. The Christmas tree, the 1,000 mile tree. It was always there.

And then finally, our last point, and we'll close this time down. Before there was a Christmas, there was a pedigree, a pedigree. He was not only getting things ready through events. He was also getting things ready through the family that would create the circumstances under which God could insert His Son into the narrative. And I love this, that you have found in Matthew, and found in Luke, and been confused by, perhaps, what is the phone book doing in the Bible? I don't get it. What do we call that? We call it a family tree. The family tree. It was his resume. You're not just going to hire someone without first checking into their qualifications, and where they worked, and are they are serial killer, right? I mean, we wouldn't let you check your kids into a classroom without doing a criminal background check on who's going to hang out with them, and having protocols into how they're taken care of.

Thank God for the fact that we can look into such things. When God sent His son into the world, the nation was told ahead of time, there's a resume you can look at. And the resume was his pedigree. We're looking for a specific, out of all the people on Earth, country, the country is Israel. Out of that country, we're looking for a specific tribe out of the twelve. He has to be the line of the tribe of, Judah. He has to be born and related to King David. He has to be connected all the way back to Father Abraham. So we are given a very specific, very rigid lane. There is not just like, well, out of everybody, it was just Jesus. And you know, He said some wild stuff and got killed, and He became afterwards. Like, no, there is none of that in the Bible.

There is, here is exactly how it's going to happen. Here's how you know it can happen. You want to know? Go to Bethlehem. There were angels up in the night sky letting everybody know. But they didn't need to, because the men in Herod's prophetic chamber had those scripture verses. They could have gone. They could have seen. They were given everything in advance. All I'm saying is that God set things up so meticulously, so that we could have three takeaway conclusions this Christmas. I want you to write these down. I would love to think that you would look in your mirror and speak them over yourself. If you want to change declarations, if you want to change curses over your family, if you want to change situations in your life, begin to speak God's word over your reality. And here are three things that Christmas gives you, the 1,000 Mile Tree leads you to these three conclusions.

Number one, the cross wasn't a mistake, so neither am I. At the moment of creation, God already saw the darkest day of your life, and the most shameful deed you've ever committed. And that didn't stop him from coming. And since the cross was not some afterthought, it was premeditated, it was done in cold blood, you can look over your left and go, I'm not a mistake either. And God has a plan for every dark thing, for every hard thing, for every horrible thing. So say it with me, the cross wasn't a mistake, so neither am I. Some of you said it, but you don't believe it yet. So keep saying it.

Number two, the 1,000 Mile Tree gives us the ability to say, since Jesus faced the cross with joy, so can I. Because each of us has a cross to bear. Each of us Jesus said, if we're going to follow Him, must take up our cross to follow Him. There will be pain. There will be hardships. There are going to be trials. But if Jesus faced the brutality and pain of the cross, but did so with joy for you and me, we can too. And what's the joy? The joy in us shouldering our cross is knowing we are a sign to let other of the sons and daughters know they have a seat saved at the Christmas table. And the joy comes from the hope that we would get to share the Gospel with people, that we would get to bring people with us on the journey to Christmas Eve, and the startup of the next series, and telling our testimony, and telling our story, and sharing inspiring content on Facebook and Instagram, and hopefully, pointing people back to Jesus always. Say it with me, since Jesus faced the cross with joy, so can I.

Number three and finally, after the cross, Jesus rose, and so will I. The resurrection, hope, the strength, and the promise that this world, as great as it can be, is not our home, not as it is. Heaven is our home. And the more we hide our treasures here, the harder it will be to shoulder the thought, to bear the thought of leaving this world. But the more our treasure is in heaven, the more our hope is in heaven, the more our care, and our passion, and our citizenship, and our identity springs from heaven, the more of a light touch we'll be able to handle life on this Earth, and the less triggered we will become when our idea, our idolatry of what this life is supposed to look like is tampered with.

You know, tomorrow Jennie and I and our family will hit this nine year mark of Linya being in heaven on December 20th. And every year, it's such a complicated journey to Christmas. Because like many of you, the way grief has snaked its way in, the snakebite of sin has brought death into this world. But that's the gospel story, long lay the world in sin and error pining. Then Jesus appears, and the soul feels it's worth. Our hope is all about him coming to destroy death. That's what the angels were harking and heralding. It's always been about death. It always will be about death. He is the snake crusher. And so our hope comes from the strength of, we'll say this tomorrow over our situation. Say it with me, number three. Let's see him back on the screen one more time. After the cross, Jesus rose, and so will I. In Jesus's name, we thank you, God. We receive it. Help us to live believing it.

With heads bowed and eyes closed, if you would just say this 10,000 Mile Tree hits different, one of or all of these points in some way small and large has hit me in a way, and I just want to thank God for that. If that's you I'm describing, and you would say there's something in this message for you to think more about, to act upon, or some way that you need to repent because of what God has spoken to you. I don't know exactly what he's doing in all your lives in Iowa, in Missouri, in Florida, and Montana, and Oregon, and Utah. But I know that Jesus is with you. And he sees you as you respond. If that's you I'm describing, there's some application from this message for you, could you just raise your hand up? Just right where you're at. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Bless these. Keep them. Cause your face to shine upon them. Fill them with your Spirit. Fill up their horn with new oil, with new joy, with new power.

You can put your hands down. Is there anyone today, who like the children of Israel dying of snake bite, told to look at the poll with a brass serpent on it, thinking, how stupid. How can that help? That doesn't make any sense. Here's Jesus lifted up on the cross. If you want hope, if you want peace, if you want to eternal life, let me tell you something. You're not wrong if you say this doesn't make any sense. How can this help? I've got real problems. Those who refuse to look at the snake died, just like you will if you refuse Jesus, who is the only name that brings salvation. Don't try and get rid of the foolishness. Embrace it. The gospel is the foolishness of the message preached. But to those who believe, this is the power of God and to salvation.

So if you're here today or watching online, and you would say, Levi, I need to give my life to Jesus, and I need to do it right now, I'm going to say a prayer. I want you to pray it with me, that I'm going to give you space and time to raise your hand up, to nail that down. But first, say this prayer to God. Say it meaning it in your heart. Church family, say it with us.

Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I need salvation. And I believe Jesus died for me and rose from the dead. Please come into my life. Make me new. I give myself to you.

With heads still bowed and eyes still closed, if you just prayed that prayer, I'm going to count to three. And when I get to three, I want you to your hand up in the air. This is for you if you have never, ever made a decision like this before. But this is also for you if you are rededicating your life to God as the prodigal son or daughter coming home. When I get to three, shoot your hand up. One, two, three, shoot your hands up. Shoot your hands up. Praise God for the salvation. Praise God for the healing. Praise God for the forgiveness.
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