Michael Youssef - By Another Way
Back in 1988, when this church was barely one year old, meeting in a school, just a handful of people, couple of hundred people, I saw a wonderful lady coming in one Sunday, whom I've known for some time, and I was very surprised to see her. I've known her. She's a very prominent lady in our city, very prominent family in our city, very well known in our society, and I also knew that she had gone to one church all her life, one of the older denominations. Family roots goes deep into that church, and all her social friends are in that church, and all her life's connections are in that church, and I was really surprised that she was coming to a new church meeting in a school. Not only that, but what really shocked me a few weeks later, she wanted to join the church, and she did join the church.
Later, she became so deeply involved in this church and this ministry, and she became a trustee of this building here. She was truly an elegant lady. She was a woman of very few words, but when she spoke and spoke softly, she spoke volumes. Through the years, she became a dear friend of my wife and myself. Now I want you to fast-forward 20 years from that day. She was in her early 90s, yet she was in an amazing health and physical condition. I was taken back when she called me on the phone, and she said, "I need to see you because the doctors gave me a few weeks to live". So I immediately went to visit with her, and because I saw how, during those 20 years, her life being transformed into the likeness of Christ, and I saw how she was growing deep in her love for Jesus and her involvement in ministry, and so, when I went to visit her, knowing in my heart of hearts that possibly this is the last time I'm gonna see her before I see her in heaven, I said, "There is a question I've been wanting to ask you for 20 years, and I just, somehow, I didn't. How did you come to know Jesus and surrender your life to him"?
I wanted to know about her spiritual journey. She said in that soft voice of hers, "Well, I came to Apostles that first Sunday morning, being a church woman all of my life, but I heard you preach a sermon on Nicodemus, the great theologian, the great religious leader, and how he came to Jesus at night, and Jesus said to him that 'You must be born again, regardless of your religiosity,'" and she said, "I remember you saying that religion will not save you. Church will not save you. Only Jesus can save you eternally, therefore, you must be born again". She said, "That day, I came in one way, but I walked about by another way". I remember saying to myself that time, I said, "I could write a book on that sentence, 'I came out by another way.'" You know that you've been prayed for. I prayed for you. Many have prayed for you that no one who has come here in their way will walk out of here the same way.
You may have come here, having nice, warm feelings about the Christ of Christmas, but you would walk out of here with the Christ of Christmas as your only Savior, Lord, and friend. You may have come here today because it's Christmas. Well, you know, you go to church at Christmas or somebody made you come. The other tradition may be to go to church at Christmas, but it is our prayer that you walk out of here by the power of the Spirit of God. You may have come here today, living your way, but you walk out by another way, living God's way. You may have come here filled with your own ideas regarding religion and nature and philosophy, but you can walk out of here today with the Christ of Christmas, filling all the empty space in your life, filling all the voids in your life, filling you with joy unspeakable as he only can give you.
You may have walked in here today thinking that Jesus is just another founder of another religion, but you can walk out of here by another way, by receiving him as your only God and Lord. Today regardless of which way you came in, today no matter what inward thoughts you may have come in with, today it is not important what you have done or have not done in the past or how you lived. Today you can walk out of here in the power of the Son of God in your life. You may have walked here not knowing whether your sin can be forgiven or not. You can walk out of here knowing that your sins, past, present, and future, can be totally erased by the mighty power of the Babe of Bethlehem.
In Matthew chapter 2, verse 12, these scientists, these astronomers, these people who have studied the stars, they've come to worship Jesus from Persia, modern-day Iran. They came to worship Jesus because they saw a star that is so unusual that declared to them that someone of cosmic importance was born. After worshipping Jesus, they were supposed to go back to tell this evil, wicked baby-killer, King Herod, where the King of all kings is born, but then they went home to Iran, Persia, by another way. Let me read the verse to you: "And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another way". "By another way". Those are the three words that I'm gonna be talking about tonight. Three words in this one verse can be your story tonight. Three words can be your story, your story, your story. It is a summary of what the Christian faith is all about. It is a summary of God's plan for your salvation and my salvation.
As I said, no matter where you are right now, where you came from, no matter what you have done in the past, no matter how much guilt and pain you are carrying right now and you brought with you to this service, and I'm glad you did, the Christ of Christmas can set you free, and you can go home by another way. You can walk out of here by another way, Jesus's way, a way that will not only change your life here and now, but will change your eternal destiny from hell to heaven. When you surrender your life to the Christ of Christmas, who is the only higher power, I think this political correctness, or referring to him as, "a higher power," it's cowardice because we know his name. We tell you about him. The higher power is no other than Jesus, the Christ, and the reason he is a higher power, because he defeated death and the grave.
