Pastor Ron Swanson
Dec. 10, 2018
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11)
In this familiar passage from Luke, I see four messages that God delivered through the angel that night.
1. Fear Not
From the moment Adam sinned, fear has been part of the human condition. (One website lists over 530 different phobias. That’s a lot of things to be afraid of!) I think it’s interesting that the first fear that’s mentioned in the Bible isn’t the fear of heights. It’s not the fear of spiders. Or death. Or any of the common phobias we might think of. The first fear mentioned in the Bible is the fear of God.
“Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said, Where art you? And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid and hid from you …” (Genesis 3:8-10)
Awareness of our sin is what makes us fearful in God’s presence. Sin makes us want to avoid God and keep Him at arm’s length. But, the first message the Angel brought was, “Fear not”.
I believe the angel was saying, “You may have sinned – you may stand guilty before God – but you don’t have to be afraid! Why? Because I bring you good tidings of great joy – a Savior has been born! A Savior that will forgive your sin and bring you into right standing with God.” (See Ro. 5:1,17)_
2. The Message is to All People
Luke 2:10 – “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people ...”
(Everyone! No one is left out!)
The second message is this: Everyone matters to God! Everyone is valuable to God! So valuable, in fact, that He was willing to give His own Son that we might live.
Pastor Ron Swanson
Dec. 17, 2018
We’ve been looking at the messages that were delivered to the world on the night of Jesus’ birth. The angel delivered at least four messages that are life-changing if you’ll take hold of them.
The first message was “Fear Not”. The first fear mentioned in the Bible is the fear of God. (After he sinned, Adam hid from the presence of God. Sin makes us want to avoid God and keep Him at arms-length!) But with the coming of a Savior, we no longer need to be afraid in God’s presence. Jesus came to reunite God and man!
The second message the angel brought was: “Everyone is valuable to God!” (Luke 2:10). That’s true, no matter what you may have done. This is not an exclusive message. Jesus was God’s gift to the whole world! Through Christ, eternal life is offered to everyone!
3. Jesus Came to Set You Free
The third message brought by the angel was a message of freedom.
“For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord ...” (v. 11)
The word “Savior” actually means Deliverer: “One who removes burdens, delivers from danger, hears the cries of those who are oppressed and sets them free”. Jesus does all those things for us! When we make Him the Lord of our lives, He saves us from our sin and delivers us from bondage. The angel’s final message was:
4. A Message of Goodwill
“Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men ...” (Luke 2:13-14)
Notice how that’s phrased: He didn’t say, “Goodwill among men …” (Like, “Y’all be nice and show goodwill to each other”.) No! It said, “Goodwill toward men. Goodwill from God to men.”
That’s the message of Christmas! God didn’t send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Christmas is God extending goodwill (kindness, unmerited favor) to all people, everywhere.
Jesus came to make it possible. His death and resurrection paid the price for you to come into right relationship with God. Why not receive God’s gift (Christ) into your heart and life this Christmas?
Pastor Ron Swanson
Dec. 24, 2018
In our culture, most people bring a Christmas tree into their homes and decorate it for the holidays. (Some Christians point to Jeremiah 10:1-5 as a reason to not have a Christmas tree. Others point out the fact that those who were decorating the trees in Jeremiah, were also bowing down and worshiping them. That’s not even close to the same thing!) Whatever your conviction, you can rejoice in the fact that God has saved us and “decorated” us with His love.
Isaiah 61:3 – “To grant joy to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a garland for ashes, scented oil in place of tears, and a song of joyous praise in place of broken hearts. I’ve renamed them ‘Trees of Righteousness’ planted by God to display His Glory.” (Isa. 61:3)
You and I are the “trees of righteousness” in this passage. God has changed our lives and “decorated us” in such a way that it brings glory to Him and draws others to Christ. (He mentions three things in this passage that we associate with Christmas – garland, scented oil and joyful songs. The fact is, Jesus has decorated us with …)
1. The Garland of Unconditional Love
In the New Testament we discover that love is kind (1 Cor. 13:4), it puts others’ needs ahead of its own (Ro. 12:9-10), it doesn’t criticize (Ro. 13:1,4, Eph. 4:30) and it believes the best of every person (1 Cor. 13:7 Amp).
The fact is: God didn’t “decorate” us this way (put His love in our heart) for ourselves. It was for others! What if this Christmas we manifested unconditional love toward those around us? What if we never spoke an unkind word and believed the best of everyone? Would people be drawn to the God we serve? I believe they would.
2. The Scented Oil of Unlimited Joy
Habakkuk 3:17-18 speaks of a person who experienced joy in the midst of great trials. “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no crops, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls … (Wow! And you thought YOU were having a bad day! This fellow has lost EVERYTHING! And, how does he respond?) Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” In the middle of tremendous loss, he still REJOICES in God!
3. The Song of Unchangeable Peace
Jesus said we can have peace, right in the middle of the storm (John 16:33). When our world is caving in around us, we can still have a song in our hearts. That HAS to be supernatural!
This Christmas why not let these God-given “ornaments” shine into a sin-darkened world? People will see the difference in your life and be drawn to Jesus.