You will receive forgiveness of sins. You will have peace with God, and you will have the peace of God, and you can be absolutely assured of heaven, right here and now, not when you die, but right here and now. You may have come with anxiety. You may have come here with fear. You can leave with confidence and assurance of having the heavenly Father to be your Father. You may have come here with self-doubt, uncertainty, but you can walk out of here by another way with God's power and strength working with you, walking with you. You may have come here in confusion about who the Christ of Christmas is, but you can go out of here by another way, another way of confidence and joy that only he can give you. These Persian astronomers, which, again, we call them, "wise men," and the reason, really, we call them, "wise men" or became a tradition to call them "wise men," because they worshipped Jesus because wise people always seek after Jesus.
Now, my friend, listen carefully: Jesus always, always, always changes the way of everyone, every man, every woman, every boy, every girl, who would come to him and bow and worship him. These astronomers came searching for Jesus because of this appearance of this cosmic, this unique star in the galaxy, the star that declaring someone of great importance, someone of cosmic importance was born. That is all they knew from studying the galaxies, and they spend their life studying it. But when they found Jesus, he transformed their life. When they found Jesus, he changed their life. Question, how did he change their life? Listen carefully. I'm gonna show you. First, they came looking for a powerful, worldly, political king, and that is why they went first to the king's palace.
When you get a VIP arrive, these are very important people. These were leaders of the Persian Empire, and when you get an important person comes to this country, where do they go? They go to the White House. When you get a head of a state and goes to England, where do they go? Buckingham Palace. And so, when they arrived with their entourage, where would they go? They go to the palace of the king, and that is why they went to Jerusalem, the capital city. That is why, first, they went to the big city, looking for him, and that is why they went to the center of government because that's what they thought he would be, and that is why they went to the seat of power because they assumed that's where the King of kings will be. Their study of this unique star told them that this King of cosmic importance was born, and so they went to the wrong place. It was natural though. I'm not blaming them. It's so natural. It's a natural inclination to look for him where the important people are, where political kings are born, but they discovered that he is no other than the Son of the Almighty God himself.
That's the first change. That's the first change that happened to them. Secondly, there was another change. Their understanding of earthly rulers have changed. See, when King Herod said to them, he said, "Come back and tell me where you find that king, and I will come and worship him". The poor saps, they believed the politician. I have some wonderful, godly politician friends, and I thank God for them for their faithful service. But they should've known that they cannot believe a politician, and that is why they had to have a special revelation that tells them, "Don't go back to that politician because he's lying. Don't go back and tell him".
And I know, even today, there are many people who place their hopes on politicians. There are people who place their hopes on the economy. There are people who place all of their hope on Wall Street, but God's hope for you and you and you and for me is in the Babe of Bethlehem. But there's more change that they've experienced by coming to this great King of kings, the Christ of Christmas. They realized that the church leaders, the religious leaders, they were clueless when it comes to eternal matters. They were. Even the high priest and the Pharisees, these are the church leaders and the religious leaders of the day, and they expected those guys to know where the Christ is born. After all, the Scripture have said it for thousands of years that he'll be born in Bethlehem of Judea, that God's Messiah is coming, and he will born in Bethlehem.
But the third change that took place, they realized that these religious leaders, they're spiritually lost, themselves. They were only interested in rituals. They were only interested in dogma. They were only interested in church politics, so much so, that they ceased to look for the one and only true Messiah that God has promised all the way from Genesis 3:15 and throughout every book of the Old Testament. The Messiah, who has been promised in the Scripture for thousands of years, they missed him. When these Magis, the astronomers, came to Jesus, they left, changed men. Jesus always, always will change the life of anyone who would come to him. No matter where you are right now, no matter where you are, no matter what you have done or have not done, no matter what your past may have been, Christ Jesus can transform your life today.
When you come to him, he will change your nature, and when you come to him, he's gonna reorder your priorities. When you come to him, he will turn your life upside down for the good because, I can tell you, you will never be the same. Will you come to him today? You know, when God wanted to relate to us, he could've shouted from heaven. No, but he became one of us in order to relate to us. His virgin birth revealed his divine, sinless nature. His death upon a cross in your place and your place and my place, assures us of the forgiveness of our sins when we come to him, and by his resurrection, he demonstrated his power over death and the grave and the assurance of our own resurrection. That same power of the resurrection can transform your life today. That power can give you eternity and assure you of eternity with Jesus today.
All of yours, when you come to him. You may have, for all these years, followed some flawed philosophy or... I was talking to somebody the other day, following, really, a debunked, unproven scientific theory. You may have followed your own idea about God. Only you know that. You may have thought that, if you're good enough and you lived a somewhat good enough, and you have not committed one of the big ones. I have a neighbor who says, "Well, I haven't committed the big ones". I said, "with God, you miss the mark by an inch or by 25 miles, you miss a mark". God is welcoming you wherever you are. God said there's only one way to come to him, and that is through his one and only Son, the Babe of Bethlehem. There is only one way to come to him, and that is by accepting Jesus's bloodstained cross to be for you.
There's only one way to come to him, and that is through the resurrected Jesus Christ, for Jesus said, "While the gate is wide and the road is wide that leads to destruction, and many will go through it, oh, but narrow is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, that is, eternal life, and few will enter it". Will you be one of the few? Will you be one of the few today? When you hear people say, "All religions will lead to the same place", I've heard preachers say that. "All ways, they're gonna lead to God". That is the wide road. That's the wide road. Everybody's gonna get sucked into it, but it leads to destruction, Jesus said. But then there is another road that says only Jesus can save you. Only Jesus can redeem you. Only Jesus can set you free from sin and all the chains of sin. Only Jesus can take you all the way to eternity.
And because God is so loving, he made only one way, and you know what? He paid the price for that way so you can walk in free, free of charge. It was free to you, it's free to me, but it cost the Son of God his blood. Will you be like those wise men and go out of here by another way? Regardless of which way you came, you can walk out of here by another way. All of the other ways are filled with confusion. All the other ways are dangerous. All of the other ways will get you lost for eternity. All of the other ways are misleading, and that is why Jesus said, "I am the way". Not "a way". "I am the way". A thousand years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, of the virgin Mary, an ancestor of Jesus from the physical side, there was a man, king of Israel, King David, and he prophesied many prophecies about Jesus. The best known to everybody is when he said, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want". He's not only the different way, he's not only the perfect way, he's the only way.
Now, don't shoot the messenger. Don't shoot the messenger. I am not smart enough to make up this stuff. I'm not that bright. I'm only telling you what the Word of God said because I was reading the other day how many times the Apostle Paul, whether before kings, whether was before Pharisees, whether before religious leaders, always testified of what God did for him on the road to Damascus. I realized that this is something I must continuously do. I don't do enough of it, but I know, back in 1964, I was lost in sin. I was lost in rebellion. I was lost in rejecting God altogether, but on Wednesday night, the 4th of March 1964, I heard God's invitation to me, and I came to him. I've never been the same since. For over 50 years, I have experienced the ups and the downs of life, and I've written my biography, welcome to read it.
You'll see that I've experienced many a dark nights, but Jesus, the Christ of Christmas was always there to give me joy, regardless of the circumstances, and that is why the angels said to the shepherds in Luke 2:10, he said, "I bring you good news of great joy. It is the greatest joy". Do you know that joy? Well, you can. Know that joy today. It can fill your heart. In the midst of life's great challenges, it will fill your heart. Jesus can give it to you today. In Matthew 2:10, it says that these wise men were filled with joy when they saw the star. Listen to me. His joy will be with you through thick and thin. His joy will be with you in good or bad times. His joy will be with you in good or bad financial circumstances. His joy will be with you in the midst of losses. His joy will be with you whether people accept you or reject you. He will never, never, never, ever reject you, for he had promised that he will be "a friend that is closer to you than a brother". He said, when you come to him, he will, "never leave you nor forsake you".
What a deal. What a deal. And I'm telling you, there's no deal like it. He paid it all. He paid it all so that you might come and receive from his hand. Will you come to him and leave out of here by another way? May this day be the day in which heaven's gonna rejoice because many of you will pray with me as we go to the Lord in prayer right now:
Lord Jesus, I come to you. I thank you that you came to me. You left your glories in heaven, born of a virgin, died a criminal's death, rose again, and you're inviting me to be your son or daughter, in Jesus's name, amen.